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COVID Newsletters

Weekly update (8/19)


It’s Thursday, August 19, 2021. Welcome to my weekly update.

New York City’s COVID positivity rate is now 3.82%, up from 3.76% last week. Those interested in diving more deeply into COVID statistics can check the NYC Dept. of Health website or’s COVID tracker.

With the Delta variant’s higher infectiousness, it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated. You can now get a $100 debit card when you get vaccinated at a City-run site, and PTAs are now eligible for the $100 community-based organization referral bonus when they get a student or family member vaccinated at City-run site. My website’s vaccination page is useful, listing those sites and many others, as well as vaccination perks and appointment resources, including how to arrange a home visit to get vaccinated and tested.

As of this week, proof of vaccination is required for customers ages 12+ and employees at indoor dining, fitness, culture, and entertainment venues; see the full list here. (Still ineligible for the vaccine, kids younger than 12 are allowed in these venues.)

Immunocompromised New Yorkers who got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can now get a third dose at most vaccine sites (City-run sites, doctor’s offices, community health centers, hospitals, pharmacies). Immunocompromised people vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson can’t yet get a second shot.

Gov. Cuomo plans to mandate that all health care workers must get their first vaccine dose by Monday, 9/27. (It’s unclear if health care workers who refuse vaccination will instead have to undergo weekly testing, which is the current policy for health care workers in City- and State-run facilities.)


Artists and arts organizations can still fill out my Manhattan Arts Survey, an opportunity to share your experiences with relief, reopening, and recovery efforts. We welcome your recommendations for how City resources can better support your work in the arts and your missions. Respond here.

I’m also seeking artists to participate in my “Welcome Back” exhibit this fall, which will feature artwork created during and related to the pandemic in New York City, to be mounted in the Maggi Peyton Gallery in my office. In partnership with curator Jean Sonderand (they/them), the exhibit will be a reflection of this traumatic time and a celebration of our collective reopening. Submit your artwork here by Monday, 9/13.

My Northern Manhattan Office is here to help. The NMO team continues to provide one-on-one constituent services and application assistance to individuals in need of:

  • housing

  • unemployment insurance (UI) – come Sunday, 9/5 several federal unemployment benefits are expiring: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and $300 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

  • emergency rental assistance (ERAP) – covers up to 12 months of owed rent and utilities and three months of future rent

  • COVID-19 vaccinations

  • pandemic EBT (P-EBT)

If you have any questions or are having difficulty accessing any of these benefits, feel free to call the office at 212-531-1609, and a staff member will follow up with you.

Applications are now open for $10–$20 million awards from the Governor’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Interested communities must apply through my office by submitting their application to by Friday, 9/3 at 4 pm; learn more here. While we encourage all interested parties to apply, my office is particularly focused on Chinatown given the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on the neighborhood– it has lost the majority of its visitors, most office workers in Lower Manhattan still have yet to return, and the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes has targeted Chinatown’s residents. My office has assembled a strong team and is working with a grant writer on the application.

My office is continuing to work with Greenwich House and other providers to coordinate increased outreach efforts in Washington Square Park to people who are homeless and/or drug users, such as through peer counselors. We’re also collecting and evaluating data based on this engagement work.

As part of the ULURP process, I recommended approval of a new hotel and office tower at the site of the Grand Hyatt New York Hotel today (8/19). Read the opinion here.

The interns in my office are calling every single town in the state to hear about their experiences with COVID and public meetings. The end of the NYS state of emergency meant that public meetings must once again have an in-person component, which can be complicated by uncertainty surrounding new variants.

There’s ONE DAY left to apply 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,


THIS Friday (8/20) at 11:59 pm, applications close for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG), which awards companies and nonprofits that operate live-performance venues, talent/management agencies, and others up to $10 million in relief from the Save our Stages Act in the December stimulus bill via the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Later this month, the SBA will award additional SVOG funds to grantees for 50% of the original award amount; details are still TBD. Also, the SBA is allowing some applicants to appeal their award amounts, but it’s by invitation only.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of New York’s eviction moratoriumThere remain several measures protecting tenants from eviction for nonpayment of rent, but the Supreme Court did away with tenants’ ability to file a New York State hardship declaration form and have that be enough to keep landlords from filing for eviction. Tenants are still protected from eviction by:

  • The federal eviction moratorium, in effect through Sunday, 10/3– give this form to your landlord to prove financial hardship

  • Having a pending New York Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) application. The ERAP application process can be frustrating and glitchy, but it’s my understanding that if you haven’t applied, it’s still worth it to file an application to be protected from eviction and hopefully get rental assistance. (My ERAP resources web page lists organizations assisting tenants with applications.)

The Biden administration has announced a permanent 25% increase in SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) beginning in October. The average monthly per-person benefit will rise from $121 to $157. It’s the largest increase ever, and will be available to all 42 million SNAP beneficiaries.

