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COVID Newsletters

Weekly COVID newsletter (7/16)


It’s Thursday, July 16, 2020. Welcome to the first weekly edition of my COVID newsletter.

At press time,’s COVID-19 tracker shows Manhattan has 29,442 confirmed cases and 3,133 deaths; New York City as a whole has 219,982 cases and 23,353 deaths.

Responses to our reader survey last week indicated that you all are very interested in these numbers– and also trends, analysis, etc.

To that end, it’s useful to know that there were 366 new cases citywide on Tuesday July 14, while last Tuesday (7/7) there were 310– a rise of 18%. Monday (7/13) was the first day since March 13 without any COVID deaths in New York City.

But a recent trend is concerning: the age group 20-29 has experienced a hike in cases. It’s possible that the warmer weather, more outdoor activities available, and the twentysomethings’ sense of invulnerability has combined to infect more of that age group. As the Mayor put it Monday, “Everyone is susceptible to this disease and of course they could spread it to someone else they love.” So mask up!

For the true data geeks in the audience, you might like to know that the Governor reported today that of the 72,685 tests conducted in New York State yesterday (7/15), 769, or 1.06 percent, were positive. Each region’s percentage of positive tests over the last three days is as follows:


Capital Region   1.70% 2.10% 0.80%

Central New York 1.30% 1.30% 1.00%

Finger Lakes 1.40% 1.20% 0.90%

Long Island 2.00% 1.00% 0.90%

Mid-Hudson 1.60% 1.40% 1.10%

Mohawk Valley 1.60% 1.00% 1.00%

New York City 1.40% 1.30% 1.20%

North Country   0.50% 0.30% 0.60%

Southern Tier   0.80% 1.30% 0.50%

Western New York 2.00% 1.60%

Your other reader survey answers were quite helpful, with main suggestions including more resources for seniors and the unemployed. (Here’s a job alert, if you’re looking: Community Connections for Youth is hiring for a Program DirectorMentors, and a Training Manager for their South Bronx Community Connections Initiative.)

One person asked for more notice on events– we try, but can only provide what we receive when we receive it!

The vast majority of respondents, however, just sent kind words on the newsletter and how it has helped them; those words were so nice to hear.

Gov. Cuomo will announce Phase 4 status for New York City tomorrow. If we are approved for Phase 4, it means schools, low-risk art and entertainment events, media production and sports games (with no fans) will be allowed to open again. However, reopening indoor cultural institutions, malls, and indoor dining is postponed indefinitely– outdoor parts of zoos and botanical gardens will reopen.

Other announcements from Governor Cuomo:

  • Bars and restaurants in New York City can now only serve alcohol to people who are ordering and eating food (which were the rules before the pandemic) and all service at bar tops must only be for seated patrons who are socially distanced by six feet or separated by physical barriers. Patrons who see violations or are concerned can report complaints, including photos, to the State Liquor Authority at As part of a broader ‘Three Strikes and You’re Closed’ initiative, any establishment that receives three violations will be closed for business by the SLA. Egregious violations can result in immediate loss of liquor license or closure before a third strike. (They’re serious about this, as the owners of the now-closed White Horse Tavern in the Village can attest.)

  • The application window opens today (7/16) and ends 7/30 for a new rental assistance voucher program to cover rent some tenants affected by the pandemic can’t pay, operated by NYS Dept. of Homes and Community Renewal. I wrote the Governor in April urging him to adopt a voucher-based system, and am glad to see the state will be lending renters a hand. Learn more and apply. My staff is ready to assist any tenant who needs help with their application– leave a voicemail at (212) 531-1609.

  • Uninsured New Yorkers can still enroll for coverage via the The NY State of Health Exchange; the “Special Enrollment Period” has been extended to August 15, 2020. Learn more and apply for coverage.

  • Airports in NYS saw a travel enforcement operation that started Tuesday (7/14) to help ensure travelers from other  states are aware of NYS quarantine restrictions to help contain COVID-19 infection rates. Learn more.

  • The Governor also announced new, data-driven guidance for reopening schools in New York State. Schools in a given region can reopen in Phase Four, if it’s 14-day average daily infection rate is below 5 percent. Schools will be closed if the regional infection rate rises above 9%, using a 7-day average, after August 1. The State will make a determination between August 1 – 7. Read the NYS school reopening guidance here.

Speaking of schools reopening, the City Dept. of Education (DOE) has set an hour-long, online citywide information session TONIGHT at 6:30 pm for parents seeking details about the 2020-21 school year; register here. (Sadly, that registration link is buried in the DOE’s “Return to School 2020” page.)

