Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates May 19th

MAY 19TH RESOURCES AND UPDATES:

Mayor de Blasio announced that the City will partner with CityMD to offer walk-in diagnostic COVID-19 testing to New Yorkers, effectively tripling the number of available testing sites citywide. The City has now reached its goal to test 20,000 New Yorkers per day one week ahead of schedule, building on the commitment to test and trace every positive case of COVID-19. Diagnostic PCR tests will be offered in conjunction with a doctor visit at CityMD locations citywide. Regardless of insurance coverage, there is no out of pocket cost to patients for the test, and the costs of any uninsured New Yorker will be covered free of charge. Tests are offered 7 days per week with no appointment necessary.  Click here to find your closest location.

The City Human Resources Administration has released the application for the Cooling Assistance benefit, which helps eligible households buy and install an air conditioner or fan up to a cost of $800.

New York Blood Center is down to a 2-day supply. Please consider donating blood. You can make an appointment by visiting nybc.org or calling 800-933-2566.

The City has prepared a map tool to help New Yorkers find their nearest food pantry or community kitchen.

ULURP has been suspended through May 22nd.

New York is starting a two-week hospital visitation pilot program. The program will take place in 16 hospitals across the state and allow increased visitations for family members and loved ones. Visits will be time limited and visitors will be provided and must wear PPE and are subject to symptom and temperature checks. I know personally how hard it is to be apart from a sick family member. This pilot program will shed light on whether we can safely allow increased visits in hospitals.

Made in NYC: Test Kits: The first NYC-made test kits are now in use at Community Testing Sites. Working together with local partners Print Parts, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Collab, we are planning to have 33,000 test kits assembled this week, 50,000 assembled next week, and over 60,000 assembled the week of June 1.

Horse racing tracks across the state and Watkins Glen International Racetrack will be allowed to open without fans as of June 1st. The state will issue guidance on how they can safely reopen in the coming week. Governor Cuomo  is encouraging major sports teams to plan to reopen without fans.

Governor Cuomo encourages New Yorkers to join the #HowAreYouReallyChallenge? We cannot underestimate the impact this situation has had on our mental health. Governor Cuomo’s brother-in-law Kenneth Cole and the Mental Health Coalition started the #HowAreYouReallyChallenge to help end the stigma surrounding mental health issues — by asking people to answer the question, "How are you really doing?" Governor Cuomo joined the challenge.

On Thursday (5/26) at 6:30 pm, join Borough President Gale Brewer for a conversation with New York City "Food Czar" Kathryn Garcia, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health Lecturer and former New York Times columnist Mark Bittman and others in a virtual town hall on access to food, sustaining the supply chain, and policy solutions geared towards feeding all New Yorkers. Register here.

After reports of folks failing to social distance and drinking publicly outside bars, Mayor de Blasio promised Sunday the NYPD would enforce social-distancing rules on the  Upper East Side and elsewhere. He also said he would shut places down after a report of a restaurant allowing dining.

NYC beaches will NOT be open for Memorial Day for swimming or recreational use. Only walking or jogging on the beach is permitted. The City will add fencing to limit entry points, along with general social distancing enforcement. If swimming or crowding proves an issue, access will be further restricted. Opening later in the summer is contingent on further reduction of COVID-19 and resumption of non-essential activity and travel.

Mayor de Blasio threatened to build fences if there are violations of social distancing directives at city beaches.

FDNY EMS week began Sunday, May 17. The annual FDNY poster recognizing the 4,400 members of EMS will still go up on virtual kiosks across the city, online and at the NYC Fire Museum on Spring St. in Soho. The poster, titled “Ready Today, Preparing for Tomorrow,” will feature seven EMS members as they responded to COVID-19 calls throughout the five boroughs.

The Five Boro Bike Tour has been cancelled this year.

There are over 700 locations where New Yorkers can get diagnostic testing. New Yorkers can visit a new website — coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you — and enter their address to view a list and a map view of the nearest testing sites. The state has also partnered with Google Maps to display testing site results. New Yorkers can search "COVID testing near me" on Google Maps to easily find the nearest testing sites. Please remember you must always schedule an appointment to get a COVID-19 diagnostic test by calling 1-888-364-3065 or your healthcare provider.

There are mental health resources available to those who need it. The past few months have been hard for everyone. If you need emotional support, call the New York State Emotional Support Hotline at 1-844-863-9314 to schedule a free appointment with a mental health professional. New Yorkers can access additional mental health resources at headspace.com/ny.

Our Town reports that there may be a link between vitamin D deficiency and the severity of COVID-19  in individuals. Click here to read the article.

New York will bring more tests to nursing home facilities to help them meet new guidelines mandating that all nursing homes and adult care facilities test all personnel for COVID-19 two times per week. We are connecting facilities with labs to get them more tests, and so far the labs have reserved at least 35,000 tests per day just for this purpose. The state is also sending 320,000 test kits to nursing homes statewide this week.

