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COVID Newsletters

Weekly COVID newsletter (8/20)


It’s Thursday, August 20, 2020. Welcome to the weekly edition of my COVID newsletter.

At press time, nonprofit news site’s COVID-19 tracker shows Manhattan has 31,541 confirmed cases and 3,162 deaths; New York City as a whole has 231,015 cases and 23,643 deaths. There were 273 new cases citywide Tuesday (8/18) compared to last Tuesday’s (8/11) 386 cases, a fall of 29%. Gov. Cuomo yesterday announced the 12th straight day of COVID positivity below 1%. The City released the results of about 1.5 million antibody tests this week, and the Times wrote up those results.


Seven years ago, a group of women banded together to create Central Park’s first statue of real women. The group, which became Monumental Women, and I faced obstacles at every turn, from being told that women want gardens, not statues, to having to prove that Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony each set foot in Central Park. We had to rely almost entirely on individual contributions– the only public money came from myself and Council Member Helen Rosenthal. But we pushed through each “no” until the City approved the statue.

Next Wednesday (8/26) at 7:45 am (to accommodate both the Today Show and Good Morning America), we will unveil the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument at long last. That part of the event is invitation only; but you can watch the livestream at or The TV crew will leave by late morning, and I and Monumental Women board members will stay on site when the monument opens to the public at noon; please come– bring your children or grandchildren– to Central Park’s Literary Walk to take a picture and listen to the talking statue’s monologues (voiced by Jane Alexander, Viola Davis, America Ferrera, Rita Moreno, Zoe Saldana and Meryl Streep).

Learn more at “For Three Suffragists, a Monument Well Past Due,” a NY Times profile of the monument’s sculptor, Meredith Bergmann.

This week I and other elected officials wrote Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks regarding concerns about temporary shelters at three hotels on the Upper West Side. The lack of notification to the public that these hotels would be housing the homeless is beyond distressing, and we recommend steps the agency must take now to help mitigate legitimate issues facing the community. Read the letter here.

I oppose the NYPD’s proposal to change the rules governing press access; they give the NYPD overwhelming authority to revoke press credentials for almost any reason. Read my testimony about it all.

I also wrote to NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea about the disturbing attempted arrest of Derrick Ingram at his apartment in Hell’s Kitchen on Aug. 7. Read the letter here.

Don’t forget to enter my “Manhattan’s most charming outdoor dining sites” contest by Sept. 1! Submit photos of the best sidewalk dining setups, and I’ll be sure to eat at the best ones this September with some of the winning submitters.

Send me an email with photos of top contender(s) attached to by Sept. 1, with the subject line “Dining Contest” (be sure to include the restaurant’s name and address in the email!).

The Don Sebastian Pichardo Contreras Bell, which survived countless conflicts in the Dominican Republic and is now on display at City College, helps illuminate the Dominican past. The CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, City College and the Hispanic Society of America Museum & Library have mounted a cross-disciplinary partnership that revealed the bell’s connection to a celebrated revolutionary family. Read more or visit the bell on City College’s South Campus.


The CARES Act that passed Congress in the early days of the pandemic last spring authorized “Economic Impact Payments” of $1,200 for individuals ($2,400 for couples) and $500 for each dependent child under age 17. Many of those payments have been made, but not all.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), an independent organization within the IRS, says that millions have not received some or all of the amounts Congress authorized. And the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm, estimates that some 465,000 relief payments in April and May did not include the $500 for qualifying children. Some parents have reported that they received their $1,200 but did not get the extra $500 for each child, or they received money for one child but not for another.

The IRS has now reopened the registration period, until Sept. 30, to claim those $500 payments to one category of taxpayers– those who do not normally file returns: Social Security retirement, survivor, disability or Railroad Retirement beneficiaries, or Supplemental Security Income or Veterans Affairs benefit recipients who have qualifying children and did not file a return in 2018 or 2019 OR otherwise did not supply information via the nonfilers tool on the IRS website at

If you don’t submit the information by Sept. 30, you may claim the $500 as a tax credit next year by filing a 2020 federal income tax return according to the IRS.

If you DID use the non-filer tool and claimed a qualifying child but did not receive a $500 EIP payment, you can call the TAS at 877-777-4778. Learn more at the TAS website.

