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COVID Newsletters

Weekly newsletter (2/11)


It’s Thursday, February 11, 2021. Welcome to my weekly COVID-19 newsletter.

Here are the bullets for NYC according to nonprofit news site’s COVID-19 tracker, the New York State COVID testing dashboard, and the NYC Dept. of Health:


  • 93,635 cumulative confirmed cases (+4,636 from last week)

  • 3,693 cumulative deaths (+81 since last week)

  • 3.1% seven-day positivity average (down from 3.3% last week)


  • 640,017 total cases (+29,671 from last week)

  • 27,949 total deaths (+595 more deaths since last week)

  • 8.14% seven-day positivity average (down from 8.48% last week)

The University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s weekly “reference scenario” period has been extended a month, until June 1; they estimate 195,582 more deaths will occur nationwide from 2/4 – 6/1 (a projected cumulative total of 630,881 deaths). Last week’s scenario, cited in this newsletter, estimated 166,719 deaths through 5/1/21, so the additional month adds about 30,000 more deaths.

New Yorkers with the underlying conditions in the bullet list below have been added to the vaccine eligibility list and can begin scheduling vaccine appointments on Sunday (2/14), for appointments on Monday (2/15) and later. According to the Governor, those newly eligible must provide proof of their underlying condition by showing a doctor’s note, medical records, or a signed self-attestation.

  • Cancer (current or in remission)

  • Chronic kidney disease

  • Pulmonary disease, including COPD, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, and cystic fibrosis

  • Intellectual and developmental disabilities

  • Heart conditions, including heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, and hypertension

  • Immunocompromised state

  • Obesity (BMI of 30 kg/m2 or higher)

  • Pregnancy

  • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia

  • Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus

  • Cerebrovascular disease

  • Neurologic conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease or dementia

  • Liver disease

TLC drivers and restaurant workers are eligible to be vaccinated at the new site at Citi Field, which reserves 50% of appointments for TLC and restaurant employees and the other 50% for Queens residents. aggregates available appointments at 43 City- and State-run vaccine sites, created by software engineer Huge Ma. Follow the TurboVax Twitter account for availability notifications. This is a great tool, but it’s not a comprehensive list of vaccine sites– there isn’t one, sadly– so use it alongside these other City-, State-, private-, and volunteer-run sites below, some of which are limited by eligibility category and may not have appointments available at the moment. Hospital networks also have their own vaccine sign-up procedures.

Free transportation to vaccine sites is available through Curb (646-349-0289) and Hunter Ambulance (718-991-2211).


There are many reports how the pandemic caseloads have weakened dramatically; some great charts are in David Leonhardt’s NYT Morning newsletter today. Public health experts and epidemiologists still urge caution, given the spread of highly contagious new variants originating in the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil.

Newly reported cases have dropped 56% in the U.S. over the past month, based on a seven-day average, marking a significantly steeper fall than the U.S. saw after the spring and summer surges. Hospitalizations have declined 38% since Jan. 6. The seven-day average of COVID-19 tests returning positive fell over the past week to 6.93%, the lowest since Oct. 31.

This caseload lull has given journalists and scientists a chance to step back and report/analyze where we are. The lead item in Mike Allen’s “Axios AM” newsletter on Monday (2/8), “Vaccines Shatter Expectations,” is a nice roundup; Ezra Klein’s NY Times podcast on Tuesday, 2/2 interviewed Zeynep Tufekci, a sociologist from the University of North Carolina, who said, “Once the history of this is written, they [the vaccines] are going to be referred to as some of the greatest achievements of science.” MIT Technology Review has, coincidentally, run a piece that explains her assertion: “The next act for messenger RNA could be bigger than covid vaccines.” All three are worth checking out (the Axios link is free; MIT gives the first three articles free; and the podcast is free to download wherever you get your podcasts, or read this transcript if you’re a NYT subscriber).

This week, I wrote the Governor and the Mayor asking them to flesh out their plan to vaccinate the more than 136,000 homebound New Yorkers, who are unable to go to vaccine sites. Cities nationwide have created robust in-home vaccination strategies, and New York can’t wait any longer to do the same.