New York is bringing in international experts to help advise our reopening plan. Dr. Michael T. Osterhold, Direct of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Samir Bhatt, Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London, will work with the state to provide technical advice and analyze data/metrics throughout our reopening process and help track progress.

The company Headspace is offering free meditation and mindfulness exercises to educatorshealth care professionals, and New Yorkers who are out of work. (If you are unemployed, you can get a free one-year subscription to the Headspace app).

Zoos Make Birthday Cakes from Bugs, Bamboo, Melons, and More. Henry the Aldabra tortoise turned 60 with a massive fruit-and-veggie confection. For a photo and the story, click here. For more from Atlas Obscura, “the definitive guide to the world’s hidden wonders,” click here.

Last month the Mayor announced a $5 million City investment to provide free internet-enabled tablets for 10,000 senior NYCHA residents to help them remain connected with their loved ones, in partnership with T-Mobile and Older Adults Technology Services. Eligible seniors (62 and older, living alone or with another senior only) can email [email protected] call (929) 505-6208 and (929) 237-3069 (M-F 9:30 am to 4:30 pm) to register. Please contact Borough President Gale Brewer’s  office at [email protected] or call (212) 531-1509 if you have any issues.

Submissions are now open for the Inwood Arts Works NYC Quarantine Film Festival, which will encourage New Yorkers to express their creativity, celebrate the city, and have fun while staying in quarantine. Learn more and submit here.

The New York Academy of Sciences co-sponsors the Blavatnik awards for young scientists fighting the coronavirus. The collective brain power of the global scientific community is trained on tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. And some of our very own past recipients of the Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists are among those rising to the challenge. From figuring out how N-95 masks can be safely disinfected for re-use, to developing an app that can track potential hotspots, to identifying which existing drugs may be repurposed to treat COVID-19, these are just a few of the amazing ways our young scientists are using their expertise to fight the pandemic. Soon, others will join the ranks of Blavatnik Award Honorees—nominations for the 2021 U.K. Awards and 2021 Israel Awards are being accepted through June 24th.

One of the scientists, along with the CEO of Pinterest, developed an app, the How We Feel app, that lets people self-report symptoms in 30 seconds or less and see how others in their area are feeling. To protect user privacy, the app explicitly does not require an account sign in, and doesn’t ask for identifying information such as the user’s name, phone number, or email address before they donate their data. Reporting symptoms only takes about 30 seconds, but the data shared by users has the potential to reveal and even predict outbreak hotspots, potentially providing insight into the spread and progression of COVID-19. To further contribute to the fight against COVID-19, Ben and Divya Silbermann, of Pinteresr, will donate a meal to Feeding America for every download of the How We Feel app—up to 10 million meals. The app available for download today in the US on iOS and Android, and via the web at http://www.howwefeel.org. For more information and to see a list of the Academy’s programs on COVID-19, and other non-virus-related programs, click here.

Read Lenox Hill Hospital's weekly Coronavirus update by clicking here.

Education/Parenting

On May 17, Borough President Gale Brewer hosted a town hall calling for the City to fund at least one social worker in each public school, in partnership with NYU’s McSilver Institute and the Greater New York Chapter of the Links. The video of the full conversation is available here

The PUMP Initiative, an academic mentorship program based in Harlem, has prepared PUMP Virtual, a learning program designed to help NYC middle and high schoolers pass their classes. The program begins next Monday (5/18), but admissions are rolling. Apply here.

WAYS YOU CAN HELP

THE CITY is asking folks who know any New York City residents who have died of COVID-19 to fill out a simple form to tell them about the lives of those we’ve lost. Their goal is to put as many names, faces and details to the numbers as possible. You’ll find more here — including the form.

NYC has a blood shortage: donate now to save a life. You can learn more here.

Complete the Census. With so many people sheltering in places OTHER than Manhattan, please tell any friends doing so to complete their census at their Manhattan address, and not at their other location! If you mistakenly put down your “COVID location” you can resubmit your census form at My2020census.gov; the census system removes duplicates, as long as everything but the address remains the same. (You do NOT need a code; click the “do not have census code” link below the login button.)

New York City is sponsoring a contest for those who have completed the Census. If you win the contest, you’ll receive a thank you call from Lin-Manuel Miranda or Mo Rocca. For details and contest rules, click here.

You can apply to serve as a (paid) contact tracer.

If you are a mental health professional, you can volunteer your services.

The state is also seeking highly-trained technologists to assist the COVID-19 Technology SWAT Team.

If you're in the position to do so, you can provide goods and services that can help expand New York's testing capacity.

If you want to help out first responders, you can contribute to the state's First Responders Fund

The Word Up Bookstore, the iconic Upper Manhattan nonprofit bookstore, has established a GoFundMe to help maintain their space, salaries, and other obligations until they can safely reopen after the pandemic. Donations are 100% tax-deductible.

