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COVID Newsletters

Weekly COVID newsletter (9/10)


It’s Thursday, September 10, 2020. Welcome to the weekly edition of my COVID newsletter.

At press time, nonprofit news site’s COVID-19 tracker shows Manhattan has a total of 32,551 confirmed cases and 3,178 deaths; New York City as a whole has a total of 236,983 cases and 23,741 deaths. There were 336 new cases citywide yesterday (9/9), compared to last Wednesday’s (9/2) 304 cases, a rise of 10%.

It pains me to report that Manhattan’s Upper East Side lost to Midwood, Brooklyn, in last week’s Census Subway Series. The Upper East Side raised its response rate by 1.4% to 51.2%, but that means only 520 additional households filled out their Census forms. But it’s not too late– 9/30 is the deadline to top Manhattan’s 2010 response rate (of 66.2%– we’re currently at 60.1%). Complete your Census at


My staff and interns surveyed storefronts along the entire length of Broadway and found 335 street-level vacancies– a 78% increase in vacancies along Broadway since my 2017 survey, which reflects both relentlessly rising rents and the pandemic’s devastating toll on businesses. Surveyors also documented 42 storefronts boarded up with plywood and 33 closed until further notice due to the pandemic. View the full survey here or read the Wall Street Journal’s coverage (paywalled) here.

To help preserve small businesses, a law I passed with Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Local Law 157 of 2019, created a citywide database of empty storefront properties that will go live in February 2021, based on data reported by property owners– including census tract-level data of the median length of leases, size of rentable floor area and current rent.

This week, as teachers and staff were slated to return to their school buildings, the City announced that 10 buildings (six in Manhattan) aren’t yet safe to reopen due to ventilation problems. If those problems haven’t been addressed by 9/21, in-person instruction at these locations will begin in alternate spaces TBA. (Last month, I sent an extensive list of 175 alternative indoor and outdoor learning spaces in Manhattan compiled by my staff and interns to the Dept. of Education, so I hope these sites are being considered.)

The affected Manhattan school buildings are:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus, 122 Amsterdam Ave., housing the Maxine Greene High School for Imaginative Inquiry; Urban Assembly School for Media Studies; High School for Law, Advocacy & Community Justice; High School of Arts and Technology; Hunter Science High School; Special Music School
  • 34 W. 14th St., housing P.S. 721 Manhattan Occupational Training Center; Harvest Collegiate High School
  • 90 Trinity Pl., housing Leadership and Public Service High School
  • 590 6th Ave., housing P.S. 94; Sixth Avenue Elementary School
  • Norman Thomas High School building, 111 E. 33rd St., housing Success Academy High School of the Liberal Arts; Manhattan Academy for Arts & Language; Murray Hill Academy; Unity Center for Urban Technologies
  • 100 Trinity Pl., housing High School of Economics and Finance

The Mayor abruptly announced this week that the 283 homeless men currently housed at the Lucerne Hotel will be moved to the Harmonia Shelter/Hotel Chandler, 12 E. 31st St. At that hotel, NYC Dept. of Homeless Services is now moving out adult families to still other hotels so that the Lucerne men can move in. This approach by the City to repeatedly move large numbers of homeless individuals from one site to another cannot be good for clients or communities. We need permanent, supportive housing and must do better.

Read my statement here and read my joint statement with State Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Dick Gottfried and Council Member Keith Powers here.

I worked with NY Sun Works to donate 40 pounds of fresh-grown hydroponic vegetables to Goddard Riverside’s Phelps House last week. The lettuce, arugula, bok choy and basil were grown in NY Sun Works’ flagship greenhouse at P.S. 333 Manhattan School for Children; that’s just one of NY Sun Works’ 130 school communities, where they use hydroponic technology to teach the science of sustainability.


NY Sun Works’ flagship hydroponic greenhouse at P.S. 333 Manhattan School for Children is only five blocks from Goddard Riverside’s Phelps House, which received 40 pounds of NY Sun Works’ vegetables last week.


Indoor dining is coming back, finally. Restaurants will be allowed to reopen on Wednesday, 9/30 with these caveats:

  • Serve customers at a maximum of 25% capacity, with tables spaced six feet apart
  • Conduct customer temperature checks at door
  • Collect Test & Trace data from at least one customer at each table
  • Close bar tops for seating
  • PPE for all employees
  • If the city’s COVID positivity rate hits 2%, the City will immediately reassess.