This piece on the “Black Lives Matter” mural I helped spark in Foley Square just published online at the New York Times: “The ‘Black Lives Matter’ Murals That Contain Multitudes” I’m so proud of having a role in the exposure of these young artists and of the project as a whole!

The full video of the July 16 meeting of the Manhattan Borough Board is now available on YouTube.

ICE has rescinded their policy change that would have seen thousands of international students expelled from the country if their colleges were online-only in the fall. I wrote to Governor Cuomo last week insisting action be taken to protect CUNY students from the shift, but it’s even better to see it stopped altogether as a result of lawsuits filed by scores of colleges and universities.

The deadline has been extended to 5 pm on July 22 for $65 million in federal CARES Act funding available for child care providers statewide through the New York Forward Child Care Expansion Incentive program. $20 million is available for expanding capacity for reopening child care centers with proper precautions, alongside $45 million to cover costs for newly opened classrooms.

NYCHA Family Days are going to look different this year; there will obviously not be any large gatherings due to the pandemic.

A task force made up of Resident Leaders (appointed by the Citywide Council of Presidents, NYCHA staff and the NYPD) explored different options, reviewed input and developed a menu of options for Resident Leaders who are opting to host a virtual Family Day this summer.

Options include virtual activities for youth, seniors and the general population such as BBQ meal distribution, gift bag and school supply giveaways, mobile DJs and virtual bake-off/cook offs.

I’ll keep you posted when we know this year’s dates for virtual “family day” celebrations.

Similarly, the launch of our annual Fresh Food for Seniors program is now pushed to September… if feasible amid all the necessary health precautions. We will share updates as soon as we have news. Meanwhile, view the list of city Greenmarkets that are functioning here.

The City Planning Commission will resume meeting, remotely, in August, in advance of a resumption of the ULURP planning clock in September. The public will be able to observe all CPC meetings and sign up to speak during public hearings via Zoom.

The first of the remote meetings will be a Review Session on Aug. 3, followed by a Public Meeting on Aug. 5. During Review Sessions, the CPC discusses new applications that are about to commence public review, holds post-CPC-hearing discussions on applications, and votes on City Council modifications. For Public Meetings, the CPC typically holds public hearings and votes on applications.

I will pass along the Zoom link once we have it, but I imagine they will also post on the CPC website when ready.

Alternate Side Parking is suspended until Sunday (7/19). The Office of the Parking Summons Advocate has a new page to learn more and get assistance:

The City Dept. of Sanitation is seeking vendors to deliver meals as part of the Older Adult Emergency Food Access Program. See an FAQ here (PDF) and the bid document here (PDF). The deadline to apply is July 21 at 4 pm.

The Animal Care Centers of NYC have opened a new pet adoption search portal at

The New York Times reported Monday about the many Manhattanites who have temporarily left NYC during the pandemic, and historically high-response neighborhoods currently have extremely low Census response rates. (“Rich New Yorkers Aren’t Filling Out the Census. Poor New Yorkers May Suffer.”)

We’ve known many Manhattanites have relocated for a while now; the Postal Service reported April’s mail-forwarding orders were double the usual rate, 81,000 requests citywide.

To help meet this Census shortfall, in late June my office sent a first-class (i.e. forwardable) postcard to 49 of the worst-performing census tracts in Manhattan urging Census completion. (NY1 reporter Juan Manuel Benitez even received one!)

I wish I could say that solved the problem, but those tracts saw only an extremely modest increase in response rates as posted by the Census Bureau (at least so far).

Filling out the census is one of the best, and easiest ways to help our city… for the next decade! My back-of-the-envelope calculation is that every uncounted household probably costs the City and State over $150,000 in federal aid!

That adds up to billions of dollars in funding for hospitals, health care, schools, housing, and so much more.

Please do your part to ensure New York gets the resources we need; visit (You do not need a code; click “Start Questionnaire” and then “If you do not have a Census ID, click here” link below the login button.)

There are also paid opportunities to help get out the count! NYC Census and BrownMillerGroup are hiring Census Outreach Canvassers (Google Doc) and Census Outreach Team Leaders (Google Doc).

As of Monday (7/13), the New York Public Library began grab-and-go service at three Manhattan branch locations:

  • The Epiphany Library (228 E 23rd St.),

  • George Bruce Library (518 W 125th St.),
    These two branches are now open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 11 am – 6 pm; Wednesday from 12 – 7 pm; and Friday and Saturday: 11 am – 5 pm.

