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COVID Newsletters

Weekly COVID newsletter (8/27)


It’s Thursday, August 27, 2020. Welcome to the weekly edition of my COVID newsletter.

At press time, nonprofit news site’s COVID-19 tracker shows Manhattan has 31,935 confirmed cases and 3,168 deaths; New York City as a whole has 233,140 cases and 23,674 deaths. There were 315 new cases citywide yesterday (8/26) compared to last Wednesday’s (8/19) 273 cases, a rise of 14%.


Yesterday, I attended the unveiling of the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument in Central Park, which honors three women who fought for suffrage, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. They, and countless other women and people of color, knew that voting was only a right worth fighting for if we exercise it. With this right newly threatened by the pandemic and the Trump administration’s destabilization of the Post Office, it’s more important than ever to make a voting plan for the Nov. 3 General Election.

New Yorkers can vote one of three ways, but first they must register to vote by Oct. 9. Then they must decide how they will vote: absentee (including for fear of contracting COVID, thanks to new election reforms signed by Gov. Cuomo last week), early, and in person on Nov. 3.

Absentee Voting

  • Request an absentee ballot from the Board of Elections (BOE):
    • By Oct. 27: Apply online, apply by phone (1-866-VOTE-NYC), mail an application to your borough’s BOE office (Manhattan: 200 Varick St., 10th Floor, NY, NY 10014), email an application to or fax an application to 212-487-5349.
    • By Nov. 2: Request an absentee ballot in person at your borough’s BOE office (Manhattan: 200 Varick St., 10th Floor, NY, NY 10014).
    • To vote absentee for fear of illness, check “temporary illness or disability” on the application.
    • Designate someone to pick up your ballot if you can’t pick it up or receive it by mail (Section 7 of the application).
  • Return your ballot (with options to avoid relying on the Post Office):
    • Mail it on or before Nov. 3– all ballots postmarked on or before Election Day and received within 7 days after Election Day will be counted. Ballots not postmarked but received on Nov. 4 will also be counted;
    • Drop it off at your borough’s BOE office on or before Nov. 3;
    • Drop if off at an early voting site Oct. 24 – Nov. 1;
    • Drop it off at a polling site Nov. 3.

Early Voting

  • Early voting will be available Oct. 24 – Nov. 1.
  • will post early voting locations once finalized.

Voting In Person Nov. 3 Election Day

  • Polling sites will be open 6 am – 9 pm.
  • Find your polling site at

I disagree with the Dept. of Parks’ decision to not issue fall season athletic field and court permits at this time, although fields and courts are open on a first-come, first-served basis for low- and moderate-risk sports, as defined by the State. Read my letter to Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver.

To accommodate socially distanced worship during the upcoming Jewish High Holidays, I’ve reached out to the Dept. of Parks, Dept. of Education and Dept. of Transportation about potential outdoor space for services. Congregations interested in applying for open space should submit a Street Activity Permit application with the Mayor’s Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management. My staff and I will continue to assist the community through this process and are working closely with the terrific staff at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. Please contact Shula Warren Puder, Director of Policy, at with any questions.

This is the last week 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 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 Dept. of Education this week announced the Outdoor Learning Initiative, which encourages schools to hold as many classes outside as possible and allows principals to request additional outdoor space in nearby parks or streets.

In anticipation of needing additional classroom space, my staff and interns compiled an exhaustive list of possible indoor and outdoor sites for schools to utilize, which I sent to the Dept. of Education and the NYC School Construction Authority earlier this month.

To prepare for indoor classes, Mayor de Blasio has given teams of engineers and educators one week to check for sufficient ventilation systems and social distancing signage at 1,700 schools. But Chalkbeat reports that many educators feel ill-prepared to assess buildings’ readiness. Review your school’s most recent inspection and reported fan deficiencies here.

Revel resumed its moped-sharing service today (8/27) after suspending NYC service on July 28 following several fatalities. Revel’s new safety measures, approved by the City, include a mandatory in-app user training, a helmet selfie feature, strengthened rider accountability policies, a community reporting tool and expanded in-person lessons. Many commuters have turned to Revel for socially distant transportation.

No other hotels on the Upper West Side will be used as temporary homeless shelters as part of the City’s initiative to reduce COVID spread in congregate shelters, the Dept. of Homeless Services (DHS) said at an Aug. 19 meeting with elected officials and community stakeholders. For example, the Milburn Hotel and the Hotel Beacon will not be rented by DHS or non-profits working with DHS.

At that meeting, DHS also reported that the State Sex Offender Registry mistakenly listed a homeless Level 3 sex offender as a Lucerne Hotel resident. He is not staying at the Lucerne, and DHS has advised the State to correct the registry.

Schedule a free rapid COVID test at Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene COVID Express sites and get results within 24 hours.

Gov. Cuomo this week removed five states from the self-quarantine list if their residents visit New York State: Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Maryland and Montana.

From October through December, the Dept. of Transportation will transition all 1-hour parking meters to 2-hour meters with graduated rates. Most meters below 96 St. are already 2-hours. Find rate information here.


Gov. Cuomo extended the 50-person limit on non-essential gatherings until Sept. 19 and the moratorium on commercial evictions until Sept. 20.