Call 833-208-4160 or text VIOLATION to 855-904-5036 to report capacity violations.

(Open Restaurant outdoor dining will continue through 10/31, though I’m urging the Mayor to extend it until at least 11/30 and announce that as soon as possible so that restaurant staffs can plan for colder weather.)

The Dept. of Education has released the 2020-2021 school year calendar, which lists fully remote days, closures and parent-teacher conferences.

The NYS Dashboard for COVID-19 in Schools will be updated daily with data about positive COVID tests in each school, as reported by school districts.

NYC school families can join The New School’s InsideSchools+ to help navigate the school system and this year’s extraordinary challenges. The website offers discussion forums and classes, such as “How to Support Online Learning at Home,” which is free and open for enrollment now.

As in-person school instruction resumes, GetFoodNYC Grab and Go meal locations will continue Monday – Friday at 200 schools in high-need areas starting 9/21. To view updated locations later this month, see the GetFoodNYC map. Some will be dedicated kosher locations, and others will serve halal protein options.

Students learning in-person at a public school will receive both breakfast and lunch in school, and students at Learning Bridges locations will also receive breakfast and lunch on site. Families of students learning remotely can pick up free Grab and Go meals from any of the 200 schools, 9 am – 12 pm. Adults can pick up meals from 3 – 5pm.

Im staying in touch with my Panel for Educational Policy (the old Board of Education) and Community Education Council members as the reopening approaches.

Due to Rosh Hashanah (9/18 – 9/20), seniors and adults scheduled to receive GetFoodNYC kosher home-delivered food on 9/20 will instead receive their delivery on 9/21.

Gov. Cuomo added Delaware, Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia to the self-quarantine list if their residents visit New York State.

Free rapid COVID tests are available at these Test & Trace Clinic locations:

  • Central Harlem: 2238 5th Ave., 1st floor
  • Chelsea: 303 9th Ave.
  • Riverside: 160 W. 100th St.
  • Washington Heights: 600 W. 168th St., 3rd floor

Schedule an appointment online here. Appointment slots are available up to a week in advance.

To apply for an absentee ballot, download an application at or call 1-866-VOTE-NYC. Check “temporary illness” as the reason for requesting a mail-in ballot on the application. Absentee ballots will start being sent 9/18. Return it by mail, with the back of the envelope signed, postmarked no later than 10/27, or return it by hand to the Manhattan BOE offices (200 Varick St.) during business hours before 11/2, or before 9 pm on Election Day 11/3.

Track your absentee ballot using the NYC Board of Election’s new tracking system. The tracker confirms if the BOE received your ballot request, mailed your ballot and accepted your ballot– or how to fix your ballot if it wasn’t accepted.

Early voting will be available 10/24 – 11/1; locations are still TBA, but I’ll share them once they’re announced. The BOE will post them here.

Gov. Cuomo and Attorney General James have delayed the City’s annual tax and water lien sale until at least 10/3. New Yorkers now have an additional three weeks to pay their overdue property, water and sewer charges; set up a payment plan with the NYC Dept. of Finance; or obtain an exemption (the City’s website doesn’t yet reflect the delay to 10/3). Property owners have received four notices since February about outstanding debt. My staff is attempting to reach every name on the list by phone.

It’s best to pay back the charges before the sale, because the buyer of your debt will add fees and interest to what you owe.

An extension of NYC Ferry’s Wall St.-to-Astoria route now serves the E. 90th St. landing. The new connection comes at no additional operating or capital expense, and will not change travel time to or from existing landings on the Astoria route– and expands travel options for Upper East Siders (at the same cost as a subway or bus ride).



Tonight (9/10) at 6:30 pm, State Senator Brian Kavanaugh, the MTA, other elected officials and I are cosponsoring an online public forum about repairs to the F Train’s Rutgers Tube tunnel, damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Repairs are set to begin 9/14 and will require select weeknight and weekend closures of the East Broadway and York St. stations. Translation will be available in Spanish and Mandarin. Register here.

Individuals experiencing homelessness can access a free shower station at 62 W. 138th St., with showers, toilets, hygiene kits and PPE available, Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 1 – 5 pm. The shower station is provided by the Salvation Army Harlem Temple, Coalition for the Homeless and Shower Power.

Reserve food at food pantries without waiting in line through the Plentiful app. Download the Android app or text FOOD to 726-879.

