Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

COVID Newsletters

Weekly update 10/7


It’s Thursday, October 7, 2021. Welcome to my weekly update.

New York City’s COVID positivity rate is now 1.76%, down from 2.21% last week.

The number of new daily cases in the U.S. has fallen 35% since 9/1 (see the stunning graph here). Those interested in diving more deeply into local COVID statistics can check the NYC Dept. of Health website or’s COVID tracker. If you’re not yet vaccinated, find a vaccine site– including those for boosters– here.

Next week, the FDA will begin a series of meetings to consider approving booster shots from Moderna and J&J (as well as considering policy on mixing and matching boosters from different companies) and to consider– finally!– approving the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5–11.

Increasing access to boosters could help avoid a winter surge of cases after Halloween, Thanksgiving, Chanukah (beginning on 11/28 this year), Christmas, and New Year’s gatherings.

Also helping to bring down caseloads might be what turns out to be a natural two-month cycle of Delta variant peak cases. The NY Times’ David Leonhardt has written about this phenomenon.

Vaccine mandates for public and private employers are also driving more vaccinations. The NYC Dept. of Education’s vaccine mandate has now taken effect, with court cases against it exhausted, and about 95% of teachers and staff are now vaccinated. Mayor de Blasio is considering similar mandates for public-facing police, fire, and other City workers. President Biden has asked OSHA to implement a mandate for all private-sector employers of more than 100 employees, and many private employers– from McDonald’s to Goldman Sachs— have begun to implement mandates in advance of the federal requirement.

But all this doesn’t mean we should let our guard (or our masks!) down. That mistake was made last spring when mask requirements were relaxed just before the Delta variant took hold this summer.

Finally, another factor that will increase safety for us all is increased access to rapid testing— which can identify “breakthrough” infections among the already-vaccinated. The federal government has announced a $1 billion purchase of rapid, at-home coronavirus tests, and the FDA has approved the sale of an over-the-counter test, FlowFlex, widely used in Europe.

These actions are estimated to increase availability of home tests to 200 million people per month by the end of the year. We’ll be able to take one before Thanksgiving dinner, and ensure everyone’s safety.

I’ve been surprised to discover that many people still don’t know they can use digital passes on their smartphones to store and present proof of vaccination. Download one of these so you can stop carrying around– and almost losing– the physical vaccine card:

  • The State’s “Excelsior Pass” – fill out your vaccination information here and then download the Excelsior Pass Wallet (for iOS or Android devices)

  • The City’s “COVID Safe” app – download for iOS or Android devices


My office and the Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY surveyed polling places during the June 2021 Primary Election to measure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for accessibility. Today we release the results of that survey in advance of early voting starting later this month.

It’s clear that the Board of Elections has to do better: We found that more than 50% of the 45 surveyed sites were inaccessible. Our suggestions for improvement include having the BOE conduct walk-throughs of polling places with disability advocates so that potential issues can be identified and resolved before voting begins. Read the full results here.

Speaking of voting…TOMORROW (Friday, 10/8) is the last day to register to vote for the November 2, 2021 general election. See how to register in person, by mail, or online here.

Absentee ballot applications are now available here.

Early voting for the general election itself will be available from 10/23–31 (see hours below). You can only go to your assigned early voting site, find yours here. Early voting hours:

  • Saturday, 10/23 from 8 am – 5 pm

  • Sunday, 10/24 from 8 am – 5 pm

  • Monday, 10/25 from 7 am – 4 pm

  • Tuesday, 10/26 from 10 am – 8 pm

  • Wednesday 10/27 from 10 am – 8 pm

  • Thursday, 10/28 from 10 am – 8 pm

  • Friday, 10/29 from 7 am – 4 pm

  • Saturday, 10/30 from 8 am – 5 pm

  • Sunday, 10/31 from 8 am – 4 pm

Find your Election Day (Tuesday, 11/2) poll site here.

New Yorkers are voting on five constitutional amendments. Read up on them here or attend State Senator Liz Krueger’s virtual town hall explaining these ballot proposals tonight (10/7) at 7 pm; register here.

If you sign up to be a poll worker, you could earn up to $2,800 if you work the nine days of early voting and the day of the general election. Translators are also needed in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Hindi, and Bengali. No experience is necessary; you are even paid for training. Apply here.

Weekly sign-ups are open for my GrowNYC “Fresh Food for Seniors” program. The process is simple: Seniors pay $9 cash a week in advance for a bag containing five to six varieties of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables that they pick up the following week. Sign-up dates and times vary per site– contact each site for more details.

Upper West Side (in partnership with Council Member Helen Rosenthal)
Sign-up dates: 10/13 (for 10/20 delivery), 10/27 (for 11/3), 11/10 (for 11/17)
Participating sites:

  • Goddard Riverside Senior Center (593 Columbus Ave. at 88th St., 212-873-6600)

  • Project Find: Hamilton House (141 W. 73rd St., 212-787-7710)

  • NCJW Council Lifetime Learning (241 W. 72nd St., 212-687-5030)

  • Bloomingdale Aging in Place (212-842-8831)

  • DOROT (171 W. 85th St., 212-769-2850)

  • Lincoln House Outreach (303 W. 66th St., 212-875-8958)

Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, and West Village (in partnership with Council Speaker Corey Johnson)
Sign-up dates: 10/19 (for 10/26 delivery), 11/2 (for 11/9), 11/16 (for 11/23)
Participating sites:

  • SAGE (305 7th Ave., 15th floor, 646-576-8669)

  • VISIONS (135 W. 23rd St., 646-486-4444)

  • Greenwich House (27 Barrow St., 4th floor, 212-242-4140)

  • Encore Senior Center (239 W. 49th St., 212-581-2910)

  • Hudson Guild NORC (441 W. 26th St., 212-760-9800)

  • West Village Houses (642 Washington St., 212-255-2035)

For more information, contact:
Shula Warren Puder in my office at 212-669-2392 or
Speaker Johnson’s office at 212-564-7757 or
Rita Genn in Council Member Rosenthal’s office at 212-873-0282 or

Next Saturday, 10/16 is the first day of the annual Open House New York weekend, and we will once again display our set of maps executed by John Randel– the first that plotted the 1811 “Commissioner’s Plan,” which established the Manhattan street grid from Houston St. to 155th St.

My office is the sole repository for these 92 individually hand-drawn and hand-colored panels, which will be assembled into a room-size, tabletop display, roughly 16 feet by 60 feet, so that map geeks and Manhattan-philes can examine every part. Attendees who live in each map’s quadrant will be able to register for a drawing for a digital print of their map.

Join us on Saturday, 10/16 from 10 am – 4 pm at the Municipal Building, 1 Centre Street (North entrance). Masks and proof of vaccinations are required.

Find a full listing and description of the many OHNY sites here.

This moving profile of my staffer Ysabel Abreu was just published by the National Institutes of Health, describing why she’s passionate about her involvement in the “All of Us” research program that’s attempting to build the world’s most diverse health database. Ysabel– my office’s community liaison to Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, East Harlem, and Central Harlem– says, “I believe in the mission of All of Us to make visible people who have been invisible. Making people visible leads to better health outcomes.”


Starting today (10/7) landlords can apply for the NYS Landlord Rental Assistance Program, which provides up to 12 months of past-due rent for landlords whose tenants are unwilling to apply for the earlier Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), including for instances when the tenant has left the rental property. For the next 45 days, priority will be given to owners of fewer than 20 units. Landlords are encouraged to gather all the information needed– including proof of ownership and rent amounts– because documentation must be uploaded at the time of application in order to complete and submit it.

The 2020 Census results have been released (Manhattan’s population grew by 108,378 people to 1,694,251). The NYC Dept. of City Planning has analyzed the data, and you can download the full spreadsheet of raw data here and DCP’s analysis here.

Applications are now open for the NYS Restaurant Resiliency Program, which will allow food banks to purchase prepared meals from restaurants. This will direct $25 million to the restaurant industry.

Similarly, New Yorkers may soon be able to use their SNAP benefits to purchase prepared meals from restaurants. Governor Hochul signed legislation that seeks federal approval to do that. I’ll update you once the USDA gives the go-ahead. In the meantime, here’s the current list of what you can use SNAP for.