With dozens of elected officials and studio owners, I wrote to the Mayor asking that boutique fitness studios be allowed to open at 25% capacity. Gyms have been open at 33% capacity since September; indoor dining is starting up again; so there’s no reason smaller facilities– yoga, pilates, barre, and similar shops, often owned and operated by women– can’t be open with similar capacity limits. These are small businesses that need to survive the pandemic just like the big gym chains.

Last week, after the City’s “Open Culture” program initially included only streets below 116th St., I put out a call for artists and cultural groups to recommend uptown streets. I submitted your 80+ recommendations to the Dept. of Transportation and will continue to push for uptown neighborhoods to be fairly represented in this great opportunity for the arts. Applications open Monday, 3/1 for Open Culture street permits– learn more about eligibility here. I’ve always believed that artists should be paid for their work.

Similarly, I urged NYCgo to double down on their outreach to uptown restaurants for Restaurant Week (ending Sunday, 2/28). Now, 18 Washington Heights and Inwood restaurants are participating, up from none.

Additionally, Harlem Restaurant Week runs Sunday (2/14) through Sunday, 2/28. See participating restaurants.

I’ve written the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate the area south of Union Square a historic district, which would protect nearly 200 historic buildings from demolition and inappropriate development. This effort, led by Village Preservation, would protect between roughly 3rd to 5th Aves. and 14th to 9th Sts.

I know there are so many public school teachers who have created amazing lessons for Black History Month, lifting up people, stories, and movements that are all too often erased.

This history deserves to be heard beyond your virtual classroom; that’s why I want to amplify that work on my social media platforms. To be considered, please submit your Black History Month curricula– lesson plans, presentations, infographics, videos, and/or social media carousels– to with your name and your school’s name.

Manhattan nonprofits, schools, and other organizations that serve New York City can now apply for capital funding from my office. Visit my website to learn more about the requirements.

  • Schools should apply via my Grants Portal Schools Application. The application deadline is Sunday, 2/21 at 5 pm.

  • Parks, gardens, libraries, NYCHA developments, H+H hospitals, etc., can apply via my Grants Portal City Application. This deadline is Sunday, 2/21 at 5 pm.

  • Nonprofits should apply via the NYC Office of Management and Budget Capital Grants portal. These applications are due Thursday, 2/25 at 5 pm.

My budget staff is available to meet with your group virtually if you have questions, want to share your project ideas, or missed the December capital funding workshops. Make an appointment here. You can also review the capital funding training videos and materials.

I’ll be talking with teens who serve on Manhattan Community Boards during a special edition of my “Represent NYC” public access show on MNN, Sunday (2/14) at 7 pm and Wednesday (2/17) at 9 pm. Watch here:

  • MNN1 (Spectrum 34 and 1995, RCN 82, FiOS 33),

  • MNNHD (Spectrum 1993), or

  • MNN’s YouTube channel.

You may have seen LinkNYC ads for Community Board applications. We’re still recruiting– the deadline is Monday, 2/22 at 5 pm. Apply here to make a difference in your neighborhood.

I attended legendary Asian American photographer and activist Corky Lee’s funeral procession in Chinatown last Saturday (2/6). It was a beautiful memorial for a man who dedicated his life to chronicling and uplifting Asian American communities in New York and beyond. You can watch a moving video of the tribute here.


GetFoodNYC Grab and Go sites have adjusted hours this week:

  • Friday (2/12): noon – 3 pm

  • Monday (2/15): closed for Presidents’ Day

  • Tuesday – next Friday (2/16-19): noon – 3 pm

Since the beginning of the pandemic, GetFoodNYC has distributed more than 200 million meals. This marks the compassion of New York City– and is something of a triumph of management. Recognizing food distribution flaws in the early days of the pandemic, the delivery of food to New Yorkers got back on track. It’s an achievement worth celebrating.

Indoor dining will reopen at 25% capacity Friday (2/12), two days earlier than Gov. Cuomo originally announced.

Sunday (2/14) is the last day to enroll in a political party to be able to vote in the June 22 primary. Click here to see online, in-person, and by-mail options to change party affiliation or register to vote. You can check your party affiliation here.