This is a major step toward solving food insecurity; as the NY Times reported, “More than three-quarters of households exhaust their benefits in the first half of the monthly cycle, and researchers have linked subsequent food shortages to problems as diverse as increased hospital admissions, more school suspensions and lower SAT scores.”

The second expanded Child Tax Credit payment is starting to hit bank accounts this week. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan signed by President Biden in March, families are receiving monthly payments from the IRS, by direct deposit or by check, of up to $250 per child ages 6–17 and $300 per child under age 6. This tax credit will lift 12,800 Manhattan children out of poverty, and covers a total of more than 147,000 kids in Manhattan.

If you filed a tax return last year, you’ll get the money automatically; but if you didn’t file a 2020 tax return– or you’ve had a child in the meantime– you can sign up for the payments here. The payments will end this December; you can claim six months of back payments (January – June 2021) when you file your 2021 income tax return next year.

The City health department will spray pesticides in parts of Northern Manhattan to protect against mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus from 8:30 pm on Tuesday (8/24) – 6 am on Wednesday (8/25). The affected area is bordered by the Hudson River to the west; Spuyten Duyvil Creek to the north; the Harlem River to the east; and Macombs Pl. and W. 150th St. to the south. Residents are encouraged to remain indoors during spraying and to wash any skin and clothing exposed to pesticides.


Applications are now open for the Excluded Workers Fund. New York State has allocated $2 billion to help 300,000 workers who lost wages due to the pandemic but were ineligible for unemployment benefits due to immigration status or self-employment. In some cases, surviving families who lost their primary income due to a COVID death may also apply. See eligibility criteria here. The State has partnered with these community-based organizations to offer application assistance. The Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC) is also offering application help.

Take the “Communities Speak: Rebuilding the Post-COVID City Through Community Engagement” survey, which will help policymakers understand the current challenges New Yorkers are facing as they cope with the health, economic, and social impacts of COVID and what resources would be best to address those issues. The survey is part of Communities Speak, a post-COVID recovery initiative led by Columbia University and community partners.

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.

Washington Heights and Inwood residents (ZIP codes 10033, 10034, 10040) can get 50% off annual Citi Bike memberships. Use code EXPANSION21 in the Citi Bike or Lyft apps (Lyft is a Citi Bike partner).

For 25 years, Figure Skating in Harlem has helped girls transform their lives and grow in confidence, leadership, and academic achievement. Enrollment is open now.

Harlem artist Cathleen Campbell is seeking uptown residents who lost a loved one to COVID for her upcoming COVID memorial portrait series documenting neighborhood remembrances (sidewalk gardens, murals, candles, etc.). If interested, contact the artist here.

Register now to get free daffodil bulbs to plant throughout the city this fall from the Daffodil Project, a living memorial to the victims of 9/11.

Reserve tickets now for 9/11 memorial performance piece “Slow Turn” by Eiko Otake. Otake will perform on Saturday, 9/11 at 7 am and 6 pm at Belvedere Plaza in Battery Park City.


As part of Lincoln Center’s ongoing Restart Stages outdoor performance series, the BAAND Together Dance Festival hosts daily performances and dance workshops through Saturday (8/21). See the schedule here. (Tickets are no longer required for Restart Stages performances in Damrosch Park.)

Friday (8/20) from 10 am – 4 pm is a community health resource fair at the Clinton Houses basketball courts (109th St. btwn Lexington–Park Ave.).

Saturday (8/21) from noon – 2 pm, I’m co-sponsoring a school supplies drive at 3333 Broadway. Drop off new or slightly used backpacks, writing materials, notebooks, etc.

Saturday (8/21) from noon – 5 pm, join artist open studios, jazz concerts, and climate workshops during the “Take Care Series” at the Arts Center on Governors Island. Get free tickets here.

Saturday (8/21), many NYCHA developments are hosting their Family Day:

  • Lilian Wald Houses, noon – 7 pm

  • UPACA 5 (1980 Lexington Ave., backyard), noon – 7 pm

  • Wilson Houses (425 E. 105th St.), noon – 7 pm

  • Lower East Side II (84 Avenue C, rear courtyard), noon – 6 pm

  • Marble Hill Houses (Children’s Park btwn building 1 at 5210 Broadway and building 9 at 5240 Broadway), noon – 5 pm

Saturday (8/21) from noon – 6 pm is the annual 6th Street Festival featuring performances and activities commemorating the history and diversity of the Lower East Side, organized by the Lower East Side Hispanic Committee. Join the festival at 6th St. between Avenue D and the FDR Dr.

Saturday (8/21) from 2–6 pm, the 22 Points Team “Back 2 School Giveaway” features free school supplies, food, and games at P.S. 154 Harriet Tubman (250 W. 126th St.).

Saturday (8/21) from 4–6 pm, join free flexn dance classes, a form of street dance with roots in Jamaican bruk up, at the Shed in Hudson Yards led by Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray and the D.R.E.A.M. Ring dancers.

