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COVID Newsletters

Weekly newsletter (7/15)


It’s Thursday, July 16, 2021. Welcome to my weekly newsletter.

New York City’s COVID positivity rate is 1.43%, up from 1.19% last week. Those interested in the COVID statistics can check the data at the NYC Dept. of Health website or’s COVID tracker.

My website lists vaccine sites, vaccination perks, and vaccine appointment resources.


Southwest Missouri is, it seems, now becoming a COVID zone. In Springfield, MO, hospital ICUs are full, and no county nearby has more than 35% of its population vaccinated. Counties around Kansas City, just to the north, have even fewer residents who are vaccinated.

We mustn’t let the existence of miraculous vaccines blind us to the fact that the Delta variant poses a risk to us all, vaccinated or not.  If we are to fully reopen our big, messy, chaotic city– and fully reopen our nation– we simply cannot allow the UNvaccinated to become the “landing pad” for a deadly virus variant searching for a host. That variant now accounts for 58% of COVID cases in the United States.

Today’s (7/15) NY Times story (“As Delta Spreads, Virus Cases Rise in New York City”) sort of buries the significance of what is now starting to happen in the city. While the story’s subhead says, “But because of vaccines, health experts don’t expect the recent increase to reach the levels seen in New York City’s first and second waves,” further down in the story is this: “Just a few weeks ago, there were only 200 new cases a day across the city on average… But the city has now had a streak of days with 400 or more cases. And the test positivity rate has doubled…”

Experts quoted in the story describe themselves as “concerned” rather than panicked, because they believe that the vaccines are doing what they were designed to do: prevent serious, hospital-worthy illness.

But just because someone isn’t hospitalized doesn’t mean they aren’t hurting. And those who are not getting vaccinated are not just acting against their own self-interest– each of those individual decisions are creating an environment that’s dangerous to us all.

Sunday (7/18) at 7 pm and Wednesday (7/21) at 9 pm, MNN will air my interview about the NYS Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) with University Settlement Associate Executive Director of Adults, Arts, and Advocacy Jennifer Vallone and about the Child Tax Credit with Citizens’ Committee for Children Executive Director Jennifer March during a special edition of my “Represent NYC” public access show. Watch here:

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

  • MNNHD (Spectrum 1993), or

  • MNN’s YouTube channel.

ERAP will pay up to a year’s worth of owed rent and utilities for New Yorkers who faced financial hardship during the pandemic. Find resources for applying on the ERAP page of my website.

The first in-person Borough Board meeting since the pandemic started was held this morning (7/15). Community Board chairs, council members, and I voted on four land-use resolutions, following presentations from their sponsors. The Board voted in support of the Health and Fitness Citywide Text Amendment, the Citywide Hotels Text Amendment, and the FRESH Update (zoning incentive for supermarkets in underserved neighborhoods). The Board voted to recommend disapproval of the proposed redevelopment of the 343 Madison Avenue/MTA HQ unless the development team made changes to their proposed development. If you missed it, you can watch the meeting on my YouTube channel.

I held an in-person public hearing on the New York Blood Center’s application for a rezoning of its property on E. 67th St. this past Monday (7/12) as part of the official ULURP process. You can watch the meeting on my YouTube channel if you weren’t able to make it.

During my weekly Manhattan Vaccine and Recovery Task Force, we heard from Danielle Zuckerman of the City’s Vaccine Task Force about how to find a nearby pop-up vaccine site and how to request a mobile vaccine site or in-home vaccination (available to all New Yorkers 12+ by filling out this form or calling 877-829-4692). Then, State Deputy Comptroller Rahul Jain and State Senator Liz Krueger, Senate Finance Committee Chair, broke down the State budget, including federal stimulus funds. You can watch the meeting recording here. If you’d like to join these weekly discussions on Tuesdays at 3 pm about vaccines and reopening, email

Tonight (7/15) at 6 pm is a virtual town hall about the potential Penn Station-adjacent Empire Station Complex proposed by New York State’s Empire State Development Corporation. Register for the Zoom here or call 646-518-9805 and use meeting ID 923 4649 1166.

Friday (7/16) from noon – 8 pm, I’m co-sponsoring a walk-in vaccine site for people 12+ at the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood (130 W. 113th St.). Then, on Friday, 7/23 from noon – 8 pm, we’ll have another walk-in vaccine site at the Masjid Aqsa-Salam (23 E. 115th St.).

There will also be a walk-in vaccine clinic for people 18+ on Tuesday (7/20) from 8 am – 5:45 pm at Borough of Manhattan Community College’s CUNY in the Heights location (5030 Broadway).