Middle schools will reopen Thursday, 2/25. While there’s no word on when high schools will reopen, the NYC Dept. of Education is hosting several virtual high school info sessions for the 2021-22 school year. Register here for one of the following:

  • Saturday (2/13) at noon (Spanish)

  • Tuesday (2/16) at 5 pm

  • Wednesday (2/17) at 1 pm

  • Thursday (2/18) at noon

If you own or control a building that would be a suitable vaccine site (ADA accessible, near public transportation, 5,000+ sq. ft.), submit it to the City for consideration. (Manhattan needs its own resident-only vaccine site.)

Obamacare/ACA enrollment was reopened as part of the COVID relief package passed in December. The new deadline is Wednesday, 3/31. Apply through the New York State marketplace or directly through insurers. If you have questions, make an appointment with a local marketplace navigator, who can help individuals, families, and small businesses choose an affordable plan.

Submit comments about the environmental issues in your neighborhood that are chronically ignored for the City’s new environmental justice community engagement process. The survey will serve as the basis for developing a citywide environmental justice plan.

COVID News Clippings

How New York’s Vaccine Program Missed Black and Hispanic Residents
Vaccination rates lag in some of the communities that have been the hardest hit by the virus.
NY Times editorial, Feb. 1, 2021

Covid Wears On, Essential Workers Carry On: ‘Everybody Forgets That You’re Still on the Front Line’
By Jennifer Levitz, Valerie Bauerlein, and Alejandro Lazo, Wall St. Journal, Feb. 1, 2021

Vaccine terms explained: Efficacy vs. effectiveness, herd immunity and others
By Allyson Chiu, Washington Post, Feb. 4, 2021

Six spring break trip ideas, graded from risky to safe
By Natalie B. Compton, Washington Post, Feb. 4, 2021

AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine Effective Against U.K. Variant in Trial
Oxford study finds the vaccine to be 75% effective against the U.K. variant
By Jason Douglas, Wall St. Journal, Feb. 5, 2021

South Africa suspends Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine rollout after researchers report ‘minimal’ protection against coronavirus variant
By William Booth and Carolyn Y. Johnson, Washington Post, Feb. 7, 2021

‘We are always thought about last’: A New York neighborhood seeking coronavirus help feels left behind
By Liz Robbins and Frances Stead Sellers, Washington Post, Feb. 7, 2021

U.K. coronavirus variant spreading rapidly through United States, study finds
By Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, Feb. 7, 2021

As Covid-19 Vaccines Raise Hope, Cold Reality Dawns That Illness Is Likely Here to Stay
By Daniela Hernandez and Drew Hinshaw, Wall St. Journal, Feb. 7, 2021
“Going through the five phases of grief, we need to come to the acceptance phase that our lives are not going to be the same,” said Thomas Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I don’t think the world has really absorbed the fact that these are long-term changes.”

How a sluggish vaccination program could delay a return to normal and invite
vaccine-resistant variants to emerge
By Harry Stevens, Aaron Steckelberg, and Naema Ahmed, Washington Post, Feb. 9, 2021

Brutal Covid-19 Surge in the U.S. Weakens Significantly
By Jon Kamp and Talal Ansari, Wall St. Journal, Feb. 10, 2021


Students at P.S. 146 in East Harlem are in need of iPad chargers. If you’re able to donate, contact

Free financial counseling is available through the NY Legal Assistance Group. Make an appointment by calling 311 and asking for NYLAG or by visiting this website.

Applications close Tuesday (2/16) for the East Harlem Small Business Grant I created with Council Member Diana Ayala, Union Settlement, and the NYC Economic Development Corp. See eligibility criteria and apply here.

Apply by Tuesday (2/16) for a free two-week EKG technician certification or a four-day security officer training program from SUNY Manhattan Educational Opportunity Center. Classes begin Monday, 2/22. Apply here and select “Manhattan Location;” then submit the required documents to

Applications close Tuesday (2/16) for three $1,000 grants to build a publicly accessible compost system, sponsored by Citizens Committee for NYC and the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board (SWAB). Learn how to apply here.

Applications close Friday, 2/19 for Women Who Tech grants awarded to women-led emerging tech startups. Apply here.

Applications close Monday, 2/22 for the Higher Ground Festival, open to Northern Manhattan artists. Apply here.

Applications close Sunday, 2/28 for 10 $5,000 grants for Black entrepreneurs, sponsored by retailer Citi Trends. Eligible product categories are apparel, beauty, skin care, hair care, footwear, home decor, bedding, bath, technology, and accessories. Apply here.