  • Stavros Niarchos Foundation Libraries (455 Fifth Ave. at 40th St.) This branch, the old Mid-Manhattan Library, is open M-F 10 am – 6 pm, Sat. 11 am – 6 pm.

Patrons can also place holds in the online catalog to pick up those titles when ready. Brooklyn and Queens libraries are offering similar grab-and-go services. Learn about grab-and-go branches in The Bronx and Staten Island at the NYPL’s Coronavirus page. (The Queens and Brooklyn libraries are also starting grab-and-go services at limited branches on July 13.)

Lincoln Center has reopened its outdoor spaces (only Damrosch Park remained open since March); hours are now 9:00 am – 9:00 pm for Josie Robertson Plaza and Hearst Plaza, and 7:00 am – 9:00 pm for Damrosch Park.

On Tuesday (7/14) I hosted a town hall on “The Future of Childcare in NYC” in partnership with Columbia University. It was an excellent discussion– the full video is available on YouTube.

Today (7/16) from 4 – 6 pm, the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) is hosting a community forum on reopening schools with Jamaal Bowman, Cynthia Nixon and AQE Advocacy Director Zakiyah Ansari. Register here.

Today (7/16) from 4 – 5:30 pm, NYC H20 hosts an online info session for their new NYC H20 Virtual Hub. Register on Eventbrite.

Tonight (7/16) from 7 – 8 pm, I’ll join State Sen. Liz Krueger and Christian Klossner, Executive Director of the Office of Special Enforcement of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, for Sen. Krueger’s online town hall to discuss reopening New York City. Watch live on Facebook.

Tonight (7/16) from 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm, join the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance for their weekly #StayHomeOpenStudios series featuring Cornerstone Studios, an organization working to create affordable studio space for emerging artists. Watch on Facebook Live.

Tomorrow (7/17) from 5 – 6 pm, Harlem School of the Arts and Juilliard are hosting a “Audition Preparation and Process: What to Know Before, During, and After” webinar. Click the title to register.

On Monday (7/20) at 6 pm, The Joyce Theater is hosting “Dancing Dialogues,” a panel conversation with well-known dancers, choreographers, and artistic directors addressing important topics in the dance community today. RSVP here.

On Monday and Tuesday next week (7/20 – 21), the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health is offering a free online training which enables those who complete the two-day program to earn an OSHA-10 card from NYCOSH. Click here to register now. (The OSHA 10 General Industry Training teaches workers how to prevent, recognize, and mitigate the risk of workplace hazards.)

On Wednesday (7/22) from 11 am – 1 pm, the Children’s Rescue Fund is hosting a virtual career fair, hiring housing specialists, case managers, social workers, and supervisors. To register, email

Community Board 5 is also hiring for a new District Manager.

On Wednesday (7/22) at 7 pm, Michael Kaback, CB 5 member and NYC tour guide, is once again holding a “Virtual Garment District Educational History Walking Tour,” co-sponsored by me and the Garment District BID. Register here.

On Tuesday July 28 at 6:30 pm, Community Board 4’s Balanced Business Task Force is hosting a “Small Business Support Programs and NYC’s Re-Opening Plan in the Age of COVID-19” virtual forum. Click the title to register.

Testing services have been extended at the COVID-19 testing center I helped establish at Riverside Church (91 Claremont Ave) until August 29. The center will be open 9 am – 5 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Assembly Member Al Taylor and community partners have also set up a testing center at the Police Athletic League (3005 Frederick Douglass Blvd.), which will be open 11 am – 5 pm on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Henry Street Settlement’s Henry Street Helpline is available to assist Lower East Siders in English, Spanish, and Chinese on accessing their social services and programs. Call (347) 493-2787, Monday-Friday from 8 am – 8 pm.

Chelsea Piers and NBC Sports have started NBC Sports Camp, a free online summer sports program for 7- to 12-year olds.

Applications are open until July 22 for Bike New York’s Street Action Now! street safety leadership program.

The Morgan Library and Museum has released a video celebrating 800+ students who were part of this year’s Morgan Book Project.

The Salvation Army, Doctors Without Borders, and the Coalition for the Homeless are running mobile hygiene and resource locations for homeless New Yorkers. Learn more.

Applications are open until Saturday (7/18) for the Black-Owned Small Business Impact Fund from the NAACP and Beyoncé’s BeyGOOD foundation, which offers grants of $10,000 or lower for Black-owned small businesses in five cities.

Daily FreshDirect deliveries continued this week at NYCHA developments all across the borough. Thank you to my staff and local Tenants’ Associations for all your help on this amazing project.