Save the date! Thursday, 7/29 at 4:30 pm, I’m co-hosting a virtual info session about the hundreds of dollars in pandemic electronic benefits transfer (P-EBT) funds being sent to every public school family this summer to cover the cost of lunch during remote learning days over the last year (between $820-$1,320 per child in P-EBT). Register here for the info session (in English and Spanish), co-hosted by Community Food Advocates. (Spending your P-EBT will stimulate the city’s economy to the tune of $1.5 billion.)

For Summer Rising students living in shelters who stay for extended-day programming of the City’s summer educational enrichment initiative, the NYC Dept. of Education will now provide cabs to take them home in the afternoon.

That said, the DOE will only reimburse cabs home after the fact for students in non-shelter temporary housing and students with a disability who stay for the extended-day programming. But these are the families least likely to be able to front the money for cabs while waiting for the DOE to cut a check, and there’s a significant lack of accessible cabs on the streets. These students will be shut out of the program if they don’t have a way to get home. So I’m continuing to call on the DOE to fund transportation for these students upfront.

Applications are now open for my annual Manhattan Community Award Program, which gives small awards to nonprofit organizations and public schools through the Depts. of Aging, Correction, Education, and Health. We’re especially seeking innovative proposals that will address things like gun violence, anti-hate initiatives, community-police relations, and racial justice. Community Awards enhance the work of local nonprofits and schools and enrich neighborhoods.

Award Size: One-time contracts ranging from $3,500-$7,500

Deadline: 5 pm, August 20, 2021

Find out more: (with links to application)

For questions, contact my Budget Unit:

Vanessa Diaz-Lopez, 212-669-4814,

Nelson S. Andino, 212-669 8145,

James Thomas, 212-669-1851,


Today’s heat advisory means cooling centers are open today and tomorrow (7/15-16). Find a cooling center here.

New Yorkers can now use 311 in the subway to request non-law enforcement assistance, including outreach for people experiencing homelessness or a mental health crisis. Call or text 311, use the NYC311 phone app, or use the 311 web portal.

Special waste drop-off sites for electronics, tires, and other harmful products have reopened every Saturday and last Friday of the month from 10 am – 5 pm. Manhattan’s site is at 74 Pike Slip between Cherry St. and South St. under the Manhattan Bridge.

Applications close Tuesday (7/20) for round two of the NYC Artist Corps, which gives 3,000 artists $5,000 grants to support a creative activity that engages with the public. The third and final round of applications will be open from 7/27 – 8/10.

Organizations serving youth ages 14-25 also have until Tuesday (7/20) at 5 pm to apply for Young Men’s Initiative Community Crisis Response grants of up to $20,000 to support summer programming with a special focus on mentoring, arts and culture, sports, youth empowerment, and experiential learning. Apply here.

Free “grab and go” breakfast and lunch in this year’s “Summer Meals” program are available to all New Yorkers at about 400 sites on weekdays from 9 am – 1 pm. My office mapped the NYC Dept. of Education’s list of locations here. More details are available here.

East Harlem community-based organizations that want to table at the School District 4 Welcome Back to School Festival on Saturday, 9/25 must fill out this registration form by Friday, 9/10. The fair will be at 120th St. between 3rd and Lexington Ave. at 10 am.

COVID News Clippings

7 questions about Covid-19 booster shots, answered
Will you need a booster? Does it matter if you got Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, or another vaccine?
By Sigal Samuel,, July 7, 2021

Pfizer and BioNTech will test a vaccine against the Delta variant.
By Apoorva Mandavilli, NY Times, July 8, 2021

New study on delta variant reveals importance of receiving both vaccine shots, highlights challenges posed by mutations
By Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, July 8, 2021

Five undervaccinated clusters put the entire United States at risk
By Elizabeth Cohen and John Bonifield, CNN, July 8, 2021

What you need to know about the highly contagious delta variant
The variant first identified in India last year is now dominant in the United States
By Lindsey Bever and Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, July 9, 2021

Pfizer suggests booster shots will be needed this year, but government officials say science will dictate the timing
By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Washington Post, July 9, 2021

CDC Urges Schools to Welcome Kids Back, Vaccinated or Not
Face masks for unvaccinated teachers and students recommended as Covid-19 Delta variant spreads
By Julie Wernau and Aydali Campa, Wall St. Journal, July 9, 2021

F.D.A. Attaches Warning of Rare Nerve Syndrome to Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
Federal regulators concluded that the risk of developing the syndrome was low, and that the benefits of the vaccine still strongly outweigh it.
By Sharon LaFraniere and Noah Weiland, NY Times, July 12, 2021

States with low vaccination numbers had Covid-19 case rates last week 3 times higher than others where people are fully vaccinated
“The US is averaging about 19,455 new cases over the last seven days, a 47% increase from the week prior.” In regions with lower vaccination rates, “we’re going to see a surprising amount of death.”
By Deidre McPhillips, Steve Almasy, and Madeline Holcombe,, July 12, 2021