If you’re a property owner or building manager, please advise your staff and residents to allow (properly identified) Census enumerators into the building to visit those residents who have not completed their census forms.

Museums are now cleared to reopen starting as early as this Monday (8/24), at a maximum of 25% capacity and with timed admissions. My staff and interns compiled information about museums’ plans and posted them here. At press time, these museums have not announced reopening: Asia Society and Museum, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, National Museum of the American Indian NY, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, South Street Seaport Museum, The Frick Collection and The Morgan Library & Museum. We’ll post those plans at the same link once we have them.


The Manhattan Community Award Program applications close tomorrow, Friday (8/21) at 5 pm.

Yesterday, Deputy Borough President Aldrin R. Bonilla and I awarded a total of $215,000 to 15 organizations as part of the New York County Census 2020 Complete Count Outreach Grant, from Empire State Development. The grantees will conduct census outreach for historically undercounted communities and provide a much-needed last-minute boost as the final days of the census response period shifts into high gear. The organizations are:

  • Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Inc.
  • Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation
  • Grand Street Settlement, Inc.
  • New York Urban League
  • Community Voices Heard, Inc.
  • The New York Immigration Coalition, Inc.
  • Boys & Girls Club of Harlem
  • The Children’s Aid Society
  • Asian American Foundation
  • Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights
  • The League of Women Voters of New York State
  • Dominicanos USA, Inc.
  • The Lesbian & Gay Community Services Center, Inc.
  • Centro Civico Cultural Dominicanos
  • Beyond Our Status Congolese Alliance, Inc.

The Dept. of Education will provide child care for children from 3-K through 8th grade this fall for days when they are not in school buildings. Complete this survey (even if you don’t yet know your child’s school schedule) to express interest in placing your children in the new “Learning Bridges” program.

Small business owners: Apply now through Sunday (8/23) for $20,000 LISC NYC – Lowes Neighborhood Business Grants. The grants may be used to pay rent and utilities, meet payroll, pay outstanding debt to vendors, upgrade technology infrastructure and take care of other immediate operational costs.

Apply by Sept. 13 to the NeON Arts Grant, which awards up to $15,000 to artists and arts organizations pursuing projects in community and justice settings. Grants are sponsored by NeON (Neighborhood Opportunity Network) and Carnegie Hall.

Yesterday, “Advancing Black Entrepreneurship in NYC” was released by the City’s Black Entrepreneurs NYC initiative and highlights the challenges Black entrepreneurs face and announces consulting, financing and virtual storefront partnerships with Ernst & Young, Goldman Sachs, Mastercard and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The Dept. of Small Business Services has launched Career Discovery NYC, a free career search and skills training tool.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson and I launched the Garment Center Steering Committee in 2017, which aimed to lift manufacturing restrictions while still protecting the important garment manufacturing ecosystem. As part of our work, the City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) agreed to acquire a building to provide affordable manufacturing space for garment manufacturers; now, the EDC has issued a RFEI (Request for Expression of Interest) for building owners to offer possible properties for purchase by the City. Complete the Garment Center Building Acquisition RFEI by Nov. 17.

MEND (Mediating Establishment and Neighbor Disputes) NYC is a new City program to provide free mediation to hospitality businesses and their neighbors who are in disputes over quality-of-life issues. MEND NYC aims to mitigate the need for formal enforcement, such as issuing summonses, which can add financial hardship to small businesses that are already under tremendous strain.

NYC HOPE can connect you to resources to help you or a loved one experiencing dating, domestic or gender-based violence. Visit or call 1-800-621-HOPE (4673). Call 911 for emergencies.

Volunteer to grow food with and for local residents with the East Harlem nonprofit Concrete Safaris. Register online to volunteer at Mad Fun Farm at Washington Houses (98th St. and 3rd Ave.) or Jefferson Gardens (114th St. and 2nd Ave.) through December.

LiveOn NY has compiled an extensive list of virtual and phone events for seniors.

Lighthouse Guild’s “Community Connections” program offers virtual presentations about vision loss. Contact or 917-386-9197 to register. Lighthouse Guild also hosts a monthly book club. Register here or call 212-769-7833.

