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COVID Newsletters

Weekly COVID newsletter (3/30)


It’s Monday, March 30, 2020, the start of week three of our “pause.”

At press time, the Johns Hopkins COVID case tracker currently shows New York City has 35,431 active cases and 790 deaths (over twice as many as Friday’s 366).

One of those deaths was Walter South, a member of Community Board 9 and a dedicated member of our New York community, whose housing advocacy and work on landmark designations will serve as a legacy that will live on.

TONIGHT AT 6:30 PM,  I will moderate a “virtual” Town Hall at Columbia University’s Teachers College (and cosponsored by the NYC Dept of Education) on “Meeting Student Needs during COVID-19” for Manhattan parents, students and teachers. Panelists Dr. Detra Price-Dennis and Dr. Roberta Lenger Kang from Teachers College, Marisol Rosales from the NYC Department of Education will discuss best practices for K-12 remote learning during the pandemic. Visit here to watch at 6:30 pm (or go to the youtube channel directly at ).

This weekend, the Governor has extended the “stay-at-home” directive through April 15 and postponed Tax Day until July 15. President Trump extended the social distancing guidelines through April 30.

Gov. Cuomo has also delayed the New York Presidential Primary to June 23, to combine the Presidential delegate vote with Congressional, State Senate and State Assembly primaries. My friend Esther Fuchs is directing, a website and app that has all kinds of information about upcoming debates, registration deadlines and absentee ballot request deadlines. You can even find out if you are eligible to vote. CLick the link above to find out more.

NYC Health and Hospitals/Gotham Health is opening COVID-19 Assessment and Testing Centers outside two of their hospitals in Manhattan: One opened this past Friday at Gotham Health/Sydenham and Wednesday, April 1 will see one open at Gotham Health/Gouverneur.  Physicians will assess the patients after they are evaluated for symptoms, co-morbidities and other risk factors such as age. Patients with mild or no-symptoms will be assessed but generally not tested; patients determined to be high risk and having a likelihood for imminent hospitalization will be tested. Those who require hospitalization will be immediately transferred to our nearest facility,

  • Sydenham, 264 W.118th St., M – F  9 – 5 pm
  • Gouverneur, 227 Madison St., M – F  9 – 5 pm  (opens Wednesday 1st April, 2020)

The City has created the GetFoodNYC food delivery program to provide food for coronavirus-vulnerable and food-insecure New Yorkers not currently served through existing food delivery programs. Sign up at the link above or call 311.. UPDATE (3/30/20 at 2pm) from The (GetFoodNYC) program is temporarily unable to process additional food deliveries. Please check back Tuesday, March 31st when we expect to be able to restore service.

GrowNYC’s 50 open-air Greenmarkets are open for business and observing social distancing and other best practices during the outbreak. The Greenmarkets are crucial to the 250 regional farmers and producers who sell through them; 85% of these farms report that they wouldn’t be in business if not for the ability to sell directly to New York City shoppers. Visit the link for locations and hours of operation.

Women Entrepreneurs of NYC (WE-NYC) is holding an online chat about obtaining financial assistance on Thursday, April 2, at 11 am. Experts from the NYC Dept. of Small Business Services and Ramona Cedeno, CEO of FiBrick Financial Services, will share information on emergency financial assistance. Register at the link above.

The Coronavirus Relief Bill that passed Congress last week included a provision that suspends federal student loan payments through Sept. 30. As Buzzfeed explains, “During that time, interest will not accrue on the loans and nonpayment during that period cannot be used to affect credit scores or a person’s qualification for loan forgiveness. According to the bill’s text, “each month for which a loan payment was suspended” will be treated as if “the borrower of the loan had made a payment.”  (If you do not have a federal student loan, check with your lender for what changes they may be implementing.)

Deputy Borough President Aldrin Bonilla’s son recorded a “robocall” to his family’s friends and associates asking them to stay home and complete the census! His father related the story in the Manhattan Times last week, as he discussed the challenges facing Manhattan in getting every person counted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Manhattan Times last week. Bonilla is an expert– he led Northern Manhattan’s Census count in 2000 resulting in the top Census Response Rates for Washington Heights-Inwood in all New York City.

The NYC COVID Worker Care Network is up and running! They’re a self-organizing network of more than 2000 volunteer mental health workers, spiritual care providers, circle-keepers, and community-builders supporting frontline COVID workers during this evolving crisis. They facilitate individual support encounters, support groups, stress-reduction training, and grief rituals via Zoom or telephone encounters. Any person working to support the fight against COVID-19 in New York is eligible; sign up at the link above or follow @NYCCOVIDCare on Facebook for updates or send an email to with any questions.