Monday–Saturday (8/23–28) from 8 am – 6 pm, get vaccinated outside the Seward Park Library (192 East Broadway), a partnership between the New York Public Library and NYC Test and Trace.

Monday (8/23) at 2 pm, I’m co-sponsoring and on the opening panel for the first virtual “NYC Peoples’ Tech Assembly,” a series of opportunities to discuss the future of tech and how to address inequities, ensure privacy, and increase accessibility. Click the title to register.

Monday (8/23) from 6–8 pm, my office will conduct a virtual public hearing as part of my ULURP review of the SoHo/NoHo rezoning, with an opening panel and then testimony. Panelists Edith Hsu-Chen of the NYC Dept. of City Planning, Jessica Katz of Citizens Housing and Planning Council, Jerrod Delaine of Pratt Institute, Mark Dicus of the SoHo Broadway Initiative, and Steve Herrick of the Cooper Square Committee will raise perspectives on the rezoning’s potential effects on the public realm, commercial development, affordable housing, arts and culture, historic preservation, and tenant protections.

Register here for the Zoom; we expect many virtual attendees and will allow two minutes each for testimony (and ask that you please submit in advance to if you have not already done so.)

Wednesday (8/25) from 9 am –4:30 pm, book a free appointment for the mammogram bus stationed in the Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center courtyard (415 E. 93rd St.), sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos and the American Italian Cancer Foundation. Appointments are open to those ages 40–79 who haven’t had a mammogram in the last year. There will be another opportunity to visit the mammogram bus on Sunday, 9/19 at 545 Grand St. Register for either day at 212-860-1950 or 1-877-628-9090.

Wednesday (8/25) at 1 pm, learn how the NYC Office of the Parking Summons Advocate can assist with your parking summonses, camera violations, other parking-related issues, hosted by the NYC Dept. of Finance. Register for the virtual session here.

Next Thursday (8/26), commemorate Women’s Equality Day during Monumental Women’s virtual celebration. It will be the one-year anniversary of the unveiling of the Central Park Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument, and my office’s special events coordinator, Penelope Cox, and I will be accepting the inaugural Moving History Forward Awards for our work supporting the statue’s creation. The celebration will be available to watch all day online. That day, Monumental Women will also debut its virtual Five Borough New York City Women’s Rights History Trail marking locations around the city where key moments in advancing women’s rights occurred.

News Clippings

The Science Behind Why the Delta Variant Is Spreading Covid-19 Faster (VIDEO)
As the Delta variant sweeps the globe, scientists are learning more about why new versions of the coronavirus spread faster, and what this could mean for vaccine efforts.
By Liz Ornitz, Wall St. Journal, August 3, 2021

Can we safely open schools in the Delta era?
Yes, if we implement a powerful and under-utilized weapon.
By Dr. Jeremy Faust, Inside Medicine, August 6, 2021

New data on coronavirus vaccine effectiveness may be “a wakeup call”
“A new preprint study that raises concerns about the mRNA vaccines’ effectiveness against Delta — particularly Pfizer’s — has already grabbed the attention of top Biden administration officials…  It’s unclear whether the results signify a reduction in effectiveness over time, a reduced effectiveness against Delta, or a combination of both…”
By Caitlin Owens,, August 11, 2021

The delta doldrums
Hitting yet another pandemic wall? You’re not alone.
By Anna North,, August 12, 2021

As City Reopens, Performers Try to Uplift New York’s State of Mind
Some of the city’s most recognizable entertainers take turns singing, dancing and playing instruments in a new music video covering Billy Joel’s 1976 song.
By Alyssa Lukpat, NY Times, August 15, 2021

Can the Vaccinated Develop Long Covid After a Breakthrough Infection?
By Tara Parker-Pope, NY Times, August 16, 2021

Hospitalizations of Americans under 50 have reached new pandemic highs.
The Delta variant now accounts for more than 83 percent of new infections in the United States. Roughly 129,000 new cases are reported each day, a 65 percent increase from two weeks ago…
By Emily Anthes, NY Times, August 16, 2021

Why it’s so hard to be a nurse in America, according to two nurses
Nurses were struggling even before the pandemic. We have the tools to change that.
By Katherine Harmon Courage, NY Times, August 16, 2021

How New Yorkers Can Help Haiti Following the Earthquake That Killed 1,300
By Cliford Michel, The City, August 16, 2021

American Hospitals Buckle Under Delta, With I.C.U.s Filling Up
By Albert Sun and Giulia Heyward, NY Times, August 17, 2021

How CDC data problems put the U.S. behind on the delta variant
Critics say the CDC’s failure to share real-time data led to overly rosy assessments of vaccine effectiveness — and complacency on the part of many Americans
By Yasmeen Abutaleb and Lena H. Sun, Washington Post, August 18, 2021

COVID Booster Shots Are Coming. Here’s What You Need To Know
By Pien Huang, Sydney Lupkin, and Carmel Wroth,, August 19, 2021

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

Stay safe.