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COVID Newsletters

Weekly COVID newsletter (6/16)


It’s Tuesday, June 16, 2020 (and yes we know that yesterday was Monday, June 15!).

At press time,’s COVID-19 tracker shows Manhattan has 26,018 confirmed cases and 3,024 deaths; New York City as a whole has 207,373 cases and 22,145 deaths.

I attended the grand opening today of a new COVID-19 testing center that I helped establish at Riverside Church (91 Claremont Ave.) for both blood and nasal swab tests. (I even got tested!)

The new center will be open 9 am – 5 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays through July 11; no appointment is necessary. Those who test positive will be supported with quarantine advice and doctors’ referrals; testing partners are Dr. Karen Thornton, M.D. and Medrite Urgent Care.

Community organizations are on hand with information on the Census, voter registration, and contract tracing jobs. My thanks to organization partners Riverside Church, East Harlem Neighborhood Health Action Center, Assembly Member Inez Dickens, PUMP Harlem, and Community Board 9.

Tonight (6/16) at 6 pm, I’ll be joining the A. Philip Randolph Square Neighborhood Alliance for “Virtual Housing Forum: Tenant Rights & Protections During the Pandemic,” a discussion with lawyers and community advocates. Join on Zoom here, or use Meeting ID: 939 8100 3375 and Password: 465573.

Summer options for children are a bit of a mess. The NYC Dept of Health is reviewing applications for summer camp programs that are allowed to start June 29, 2020.

In New York City, we also know that many camps rely on park space for their activities. There is therefore a need for organizations that run camps to obtain permits quickly and I wrote to Parks Commissioner Silver on June 5 asking that a process for applications be developed and rolled out for the public.

While some camp programs are ready to go, many need the funding that had been cut by the Mayor in his executive budget. I join United Neighborhood Houses and many other community organizations in urging that he restore that funding—and for that of the longtime City Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) which serves 75,000 teens– in time for this summer. No word from the Council on when a final budget will be announced.

New York State is now allowing localities to open public pools and playgrounds at their discretion. But there are reports from across the city that some playgrounds are open while others remain locked up. If the City’s parks plan isn’t ready, why not? Best practices, cleaning guidelines need to be clearly communicated now (really, yesterday!) so that these important outdoor spaces can operate while keeping our families and neighborhoods healthy.

Next week, eviction proceedings will again be permitted– but only against tenants who are not in arrears because of COVID-19 factors. But since Housing Court will operate with just 20% of non-judicial staff, and buildings will be subject to severe occupancy restrictions, parties should expect things to move very, very slowly. No trials or defaults will be taken until further notice.

Tenants should “answer” cases by phone; those who show up in person will be encouraged to return home and do so. The court will put stickers with the numbers to call on the postcards sent by the court clerks to tenants with eviction actions. Once answered, court dates will be set for after Phase II reopening. These are called “adjournments” and will be set longer than usual to allow tenants time to obtain all the legal advice possible before their court hearing.

Experienced clerks will be available just inside court buildings to review documents and direct tenants appropriately. Tenants who must come into the building will be provided with masks if necessary. Social distancing will be enforced, with a maximum of two people per elevator.

The Office of Civil Justice emergency hotline (staffed by attorneys and tenant advocates) will continue to operate as usual, weekdays from 9 am  – 5 pm and can be accessed by calling 311 and requesting the Tenant Helpline.

Mayor de Blasio and Dept. of Education (DOE) Chancellor Carranza announced an expansion of the College Bridge high school-to-college mentorship program to reach all 57,000 graduating seniors this summer, with the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Milton Petri Foundation. (Job alert: CUNY students who have completed one year of study can apply for a paid position as a College Bridge coach.)

The DOE has also released a Return to School 2020 Survey for parents and guardians of NYC public school students to determine priorities in planning the fall semester.

The City’s Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development has opened a new Housing Connect Portal for affordable housing lottery applications. An important note: account profiles from the prior Housing Connect site WILL NOT carry over; you must visit the site to make a new account. Learn more.

The City’s Commission on Gender Equity has shared a short survey for New York City residents ages 18 and older to help inform an equitable recovery from COVID-19 in NYC.

Tonight (6/16) from 6:30 – 7:30 pm, watch “ZAP!: A Virtual Tour of Post-Stonewall Gay Activists Alliance Actions,” guided by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project co-director Jay Shockley.

Tomorrow (6/17) at 11 am, NY State Attorney General Letitia James is hosting a public video meeting to examine interactions between police and the public during recent protests. Submit testimony here, and the hearing will be viewable here.

Tomorrow (6/17) from noon – 1 pm, the City’s Dept. for Small Business Services is hosting “NYC Means Business: Guidelines for Reopening Phase 1 Businesses,” one of many interactive webinars for small business owners and employees. Register here, and see a list of upcoming SBS webinars here.

Tomorrow (6/17) from 12:30 – 2 pm, the City’s Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene is hosting a Virtual Rat Academy webinar for building supers and staff, homeowners, tenants, and managing companies on rat prevention methods. Join on Webex with Meeting Number: 129 930 9276, and Password: health1.

Tomorrow (6/17) at 4 pm, Hunter@Home presents “Remembering Larry Kramer,” a conversation with WNBC’s Bill Goldstein and Charles Kaiser, Director of Hunter College’s LGBTQ Policy Center at Roosevelt House. Register here.

Tomorrow (6/17) from 6 – 8 pm, the March for Science is hosting the first in a three-part online fireside chat series on racism in STEM, titled “A Space for BIPOC.” This first session is open solely to Brown, Black and Indigenous people of color. Register here.

Tomorrow (6/17) at 7 pm, the NYC Rent Guidelines Board will hold its final meeting to vote on rent guidelines for rent regulated leases effective between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021. The meeting is open to the public via YouTube livestream or via phone at 1-408-418-9388 with access code 129 518 1961 and password gtTHXjMW297.

Tomorrow (6/17) from 7 – 8 pm, NY State Sen. Liz Krueger is hosting her second online town hall on reopening NYC, and will be joined by Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, Deputy Commissioner of the City’s Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Dr. Ted Long, Executive Director of the City’s new Test and Trace Corps. Watch live on Facebook.

Krueger will also be hosting a criminal justice reform town hall on Thursday (6/18) from 5 – 6:30 pm, with State Senators Jamaal Bailey and Zellnor Myrie, as well as the Vera Institute of Justice’s Insha Rahman. It will also stream live on Facebook.

Tomorrow (6/17) at 7 pm, Council Member Helen Rosenthal and Speaker Johnson are hosting an online community conversation. Register and submit questions in advance here.

On Thursday (6/18), I’m hosting the regular monthly meeting of the Manhattan Borough Board (a formal body composed of all Council Members and Community Board chairs in the borough). Register to attend at this link and you’ll receive an email with instructions on how to be in the online audience.

The nonprofit group Citizens Committee for New York City has shared an “NYC Summer Well Being” survey to determine their next steps around youth engagement and police-community relations.

Today’s FreshDirect delivery was made to Dyckman Houses. From there the 500 10-lb food boxes were distributed to Fort Washington Consolidated, as well as Marble Hill, Samuel City and Drew-Hamilton Houses, with the help of my staff and the local Tenants’ Associations.

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And please do call me with any urgent problems or concerns: (212) 669-8191.