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COVID Newsletters

Weekly update (11/18)


It’s Thursday, November 18, 2021. Welcome to my weekly update.

New York City’s COVID positivity rate is now 1.88%, up from 1.55% last week. Those interested in diving more deeply into local COVID statistics can check the NYC Dept. of Health website or’s COVID tracker.

Anyone 18+ is now eligible for a COVID booster shot, per new guidance from the NYC Dept. of Health this week. To get a booster, you must be 6+ months out from your second Moderna/Pfizer dose or 2+ months out from your Johnson & Johnson shot. Find a vaccine site– including those for kids 5+ and for boosters– here. (Pfizer is authorized for people 5+, and Moderna and J&J are authorized for people 18+.)

The FDA is moving to approve boosters for all adults 18+ nationwide after many states and localities (like NYC’s Dept. of Health) widened eligibility on their own.

To be fully vaccinated in time for holiday get-togethers, keep these deadlines in mind:

  • Christmas: first Pfizer shot by THIS SATURDAY (11/2o) or J&J shot by 12/11
  • Kwanzaa: first Pfizer shot by THIS SUNDAY (11/21) or J&J shot by 12/12
  • New Year’s Eve: first Moderna shot by TOMORROW (11/19), first Pfizer shot by 11/26, or J&J shot by 12/17
  • It’s too late to be fully vaccinated for Chanukah, which starts Sunday, 11/28– but getting a shot ASAP will still provide some protection.

If you’re traveling for the holidays, PLEASE get boosted: Cases are rising again nationally– by 20% over the last two weeks, with particular spikes in the Midwest and parts of New England. As Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, puts it, “We don’t understand why surges start, we don’t understand why they end.”

It’s wise to get tested ahead of–or after— Thanksgiving gatherings, even if you’re vaccinated. Find a testing site here.


Please join me and my staff for a year-end Manhattan Borough President’s office reception in the John Jay College atrium (524 W. 59th St.) on Sunday, 12/12 from 2–4 pm. We’ll have refreshments, music, and holiday cheer. All are welcome– no RSVP necessary. Proof of vaccination and masks required. 

Tomorrow (Friday, 11/19) at 1 pm, I’m co-hosting a Thanksgiving food distribution with PA’LANTE Harlem at 1411 Amsterdam Ave. (at 130th St.). We’re giving out turkeys, pork shoulder, and fresh produce– first come, first served.

This coming Monday (11/22) at 7 pm, I’m hosting a virtual talk between former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger and Rachael Cerrotti about her new book, “We Share the Same Sky: A Memoir of Memory & Migration,” which recounts Ms. Cerrotti’s decade-long journey to retrace her grandmother’s World War II story. They’ll discuss the evolving relevance of history, refugee journeys, and their connections to today. Register here for the event, co-hosted with the Marlene Meyerson JCC ManhattanEchoes & Reflections, and the Shoah Foundation.

Over the last eight years as Borough President, I’ve distributed $213 million in capital funding for long-lasting projects such as accessibility improvements, technology upgrades, and renovations. These new clickable graphs show a breakdown of how much funding I allocated to each proposal for public schools, cultural organizations, parks, social service organizations, housing initiatives, colleges, hospitals, libraries, and nonprofits.

Yesterday (11/17) I moderated a panel for the National League of Cities on “What COVID-19 Tech Is Here To Stay? Ensuring Equitable Service Delivery and Resident Engagement in a More Virtual World.” We (virtually) hosted Council Member Tammi Thurm (Greensboro, NC), Town Manager Keith Rogers (Dumfries, VA), and Director of Communications Kelli Narde (Littleton, CO) in a discussion of what worked during the pandemic for those localities (Littleton started a Mailchimp newsletter just like we did here!). I’ll share the panel recording when it’s ready.

The Peoples’ Tech Assemblies compiled a toolkit for facilitating a gathering where people can discuss how local government should use technology to meet human needs. The Peoples’ Tech Assemblies is a public feedback initiative created by my office, BetaNYC, and the Public Advocate’s office to get your input on the future of the intersection of tech and local government.

Tuesday (11/23) at 3 pm is my office’s weekly Manhattan Vaccine and Recovery Task Force, sharing excellent information about the pandemic and New York City’s reopening. To join the Zoom, email in advance of the meeting. This past week’s task force discussed pediatric health, the City’s in-school vaccination campaign, and boosters. See the archive of task force recordings here.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by my “Winterfest” reception ahead of the Harlem Holiday Lights parade on Tuesday (11/16).


The “hard” infrastructure bill (known as BIF, for bipartisan infrastructure) was signed by President Biden on Monday (11/15), and a vote appears likely in the House on the so-called “soft” infrastructure bill (“Build Back Better”) shortly after a promised Congressional Budget Office score– or cost estimate– is released tomorrow (11/19).

