- Gale Brewer - https://www.manhattanbp.nyc.gov -

Weekly update (8/26)


It’s Thursday, August 26, 2021– happy Women’s Equality Day! It’s the 101st anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote in 1920.

New York City’s COVID positivity rate is now 3.61%, down from 3.82% last week. Those interested in diving more deeply into COVID statistics can check the NYC Dept. of Health website [1] or thecity.nyc’s COVID tracker [2].

In one of her first acts, Gov. Hochul revised the state’s COVID death statistics by adding more than 12,000 deaths [3] to the NYS counts, for a new total of 55,395 deaths (up from Gov. Cuomo’s tally of 43,415 deaths as of Monday, 8/23). Federal CDC officials had already been using the higher number, which includes NYS nursing home deaths.

The FDA gave approval of the Pfizer vaccine for people 16+ on Monday (8/23), so if you’re one of those who’ve been saying you’ll get the vaccine once it’s fully approved, now’s the time– find a vaccine site here [4] (and get a $100 debit card when you get vaccinated at a City-run site). A CDC study released this week found that unvaccinated people are 29 times more likely to be hospitalized [5] than people who got the shot.

With the FDA approval, all NYC Dept. of Education employees must now be vaccinated with at least one shot by Monday, 9/27 (there will be no weekly testing option). Vaccination is also now required for all high school athletes participating in high-risk sports [6]: football, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, lacrosse, cheerleading, and rugby. Given that the Mayor continues to refuse to allow a remote school option (despite my opposition [7]), these vaccine mandates are necessary to keep all students and school staff safe. NYPD Commissioner Shea is “100% behind [8]” an NYPD vaccine mandate. I hope the Mayor enacts the requirement ASAP (only 47% of the NYPD force is vaccinated [9]!).


In response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, NYPD precincts (find your precinct here [10]) are collecting medical supplies, personal hygiene products (toiletries like toothpaste, toothbrushes, diapers), bottled water, clothing, non-perishable food, baby food, and flashlights (and extra batteries) to help in relief efforts.

Money is often a faster way to help; this is a roundup [11] of many places taking donations.

The first order of business after the crisis that our state government has faced is to restore trust, and that is exactly what Gov. Hochul has done by choosing State Senator Brian Benjamin to be the Lieutenant Governor. I’ve worked closely with him over the years and know that his tremendous private and public sector skills and experience will help Gov. Hochul to lead our state as we recover from COVID, as well as ensure that the public is safe and that the state’s rent relief program is administered swiftly and efficiently.

For two years, since the Legislature passed and Gov. Cuomo signed congestion pricing into law, we’ve been waiting for members of the Traffic Mobility Review Board to be appointed, convene, and establish policies. Yet only the Mayor has appointed a member, so Tuesday (8/24), I wrote my first letter [12] to new Gov. Hochul, requesting that a Manhattan resident be one of the appointees since it will impact Manhattan the most. Congestion pricing will reduce the insane Manhattan traffic and improve air quality– while also generating billions for mass transit improvements. It’s worked in many other cities, and now, it’s an idea that’s long overdue for Manhattan. Streetsblog covered it here [13].

My office is monitoring the community cluster of Legionnaires’ disease cases [14] in and around central Harlem. Legionnaires’ is not contagious and is treatable. The risk to most people is low, but if you have flu-like symptoms, see a health care provider right away. The NYC Dept. of Health is testing the water from all cooling tower systems in the area. I’ve been in touch with the City health commissioner asking for more details and will keep you posted.

Gov. Hochul has taken steps to improve the state’s $2 billion Emergency Rent Assistance Program (ERAP) ahead of the looming expiration of the NYS eviction moratorium next Tuesday (8/31) (but the federal eviction moratorium is in place through 10/3). The State will invest an additional $1 million in marketing and outreach efforts to raise awareness about ERAP and the strong tenant eviction protections in place for those who apply. The NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) administers the program and will analyze application data to target areas of the state with relatively low numbers of applications.

