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COVID Newsletters

Weekly update (9/2)


It’s Thursday, September 2, 2021. Welcome to my weekly update.

Last night’s storm really gave us a wallop, with record one-hour rainfall in Central Park. The Governor and Mayor have both issued a state of emergency. Transit service is delayed and in some areas suspended, and the MTA’s subway and bus Twitter accounts are posting service updates. Call 311 to report suspected gas leaks and downed power lines, and treat all downed lines as “live.” (You can help the City track what areas have been damaged by filling out this form.) What we saw is clearly a result of intensifying storms because of the climate crisis, and yet another reason why the federal infrastructure bills need to pass.

New York City’s COVID positivity rate is now 3.43%, down from 3.61% last week. Those interested in diving more deeply into COVID statistics can check the NYC Dept. of Health website or’s COVID tracker.

NYC small businesses are now eligible for the $100 vaccine referral bonus when they refer an employee or customer to a City-run vaccine site (the newly vaccinated person will also get $100). Register for the referral bonus program here. (Community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and PTAs were already eligible).

The NY Times’ David Leonhardt discussed whether the rush to booster shots is warranted in his Monday (8/30) newsletter. Vaccine effectiveness may not really be waning much, he argues, which means universal booster shots may not be needed as quickly. Yet a preprint study from Israeli researchers found that adults who received a third Pfizer shot saw their risk of infection drop by 11-fold, and their risk of severe disease drop by more than 10-fold.

In yesterday’s (9/1) newsletter, Leonhardt examined COVID’s mysterious two-month boom-and-bust cycle, and included this shouldn’t-be-surprising-but-is-anyway quote: “We still are really in the cave ages in terms of understanding how viruses emerge, how they spread, how they start and stop, why they do what they do,” said Michael Ouesterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota.


The new Texas abortion ban is, quite simply, an outrage. It bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is usually at about the sixth week of pregnancy, before many people realize they are pregnant; there are no exemptions in cases of rape or incest, and the only enforcement mechanism enlists vigilantes to turn in other Texans in exchange for a $10,000 bounty.

And the Supreme Court decision to not issue a stay to consider the law’s constitutionality doubles the outrage– and effectively invalidates Roe v. Wade. Read the Court’s opinion here— even Chief Justice Roberts supported an injunction! The dissent by Bronx native Justice Sotomayor is especially eloquent: “The Court’s order is stunning. Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of Justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand…”

The City Planning Commission held a hearing about the 250 Water St. ULURP yesterday (9/1). Read my testimony and my ULURP recommendation.

testified yesterday (9/1) before the NYC Council Committee on Education about protocols that would make reopening schools safer. (I also support remote options for schools.)

Thursday, 9/23 at 8:30 am is this month’s Manhattan Borough Board meeting. We’ll hear from the NYC Dept. of City Planning about the Open Restaurants Text Amendment and from the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission about the timeline of their preliminary maps and public hearings. Register for the Zoom here.

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 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 by Monday, 9/13.

It’s that bittersweet time of the year when my summer interns return to school, but this week I received a lovely note from a high school student who interned with me over the summer: “I’ve learned so much about the extensive amounts of effort and work (by our office and others) required to keep Manhattan running and was exposed to facets of the city previously unknown to me.”

My office still has a handful of openings for internships this fall. To apply, submit a resume and cover letter to


A bill to extend New York State’s eviction moratorium through 1/15/22 has been passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Hochul. This became an especially urgent priority once the Supreme Court struck down the federal eviction moratorium last week (after striking down New York’s in mid August). If you receive notice from your landlord that contains a declaration of hardship form, be sure to fill that out as a measure to protect against eviction.

If you’ve fallen behind on rent or have tenants who have, apply to the NYS Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). My ERAP flyer breaks down the application process, and you can get assistance from these organizations or by calling my Northern Manhattan office at 212-531-1609.

Public meetings– like public hearings and community board meetings– can once again be held virtually as a result of a bill passed in the legislature’s special session. (I wrote the Governor, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie urging that the Open Meetings Law be included in the special session agenda.)

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

Enforcement will start Monday, 9/13 of Key to NYC, the vaccination requirement for customers 12+ and employees of indoor dining, entertainment, and fitness venues. This FAQ can help business operators understand requirements, and businesses can display this sign so customers know about the vaccination requirement before entering a facility.

The NYC Board of Elections is hiring poll workers and interpreters (Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Hindi, Bengali), who can make up to $2,800 for working the nine days of early voting and the day of the general election this fall. No experience is necessary. Apply here.

Small businesses can get help navigating red tape and City regulations with the Business Quick Start program, a concierge service that gives businesses a single point of contact, from the NYC Dept. of Small Business Services.

Sign-ups to resume curbside composting are now open. Sign up here, or get your building’s management/board to sign up if you live in a multi-unit building. The Dept. of Sanitation will notify you when service will start in your neighborhood.