Israel becomes first country to offer COVID-19 vaccine booster shot
By Jacob Knutson,, July 12, 2021

Coalition says health workers should be required to get coronavirus vaccine
‘A sufficient vaccination rate is unlikely to be achieved’ without a vaccine mandate, health groups warn
By Dan Diamond, Washington Post, July 13, 2021

How Accurate Is New York’s Covid Death Toll?
The state’s methodology has allowed it to report 11,000 fewer coronavirus-related deaths than the count from the National Center for Health Statistics.
By Luis Ferré-Sadurní, NY Times, July 14, 2021


Reservations are now open for NYC Restaurant Week, which will run 7/19 – 8/12.

Low-income households and households that lost significant income in 2020 or 2021 can now get $50 off high-speed internet and $100 off a computer or tablet, thanks to the new Emergency Broadband Benefit Program from the Federal Communications Commission. Click the link for eligibility guidelines, a required documents checklist, and the application.

Get mental health support and resources for housing, employment, and more by calling the new Institute for Community Living Hope Center: 844-ICL-HOPE (844-425-4673). The helpline is staffed Monday-Friday, 9 am – 5 pm, and callers can leave a voicemail after hours to request assistance.

This Wednesday (7/21) at noon or Wednesday, 8/4 at 10 am, families of pre-school-aged children can take a tour of the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Early Childhood Center. Enrollment is still open for the free, full-day, year round program for 3- and 4-year-olds. For more information or to RSVP for a tour, contact Wilmary Johnson at 212-218-0406 or

Applications close Monday (7/19) for Black-owned businesses to apply to the new Small Business SOLUTIONS Center from the New York Urban League. The inaugural cohort of 25 will partner with industry professionals to address a range of business challenges and will be paired with a consultant to produce a knowledgeable course of action. See eligibility criteria and apply here.

Groups that care for NYC’s open spaces can apply for grants up to $3,000 from the City Parks Foundation NYC Green Relief and Recovery Fund. Funds may support stewardship needs, health and wellness programming, and protective equipment. The application closes Wednesday (7/21) at noon.

The Association for a Better New York is awarding grants for organizations addressing affordable housing, community economic development, public safety, small business support, and workforce development during the pandemic. The application closes Sunday, 8/1.

Writers 18+ and living with HIV are invited to apply to “Write It Out!” a 10-week virtual playwriting program. Apply by Sunday, 8/15.

The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund will award up to $100,000 to arts programs that address mental health needs. Applications close Tuesday, 8/31.

NYCHA is hiring carpenters at $53.85/hour for 35 hours/week. Applicants must have 5+ years of full-time experience. To apply, send your resume to with “NYCHA CARPENTER” in the subject line.

Train for a new career in health care or masonry with two free courses from workforce development nonprofit STRIVE. The health care support services training begins Friday, 8/20 for non-clinical, patient-facing roles in hospitals. The masonry cohort begins Friday, 9/17. To apply to either program, attend a Zoom info session Mondays or Wednesdays at 10 am (meeting ID 951 5238 1566).

Manhattan community organizations working on beautification projects can get summer interns from the City Cleanup Corps, placed in partnership by the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island. Interns can assist with projects like cleaning up public space, planting community gardens, and painting murals. Contact Leonie Gordon to discuss hosting interns:, 212-449-5000 ext. 2234.

Animal Cares Centers of NYC is hiring for clinical and non-clinical positions. See openings here.

To help restore vacant storefronts, local nonprofit Chashama is partnering with the NYC Dept. of Small Business Services to place pop-up storefronts and microbusinesses in available spaces. Learn more and apply to participate here.

The new digital series “Decolonizing Mental Health” explores the systemic inequality plaguing the mental health industry and how to de-stigmatize talking about mental health, produced by the Chinese-American Family Alliance for Mental Health, PBS, ADA Studios, and WORLD Channel. Each week, several short films will be released on WORLD Channel’s website and Youtube channel, and the PBS app.

Reserve your tickets now for free performances of King Lear presented by NY Classical Theatre in Battery Park from 7/27 – 8/8 at 7 pm. Get tickets here.

The Big Shots Awards, a national COVID public awareness campaign developed by CUNY graduates, honor local heroes working in their communities to provide vaccine information or access. Nominate a future Big Shot here, and watch the inaugural Big Shots Awards ceremony here.

Performing artists are invited to apply to present a work in progress for this year’s virtual salon performance series from Mark DeGarmo Dance. Apply here by Tuesday, 8/31.


Thursdays at 6 pm is BINGO in Bryant Park. This is a popular event, so arrive early to claim a bingo board.