The bill President Biden signed is a $1.2 trillion investment in roads, airports, internet access, and electrification across the nation. Components of the bill, as summarized by

  • $110 billion for roads and bridges

  • $66 billion for passenger and freight rail

  • $65 billion for expanding broadband access

  • $65 billion to update the electric grid

  • $55 billion for water and wastewater

  • $39 billion for public transit

  • $25 billion for airports

  • $17 billion for ports and waterways

  • $7.5 billion for electric vehicle chargers

  • $1 billion for reconnecting communities

The Times called the BIF “the most important step in a generation toward upgrading critical infrastructure.” In his “The Morning” newsletter, David Leonhardt noted that it would “raise federal infrastructure spending to its highest share of G.D.P. since the early 1980s.

You may have seen headlines that the State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) stopped accepting applications– that’s true, but only for households who make less than 80% of area median income ($95,440 for a family of four). So those who make more (up to $143,160 for a family of four) can still apply for ERAP.

Curbside composting will finally resume the week of 12/6 in Community Board 6 (StuyTown/PCV, Murray Hill, East Midtown) and 7 (Upper West Side). CB 6 and 7 residents have been notified if their building is participating. CB 6 and 7 buildings that haven’t enrolled can still sign up.

(Curbside composting comes to community districts only when there’s enough interest. If you live in CBs 1–5 or 8–12, PLEASE sign up your building— and get your neighbors to, too! This map tracks sign-ups by community district. And until your neighborhood gets curbside composting, you can drop off food scraps at these public sites across Manhattan.)


Affordable housing lottery applications are open through Monday, 1/10 for the Victoria Tower Residences (230 W. 126th St.). 102 studios, one- and two-bedrooms are available to people with incomes of $28,835–$167,570 (based on household size). Apply here.

Fountain House is accepting new members for their Clubhouses, which provide a non-clinical therapeutic community for people living with serious mental illness. Clubhouses offer relationship development, employment, housing, education, and connections to medical and psychiatric services. To join, contact 646-485-5203 or

Seniors can get free one-on-one tech help and specialized tech classes from Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. To schedule tech help, contact 212-218-0477 or

Small businesses can get free help with building or upgrading their website from the NYC Small Business Tech Corps Pilot. Apply through SBS Connect.

Nonprofits and community-based organizations that use volunteers to distribute food will be able to apply to a third round of NYC Civic Impact Funding in early 2022. To qualify, applicants must first register in the City’s Procurement and Sourcing Solutions Portal (PASSPort), which can be done ASAP.

Tribeca small businesses are invited to fill out this short survey from the Tribeca Pandemic Recovery Task Force to report on the economic impacts of the pandemic, government assistance needs, employee retention challenges, and the desire for coordinated neighborhood marketing.

People who have lived or worked in Harlem or East Harlem since March 2020 are invited to share their experience with COVID, which will inspire virtual public art memorials about the pandemic. Contributors will receive two $25 Amazon gift cards for participating in two interviews. If interested, email and

Animal Care Centers of NYC’s Manhattan location (326 E. 110th St.) is now open daily from noon – 5 pm for kitten, cat, dog, rabbit, and guinea pig adoptions. ACC is also waiving all adoption fees for senior cats and dogs through the end of November.

The wonderful Tenants and Neighbors is hiring a part-time grant and development manager and a full-time AmeriCorps VISTA tenant organizer. See the job listings and apply here.

Seventh grade teachers can apply to the NYC Junior Ambassador program, which empowers students to become actively engaged with the United Nations and see themselves as global citizens. Applications are due Monday, 11/29.

Arts and culture organizations are invited to participate in a virtual internship fair, a recruitment event targeting emerging arts and culture professionals, hosted by the NYC Arts Internship Collective. Register here to be included in the fair (date tbd).

Applications to perform at the August 2022 Battery Dance Festival are now open. Applications must be completed in one sitting (they can’t be saved) and are due by 11:59 pm on Saturday, 1/1.

Advocates for Children released this policy brief highlighting the pandemic’s heavy toll on school attendance for students living in homeless shelters.

Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group released this guide about how to research the history of buildings in Manhattan. The guide features free online sources of data on individual buildings, their physical characteristics, the date of their construction, and the name of their designer.

Through Saturday, 12/11, view the free “What the Butterfly Dragon Taught Me: Dimensional Stories in Paper” exhibit at the Center for Book Arts (28 W. 27th St., 3rd floor).


Tonight (11/18) at 6 pm, webinar and Q&A “Living with Pre-Diabetes & Diabetes: Meals, Medications, Monitoring & More” covers how to lower your risk of developing diabetes and ways to manage diabetes once diagnosed, hosted by Weill Cornell MedicineCornell Tech, and the Roosevelt Island Senior Association. Click the title to register.

Tonight (11/18) at 6:30 pm, NYCHA residents are invited to a virtual open mic, “The Battle for Clean Air,” where you can share what clean air means to you, part of the Smoke-Free NYCHA campaign. Click the title to register.

Tonight (11/18) at 7 pm, the Latino Social Work Coalition hosts a virtual workshop “Pathways to Private Practice,” featuring insights from Dr. Angelica Perez-Litwin, founder and owner of the Lumin Center. Register here.