Parents with incomes too low to file taxes with the IRS may not be receiving the now-monthly payments of the Child Tax Credit ($300 per child under age 6, and $250 a month for kids between ages 6 to 17). Click here for virtual, in-person, drop-off, and self-prep with help options.

You can identify the helicopters that fly over Manhattan and track their flight paths using


NYCHA is hiring for more than 70 full- and part-time positions for the Jr. Knicks x NYCHA “Stop the Violence” Basketball League. Pay ranges from $20–$32/hour. Click the links to apply for the site supervisorborough coordinator, or community service aide positions.

People 60+ experiencing depression can enroll in a nine-week research program to explore how increasing participation in pleasurable and rewarding activities can lead to improvement in depressive symptoms. The program is conducted by Weill Cornell Medicine at the Stanley Isaacs Center (415 E. 93rd St.) or via phone/video chat. For more information or to enroll, contact 844- 999-8746 ext. 720 or

Applications close THIS Friday (9/3) for $10,000 eBay Up & Running grants. Apply here.

Applications close Tuesday, 9/14 at 5 pm for the Manhattan Art Grants of up to $10,000 from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. The final webinar for Creative Engagement or Learning applicants (as opposed to UMEZ Arts Engagement applicants) is Wednesday (9/8) at 6 pm. Register here.

IFundWomen’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 will award a woman entrepreneur with a $100,000 equity investment. Grants and coaching scholarships will be given to category honorees and runners-up. Apply by Monday, 9/20.

Applications close Monday, 10/6 at 4 pm for the Dance Advancement Fund from DanceNYC, open to dance makers with operating budgets of $1o,000–$500,000. Apply here.

The NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music, and Theatre will award grants of up to $50,000 to address the underrepresentation of women in entertainment industries, sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Apply by Monday, 11/1.

Small businesses can get free, virtual one-on-one coaching sessions with Harvard Business School alumni as part of the HBS Club of New York’s “Recover and Rebuild Initiative,” covering topics like landlord negotiations, finding business loans, marketing, and budgeting. Sign up here.

To determine their eligibility for various grants, small business professionals can connect with advisors from Pace University’s Small Business Development Center. Request a free one-on-one advisory session here.

Paycheck Protection Program borrowers whose loan is $150,000 or less may be eligible to apply for direct forgiveness through the U.S. Small Business Administration using their new online portal. Click here to find out if your lender is participating.

Parents of visually impaired children can join the Lighthouse Guild tele-support group.

Tickets are now available for the French Institute Alliance Française’s “Fête de la Rentrée” fall open house from 9/13–15, featuring free French classes, movies, an art exhibit, and a dance party. Click the link above to see the schedule and register.

Artists of all ages are invited to submit artwork for display along the construction fence of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. Learn more about the contest and how to submit by Thursday, 9/30 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.

Share your back-to-school photos and memories with Urban Archive, a tech nonprofit that focuses on local history. The photos will be compiled into an online story capturing the spirit of NYC schools throughout the years. Submit photos here.


The free Met Opera Summer HD Festival screens recorded Met performances in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park tonight (9/2) and Monday (9/6) at 7:30 pm. And for the first time since the pandemic, the Met’s orchestra will play together in person, performing Mahler’s second symphony as part of the festival Saturday and Sunday (9/4–5) at 8 pm. Click here to get tickets.

Friday (9/3) from noon–5 pm is a vaccine pop-up site at Tweed Courthouse (52 Chambers St.) for people 12+. Get vaccinated there and get a $100 debit card.

Friday (9/3) at 7 pm, see the opera in Bryant Park during a performance of Verdi’s masterpiece “Rigoletto,” performed by New York City Opera. Proof of vaccination and photo ID are mandatory. If you can’t make it in person, watch it live on FacebookInstagram, or YouTube.

Friday (9/3) from 10 am – 7 pm, the intergenerational, community-led initiative “The People’s Festival” celebrates New Yorkers’ resilience with live performances, storytelling, interactive workshops, and community resources, highlighting the People’s Bus, the Ice Cream Truck of Rights, local artists, community-based organizations, and neighborhood leaders. Join the festival at Plaza De Las Americas (651 W. 175th St.).

Saturday (9/4) from noon – 2 pm, I’m co-sponsoring an event for NYCHA residents of PSA 5 to get a backpack filled with school supplies during a back-to-school event at Det. Omar J Edwards Park (E. 124th St. btwn 2nd–3rd Ave.). There will also be food, raffles, and music, and my staff will be doing face paint. (The NYCHA Developments in PSA 5 are Carver, Clinton, East River, Wilson, Metro North, Jefferson, Corsi, Johnson, UPACA 5 and 6, King, Taft Rehab, Grampion, Randolph, 131 Saint Nicholas, Lincoln, Morris Park, Park Avenue East, Jackie Robinson, Taft, Lehman, Wagner, Washington, Lexington, and White.)

Sunday (9/5) at 2 pm, is the monthly “Sea Chanteys and Maritime Music” virtual singalong from the South Street Seaport Museum. Click the title to register.