The State is now reviewing legislation that would avoid an end to rent regulation, even as rental vacancies rise in NYC. Introduced by State Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, the bill would maintain all declarations of housing emergency that were in effect as of March 7, 2020 for two years after the State’s COVID-19 state of emergency ends. A housing emergency is defined as when a municipality’s vacancy rate falls below 5%. When this happens, it triggers rent regulation. Because so many people have moved out of NYC since the spring, some fear that the city’s vacancy rate– last calculated in 2017 at 3.63%– may exceed 5%. This bill ensures that rent regulation will continue. Housing advocates who support this bill believe that many recent vacancies are a reaction to the pandemic and are short term, and that the last thing struggling tenants need is for rent regulation to disappear.

GetFoodNYC’s map now includes grocery stores and greenmarkets, in addition to Grab & Go sites and food pantries.

Apply by tomorrow (8/28) to Opportunity for Growth, a business education program designed to grow minority- and women-owned businesses, sponsored by the Harlem Entrepreneurial Fund. Apply here.

Apply by Monday (8/31) for a $10,000 Community Food Funders 2020 Food Movement Support Fund grant for grassroots food justice organizations. Apply here.

Apply now for $5,000 – $10,000 Neighborhood Business Grants from Citizens Committee for NYC.

Apply now for interest-free small business loans up to $20,000, co-sponsored by Hebrew Free Loan Society and Bank Leumi.

Apply by Sept. 12 for a $2,000 West Harlem Small Business Rent Relief Grant from the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

GetFoodNYC has compiled resources for small food businesses about reopening, PPE, grants and loans.

Institute for Career Development has reopened its 123 William St. office for in-person services and will also continue online services. IDC provides vocational assessment, counseling and training to youth, adults, veterans and people with disabilities. Employers, contact for qualified interns and employees.

New Yorkers who meet 2019 income requirements are eligible for free tax preparation aid from the Dept. of Consumer Affairs through Oct. 15.

Nominate exceptional women in law and financial advice to Crain’s New York Business’ Notable Women features.

Saturdays and newly Sundays noon – 9 pm through Oct. 31, Amsterdam Ave. between 97 – 110 St. will be closed to cars and turned into Manhattan’s longest Open Street; see the list of which restaurants will be participating as Open Restaurants here.

Enjoy the parks from your apartment with Parks@Home, virtual NYC Dept. of Parks programming, including park tours, meditation, fitness, art classes and kids activities.

Lincoln Center and ballet dancer Misty Copeland remind you to fill out the 2020 Census in this PSA.

Contribute to the New York Public Library’s archives by submitting audio recordings about life during the COVID era to The Pandemic Diaries, a new NYPL initiative. Submit recordings by Nov. 18.

Register now for the Oct. 3 high school track and field trials at the Armory New Balance Track & Field Center. Athletes can receive fully automatic time and verified field event recordings to assist in college recruiting.

The Burgess Group has been awarded the executive search contract to recruit the Director of the World Trade Center in New York City by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

Sunday (8/30), the MTA will end its Essential Connector overnight for-hire vehicle service for essential workers and has added three overnight interborough express bus routes: the B99, M99 and Bx99.


Tonight (8/27) at 6 pm, Educational Video Center will screen “The Colors of Health: Understanding Unequal Care in New York City,” as part of their Docs & Dialogue series. Register here.

Tonight (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.

Tonight (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.”

Tonight (8/27) at 7 pm, Theater for the New City presents “On The Air,” poetry celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage. Livestream on their website or Facebook.

Tonight (8/27) at 7:30 pm, the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance continues its Thursdays with NoMAA series with muralist Danny Bonilla. Watch on Zoom or Facebook.

Tomorrow (8/28) at 6 pm, Animal Cares Center of NYC will host “Todo lo que siempre quiso saber sobre la adopción de una mascota.” Register here.

Saturday (8/29) at 10 am, join a Broadway clean-up between 135 – 145 Sts, sponsored by the Broadway Mall Association. Meet at Lyn-Genet’s Kitchen (3473 Broadway btwn 141 and 142 Sts.).

Saturday (8/29) noon – 6 pm, the Protect Your Block initiative, co-sponsored by me and 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.).

Saturday (8/29) 1 – 3 pm, Times Square Church will host a backpack and school supply giveaway (backstage entrance on 51 St. btwn Broadway and 8 Ave.).

Tuesday (9/1) at 1 pm, Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan NY will host an interactive discussion on mentorship during COVID. Register here.

Tuesday (9/1) at 4 pm, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council will hold an information session for Creative Learning and Creative Engagement Manhattan Arts Grants applicants. Register here.

Tuesday (9/1) at 6 pm, Hunter College’s Hunter@Home will host “The Presidents vs. the Press: From the Founding Fathers to Fake News.”

Tuesday (9/1) at 7:30 pm, join The Africa Center and Storyspaces for an outdoor screening of “John Lewis: Good Trouble.” Register here.

Wednesday (9/2) 8 am – 6 pm, donate blood at City College (160 Convent Ave., North Academic Building, main floor Flex Room). Make an appointment online or at 646-300-5051. While I don’t agree with the FDA policy excluding gay men from donating blood unless they have been celibate for three months, those who are eligible to donate should– in order to help save lives.

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