Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates August 17th

August 17th, 2020



Mayor de Blasio announced the launch of the NYC Tenant Resource Portal, the city’s first-ever online resource to help residential renters access free resources from the City to help prevent evictions and keep tenants stably housed. The portal, launched through Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants (MOPT), the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit (PEU), and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), features an eviction prevention tool to help renters navigate free public and private resources that can stabilize their housing situations.

The NYS Office of Mental Health is providing a first-in-the-nation program to help New Yorkers affected by the pandemic. The program, called Coping Circles, consists of free six-week support group sessions, facilitated by volunteer licensed mental health professionals, that are available to all New Yorkers ages 18 and up. Most Circles are open to the general public but if there is demand, Specialized Circles will be available for healthcare workers and first responders, survivors of COVID-19 infections, those who have experienced job loss due to COVID-19, and those who have experienced loss of a loved one to COVID-19. New Yorkers interested in participating in a Coping Circle can learn more here.

The FDA has identified 130+ hand sanitizers that consumers should avoid because they lack a sufficient level of alcohol to kill germs or because they contain dangerous levels of wood alcohol. To report adverse effects from hand sanitizer, fill out an FDA MedWatch report.

On a related front, a recent Duke University study shows that almost all masks are effective at reducing the spread of COVID, but fleece masks, bandanas and neck gaiters are worse than wearing no mask at all.

New York City museums and cultural institutions can reopen starting Monday, August 24. Museums, aquariums, and other low-risk indoor arts and cultural institutions can open at 25% capacity. Timed ticketing will be required with pre-set, staggered entry, along with strict enforcement of face coverings, social distancing, controlled traffic flow to avoid crowding, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols.

The State will permit local elected officials to allow gyms in their locality to reopen. Starting August 24th, gyms and fitness centers can reopen at 33 percent capacity while enforcing rigorous safety protocols, including requiring masks be worn at all times. Gym owners and all clients must take health guidelines seriously, or gym reopening can be rolled back. Read New York's full guidance on gym reopening here.

Good news for bowlers. Bowling alleys throughout New York will be allowed to reopen starting Monday with strict safety protocols. Bowling alleys will be able to operate at a 50 percent occupancy, and face coverings and social distancing will be required at all times. Every other lane must be closed and patrons need to stay with the party at their assigned lane. Additionally, thorough cleaning and disinfection of shared or rented equipment between each use will be required. Read more here.

New York State is launching a pilot program to detect the presence of COVID-19 in wastewater. In doing so, the State will have an early indicator system to detect virus spread in communities. Wastewater testing has been identified by top scientists and researchers as a cost-effective way to monitor for outbreaks of COVID-19 around the world. First stop for the testing is upstate. The State will provide $500,000 to support a wastewater sampling project in Onondaga County and start sample collection in Albany, Newburgh and Buffalo.

New York-based startup Codecademy has provided technical training to 1,500 state personnel on the frontlines of the State's pandemic response as part of the COVID-19 Technology SWAT Team. Through this pro-bono partnership, Codecademy is providing six-month training licenses to NYS' Office of Information Technology Services. Leading tech companies from around the country have participated in the Tech SWAT Team Initiative, saving taxpayers over $14 million.

August 20 at 8:30 am, the Manhattan Borough Board will meet in the monthly charter-mandated convening of the Borough President and all of Manhattan’s Council Members and Community Board Chairs. This month, there will be a presentation from the Department of Education regarding reopening of schools. This meeting is open to the public; register in advance.

 The DMV is expanding New Yorkers' ability to complete certain transactions through secure drop boxes. New Yorkers can use drop boxes for services including license plate surrenders, address changes, and license and registration renewals. Customers using drop boxes must wear face coverings and maintain social distancing at all times. Drop boxes are located at all state-run DMV offices and are available during regular office hours Monday-Saturday. Learn more here

NYC’s Bedbug-Sniffing Dogs Prepare for Retirement. Read their delightful story from THE CITY by clicking here.

Search and Care now offers free, one-on-one, English/Spanish telephone counseling for adults 60+, Talkin’ It Out.” Contact 212-289-5300 to learn more.

Access-A-Ride is now accepting Fair Fares, which discounts MTA Access-A-Ride trips by 50%. Learn more about Fair Fares and eligibility.