One hundred contracted staffers will be reassigned to conduct direct outreach, work with landlords one-on-one, clarify and obtain missing information, and resolve outstanding issues so that more rent relief funding can be disbursed. Additionally, new data breaking down rent relief payments by county will be posted on OTDA’s website later this week to increase transparency.

Some pieces of ERAP news I didn’t know: The online ERAP application portal [15] now has a “save and resume” function for applications, which allows applicants to pause when necessary and come back to the process. There’s also better “status” feature, which gives applicants a clearer picture of where their application is within the process. The application process has been streamlined, reducing the amount of documents needed to apply. (If you need help applying, contact one of these organizations [16] or my Northern Manhattan office at 212-531-1609.)

Monumental Women [17] has shared an online celebration of last year’s unveiling of the Central Park Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument (and honored my events planner, Penelope Cox, and me with the inaugural Moving History Forward Awards for our work supporting the statue’s creation). Watch it here [18].

Save the date! I’m distributing 2,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to central Harlem elementary and middle school students on Saturday, 9/11 from noon – 3 pm at P.S. 175 (175 W. 134th St.), in partnership with the New York Urban League [19] and the NAACP.

I recently received this lovely note from a college student who interned with me this summer: “As someone who truly enjoys helping make things happen, I appreciated the opportunity to do field work outside the office, and the field work…gave me a much better appreciation of the sheer breadth of things that need to happen on a day-to-day basis to keep a borough like Manhattan running.”

My office still has a handful of openings for internships this fall. To apply, submit a resume and cover letter to jwild@manhattanbp.nyc.gov [20].

Artists and arts organizations can still fill out my Manhattan Arts Survey [21], 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 [21] by Thursday, 9/30.

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 [22] by Monday, 9/13.


Gov. Hochul expanded eligibility yesterday (8/25) for the Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program [23]. Businesses with revenues up to $2.5 million (increased from $500,000) and businesses that received up to $250,000 in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans (increased from $100,000) can now apply for grants of up to $50,000 to cover COVID-related expenses, including rent, payroll, taxes, supplies, and equipment. Apply here [23].

Restaurants can get a $5,000 tax credit for every new worker hired through the NYS Restaurant Return-to-Work Tax Credit [24]. See eligibility criteria and how to claim the credit here [24].

East Harlem’s Dawning Village Day Care Center is hiring early childhood education teachers. Applicants must have or be working toward a NYS early childhood education certification. To apply, call 212-369-5313, or email a resume to dawningvillage@yahoo.com [25].

The new “Arts and Mental Health” program from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund [26] has released a request for proposals for small and mid-sized arts organizations addressing mental health for vulnerable and marginalized people and communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Apply [27] by this Tuesday, 8/31.

Lower East Side residents can apply to the virtual NEXT Entrepreneurship Program [28] from the Lower Eastside Girls Club’s Center for Wellbeing and Happiness [29]. The four-week program will cover business ideation, marketing, financial management, and leadership. Apply [28] by Monday, 9/6.

The Finishing Trades Institute of New York [30] is recruiting for 50 painter, decorator, and paperhanger apprenticeships. Applications can only be obtained from the Finishing Trades Institute of New York at 45-15 36th St., Long Island City, Queens, Monday–Friday, 8:30 am – 3 pm through Tuesday, 9/7.

Applications are now open for the “Disability. Dance. Artistry. Residency Program,” which will award residencies for 10 disabled dance artists or disability-led integrated dance companies this winter, sponsored by Dance/NYC [31] and Gibney Dance [32]. Apply here [33] by Sunday, 10/10.

The Light and Health Research Center [34] at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is seeking participants for two studies testing the effects of lights  designed to improve sleep, mental function, and emotional wellbeing. Participants must be 55+ with mild cognitive impairment or mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. To learn more and enroll, call 518-288-6051, or email  barbara.plitnick@mountsinai.org [35].


Tonight (8/26) from 5–8 pm, “Salsa Stories [36]” hosts salsa classes and screens a documentary about the salsa community sharing true events that tell the history and culture of salsa. There will also be a photo exhibit, and you can bring your old salsa photos to be digitized on site. Join the fun on Suffolk St. between Rivington–Delancey St.