Support local businesses by buying gift cards. We have posted links to sites selling gift cards. Another site selling gift cards to restaurants, barber shops, and events like ghost hunts, and museums, see SupportLocal at https://supportlocal.usatoday.com/cities/

New York City Service is looking for volunteers to help those affected by COVID-19, click here.

New York State has provided a form for the donation of goods, services, or space. To access the form, click here.

The dedicated staff at the Stanley Isaacs Center415 E. 93 St., needs help supporting their older adult clients through meals and case management services. Interested in volunteering? Contact [email protected]

Donate blood. Blood is urgently needed. Please go to https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/node/1546 to make an appointment (walk-ins) are no longer allowed and for more information.

Donate to the First Responders Fund. The fund will assist COVID-19 healthcare workers and first responders with expenses and costs, including child care. Donations can be made electronically at www.healthresearch.org/donation-form/ or by check, mailed to "Health Research, Inc., 150 Broadway, Suite 560, Menands, NY 12204." (For checks, the donor should specify the donation is for "COVID-19 NYS Emergency Response.")

Complete your Census form.  Census responses can't be used for any purpose other than tallying up population-- it's the law. And no enumerators will be knocking on doors today. So, please, if you haven't yet done so, take the time to fill in your form at www.my2020census.gov.  New York City’s response rate is 10% behind the overall U.S. rate. We need every dollar and every Congressional seat. These depend on the census count. Please complete your form.

For New York State guidance on curbside and in-store pickups, click here.

For information for retailers on how to make trying on jewelry safer for customers and salespeople, see the article from jewelry trade publication JCK, click here.

Although gyms are in phase 4 of New York State’s re-opening priorities, gyms and work-out facilities, this article from the AHA may provide guidance.

For re-opening guidance for spas and salons, see these articles from the Professional Beauty Association, here, from the American Barber Association, here, and the National Association of Barbers, here.

Tomorrow is the deadline for submissions to the Arts Writers Grants Programwhich supports both emerging and established writers whose work discusses contemporary visual art with grants ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 awarded in three categories: articles, books, and short-form writing.

The U.S. Small Business Administration and Department of the Treasury have released the Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application to help small businesses seek forgiveness at the end of the eight week period following the receipt of the loan. See more information here from the Pace Small Business Development Center, or make an appointment at [email protected]du.

Both the City and State are hiring employees and supervisors for contact tracing: reaching out to the contacts of those diagnosed with COVID-19 to track the spread. Learn more here for the City (three types of contract tracer jobs along with many non-tracing jobs listed), and here for the State (contact tracersteam supervisors, and community support specialists).

The City's Workforce1 Career Center launched a Virtual Center(or call 718-960-2458) to help New Yorkers prepare for, and connect to, jobs across New York City's five boroughs and in every sector of the economy. Current employment opportunities include Stop & Shop, Fresh Direct & PBM Guardian Industry Services.

Jobs: Temporary opportunities are available by clicking here.

250 of the jobs for NYCHA residents listed on OpportunityNYCHA.org have yet to be filled. These positions are for temporary per diem workers to assist with general maintenance at NYCHA properties. Per diem income will not have an impact on your rent. Apply here.

The New York State Department of Labor (DOL) has launched a new, streamlined application for New Yorkers to apply for COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance without first needing to apply for Unemployment Insurance. Prior to today, New Yorkers were required to apply for regular Unemployment Insurance and be rejected before applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. This new application, which aligns with updated federal policy, allows New Yorkers to simply fill out one form to get the correct benefits without requiring applicants to call the DOL. The agency has installed more than 3,100 representatives solely dedicated to answering unemployment benefit needs seven days a week. The DOL previously had 400 representatives in the call center. The DOL has paid out $2.2 billion in unemployment benefits to 1.1 million New Yorkers so far. The new form is available here.

NYC Health and Hospitals is hiring for several positions - patient transportation, clerical and cleaning staff. You can apply today at http://nyc.gov/getwork.

LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS' TELE-TOWN HALLS

Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs & Resources

To get regular updates on the latest developments with coronavirus in New York City text COVID to 692-692. You will receive regular SMS texts with the latest news and developments. Please check nyc.gov/health/coronavirus for the latest updates

If you are experiencing stress or feel anxious, contact NYC Well at 888-NYC-WELL (888-692- 9355) or text WELL to 65173. NYC Well is a confidential help line that is staffed 24/7 by trained counselors who can provide brief supportive therapy, crisis counseling, and connections to behavioral health treatment, in more than 200 languages.

Additional resources:

CENSUS 2020

U.S. Census Bureau has made some necessary changes to help keep residents safe while still working to ensure a complete census count. This includes extending the national deadline for the count from July 31 to August 14 and postponing all door-to-door outreach campaigns until May. With the majority of our businesses and libraries closed across the state, this gives local communities more time to adjust their outreach plans and helps prevent our state from being put at an unfair disadvantage.

Fill out your Census at My2020Census.gov OR by phone in these languages: