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COVID Newsletters

Weekly update 9/23


It’s Thursday, September 23, 2021– the first full day of fall! Welcome to my weekly update.

New York City’s COVID positivity rate is now 2.48%, down from 2.96% last week. Those interested in diving more deeply into COVID statistics can check the NYC Dept. of Health website or’s COVID tracker. If you’re not yet vaccinated, find a vaccine site here.

Total COVID deaths in the U.S. have now exceeded the number who died during the 1918-21 flu pandemic. StatNews calculated that U.S. deaths make up roughly 14% of the nearly 4.7 million fatalities reported worldwide even though we’re only about 4.2% of the global population.

David Leonhardt, in his Monday (9/20) NY Times newsletter, reported that we’re in “a moment when the Covid-19 data is unusually tricky to read… On the one hand, the country may be on the verge of a virtuous cycle of declining cases… On the other hand, schools across the country have recently reopened, and… crowded college football games and Broadway plays have restarted… [which] has led some epidemiologists to predict that cases could surge this month…”

There are glimmers of hope:

  • New cases nationwide have dropped over the past two weeks, now averaging roughly 134,000 new cases daily, Axios reports. But the daily death toll is now about 2,000 per day, an increase of about 33% over the past two weeks. The drop in new cases should show up as a drop in deaths in the next few weeks, as long as there are no major local outbreaks.

  • The National Institutes of Health has models that suggest cases may drop to about 15,000 per day by November, StatNews reports. Between vaccinations and people who have already been sick, the number of Americans with some immune protection from the virus is pretty high.

  • The FDA has received evidence from trials conducted by Pfizer/BioNTech that demonstrate high effectiveness on children ages 5-11 of their mRNA vaccine. When the FDA received similar guidance on the adult vaccine last year, their approval for emergency use came within weeks.

  • Johnson & Johnson released three studies that show a two-shot regimen of their “Janssen” vaccine– which is based on a more traditional adenovirus model of immunization– provides 94% protection against symptomatic COVID infection.

  • And the FDA decided yesterday (9/22) to ratify last week’s advisory committee recommendation that those over 65 and those who are at high risk of infection be given booster shots. Those shots could begin to be officially administered within the week.

  • The restraining order that barred the City’s vaccine mandate for the Dept. of Education has been lifted, and the vaccine requirement for those employees is back in place with a deadline of this Monday (9/27). State Supreme Court Judge Laurence Love cited case law going back to 1905 that upheld the government’s authority to require vaccines and said it will be hard for the unions to prove “irreparable damage” as a result of the mandate, or that their interests in the case outweigh those of the broader public health, Gothamist reported. The mandate applies to all adults who work in public school buildings, including teachers, administrators, counselors, cafeteria workers, custodians, school safety agents, and contracted employees.


The MTA is beginning to hold virtual public hearings about the proposed congestion pricing plan (read more about calls for a Manhattan member of the Traffic Mobility Review Board). The MTA hearings can be watched via this Zoom link.

  • TONIGHT (Thursday, 9/23) at 6 pm – for people living and/or working on 60th St. and below in Manhattan (the proposed tolling zone); registration to testify at this hearing has closed, but you can submit written comments here.

  • Wednesday, 10/6 at 6 pm – for people living and/or working on 61st St. and above in Manhattan; register to testify or request accommodations here.

On another front, as part of the federal approval process for congestion pricing the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority will hold public information outreach meetings for environmental justice communities– together with the MTA, the City and State Depts. of Transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration. New York’s hearing will be Thursday, 10/7 from 6–8 pm. Registration is required for those who want to speak; click that link to register online or call 646-252-6777. The meetings will be livestreamed at

Tuesday (9/28) at 3 pm is my weekly virtual Manhattan Vaccine and Recovery Task Force session, sharing excellent information about the pandemic and New York City’s reopening. To join the Zoom, email

Next Thursday (9/30) is the last day to respond to my Manhattan Arts Survey, which gives artists and organizations an opportunity to share experiences with relief, reopening, and pandemic recovery efforts. We welcome recommendations for how City resources can better support work in the arts. Respond at by Thursday, 9/30. If you have questions, contact Natalie Espino at or 212-669-2258.

Join us! A week from Monday, on 10/4, join me for the opening reception of the “Welcome Back” art exhibit in my office’s Maggie Peyton Gallery, displaying artwork created during and related to the pandemic from artists across Manhattan. To attend the opening (hosted at 1 Centre St. 19th Floor South, from 5–7 pm), please RSVP to Proof of vaccination and masks are required.


This week, for a 90-day period, the City began offering individuals and small businesses a chance for a discount of up to 75% for fines imposed during COVID, under the “Fines and Interest Reduction Enabling Recovery” program. (Scroll to the “How to Participate” section and click the link.) The program ends on 12/20/2021.

Get help applying to the NYS Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) from NYC law school students working with the Legal Aid Society. Fill out this form for assistance. ERAP pays for up to a year of back rent and utilities.

Referrals are now open for the NYS Rapid Transition Housing Program, which provides a rental subsidy to people with disabilities. Eligible participants must be enrolled in Medicaid and have at least one chronic physical disability and at least two chronic conditions. Referrals to the program may be made by health care providers (hospitals, managed care organizations, medical respites, performing provider systems, and skilled nursing facilities); click the link above to make a referral.

This quick guide from the City offers tips to indoor dining, arts, entertainment, and fitness venues about equitable implementation of the Key to NYC vaccine check requirement.

Jobs are available to accompany vaccinated older adults on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side to vital appointments through social service agency Search and Care. Escorts must be vaccinated, available on weekdays, and able to assist clients into/out of a vehicle. To learn more, email

The U.S. Postal Service is hiring mail carriers, drivers, sales associates, and sorting clerks. Apply here.

Applications close Friday, 10/8 for “Love Where You Live” grants of $150,000 to nonprofits that promote and improve the safety and wellbeing of their neighborhoods, sponsored by the NYC Office of Neighborhood Safety. Click the link above to apply.

The GIVE project (Growing Inclusivity for Vibrant Engagement) provides free tools and resources for teaching artists who work in “Integrated Co-Teaching” classrooms and other inclusive learning environments.

Enrollment is now open for free online high school equivalency degree exam (TASC/GED) classes from Harlem Empowerment Project. Classes run 10/18/2021–1/14/2022. Enroll by phone, text, or email: 646-450-9218,

The Downtown Alliance’s new “Eat. Drink. Win.” program awards a free T-shirt to anyone who “checks in” to 10 participating locally-owned bars, cafes, and restaurants in Lower Manhattan. Download the program passport here and start dining out.

Friends of Verdi Square is seeking a volunteer to help manage their social media presence. To help, email


The community resource fair scheduled for tonight (9/23) at 6 pm on the High Line has been postponed by the office of Council Speaker Corey Johnson because of this evening’s flash flood watch.

Tonight (9/23) at 6 pm is the Midtown South Community Council’s monthly quality of life community engagement meeting. Join the Zoom here.

Check out this round-up of Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, including live performances, art exhibits, and virtual events.

Friday (9/24) at 11 am at Verdi Square (Broadway/72nd St.) is the ribbon-cutting ceremony for “Broadway Blooms: Jon Isherwood on Broadway,” which features floral sculptures on the Broadway malls from 64th–157th St. on view through spring 2022, sponsored by the Broadway Mall Association (BMA). Register here. Then Saturday (9/25) at 10 am, volunteer for a community clean-up along Broadway from 72nd–85th St., hosted by the BMA. Meet at Verdi Square. Register here.

Friday (9/24) from 6–9 pm in the Union Settlement Garden (237 E. 104th St.), “East Harlem Nights” features music, local food vendors, artists, and massages, hosted by the Union Settlement Business Development Center.

Friday (9/24) at 7:15 pm in St. Catherine’s Park (1245 1st Ave. at 67th St.), watch the “In The Heights” movie, hosted by Council Member Ben Kallos, the NYC Parks Dept., the East Sixties Neighborhood Association, and the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association. Register here.

Saturday (9/25) from 10 am – 3 pm at the playground on 23rd St. and Morningside Ave. is the St. Luke Baptist Church Community Outreach Day, featuring health screenings, free school supplies, healthy snacks, and community resources.

Saturday (9/25) from 11 am – 3 pm via Zoom, get screened for U.S. citizenship eligibility by CUNY Citizenship Now! legal staff. The staff can advise on eligibility, citizenship for children, fee waivers, and red flag issues (arrests, child support, selective service). For an appointment, call 646-664-9400 or 212-652-2071, or text 929-334-3784.

Saturday (9/25) from 11:30 am – 2:30 pm in De Witt Clinton Park (54th St. and 11th Ave.), get a free bike helmet from Council Speaker Corey Johnson and the NYC Dept. of Transportation. Register here.

Saturday (9/25) from 6–8 pm on Hudson River Park’s Little Island (West St./14th St.), Kinesis Project Dance Theatre will present pop-up performances of music and dance piece “(Search)Light.” Free timed-entry tickets to Little Island are required; book here.

Sunday (9/26) from 9 am – 3 pm at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs (91 Arden St.) is a drop-in COVID vaccine pop-up site open to people 12+, hosted by ​​Altagracia Faith and Justice WorksCommunity Healthcare Network, and Stop the Spread.

I’m co-sponsoring a free drop-in flu shot clinic at Lenox Health Greenwich Village (200 W. 13th St., 5th floor vaccine center):

  • Monday (9/27) from 4–7 pm

  • Thursday (9/30) from 1–4 pm

Wednesday (9/29) at 11 am, virtual town hall “Shifting Power To Local Resident Leaders,” sponsored by East Harlem Action Collaborative For Child Health and Well-Being, shares their progress in building an authentically resident-led model for sustainable policy change. Click the title to register.

Wednesday (9/29) at 6 pm, tenants– especially NYCHA residents– are invited to a virtual eviction prevention workshop hosted by the Harlem Community Justice Center. The workshop will cover how NYCHA calculates rent, how residents can challenge rent overcharges, resources for those who owe rent (such as ERAP), and an overview of the housing court process. Join the Zoom here. (If you need help applying to the NYS Emergency Rental Assistance Program, the organizations listed here can help, or call my Northern Manhattan office at 212-531-1609.)

Wednesday (9/29) at 6 pm are two virtual talks by experts about the COVID vaccine and about grief and family loss from COVID, sponsored by Community Board 6 and NYU Langone. Register here.

Wednesday (9/29) at 6 pm, virtual workshop “Navigating the System for People with Developmental Disabilities” explores ​​eligibility and access to support services through the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, hosted by nonprofit YAI. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities, family members, caregivers, and professionals are invited to attend. Click the title to register.

Next Thursday (9/30) at 12:30 pm, building supers and staff, homeowners, tenants, and management companies are invited to the NYC Health Dept.’s next virtual “Rat Academy” to learn rat prevention methods. Click the title to register.

Next Thursday (9/30) at 7 pm, virtual town hall “Supporting Your Child’s Emotional Wellness: Adolescent Mental Health During COVID-19” explores how to identify signs and symptoms of emotional distress, and how to support your child and use available resources to build emotional resilience. Click the title to register for the event, hosted by State Senator Liz Krueger.

News Clippings

Scott Gottlieb: ‘We remain almost equally vulnerable to threat from the next pandemic’
By Joe Heim, Washington Post Magazine, Sept. 14, 2021

Beyond ‘vaccinopia’: Rapid tests should play a larger role in Biden’s Covid-19 plan
By Daniel P. Oran and Eric J. Topol,, Sept. 16, 2021

Rich Countries Worry About Booster Shots. They Should Be Worried About Africa.
By Matshidiso Moeti, NY Times Opinion guest essay, Sept. 19, 2021

Vaccinate Teens Without Parental Consent, City Child Welfare Agency Says
Lawyers for youth and families push back on new policy that allows foster care and juvenile justice homes to give vaccines to 16- and 17-year-olds even if mom or dad objects.
By Ibrahim Naber and Eileen Grench,, Sept. 19, 2021

Six Rules That Will Define Our Second Pandemic Winter
By Katherine J. Wu, Ed Yong, and Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, Sept. 20, 2021

Covid-19 overtakes 1918 Spanish flu as deadliest disease in American history
By Helen Branswell,, Sept. 20, 2021

Winter is coming, again: What to expect from Covid-19 as the season looms
By Helen Branswell,, Sept. 20, 2021

Where Are the Tests?
Other countries are awash in Covid tests. The U.S. is not.
By David Leonhardt, NY Times, Sept. 21, 2021

Delta is ‘by far’ world’s most dominant coronavirus variant, WHO says
The global body downgraded its advisories on three other virus variants in a reflection of how delta is “outcompeting and replacing” everything else.
By Katerina Ang, Washington Post, Sept. 22, 2021

U.S. to donate 500 million more vaccine doses to the world
By Annabelle Timsit and Dan Diamond, Washington Post, Sept. 22, 2021

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

Stay safe.