“Heat season” has begun– through next May, landlords must keep apartment buildings at 68 degrees when outdoor temperatures fall below 55 degrees during the day; indoor temperatures must be at a minimum of 62 degrees overnight, regardless of outdoor temperatures. You can register an official complaint by calling 311, visiting or using the NYC 311 app.

Provide your design ideas on how ​​Open Restaurant structures should be designed before the program is made permanent next year. The NYC Dept. of Transportation is soliciting public input so that the final program rules balance creativity, feasibility, and cost.

This FAQ, “The Truth About COVID-19 Vaccines,” is an excellent resource addressing common misconceptions, the vaccines’ safety, and side effects, written by the NYC Health Dept.

Get up to $5,000 to pursue a community-led food project in East, Central, or West Harlem from the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC. Projects can include distributing food to households in need, advocating for and educating about healthy food access, supporting local community gardens, or hosting cooking workshops. No experience is needed to apply. Download the Word document on this page to learn more and apply by Monday, 11/1.


I’ve heard about many job openings and training programs across Manhattan:

  • NYCHA is hiring for skilled trades positions, including maintenance workers, plasterers, electrician’s helpers, carpenters, and bricklayers. NYCHA residents are encouraged to apply.

  • Friday (10/8) from 10 am – 5 pm at 500 W. 180th St., is a job fair for open positions at New York Harm Reduction Educators and the Washington Heights CORNER Project, including in clinical work and operations. Bring your resume and references’ information.

  • Next week is a virtual job fair hosted by the NYS Dept. of Labor for openings in tech, retail, social services, and other fields. Tuesday (10/12) beginning at 9 am is a “preview” day, where attendees can upload their resume and get familiar with the exhibitor booths. Wednesday (10/13) from 11 am – 2 pm is the actual fair, where attendees can chat with recruiters one-on-one. Register here.

  • Next Thursday (8/14) from 10 am – 3 pm at 2294 2nd Ave. is a youth recruitment fair for Youth Action YouthBuild’s training programs in construction, building operations, food, hospitality, urban farming, and network tech. YAYB’s programs include vocational training, paid internships, and scholarship opportunities.

  • Applications close Friday, 10/29 for the free BuildingWorks carpentry pre-apprenticeship training program, which prepares graduates for unionized apprenticeship programs. The training program is 11/8–12/17, Monday–Friday, 7 am – 4 pm, a mix of in-person and virtual sessions. Email for an application.

  • The MTA is hiring bus operators. Click the link to learn more and apply.

  • Registration for the NYPD officer exam is now open through Wednesday, 11/3. Passing the exam is the first step to becoming an NYPD officer.

Get free and discounted admission to museums, theaters, and other cultural attractions across the city through NYC and Company’s “It’s Time for Culture” deals.

Make a free mammogram appointment at Project Renewal’s ScanVan mobile clinic by calling 646-415-7932.

Take a self-guided historical and musical walking tour of German Jewish Washington Heights with the podcast “Mendelssohn on the Hudson,” set to a Mendelssohn soundtrack with excerpts of oral histories of local German Jewish residents who lived in the Heights. It’s project of Inwood Art Works, available wherever you get your podcasts.

The Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen community is invited to take the Community Board 4 district needs survey, which helps the Board understand how to prioritize requests for City funds for next year.

Registration is open for free virtual citizenship classes for green card holders, hosted by CUNY Citizenship Now! and the New-York Historical Society. See the schedule, including for Spanish classes, here.

Start-ups and entrepreneurs are invited to apply to pitch their idea at the Silicon Harlem Next Gen Tech Summit on Friday, 10/22. Apply to pitch by Monday (10/11). Register for the summit (10/22 from 8:30 am – 5:30 pm) here.

Start-ups are invited to compete in the “NYC Recovery Challenge,” which awards $100,000 to a start-up that demonstrates how it can assist New York’s economic recovery and foster job creation. Click here to learn more about the challenge hosted by Cornell TechGoogle for Startups, and Tech:NYC. Apply by Friday, 10/29.

The “Hack the Building Code Innovation Challenge” seeks submissions from the real estate and construction industries, design professionals, and the general public on practical steps the City can take to improve the safety and sustainability of buildings, worker safety, and modernizing the construction process, sponsored by the NYC Dept. of Buildings and Urban Tech Hub @ Company Ventures. Submissions close Wednesday, 11/3.