Tuesday (9/7) at 6 pm, virtual event “Your Financial Journey: Back-to-School Edition” teaches about credit and putting financial plans into action with “Harlem’s Banker” Nichol X. King, sponsored by workforce development nonprofit Strive and Chase Bank. Click the title to register. (If you attended last week’s “Your Financial Journey” event, attend this one and get a free backpack.)

Tuesday (9/7) at 7 pm, take a virtual introduction to birding class, which will teach how to identify NYC birds by sight and sound, sponsored by the Wild Bird Fund. Register here.

Wednesday (9/8) from 10 am – 2 pm, a “Back to School Healthfest” features free health screenings, information about health insurance eligibility, face painting, music, and raffles, hosted by NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan on 2nd Ave. btwn 97th–99th St.

Wednesday (9/8) at 2 pm, small business professionals are invited to a Spanish-language webinar about applying to the NYS COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program, hosted by the Washington Heights and Inwood Development Corporation. The grant program awards businesses up to $50,000. Register here.

The Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY is hosting two virtual workshops next week. Wednesday (9/8) at 1:30 pm is “Accessibility Initiatives within the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission”– register here. Thursday (9/9) at 1 pm is “The Disability and Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Programs (DRIE and SCRIE)”– register here.

Wednesdays at 6 pm through 9/22 is Dyckman Farmhouse’s virtual series “Talking About Race Matters.” This Wednesday’s (9/8) talk is “Markers on the Land: Slavery, Commemoration and the History of Africans in Northern Manhattan” featuring Manhattan Borough Historian Robert Snyder and other scholars; register here.

Next Thursday (9/9) from noon – 5 pm, I’m a co-sponsor of the “NYC African Heritage Month Celebration” at the Africa Center (1250 5th Ave. btwn 106th–107th St.). There will be cultural performances, school supplies, legal and immigration consultations, human rights resources, and multilingual COVID vaccine and testing information. Click the title to register. To request an assistive listening device, interpretation, or another accommodation, by Monday (9/6).

Next Thursday (9/9) from 3–4:30 pm, catch a free jazz concert in Andrew Haswell Green Park (E. 60th St. and York Ave.), sponsored by NYC Parks and Council Member Ben Kallos. Register here.

Next Thursday (9/9) at 4 pm is the NYS Independent Redistricting Committee’s next hearing conducted at 250 Broadway and streamed at

Next Thursday (9/9) at 6 pm, parents and caregivers are invited to the webinar “From Anxiety to Vaccines: Navigating the New School Year with Confidence” about issues related to pediatric COVID, how to speak with children about their anxieties linked to going back to school, wellness, and nutrition. Click the title to register for the event, hosted by Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian.

Next Thursday (9/9) at 7 pm, “Can I Recycle This?” author Jennie Romer discusses recycling best practices and reducing single-use plastics in the Good Shepherd Chapel (543 Main St., Roosevelt Island), hosted by the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board and the NY Public Library. To register, email and write“Reduce” in the subject line.

News Clippings

Parents Are Not Okay
We’re not even at a breaking point anymore. We’re broken.
By Dan Sinker, The Atlantic, August 22, 2021

Is vaccine misinformation affecting our health?
By Susan A. Hughes, Harvard Gazette, August 24, 2021

NIH director: Vaccine approval for kids unlikely before late 2021
By Quint Forgey,, August 24, 2021

4 lessons from the early pandemic that no longer apply
We need new mental models to make sense of the pandemic as it exists today.
By Sigal Samuel,, August 25, 2021

How a cheap antidepressant emerged as a promising Covid-19 treatment
Most Covid-19 drug treatments that have been included in trials haven’t panned out. A large new study suggests fluvoxamine might be different.
By Kelsey Piper,, August 26, 2021

100,000 more COVID deaths seen unless US changes its ways
Health experts say that toll could be cut in half if nearly everyone wore a mask in public spaces.
By Carla K. Johnson and Nicky Forster, Associated Press, August 26, 2021

The Intolerable Wait for a Kids’ Vaccine
By Michelle Goldberg, NY Times Columnist, August 30, 2021

Vaccine Refusers Don’t Get to Dictate Terms Anymore
By Juliette Kayyem, The Atlantic, August 29, 2021

They’re called mild cases. But people with breakthrough covid can still feel pretty sick.
By Fenit Nirappil, Washington Post, August 31, 2021

Long-Haulers Are Fighting for Their Future.
“…discussion of the pandemic still largely revolves around two extremes—good health at one end, and hospitalization or death at the other. This ignores the hinterland of disability that lies in between, where millions of people are already stuck, and where many more may end up.”
By Ed Yong, The Atlantic, September 1, 2021

Massive randomized study is proof that surgical masks limit coronavirus spread, authors say
By Adam Taylor and Ben Guarino, Washington Post, September 1, 2021

Why can’t America fix its Covid-19 testing problems?
US testing numbers have been consistently bad because there is no real strategy.
By Dylan Scott,, September 1, 2021

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

Stay safe.