Just because we’re affected by a pandemic doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also consider hurricanes. Our Town tell us what to pack in a go bag, in case windows break from wind, your apartment is flooded, or you need to get out of there for other reasons.

As always, the best way to deal with the possibility of a problem is to plan for it in advance. Start by clicking on a site which enables you to locate your own building and see if it sits in a potential flood evacuation zone. Or click here for even more info on what to do, including how to prepare a go-bag with:

  • Copies of I.D. documents such as a driver’s license and a birth certificate
  • Copies of your credit cards
  • Copies of insurance cards including home owner’s and medical insurance
  • Copies of at least one bank statement
  • List of your meds by name, with dose and how to take them
  • An extra set of house keys, car keys and keys to lockers or safety deposit boxes
  • Cash in small bills
  • If there’s room, stick in a flashlight and small radio with extra batteries
  • Finally: Think Fido and Fluffy. Whether yours is a pet or a service animal, the rules say they’ll be welcome at any evacuation shelter, but it’s unlikely there will be pet food or pet meds, so add some as well.

Now, stash the go-bag in a safe place. Take it out from time to time to make sure all documents are up to date. If you’ve included an emergency supply of pills or potions, check to see that they have not expired. Then sit back and relax. Maybe it won’t rain after all.

Hawaii, South Dakota, and the U.S. Virgin Islands met the criteria to be included. Alaska, New Mexico, Ohio and Rhode Island have been removed from the list. (Individuals who are part-way through a quarantine after arriving from those four states should continue self-isolating for the full 14 days.) See the full list of states and territories subject to the travel advisory here

As of day 101, the Nourish NY program has spent more than $9 million to connect surplus food from farms to food banks across the state. So far, the initiative has redirected 14.1 million pounds of raw milk into dairy products like cheese, yogurt and milk, as well as approximately 3.5 million pounds of produce. Over 280,000 households have received products sourced from 4,100 farms.

The Bronx Botanical Garden has reopened.  For an article on the safety precautions, click here.

Mental health resources are available to any New Yorker who needs them. This pandemic is having a significant impact on mental health. New Yorkers can call the state's hotline at 1-844-863-9314 to get free emotional support, consultations and referrals to a provider or visit for free meditation and mindfulness resources.

New York State has new legislation requiring all car passengers over 16 to wear a seatbelt in every seat.

Muslim Volunteers for New York has organized a MV4NY Park Clean Up Day in Ruppert Park on Saturday, August 22 from 11:00am to 12:30 pm (rain or shine) for a limited number of volunteers subject to the NYC Parks requirements amid the pandemic. Volunteers will weed, sweep and clean the park. Registration for this event is mandatory for everyone since slots are limited to only 5 additional volunteers, in view of social distancing and safety requirements. This event is ONLY for adults and children ages 11 years and above and it is on a first come first serve basis. To register, please write to [email protected]

Read Northwell Health Lenox Hill Hospital's Monthly update by clicking here.


Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza announced a guarantee of nursing coverage in every public school building and all early childhood programs across the city. Through a partnership with NYC Health + Hospitals, every student and staff member will have a qualified medical professional available every day as we reopen schools and continue to stop the spread of COVID-19.

School districts have until Friday, August 21st, to submit plans for in-person learning to the Department of Health. Currently, a number of school districts have yet to submit a plan. If they fail to meet the Friday deadline, they will not be allowed to open in person

Children who lost food benefits due to COVID-19 school closures can access meals through the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program. P-EBT benefits require no application and will be automatically issued to kids who would have received free or reduced-price meals through the federal school lunch program. Benefits should have already been issued or will be soon. If your child is eligible but your household has not received a P-EBD card and/or benefit by mid-August, call NYSOTDA at 1-833-452-0096. More details here.


The 2020 New York Comic Con will be held virtually. The popular event which is usually held in the Javits Center in Manhattan will feature online programming from October 8-11 this year.

For a list of upcoming exhibitions and links to current ones, including a description of public art works outside the museum, see the Whitney at

For information on the Hunger@Home programs, this on the battle between presidents and the press, click here.

For information on some group art shows on the Lower East Side, click here.

For information on the exhibit about reactions to COVID-19 that the New-York Historical Society is showing in the Museum’s courtyard on West 76 Street, click here. There is a booth to record your own story, which may end up in the Museum’s collection. The article refers to an installation at the Museum of the City of New York, just beyond CB8’s district on 104 and Fifth, of crowd-sourced photos taken during the pandemic.

For information about the Film Society of Lincoln Center, including the benefits of membership and about the New York Film Festival, click here.


The deadline for completing the U.S. Census has moved up to September 30th. It's more important than ever to ensure our communities are counted, so that we can receive our fair share of federal funding during these tough economic times. New York is also in danger of losing two Congressional seats. Statewide, the Census response rate is currently 59 percent. Please encourage everyone you know to fill our their Census form at

ADAPT Community Network is hiring! Learn more about a career working with children and adults with disabilities.

Volunteer with the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of the Community Service Society of New YorkBecome a virtual mentor to NYC youth in justice-involved families. Register for the Sept. 16 virtual mentor orientation by emailing [email protected] with your full name and phone number.

Free school supplies will be given out in Washington Heights, Tuesday (8/18) 1 - 3 pm at Fresh Youth Initiatives (505 W. 171 St.) and in Harlem, Thursday (8/20) 1 - 3 pm at Salem United Methodist Church (2190 ACP Blvd). To donate supplies, contact Fatoumata Diallo at [email protected] or (347) 610-2867.

Recovered COVID-19 patients are needed to donate plasma, which is used to treat critically ill patients across the country. Donate at a NY Blood Center location. Eligible donors can give convalescent plasma up to eight times in a three-month period.

Nominate an individual or organization doing outstanding urban public health work for the Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize. Nominations will be accepted until December 31.

Wear a mask:  Watch a New York 5-year-old explain why everyone should wear a mask

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.

Donate blood. The New York Blood Center says that levels of blood are dangerously low. To make an appointment to donate, visit or call 1.800.933.2566. Appointments are strongly recommended.

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

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]


Free Advertising Opportunity for Small Businesses on LinkNYC Kiosks: Intersection is offering small businesses the opportunity to receive completely free advertising space on LinkNYC kiosks as part of their “Power the Comeback” campaign.The look and feel of the "Power the Comeback" campaign will be determined by the corporate sponsor supporting your free ad. The ad will feature your business name and may feature your location. It will be scheduled to run on a LinkNYC in our neighborhood. To participate, please fill out the participation form by clicking here.

American Express has extended their offer enrollment period to 8/23/20. For this promotion, American Express Card Members can get $5 back in the form of a statement credit after they spend $10 or more at eligible small businesses – in store and online – up to 10x after they enroll. To learn more and to find out if your business is eligible for this program, please click here.

Please click here to download NYC & Company's tourism recovery roadmap planning document. It has lots of helpful information.

Facebook is starting a $100 million grant program for Black-owned small businesses. While the application is not yet available, you can learn more about the program by clicking here.

Open Restaurants Virtual Compliance Consultations - The NYC Department of Small Business Services offers one-on-one free virtual compliance consultations to help businesses understand how to comply with key City rules. The virtual consultations will help businesses understand common compliance challenges related to the Open Restaurants Program. Violations or fines will not be issued during the consultations. Please click this link to sign up for a consultation.

Restaurant & Bar Reopening Toolkit – Find all the guidelines and resources you need in one place, including checklists, Open Restaurant siting criteria, and posters. Download it here, and find additional guidance and resources for restaurants on SBS’ restaurant reopening guide here.

Find Outdoor Dining Fixtures & Equipment – Please click here for the City's directory of equipment rental fixtures & equipment for safe outdoor dining.

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) launched a Recovery Initiative, intended to help owners of historic buildings and commercial tenants resume business operations as quickly and effectively as possible. As part of the initiative, LPC has created a new, dedicated recovery team, hotline and expedited permit process to serve the needs of restaurants and retail establishments. The initiative supports New York City’s reopening and recovery.

LPC’s new Recovery Team will serve as a one-stop shop for applicants, with dedicated recovery staff providing guidance regarding rules and policies and working closely with applicants to ensure permits can be processed as quickly as possible.

As part of the Recovery Initiative, many work types related to recovery are now eligible for special expedited review.

  • No permit needed: Some types of work related to resuming business operations will now not require a permit from LPC; such as movable sidewalk cafe furniture, freestanding sandwich boards or sidewalk signs, pop-up tents and umbrellas, reversible sidewalk markings and unattached payment stations.