Tonight (8/26) at 7 pm, West Harlem residents, artists, and arts organizations are invited to a virtual public forum [37] about the umbrella organization to support local artists that West Harlem Development Corporation is working to establish. Register here [38].

Tonight (8/26) at 7 pm, a violin-cello duo performs music by Beethoven, Vivaldi, and Martinu in the Cabrini Shrine sanctuary (701 Fort Washington Ave.), sponsored by Musicians of New York City Ballet Orchestra [39].

Friday and Saturday (8/27–28) from 10 am – 6 pm, get free citizenship application assistance [40] at Comisionado Dominicano de Cultura en los EE.UU. (541 W. 145th St.), in partnership with Union Settlement [41] and the NALEO Educational Fund [42]. On Friday, get in-person application completion help, and on Saturday, get a legal review of your application. Call the NALEO hotline to register: 1-888-839-8682.

Friday (8/27) from 1–4 pm is a back-to-school giveaway featuring toys, books, and self-care items for kids and adults at 109 E. 115th St., hosted by New York Foundling [43].

To get more people vaccinated this weekend, the City has partnered with houses of worship for a “Weekend of Faith [44],” featuring pop-up vaccine clinics. The participating Manhattan congregations are:

Saturday (8/28) from 10 am – 3 pm, get vaccinated against or tested for COVID, tested for HIV, a mammogram, a blood pressure screening, backpacks, and registered to vote during the “Day of Service” at 60 W. 132nd St. hosted by the health and wellness ministries of First Bethel AME Church, Paradise Baptist Church, and the Williams Institutional CME Church. To make a mammogram appointment, call 646-415-7932.

Saturday (8/28) from 10 am – 3 pm, apply for a job as a home health aide during Visiting Nurse Services of New York’s open house [45] at the VNSNY Chinatown Community Center (7 Mott St.); call 212-619-3072 for an appointment. If you can’t attend the hiring event, apply for a position here [46].

Saturday (8/28) from noon – 5 pm, Henry Street Settlement Community Day [47] features refreshments, storytelling, a magic show, a performance by Daso El Afro Caribeno Band, and free backpacks filled with school supplies. Join the fun in Sol Lain Park (290 East Broadway and Henry St. from Montgomery–Gouverneur St.).

This Saturday (8/28), many Manhattan NYCHA developments are hosting their Family Day (and I’m going to visit as many as I can!):

Saturday (8/28) from 2–4 pm, free school supplies are available in the El Barrio Garden (117th St. and 1st Ave.), sponsored by New York State of Mind [48].

Saturday (8/28) at 7 pm is a free screening of “The Wiz” on the East River Plaza garage rooftop (517 E. 117th St., Level 4A). Register here [49].

Sundays from 10 am – 9 pm through 9/14, Columbus Ave. from 68th–77th St. will be closed to traffic and pedestrianized as an Open Street, administered by the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District [50].

Monday–Tuesday (8/30–31) from 10 am – 5 pm is the “2021 Private School Kindergarten Admissions Panel and School Fair [51],” featuring 20+ private schools, advice about admissions for the 2022–2023 school year, and financial aid information, sponsored by Let’s Talk Schools [52]. Click the title to register.

Monday–Thursday (8/30–9/2), high schoolers are invited to Harlem School of the Arts’ [53] virtual “College and Career Readiness Week [54],” featuring workshops about the college admissions process, auditions, and careers in the arts. Click the title to see the workshop schedule and register.

Monday–Thursday (8/30–9/2) from noon – 8 pm, there will be a vaccine pop-up site in Inwood at 526 W. 207 St. (includes teens 12+), hosted by NYC Health + Hospitals.

Tuesday (8/31) at 10 am, join a virtual workforce development program orientation [55] with software company Salesforce, sponsored by nonprofit bKind [56]. Register here [57].

