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COVID Newsletters

Weekly COVID newsletter (7/8)


It’s Wednesday, July 8, 2020.

At press time,’s COVID-19 tracker shows Manhattan has 27,191 confirmed cases and 3,104 deaths; New York City as a whole has 214,570 cases and 23,224 deaths.

You may have seen the news (it’s the front page of today’s Daily News) that the federal Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE) agency has changed visa rules for foreign students studying in the U.S. if their colleges convert to all-online coursework come fall semester.

This sudden rule change by ICE– spring semester students weren’t forced to leave– sure seems contradictory to the President’s notion of reopening the country, but it’s fully in keeping with the administration’s longstanding cruelty to immigrants and their families. It will likely result in devastating economic losses, forced school reopenings, and huge drops in enrollment.

Harvard and others are suing to overturn the change. Columbia and NYU have outlined steps to protect international students, including limited seminars for international students to help them stay and other special outreach.

But CUNY and SUNY policies haven’t been determined yet, and they need to act to reduce the fear and uncertainty among their student bodies. I’ve urged Gov. Cuomo to have them act soon so that these students aren’t in limbo, and aren’t banished from the benefits of studying here in the U.S.

Today (7/8) the Supreme Court issued two dangerous opinions:

It ruled to grant further exception from fair employment laws for religious institutions, which will give cover for religious institutions to fire or refuse to hire someone based on discriminatory factors, such as gender, race, or sexual orientation (laws which every other employer in the country must follow).

And the court sided with the Trump administration to allow employers to opt out of offering birth control coverage for employees on religious or “moral” grounds, which is yet another chipping away of the Affordable Care Act.

These decisions take freedom of religion much too far.

Tomorrow (7/9) is the 152nd anniversary of the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment establishing equal protection under the law– and at 9:30 am, I’ll be unveiling the official co-naming of Centre St as “Black Lives Matter Boulevard” downstairs from my office at 1 Centre Street.

Invited to speak are Hawk Newsome of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, Commissioner Gonzalo Casals of the Dept. of Cultural Affairs, and Commissioner Polly Trottenberg of the Dept. of Transportation. (Council Member Margaret Chin, whose district this is, was the co-sponsor of the co-naming.)

You’ll also recall that last week, three young Black artists implemented custom designs within the lettering of “Black Lives Matter” painted on the asphalt of Centre Street in Foley Square (realized with the help of TATS CRU and Thrive Collective).

Tijay Mohammed (“BLACK”), Sophia Dawson (“LIVES”), and Patrice Payne (“MATTER”) will provide tours of their designs after the 9:30 am naming ceremony, just to the north of the new street sign (at Chambers and Centre).

So please come down for the co-naming ceremony and stay for a tour of the lettering (take a selfie, even!)– and grab some takeout lunch from a downtown or Chinatown restaurant. But don’t forget your mask!

I kicked off our partnership today at Washington Houses with the New York Public Library’s Summer Reading Program which offers free, age-appropriate books for young people, from toddlers to high schoolers. (I also stopped by Taft Houses, today’s other distribution site). The remaining days of the books giveaway are…

Thursday, July 9, 2020:

  • Polo Towers/Rangel Houses,  10:30 am – 11:30 am. 159-15 Harlem River Drive

  • Harlem River Houses, 12 noon – 1 pm. 291 West 151 Street (between McCombs and 8th Ave), TA Room

Friday, July 10, 2020:

  • Vladeck Houses,  10:30 am – 11:30 am. 356 Madison St.

  • Jacob Riis Cornerstone, 12 noon – 1 pm. 80 Avenue D

Monday, July 13, 2020:

  • Grant Houses, 10:30 am – 11:30 am. 1295 Amsterdam Avenue  (@ 123rd Street), TA Room

  • St. Nicholas Houses, 12 noon – 1 pm. 225 W. 129 St. (between Adam Clayton Powell and Frederick Douglass Blvds)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020:

  • Dyckman Houses, 10:30 am – 11:30 am. 3782 10th Ave. (Children’s Arts and Science Cornerstone)

  • Frederick Samuel Community Center, 12 noon – 1 pm. 669 Lenox Ave.

Yesterday (7/7) the City’s Board of Health voted to allow 3,000 child care centers to reopen this coming Monday (7/13).

That’s not a lot of  notice, and I’ve heard complaints from child care center directors that this doesn’t grant enough time for necessary precautions; centers should take any additional time they need to reopen safely. However, there are set limitations on children per room, as well as procedures for the testing, tracing, and monitoring of COVID-19 cases should they arise. Learn more about City and State child care reopening guidelines.

Governors Island is reopening! Starting today (7/8), early access ferry tickets are available for reservation. Seniors, young people (under 12), NYCHA residents and IDNYC cardholders ride free, instead of paying $3. Socially-distanced ferries will start running again next Wednesday (7/15) at 10 am, and Manhattan ferries will run daily from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street.

Tonight and tomorrow (7/8 – 7/9) at 7 pm, the Climate Museum is hosting Climate Speaks 2020, two evenings of performances of student writing to inspire action on the climate crisis. RSVP here.

Tomorrow (7/9) the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board is hosting a “Co-ops Go Solar Shareholder’s Panel” online workshop, where shareholders from co-ops citywide will discuss their switch to solar energy and answer audience questions. Register here.

Tomorrow (7/9) is the opening of “River to River 2020: Four Voices,” an “echo exhibit” by Asiya Wadud installed throughout the Seaport District, with a gradually revealed series of poems based on conversations with New Yorkers of all stripes– even I spoke with Asiya the week before last!

Tomorrow (7/9) from noon – 1 pm, Columbia University’s 23rd Annual David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum presents a conversation with Van Jones and Michael Nutter. Register here on Zoom, or watch on Facebook or YouTube.

Tomorrow (7/9) at 1 pm, the New York Public Library and Community Board 5 are hosting “Power to the Youth: Creating Change through Activism,” a panel discussion featuring Deputy Borough President Matthew Washington, Council Member Carlina Rivera, First Deputy Public Advocate Nick Smith, and youth leaders. Register here.

Testing services now have been extended an additional week at the COVID-19 testing center I helped establish at Riverside Church (91 Claremont Ave), through to July 18. The center is open 9 am – 5 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Today’s FreshDirect delivery was made to Taft Houses. From there, 500 10-lb food boxes were distributed to King Towers and Lehman Village, as well as Clinton, Carver, Johnson, Wilson and Washington Houses, with the help of my staff and the local Tenants’ Associations. And today through next Tuesday, we’re including a free book from the NY Public Library as part of their Summer Reading series.

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