  • Self-Certified Recovery Review: LPC has created a new self-certification permit for certain types of work. Applications for temporary installations (lasting no longer than one year) submitted through this process can be self-certified. Work types include awnings, signage, glass replacement and interior installations.

  • Expedited Recovery Review: Certain work types important to adapt to the requirements of social distancing will be available for expedited review. Examples of work eligible for this review include replacing an entire existing storefront or installing permanent operable doors, windows, or a pass-through in a historic or non-historic storefront, permanent barrier-free access ramps and HVAC equipment and louvers within historic or non-historic storefronts and commercial openings. Applicants will also have access to the Recovery Team to help with the application and approval process.

To learn more, please click here.

During the pandemic, the New York Department of Labor has prevented more than $1 billion in unemployment insurance fraud. The Department of Labor has stopped more than 40,000 fraudulent claims since March. During the last five months, DOL has referred more UI fraud cases to federal prosecutors than in the last ten years combined.

Small business owners: Apply tomorrow (8/19) through Sunday (8/23) for $20,000 LISC NYC - Lowes Neighborhood Business GrantsThe grants may be used to pay rent and utilities, meet payroll, pay outstanding debt to vendors, upgrade technology infrastructure and take care of other immediate operational costs.

Reminder: Apply by next Friday (8/21) for the BP's Manhattan Community Award Programwhich grants funding to nonprofit organizations and public schools; this year, we are prioritizing proposals from organizations in communities experiencing disproportionate impacts of the COVID pandemic and efforts to address racial justice. Learn more and apply.

WE NYC now offers resilience programming to help women entrepreneurs through the pandemic.

Apply now for Citizens Committee for NYC’s Neighborhood Business Grants of $5,000 - $10,000, which support small businesses.

Small businesses, nonprofits and residential landlords can apply for a loan through the NY Forward Loan Fund. Check eligibility requirements and apply now.

Apply by Sept. 29 for Manhattan Arts Grants from Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

Now until Sept. 15, the City’s Dept. of Buildings is offering to inspect business signage at no cost and without penaltySmall business owners can take advantage of these inspections and avoid issues later by bringing their signs up to code now if any deficiencies are found. Call 311 for an appointment.

The Department of Small Business Services (SBS) will work to ensure that the most up-to-date guidance and materials needed by small business owners for a safe phased-in reopening are readily available. The information will be housed on a centralized resource page with guidance and best practices for the restaurant industry across all five boroughs. SBS will also launch a reopening supplies marketplace for easy access to wholesalers selling PPE, gloves, sneeze guards and other equipment. Business owners can call a hotline at 1-888-SBS-4NYC to ask questions about this process.

PPE for Small Businesses: NYC SBS coordinating with 70+ BIDs and Chambers of Commerce to provide 2 million pieces of PPE to small businesses citywide. Find a distribution partner near you at: Free Face Coverings for Small Businesses & Their Employees

The City’s Department of Small Business Services has shared their new “Find a Job” page, which lists open employment listings from across NYC. Learn more and search the listings.

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).


Senator Krueger's Virtual Town Hall

New Guidance on Age Discrimination in the Workplace

On Thursday, August 20th from 7pm – 8 pm, join Senator Krueger, Dana Sussman, Deputy Commissioner for Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs at the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR), and Bianca Victoria Scott, Policy Counsel at NYCCHR, for a discussion about the agency’s new guidance on age discrimination in the workplace. Hear about the need for protections against age discrimination in the workplace, the legal framework for the guidance, and information about age-related COVID policies. Participants will also learn about best practices to support a multigenerational workforce as it relates to hiring, managing employees, and retirement.

To view the event, go to Please let her office know if you plan to attend on August 20th by registering at

Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs & Resources

The State's Coronavirus Hotline is open 24 hours if you have any questions or concerns: 1-888-364-3065. **If you need help getting medical care, you can also call 311. New York City will provide care regardless of immigration status or ability to pay.

The NYP COVID Hotline 646-697-4000 can answer questions about COVID-19. This hotline is a public service to provide information only and not to diagnose, treat, or render a medical opinion. Their Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions document is available on the NYP Coronavirus website.

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 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:


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 OR by phone in these languages:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Past Updates from CB8