Applications close Sunday, 2/28 for five $10,000 grants for Black women-owned businesses, sponsored by the 2021 New Voices + Barefoot #WeStanforHer program. Grants also include complimentary business coaching and mentoring. Apply here.

Applications close Friday, 3/12 for grants up to $15,000 for Asian American women-led organizations and women artists focused on social change, sponsored by the Asian Women Giving Circle. Apply here.

Applications close Saturday, 5/1 for four $10,000 grants for businesses owned by Black women and femmes, sponsored by Merchant Maverick. Apply here.

Single mothers in need can apply for a $500 grant from single mom empowerment blog Wealthy Single Mommy. Apply here.

East Harlem nonprofit Youth Action YouthBuild is seeking 17-24-year-olds without a high school diploma or GED for its youth development program, which offers high school equivalency exam training, vocational training, community service, leadership development, and career/continuing education follow-up support. Apply here.

East Harlem youth nonprofit Concrete Safaris is hiring teens for spring internships in their garden and outreach cohort. Send a resume to

Little Island in Hudson River Park is hiring several year-round and seasonal positions. See the job postings here.

Citizens Housing and Planning Council is hiring a policy analyst. See the job posting here.

Abstracts are due Monday (2/15) for the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing: The Imaging and Geospatial Information Society virtual annual conference (3/29 – 4/2). Student presenter grants are available to cover conference fees here.


Friday (2/12) at 9 am, women- and minority-owned businesses can learn about getting City certified for preferential contracts through a Harlem Business Alliance webinar. Register here.

Friday (2/12) at 11 am, celebrate Lunar New Year with a Lion’s Dance performance and confetti display at American Legion Kimlau Memorial Square (near Chatham Square and East Broadway), hosted by Better Chinatown USA.

Fridays from 11 am – 4 pm, Central Harlem residents can get free COVID testing at 302 W. 124th St., sponsored by Living Redemption Youth Opportunity Hub.

Friday (2/12) at noon, caregivers are invited to discuss “Setting Realistic Boundaries to Assert Self-Care” during Lenox Hill Neighborhood House’s next support group session. Email to register.

Friday (2/12) at 12:30 pm, “Romance in the 19th-Century” is this month’s virtual lunchtime lecture through the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden. Join via Zoom (passcode: 682954).

Friday (2/12) at 1 pm, grief and the climate crisis are the subjects of this month’s virtual “Talking Climate” discussion hosted by the Climate Museum. Watch on YouTube.

Friday (2/12) at 3 pm, NYCHA St. Nicholas Houses K-12 resident without a tablet, laptop, or computer can receive a free Chromebook. Fill out this form ASAP– there are only 125 laptops available. The computers will be distributed at 225 W. 129th St., first floor, sponsored by the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety.

Friday (2/12) at 3 pm, the Grandparent Resource Center hosts a “Valentine’s Day Healthy Hearts Celebration.” Join the Zoom here.

Friday (2/12) at 5:30 pm, virtual post-COVID recovery lecture series “An Equitable Recovery Agenda for New York” kicks off with “Economic Justice and Uprooting Poverty,” sponsored by Pratt Institute’s Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment and the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance. Register here.

Saturday (2/13) at 1 pm, learn about Seneca Village, the 1800s predominantly Black community in what is now Central Park, sponsored by the NYC Dept. of Parks Urban Park Rangers. Meet at 81st St. and Central Park West.

Saturday (2/13) at 2 pm, Theater for the New City presents “Open ’Tho Shut,” an afternoon of “walk-by theater” staged in TNC’s set shop and visible from East 10th St. between 1st and 2nd Aves.

Saturday (2/13) at 8 pm, a virtual reading of “Enemies,” a play about love and marriage among the Bohemians, screens for free through Metropolitan Playhouse. Click the title to watch.

Sunday (2/14) at 11 am, Hell’s Kitchen Litter Legion hosts a community clean-up. Meet at the northeast corner of 57th St. and 10th Ave.

Sunday (2/14) from 11 am – 2:30 pm, stream the “Fifth Annual Negro Spiritual Symposium” on Three On 3 Music’s Facebook.

Tuesday through Friday (2/16-19), Bryant Park’s Kids Week features arts and crafts, performances, and Mardi Gras and Lunar New Year celebrations.