Saturday and Sunday (11/20–21) from 10 am – 5 pm is the 35th annual Goddard Riverside Book Fair (593 Columbus Ave. at 88th St.). Entry is free, and all books are new and 50% off. Attendees must show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test from the past 72 hours.

Sunday (11/21) from 10 am – 2 pm, drop off documents you want shredded or old eyeglasses opposite the 92nd St. Greenmarket (92nd St. and 1st Ave.), sponsored by Upper Green Side and Grow NYC.

Sunday (11/21) at 11 am, volunteer for a community clean-up with the very active Hell’s Kitchen Litter Legion. Register here. Meet at the southwest corner of 49th St. and 10th Ave.

Sunday (11/21), volunteer to clean up cigarette butts with the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board so that the butts don’t end up polluting the ocean and marine life. Join from noon – 2 pm at Riverside Dr. and 135th St. or from 2:30–4:30 pm at 6th Ave. and 42nd St. Bring gloves (and a grabber if you have one).

Through 12/16, catch free excerpts of Broadway musicals Mondays at 5 pm at the Shops at Hudson Yards (level 4) and Thursdays at 5 pm at the Shops at Columbus Circle (level 2).

Monday (11/22) from 5:30–7:30 pm on the plaza between 23rd–24th St. and 5th Ave.–Broadway, join the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership for their annual holiday party and the unveiling of the “Interwoven” art installation. There will be live jazz, free refreshments, and giveaways.

Monday (11/22) at 6 pm, families and kids are invited to a virtual workshop that answers questions about the COVID vaccine, hosted by the East Harlem Community Partnership and the District 4 Community Education Council. Spanish and Bangla translation will be available. Join the Zoom here.

Tuesday (11/23) at 1 pm, webinar “A Guide to Nursing Home Oversight & Enforcement” explains the State’s role in nursing home certification, surveys, and enforcement; the primary activities and responsibilities of state agencies; and why nursing home surveys matter. Click the title to register for this event hosted by the Long Term Care Community Coalition.

Tuesday (11/23) at 5:30 pm is a free turkey distribution (while supplies last) at the National Action Network’s House of Justice (106 W. 145th St.). Then on Thanksgiving itself (11/25) from 11:30 am – 3:30 pm, NAN is distributing Thanksgiving meals.

Wednesday (11/24) at 2 pm is New York Common Pantry’s annual Thanksgiving lunch, featuring free food and music outdoors at 8 E. 109th St.

Wednesday (11/24) from noon – 6 pm, you can watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons be inflated. Enter at 72nd St. and Columbus Ave. with proof of vaccination.

Thanksgiving Thursday (11/25) from noon – 3 pm, pick up a free Thanksgiving meal from Goddard Riverside (593 Columbus Ave. at 88th St.).

News Clippings

Pfizer CEO says people who spread vaccine disinformation are ‘criminals’
By Timothy Bella, Washington Post, Nov. 9, 2021

Opinion: How much of your life will you lose by going back to the office? Try our calculator.
by Sergio Peçanha, Washington Post Opinion, Nov. 9, 2021

After weeks of declines, U.S. Covid cases have stalled at a high level: ‘The ERs are packed’
By Nate Rattner and Robert Towey,, Nov. 10, 2021

What We Know So Far About Waning Vaccine Effectiveness
By Amy Schoenfeld Walker and Josh Holder, NY Times, Nov. 11, 2021

This COVID Winter May Cause Fewer Deaths yet Still Bring a Surge
This year is unlikely to see as many severe cases as last year, but relaxed restrictions and a patchwork of vaccination could still mean trouble, experts warn
By Marla Broadfoot, Scientific American, Nov. 11, 2021

The big questions about Covid-19 booster shots
By German Lopez,, Nov. 12, 2021

Covid cases are surging in Europe. America is in denial about what lies in store for it
By Eric Topol, The Guardian, Nov. 12, 2021

Covid misinformation spreads because so many Americans are awful at math
Two-step calculations are hard enough for some, but assessing vaccine effectiveness requires multiple steps.
By James Surowiecki, Washington Post Opinion, Nov. 12, 2021

Why Health-Care Workers Are Quitting in Droves
About one in five health-care workers has left medicine since the pandemic started. This is their story—and the story of those left behind.
By Ed Yong, The Atlantic, Nov. 16, 2021

Pfizer to share license for covid-19 pill, potentially opening up treatment to millions in low-income nations
By Adam Taylor and Claire Parker, Washington Post, Nov. 16, 2021

Pfizer seeks emergency authorization for its coronavirus-fighting pill regimen
By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Washington Post, Nov. 16, 2021

Opinion: How to assess the covid-19 risk from holiday gatherings? Here are four things to consider.
By Leana S. Wen, Washington Post Opinion, Nov. 17, 2021

Can Covid Winter Be Merry and Bright? We Asked the Experts.
NY Times Opinion, Nov. 17, 2021

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