Free fares on buses will end on 8/31, and front door boarding will resume. With a traditional bus layout, there will be more space for social distancing.

This weekend, there will be free shuttle bus service between the 145 St. A-B-C-D and 155 St. B-D stations. D trains will skip 155 St. in both directions, and B trains don’t run on weekends.


Harlem Week continues through Sunday (8/23). For more info:

  • Percy Sutton virtual 5k (through Sun 8/23)
  • Harlem Music Fest (through Sun 8/23)
  • Senior Day has two webinars, senior health & demystifying tech (Fri 8/21, 1-3 pm)
  • Harlem Day Festival w/ virtual performances (Sun 8/23, 1-7 pm)

Now through Saturday (8/22) at 7 pm, the 39th Annual Battery Park Dance Festival hosts free nightly online performances.

Now through 8/31, intermediate and advanced dancers can take free company classes with Nai-Ni Chen Virtual Dance Institute. Register here.

Tomorrow (8/21) and Saturday (8/22), 6th – 12th graders can join Summer in the City Olympics, a mix of virtual and in-person activities, sponsored by Young Life Upper West Side. Register here.

Saturday (8/22) 12 – 6 pm, the Protect Your Block initiative, sponsored by State Senator Brian A. Benjamin, hosts Harlem Streets, offering activities for all ages at 115 St. (btwn ACP and Frederick Douglass Blvds.), 127 St. (btwn ACP and Frederick Douglass Blvds.) and Macombs Pl. (btwn 151 and 152 Sts.).

Sunday (8/23) at 1 pm, join a “Cancel the Rent” march in Inwood (Dyckman St. and Broadway) and Washington Heights (157 St. and Broadway).

Mondays through Sept. 7, the Harlem Family Institute’s virtual support groups, “Parenting Under COVID-19,” meet at 1 pm or 7 pm.

This Monday (8/24) and Tuesday (8/25), Let’s Talk Schools will host a free virtual private school fair and admissions panel. Register for sessions here.

Monday (8/24) through Thursday (8/27), high school students are invited to College and Career Readiness Week, sponsored by Harlem School of the Arts. Attend virtual workshops on topics like writing personal statements, financial aid and researching colleges.

Monday (8/24) at 1 pm, hear from Regional Plan Association Vice President of Housing and Neighborhood Planning Moses Gates and David Housing Prize finalists about the future of housing and sustainability.

Monday (8/24) at 6 pm, join the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan for “Building a Life After Cancer,” part of the Broadway’s Best for Breast Cancer series.

Monday (8/24) at 6:30 pm, Community Board 7 will host an information session on use of Upper West Side hotels to reduce the density of congregate homeless shelters. Submit questions in advance to Register here.

Tuesday (8/25) kicks off the 5th annual Brookfield Place Tennis Open, which includes free tennis camp for kids, skills clinics for adults and kids and open court time.

Tuesday (8/25) at 5:30 pm, Harlem School of the Arts will host “How I Did It: Make It Fashion,” a discussion with alumna and Chanel stylist Z’hara Green.

Wednesday (8/26) at 1 pm,, a project spearheaded by the Dept. of Records and Information Services/Municipal Archives, will host a Women’s Equality Day Write-In. Share stories of women who worked (or are working) to create a better world, and those stories will be permanently preserved by the Municipal Archives, to inspire the next generation of female leaders.

Wednesday (8/26) at 1 pm, join Womankind for “Art and Storytelling with Warren King” as he shares his journey of discovering his Chinese roots.

Next Thursday (8/27) at 11 am, the FDNY and Union Settlement  will host “Fire Safety Day for Children and Families” at 237 E. 104 St. and distribute free smoke detectors, first aid kits and fire safety coloring books.

Next Thursday (8/27) at 6:30 pm, the Dept. of Education has set another online citywide information session for parents seeking details about the 2020-21 school year; register here.

Next Thursday (8/27) at 6:30 pm, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council continues its artists’ professional development series with “Work Samples Do’s and Don’t’s.”

The Creative Center at University Settlement has a packed calendar of virtual workshops, including writing and art classes.

Watch the NYC LGBT History Sites Project’s spring and summer presentations on YouTube, including “#DamesAtHome” and “#CheersQueers.”

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.

Stay Safe