Tuesday (2/16) from noon – 4 pm, I’m hosting a free COVID self-testing site at Word Up Bookshop (2113 Amsterdam Ave. at W. 165th St.) in Washington Heights. Results will be emailed to you approximately 48 hours later. Children age four and older can be tested with a parent or guardian present.

Tuesdays from noon – 3:30 pm, Bethel Gospel Assembly operates a food pantry (2 E. 120th St.). Schedule an appointment by calling 212-860-1523.

Tuesday (2/16) from 5-7 pm, donate devices in good condition to Goddard Riverside and Community Board 7’s “Donate a Device” initiative for students. Drop off laptops, tablets, headphones, and chargers at Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center (250 W. 65th St.). Devices should be wiped of all personal information.

Tuesday (2/16) at 7 pm, a virtual mayoral candidate forum is part of the “Greater Harlem Unite: Next Gen Candidates Forum Series,” hosted by the National Council of Negro Women Manhattan Section, the New York Branch of the NAACP, the National Action Network Youth HuddleStrategy for Black Lives, and Educated Voter. Click the title (the first link) to register.

Wednesday (2/17), stores within the Madison Ave. Business Improvement District (Madison Ave. between E. 57th – 86th Sts.) can set up free COVID testing for employees through NYC Test and Trace. Fill out this form to request in-store testing.

Wednesdays and Mondays through 3/3 from 9:30 am – 4 pm, free COVID testing is available at Grand Street Settlement’s 168 Broome St. location, sponsored by Council Member Carlina Rivera.

Wednesday (2/17) at 1 pm, “Black Farmers’ Pathways to Success Webinar Series: Reimagining Urban Food Systems” features a speaker from Rocky Acres Community Farm, presented by Corbin Hill Food Project. Click the title (first link) to register.

Wednesday (2/17) at 3:30 pm, NYCHA hosts a virtual town hall about the Blueprint for Change, with a presentation by Chair Greg Russ and a Q&A. Translation is available in Spanish, Russian, and Chinese. Register here.

Next Thursday (2/18) at 8:30 am is this month’s Manhattan Borough Board meeting. Register here.

Next Thursday (2/18) at 10 am, a webinar about health care proxies and living wills features expert speakers and a Q&A, sponsored by State Senator Liz Krueger. Register here.

Next Thursday (2/18) at 2 pm, enjoy a telephone concert with English and Spanish songs sung by Broadway performers of Vocal Ease, co-hosted by Search and Care. To listen, call 978-990-5236, passcode 7440027.

Next Thursday (2/18) at 5 pm, “Remembering Mayor David N. Dinkins: The Lesson and the Legacy” features alumni from the Dinkins administration, hosted by Hunter College’s Roosevelt House. Click the title to register for the Zoom.

Next Thursday (2/18) at 5 pm, NYCHA leaders are invited to a virtual training on COVID-19 vaccine messaging and appointment navigation, the monthly forum topic from the NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene. Register here.

Next Thursday (2/18) at 6 pm, virtual Black natural hair celebration “To and ‘Fro: The Journey to Honor Black Hair as an Act of Self Determination” commemorates the second anniversary of the NYC Commission on Human Rights’ legal enforcement guidance on race discrimination on the basis of hair. Click the title to register.

Next Thursday (2/18) at 6 pm, watch a discussion about race, inequality, and incarceration during Getting Out and Staying Out’s next “One-on-One” event with Dr. Jocelynne Rainey and Dr. C. Nicole Mason. Register here.

Next Thursday (2/18) at 6:30 pm, “The COVID-19 Vaccine: A Town Hall Conversation” discusses the science behind the vaccines, the need for fairness in distribution, and FAQs. The virtual town hall is hosted by Healthy Equity Research at the Icahn School of Medicine, the CUNY School of Public Health Harlem Health InitiativeMask Transit, and Kappa Sigma. Click the title (first link) to register.

The Icahn School of Medicine will offer two virtual community-based participatory research workshop series. The first cohort begins next Thursday (2/18), and the second cohort starts Wednesday (2/24). Register here.

Save the date, Thursday, 2/25 at 6 pm, for “Stand Up To Street Harassment,” a virtual forum on how to safely handle harassment in public spaces, which I’m co-sponsoring with dozens of community groups and elected officials. Click the title to register.

Stay safe.