The Central Park Dance Skating Association is seeking volunteers with business, audio equipment, and communications skills to help manage the group and their dance skating operation. If interested, email


Head to Central Park’s Sheep Meadow (at 72nd St.) for the 18th annual Central Park Conservancy Film Festival, featuring acclaimed documentaries:

  • Tonight (10/7) at 5:30 pm – “Meru

  • Friday (10/8) at 5:30 pm – “Free Solo

Click the film titles above to register.

Tonight (10/7) at 6 pm the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority holds a congestion pricing environmental justice outreach meeting. Registration to testify has closed, but you can submit written comments here. The meetings will be livestreamed at

The Workers Unite Film Festival is running 10/8–20, featuring in-person and virtual events about films chronicling the struggles, successes, and daily lives of all workers in their efforts to organize for better living conditions and social justice. See the schedule here, including some free events.

Friday (10/8) and Tuesday (10/12) from 9 am – 6 pm, Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright is hosting a Pfizer booster and Moderna third-shot vaccine clinic at her office (1485 York Ave. at 78th St.). Sign up here or by calling 212-288-4607.

Friday (10/8) at 3 pm, virtual panel “Towards An Inclusive Reopening: The Mental Health Needs of Asian Children” addresses the mental health impact of anti-Asian hate and COVID-related stress on Asian children and their families, how Asian community-based organizations are responding to their needs in culturally competent ways, and what educators and policy makers can do to support the mental well-being of Asian children. Click the title to register for the panel, hosted by the Asian American Federation.

Friday and Saturday (10/8–9) from 9 am – 5:30 pm is “El Festival del Libro” in El Barrio’s Artspace P.S. 109 (215 E. 99th St.), featuring author talks, panel, workshops, an open mic, music, and a COVID vaccine pop-up, hosted by La Fortaleza Project.

The Fort Tryon Park Trust has a packed schedule this weekend:

  • Friday (10/8) at 6 pm – Latin dance workshop and performance (subway terrace at 190th St. and Fort Washington Ave.)

  • Saturday (10/9) at 10 am – photography workshop (Heather Garden)

  • Saturday (10/9) at 10 am – Broadway beautification (Broadway/Arden St. entrance)

  • Sunday (10/10) at 2 pm – poetry reading and jazz concert (Cafe Lawn)

Saturday (10/9) from noon – 7 pm at W. 155th St. and Bradhurst Ave., community domestic violence awareness event “Love on the Block” features food, music, a bouncy house, and arts and crafts, hosted by WARM.

Saturday (10/9) at 7 pm at Buunni Coffee (4961 Broadway at 207th St.), attend a free reading of “The Best Damn Thing,” a play about adolescence, conformity, friendship, and the transformative power of pop music, put on by the UP Theater Company. Proof of vaccination is required.

Sunday (10/10) from 10 am – 2 pm, drop off unneeded electronic devices (see accepted devices here) at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan recycling event (Amsterdam Ave. btwn W. 75th–76th St.). Just throwing out electronics is actually illegal. The event is hosted by Council Member Helen Rosenthal and the Lower East Side Ecology Center.

Monday (10/11) from 6–9 pm at the El Barrio Artspace PS 109 (215 E. 99th St.) is the unveiling of the conceptual design of the Tito Puente monument, honoring the legendary Puerto Rican jazz musician. The event will also feature a salsa band. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours is required.

Tuesday (10/12) at 3 pm is my weekly virtual Manhattan Vaccine and Recovery Task Force meeting, sharing excellent information about the pandemic and New York City’s reopening. To join the Zoom, email You can watch archived meetings here.

Join the People’s Tech Assemblies to give input about technology and the topics your community cares about, sponsored by my office, BetaNYC, and the Public Advocate’s office:

Click the workshop titles to register. If you can’t join, take the community survey or contribute input about other topics like justice, health, equity, and safety.

The Battery Conservancy has several upcoming events and opportunities:

  • Wednesday (10/13) at 8 am, join the season’s final guided bird walk with NYC Audubon. Register here, and meet at the Netherland Memorial Flagpole at the intersection of Broadway, Battery Pl., and State St.