Tuesday (8/31) at 1 pm, learn how to enroll in or renew your benefit for the City’s Rent Freeze Program for senior citizens and people with disabilities (SCRIE and DRIE) during virtual info sessions sponsored by the NYC Dept. of Finance; register here [58].

Tuesday (8/31) at 2 pm, families of school-age children are invited to a webinar with the NYC Dept. of Health about staying safe from COVID during the school year, hosted by the United Federation of Teachers [59]. The webinar will answer questions about the safety of the vaccine, how to get vaccinated and tested, and safety protocol to follow. Register here [60].

Wednesdays at 6 pm through 9/22 is Dyckman Farmhouse’s [61] virtual series “Talking About Race Matters [62].” This Wednesday’s (9/1) talk is “I Was Here: Reshaping the American Commemorative Landscape”; register here [63].

Next Thursday (9/2) at 7 pm, catch a free screening of “The Lion King” in Seward Park (enter on East Broadway), sponsored by Seward Park Conservancy [64]Henry Street Settlement [65], and Abrons Art Center [66]. Seating is limited to the first 150 arrivals.

News Clippings

The Coronavirus Is Here Forever. This Is How We Live With It. [67]
By Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, August 17, 2021

Those Anti-Covid Plastic Barriers Probably Don’t Help and May Make Things Worse [68]
By Tara Parker-Pope, NY Times, August 19, 2021

Can you mix and match vaccines? The Post answers your questions on coronavirus booster shots. [69]
By Joel Achenbach and Carolyn Y. Johnson, Washington Post, August 20, 2021

What we actually know about the vaccines and the delta variant [70]
By Dylan Scott, vox.com, August 20, 2021

Four weeks in July: Inside the Biden administration’s struggle to contain the delta surge [71]
By Annie Linskey, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Tyler Pager, Washington Post, August 21, 2021

Israel finds COVID-19 vaccine booster significantly lowers infection risk [72]
Reuters, August 23, 2021

7-Day Average of U.S. COVID Deaths Passes 1,000 for the First Time Since March [73]
By Matt Stieb, New York magazine, August 23, 2021

Dr. Scott Gottlieb says the delta variant-fueled Covid surge in the American South has peaked [74]
By Kevin Stankiewicz, cnbc.com, Monday, August 23, 2021

New CDC studies point to waning immunity from vaccines [75]
By Erin Banco and Adam Cancryn, Politico, August 24, 2021

NIH director: ‘It’s almost like we have a new pandemic’ [76]
By Rachel Roubein, Washington Post’s “The Health 202,” August 24, 2021

J. & J. finds that a second dose of its vaccine provides a strong boost. [77]
By Carl Zimmer, NY Times, August 25, 2021

America’s exceptional infighting over the coronavirus [78]
By Aaron Blake, Washington Post, August 25, 2021

As little as $20 in cash might persuade the reluctant to get vaccinated, our research finds [79]
By Carlos Algara and Daniel J. Simmons, Washington Post, August 25, 2021

No, there weren’t thousands of covid deaths in New York that no one reported [80]
What the revision to New York’s coronavirus death total means
By Philip Bump, Washington Post, August 25, 2021

Gov. Greg Abbott bans mandates on COVID-19 vaccines regardless of whether they have full FDA approval [81]
By Patrick Svitek, Texas Tribune, August 26, 2021

In Florida, the pandemic is worse now than it has ever been before. [82]
By Dan Levin, NY Times, August 26, 2021

Hospitalizations hit 100,000 in United States for first time since January [83]
By Bryan Pietsch, Jacqueline Dupree, and Adela Suliman, Washington Post, August 26, 2021

Biden Administration Likely to Approve Covid-19 Boosters at Six Months [84]
By Stephanie Armour and Jared S. Hopkins, Wall St. Journal, August 26, 2021

Living with the coronavirus will likely never be risk-free [85]
By Caitlin Owens, Axios.com, August 26, 2021

As always, get in touch if you have a problem or concern we can help address: 212-669-8300 or info@manhattanbp.nyc.gov [86].

Stay safe.