With sunsets occurring sooner by minutes each day, now is the time to report malfunctioning, damaged or missing streetlights to the NYC Dept. of Transportation– daylight savings time ends 11/1.

Become a Climate Week Virtual Volunteer, 9/21 – 9/25. The Climate Museum offers volunteer opportunities for all ages. Register by 9/18 through the above Virtual Volunteer link.

Nominate an individual or organization doing outstanding urban public health work for the Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize. Nominations close 12/31.

Bryant Park Birding Tours have returned, Mondays, 9 am – 12 pm, and Thursdays, 5 – 6 pm, through 10/1. Advance registration is required.



Tomorrow is the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is open only to 9/11 families on the anniversary of the attacks; it reopens to the public on 9/12. The traditional reading of the names at the museum site has been suspended this year due to the coronavirus (although Vice President Mike Pence will participate in the Staten Island-based Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s September 11 Memorial Ceremony).

Tomorrow (9/11) at 7:55 am, stream the annual “Table of Silence Project 9/11” performance ritual for peace, sponsored by Buglisi Dance Theatre and Lincoln Center. Click the title to watch, or stream on Facebook.

Tomorrow (9/11) at 12:30 pm, the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden continues its Lunchtime Lecture series with “Birth of Modern Campaigning.” Watch on Zoom.

Tuesday (9/15) at 4 pm, take a 19th-century historic walking tour of the neighborhood around the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum. Register here.

Saturday (9/12) all day, Waterfront Alliance hosts City of Water Day to raise awareness about the risks of rising sea levels and climate change. Check out water-themed events throughout the city and art installations.

Saturday (9/12) at 10 am, join a Broadway clean-up from W. 135th – 145th Sts., sponsored by the Broadway Mall Association. Meet at Lyn-Genet’s Kitchen (Broadway btwn W. 141st and 142nd Sts.).

Saturday (9/12) noon – 3 pm, pick up free hot meals, school supplies and baby supplies at the Hope for Harlem grab and go event (St. Nicholas Ave. btwn W. 118th and 119th Sts.), hosted by State Senator Brian A. Benjamin, First Corinthian Baptist Church and DC9.

Saturday (9/12) at noon, register to vote at the National Action Network’s House of Justice (106 W. 145th St.).

Saturday (9/12) at 2 pm and Sunday (9/13) at 2 pm, watch Theater for the New City’s final performances of “LIBERTY Or JUST US, A City Parks Story,” an oratorio that honors NYC parks for being sites of activism. Stream on the Theater’s website or Facebook page.

Monday (9/14) to next Saturday (9/19), join ABAL Sports for the FADE (Fathers and Daughters Everywhere) Movement Virtual Walkathon. Register here for the walkathon and FADE’s other virtual events.

Monday (9/14) at 1 pm, entrepreneurs are invited to “Selling Digital Products Online,” a webinar hosted by the Pace University Small Business Development Center. See Pace’s other upcoming small business webinars here.

Monday (9/14) at 6 pm, the Trust for Governors Island will present their plans for the future of Governors Island to the Land Use Committee of Manhattan Community Board 1  (covering Battery Park City, the Financial District, the South Street Seaport, TriBeCa and Ellis, Liberty and Governors Islands). Information about how to join the meeting will be posted here tomorrow (9/11).

Tuesday (9/15) at 6 pm, learn about “Tenants’ Rights During the COVID-19 Pandemic” through a webinar hosted by Housing Conservation Coordinators and Community Board 4, which covers Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. Stream on Zoom or YouTube.

Tuesday (9/15) at 6 pm and next Thursday (9/17) at 6 pm, Bowery homeowners, building owners, business owners, community leaders and real estate professionals can learn how to use Historic Tax Credit programs in the Bowery Historic District. Register for the 9/15 or 9/17 webinar, presented by the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, the State Historic Preservation Office and the Preservation League of New York State.

Next Thursday (9/17) at noon, join the NY Metropolitan Transportation Council for presentations on transportation from their 9/11 Memorial Scholars. Watch on Webex (meeting password: NYMTC123).

Next Thursday (9/17) at 2 pm, join Womankind for a discussion, “Rising Domestic Violence and Abuse During COVID-19: How Workplaces Can Help Those in Need.” Register by 9/15 here.

Next Thursday (9/17) at 8 pm, watch the City Parks Foundation annual SummerStage Jubilee, with stories and songs by guests like Billie Jean King, Leslie Odom Jr. and Norah Jones. Stream on Instagram, YouTube or Facebook.

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