  • Thursdays in October at 1 pm and 3 pm at Battery Pl., take a free tour of the Battery Urban Farm to see what’s growing and learn about fall vegetables. Register here.

  • Volunteer as a gardener, greeter, tour guide, or on the farm.

Wednesdays from 2–5 pm in Morningside Park (south of the 123rd St. playground) is a free after-school program, featuring homework help and activities, sponsored by Street Lab and HYPOTHEkids.

Next Thursday (10/14) from 1–4 pm, I’m co-sponsoring a free drop-in flu shot clinic at Lenox Health Greenwich Village (200 W. 13th St., 5th floor vaccine center).

Next Thursday (10/14) from 2–5 pm, stop by A. Philip Randolph Square (117th St. and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.) for kids’ activities, like board games, crafts, and chalk, sponsored by the NYC Parks Dept.

Next Thursday (10/14) at 3 pm in Andrew Haswell Green Park (enter at 60th St. and York Ave.) is a free jazz concert, hosted by Council Member Ben Kallos and the NYC Parks Dept. Register here.

Next Thursday (10/14) at 4 pm, dancers are invited to a virtual town hall about the COVID vaccine, hosted by Dance/NYC. A panel of medical professionals will provide cultural and historical context around vaccinations, present information on the impact of the vaccine on dance practice, and address questions and concerns from the community. ASL interpretation and closed captioning will be provided; to request additional accommodations, contact or 212-966-04452. Click here to register and submit questions.

Next Thursday (10/14) from 4–10 pm at 135th St. and 12th Ave. is the Uptown Night Market, featuring 40+ local food and merchandise vendors and live performances, organized by the MASC Hospitality GroupWest Harlem Development Corporation, and the Harlem Arts Alliance.

News Clippings

We’re Already Barreling Toward the Next Pandemic
This one is far from over, but the window to prepare for future threats is closing fast.
By Ed Yong, The Atlantic, Sept. 29, 2021

Merck’s experimental pill to treat covid-19 cuts risk of hospitalization and death in half, the pharmaceutical company reports
The clinical trial is being stopped early, and the drug-maker plans to apply for emergency authorization as soon as possible
By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Washington Post, Oct. 1, 2021

U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 700,000 Despite Wide Availability of Vaccines
Every age group under 55 saw its highest death toll of the pandemic this August.
By Julie Bosman and Lauren Leatherby, NY Times, Oct. 1, 2021

Is the Coronavirus Getting Better at Airborne Transmission?
By Apoorva Mandavilli, NY Times, Oct. 1, 2021

Rapid Tests Are the Answer to Living With Covid-19
By Michael J. Mina and Steven Phillips, NY Times Opinion Guest Essay, Oct. 1, 2021

White House promises more rapid COVID-19 tests amid supply shortage
By Sasha Pezenik, Yahoo news, Oct. 1, 2021

White House announces $1 billion purchase of rapid, at-home coronavirus tests
New investment is part of Biden initiative to quadruple the number of tests available to Americans by December.
By Yasmeen Abutaleb and Dan Diamond, Washington Post, Oct. 6, 2021

The Washington Post has begun a series called “Vaccine Vanguard,” about the scientists who helped create coronavirus vaccines. They’re a good read if you have the time (I can’t tell if they’re behind the WP paywall, or part of their free COVID coverage, however)…

A one-way ticket. A cash-stuffed teddy bear. A dream decades in the making.
For Katalin Kariko, a life in full: Awe-inspiring ideas, careful experiments, unnoticed successes and the repeated sting of rejection
By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Washington Post, Oct. 1, 2021

A scientific hunch. Then silence. Until the world needed a lifesaving vaccine.
Drew Weissman helped make ‘hugs and closeness possible again.’ It didn’t happen overnight.
By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Washington Post, Oct. 1, 2021

Serendipity and foresight prepared the world to fight the coronavirus
Barney Graham laid the groundwork for the world to battle this pandemic, and the scientists he mentored will equip us for the next one
By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Washington Post, Oct. 1, 2021

As always, get in touch if you have a problem or concern we can help address: 212-669-8300 or

Stay safe.