Public art and sound exhibit “You Are Here” at Lincoln Center’s Hearst Plaza features sculptures that play audio portraits of New Yorkers reflecting on how they processed the last year. Visit:

  • Friday (7/16), 11:30 am – 6:30 pm

  • Saturday (7/17), 2:30-8:30 pm

  • Sunday-Monday (7/18-19), 11:30 am – 6:30 pm

  • Wednesday-Friday (7/21-23), 11:30 am – 6:30 pm

Watch “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”– a documentary about the hate-fueled murder of a Chinese American man in 1982– and a Q&A with the directors. The film is available to watch online for free anytime between Friday (7/16) at 9 am and Sunday (7/18) at 11 pm; click here and enter code VC. Sunday (7/18) at 7 pm, watch the Q&A here, sponsored by the Workers Unite Film Festival.

Friday (7/16) from noon – 3 pm at the Nicholas Houses Plaza (W. 128th St.) is a free food distribution hosted by Harlem Children’s Zone.

Friday (7/16) at 7 pm, professional local classical chamber and jazz musicians perform at the free Inwood Community Concert at Church of the Good Shepherd (4967 Broadway), presented by Inwood Art Works. Register here.

Saturday (7/17) from noon to 4 pm, a Harlem community day and resource fair features a DJ, balloon animals, a magic show, raffles, and health and safety information, hosted by Harlem Mothers SAVE, the 26th Precinct, and Fidelis Care. The fair will be at W. 125th St. and Morningside Ave.

Saturday (7/17) from noon – 5 pm, community day “Love on the Block” features resources, therapy, games, and food, hosted by Harlem nonprofit WARM in St. Nicholas Park at W. 135th St.

Saturday (7/17) from noon – 5 pm at Inwood’s RING Garden is “Art in the Garden,” a community celebration of uptown artists.

Saturday (7/17) at 2 pm, attend the unveiling of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt monument in Roosevelt Island’s Southpoint Park, hosted by the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association.

Saturday (7/17) at 8 pm, “To Be Baptized: A Performance Tribute to John Lewis and C.T. Vivian” features live music, a panel discussion on the role of the arts in helping tackle critical issues, and resources to help audience members get involved in their communities. Enter the virtual lottery for tickets, part of Lincoln Center’s Restart Stages initiative.

Sunday (7/18) from 10 am – 5 pm, get a free Puerto Rican icee, a limber, in honor of National Ice Cream Day at East Harlem’s La Marqueta (1590 Park Ave.).

Tuesday (7/20) from 1 pm – 6 pm, small businesses interested in renting a stall at La Marqueta are invited to an open house, where staff will give tours and answer questions.

Sunday (7/18) at 3 pm, teenagers and young adults with disabilities are invited to learn about disability history, disability culture, and storytelling during the virtual kick-off for the monthly “Storytelling and Self-Advocacy Series” from Lincoln Center. Register for the first event here, and see the monthly schedule here.

Monday (7/19) at 5:30 pm, caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and dementia are invited to a webinar about legal and financial topics caregivers should understand before meeting with an attorney, such as guardianship, power of attorney, Medicaid eligibility, long-term care insurance, and health care proxies. Call 646-744-2900 to register for this CaringKind webinar.

Upper Manhattan small business professionals are invited to free webinars to develop various business skills. Click the webinar names to register for the courses, hosted by the NYC Dept. of Small Business Services’ Business Solutions Center:

Wednesday (7/21) from noon – 3 pm is East Harlem nonprofit SCAN-Harbor’s first weekly “Love Day” bringing support, resources, and free fun to NYCHA developments. The first event will be at Wagner Houses (425 E. 120th St.). Community-based organizations interested in tabling at any Wednesday Love Days through August can contact or

Wednesday (7/21) at 4 pm, join a virtual panel to learn about MEND NYC, the City’s neighbor-business mediation program, which provides free mediation and conflict resolution services to address neighborhood disputes and an opportunity to create direct communication and compromise, while establishing respectful, ongoing relationships. Register here.

Next Thursday (7/22) at 8:30 am, virtual panel “Civic Conversation: Post Primary – What Just Happened?” dives into last month’s primary elections, hosted by Citizens Union. Register here.

Next Thursday (7/22) at noon, virtually meet the 2021 ArtTable fellows, including six from Manhattan. The ArtTable fellowship addresses the lack of diversity in arts employment and provides opportunities for emerging professionals at leading museums and cultural organizations. Register here.

Next Thursday (7/22) at 6:30 pm, virtual panel “Countdown to Justice: New York’s Child Victims Act” discusses resources for survivors of any age to take legal action against their abusers before the “lookback” window closes on Friday, 8/13. The panel is hosted by ​​the NYC Department of Records and Information Services. Click the title to register.