The New York Foundation for the Arts has compiled a list of organizations offering emergency grants to artists impacted by COVID-19.

Immigrants may receive COVID-19 health care WITHOUT having to answer questions about their immigration status or lack of insurance coverage– and such care will NOT be used in a “public charge” test (even if those services are funded by Medicaid). If you feel sick, use telehealth services or call ahead first wherever you get your health care; telehealth services keep everyone safer. (Gov. Cuomo is requiring insurance companies to waive co-pays for telehealth visits.) For more info call the NYS COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065. Assistance is available in over 100 languages.

Drivers license and auto registration and inspection expirations are suspended retroactively since March 1st, and for as long as the Governor’s Executive Order for Coronavirus is in effect.

Tomorrow, Tuesday March 31, at 3:30 pm, the National Council of Nonprofits, is sponsoring “Federal Coronavirus Relief Bills: What Do They Mean for Nonprofits?” webcast to help nonprofits understand the new legislation. Register at the link above.

Picture the Homeless has developed a survey for people experiencing homelessness to better understand how to support them during COVID-19:

Tomorrow, the Hunter College Food Policy Center is conducting a ZOOM panel on Hunger, Food and the Coronavirus in NYC tomorrow morning, Tuesday, March 31, from 9:30 to 10:30 am. Panelists include
•    Joel Berg, CEO, Hunger Free America
•    Grace Bonilla, Commissioner, Human Resources Administration (tentative)
•    Michael Hurwitz, Director, Greenmarket, GrowNYC
•    Kate MacKenzie, Director, Mayor’s Office of Food Policy (tentative)
•    Bryan Moran, Director, DevOps, City Harvest
•    Karen Washington, Owner, Rise and Root Farmer
It will be moderated by Charles Platkin and Alexina Cather. This is a free event but you must register at

In addition, the FPC has also created a series of Coronavirus NYC Neighborhood Food Resource Guides. Each of the 59 editions includes listings of food pantries, soup kitchens, farmers’ markets, grocery stores, meal distribution sites for children and seniors, and resources for immigrants and undocumented individuals.

In 2002, a timeworn leather trunk discarded on a sidewalk in Lower Manhattan was found filled with the cherished keepsakes of a 19th century woman, Sylvia DeWolf Ostrander. For the first time Sylvia’s trunk and its treasured contents will be exhibited at the Merchant House Museum in an online exhibit.

Due to increased demand, the Paul Taylor Dance school has increased their virtual class offerings on their Instagram account, including advanced / professional classes at 10 am on Instagram LIVE at @paultaylordance and, for Levels 1-4 and Advanced Taylor Teen, at 4:30 pm on Instagram at @thetaylorschool

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan has launched “CMOM At Home”  a series of fun, educational and engaging activities for kids and families to do together at home, with a diferent focus each day: Magical Monday, Move & Groove Tuesday, Our World Wednesday, Artsy Thursday, Feel Good Friday, Storytime Saturday, and Surprise Sunday.

The Museum of the City of New York is working to expand their digital offerings and announced that their Saturday Academy, an American History elective and SAT prep program with priority seating for students from East Harlem, is moving fully online for the Spring 2020 semester. Our existing online materials, including extensive resources for teachers, continue to be available to educators across New York City as they work to adapt to the new virtual learning environment.

Monday’s FreshDirect Five Borough Food Drive dropoff was at Grant Houses on 123rd St. Each weekday FreshDirect (and their partners BoarsHead and Poland Spring) are dopping off 10-lb boxes of food at NYCHA locations that my office helps coordinate with local tenants’ associations. It’s great that these companies have stepped up to provide food to families in need.

The New York Blood Center has three locations open for blood donors:
Port Authority Midtown Donor Center 625 8th Ave. @ W 41st St., South Wing
Grand Central Donor Center 200 Park Ave., Lobby Level
Upper East Side Donor Center 310 East 67th St.

“Just” Sam (she’s the resident of NYCHA’s Amsterdam Houses with an amazing voice that I’ve been keeping you aware of) has made it to the top 20 of American Idol!

I hope you’re finding these newsletters helpful. Please keep sending me useful links, or call me with any urgent problems or concerns: (212) 669-8191.