Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates August 31st

August 31st, 2020

AUGUST 31st RESOURCES AND UPDATES:

Tomorrow is National Poll Worker Recruitment Day. Election Day is fast approaching and the New York State and Local Board of Elections are asking registered voters to pitch in and help work the polls (a paid position). To be eligible, you must be a registered voter in New York State.

New Yorkers can vote one of three ways, but first they must register to vote by Oct. 9. Then they must decide how they will vote: absentee (including for fear of contracting COVID, thanks to new election reforms signed by Gov. Cuomo last week), early, and in person on Nov. 3.

Absentee Voting

  • Request an absentee ballot from the Board of Elections (BOE):

  • Return your ballot (with options to avoid relying on the Post Office):

    • Mail it on or before Nov. 3-- all ballots postmarked on or before Election Day and received within 7 days after Election Day will be counted. Ballots not postmarked but received on Nov. 4 will also be counted;

    • Drop it off at your borough’s BOE office on or before Nov. 3;

    • Drop if off at an early voting site Oct. 24 - Nov. 1;

    • Drop it off at a polling site Nov. 3.

Early Voting

  • Early voting will be available Oct. 24 - Nov. 1.

  • Vote.nyc will post early voting locations once finalized.

Voting In Person Nov. 3 Election Day

  • Polling sites will be open 6 am - 9 pm.

  • Find your polling site at vote.nyc.

Governor Cuomo points out that  New York has now conducted over 8 million tests and continues to lead the nation in testing. Anyone can get tested for any reason. You should always get tested if you have reason to believe you have COVID. Find a testing site here.

For those for whom a picture (or video) is worth a thousand words, SUNY Brockport conducted a short experiment on how wearing a mask can limit the spread of germs—and you can't argue with science.

Reminder: At the end of the month, city buses will start to collect fares once again. Officers will be posted on buses to enforce fare payment and mask wearing. Riders in Manhattan and Staten Island will be able to pay their fare with their smart devices through contactless ONMY readers at the front of buses.  Plastic barriers have been installed around the driver’s seat and the MTA is moving the marker that indicates where passengers may stand farther back to increase distance between riders and drivers. Some buses include mask dispensers. Additionally, more enhanced air filter systems will be installed in buses. The filters will be changed every 30 days.

New York State urges you to get tested if you have been in close contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19. When in doubt—get tested. Despite a baffling reversal of CDC guidance on this matter, the State Department of Health continues to recommend that anyone who has had close contact with someone who is positive get tested, whether or not they are exhibiting symptoms. In New York, anyone who wants a COVID-19 test can get one.

Gender equality is a public health issue. On Women's Equality Day, Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor and Chairwoman of the NYS Council on Women and Girls, published an article detailing New York State's response to the specific challenges that women have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic—from an uptick in domestic violence incidents to going through labor in challenging circumstances. Read the piece here.

The MTA held an emergency board meeting last week to provide information on COVID-19 safety protocols and on the state of the MTA’s finances. Increased COVID-19 related expenses and reduced ridership have caused the MTA to lose approximately $200 million each month. As a result, the MTA is struggling with two significant financial problems: a short-term deficit resulting from the catastrophic decline in revenue and a long-term structural budget imbalance. Ridership remains significantly below levels when compared to 2019; the MTA reports that as of August 24th, ridership was down 75% on the subway, 74% on the Long Island Railroad, and 79% on Metro-North Railroad compared to 2019. Absent additional federal aid the MTA has indicated it will need to make significant cuts and potential borrowing. Short-term options include reducing overtime and the use of contract consultants, eliminating non-debt-funded capital spending, borrowing from the lockbox that holds congestion pricing revenues, and drawing down savings set asides for retiree benefits. To reduce the longer-term deficit will require even more drastic action. Among the actions discussed were larger fare increases, service cuts of up to 40 percent on subways and buses and 50 percent on commuter rail lines, delaying or eliminating specific capital projects and significant personnel cuts.

Mental health resources are still available to those who need it. 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 headspace.com/ny for free meditation and mindfulness resources.

Schedule a free rapid COVID test at Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene COVID Express sites and get results within 24 hours.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that NYC Parks can resume permitting its athletic fields across the city for outdoor youth sports. Supportive of children’s physical and mental health, lower and moderate-risk youth play on permitted fields will resume Tuesday, September 15.

From October through December, the Dept. of Transportation will transition all 1-hour parking meters to 2-hour meters with graduated rates. Most meters below 96 St. are already 2-hours. Find rate information here.

Gov. Cuomo extended the 50-person limit on non-essential gatherings until Sept. 19

Governor Cuomo extended the moratorium on commercial evictions until Sept. 20.

The State is now reviewing legislation that would avoid an end to rent regulation, even as rental vacancies rise in NYC. Introduced by State Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, the bill would maintain all declarations of housing emergency that were in effect as of March 7, 2020 for two years after the State’s COVID-19 state of emergency ends. A housing emergency is defined as when a municipality’s vacancy rate falls below 5%. When this happens, it triggers rent regulation. Because so many people have moved out of NYC since the spring, some fear that the city’s vacancy rate-- last calculated in 2017 at 3.63%-- may exceed 5%. This bill ensures that rent regulation will continue. Housing advocates who support this bill believe that many recent vacancies are a reaction to the pandemic and are short term, and that the last thing struggling tenants need is for rent regulation to disappear.

GetFoodNYC’s map now includes grocery stores and greenmarkets, in addition to Grab & Go sites and food pantries.

Revel resumed its moped-sharing service after suspending NYC service on July 28 following several fatalitiesRevel’s new safety measures, approved by the City, include a mandatory in-app user training, a helmet selfie feature, strengthened rider accountability policies, a community reporting tool and expanded in-person lessons.

Contribute to the New York Public Library’s archives by submitting audio recordings about life during the COVID era to The Pandemic Diaries, a new NYPL initiative. Submit recordings by Nov. 18.

WGRZ.com reports that positive test results of over 2% for several days is leading to increased vigilance and testing. "The infection rate in Western New York was 2 percent so that's not good news, and we're going to deploy a SWAT team from the Department of Health that are going to do additional testing at eight sites," said Cuomo.  Some of the increase is attributable to a food processing plant, community spread, a steel plant,  and seasonal workers.

A guide to New York City museums as they begin to reopen. Last week, museums and cultural institutions in New York City were permitted to reopen while adhering to public safety guidelines. ILoveNY has put together a guide on opening details for these beloved institutions, and everything else you need to know about NYC's museum reopenings.

Education/Parenting

The Dept. of Education announced the Outdoor Learning Initiative, which encourages schools to hold as many classes outside as possible and allows principals to request additional outdoor space in nearby parks or streets.

To prepare for indoor classes, Mayor de Blasio has given teams of engineers and educators one week to check for sufficient ventilation systems and social distancing signage at 1,700 schools. But Chalkbeat reports that many educators feel ill-prepared to assess buildings’ readiness. Review your school’s most recent inspection and reported fan deficiencies here.

NBCNY.com reports that Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweaked the standards for college re-closings across New Yorkannouncing Thursday he lowered the threshold for re-closing facilities to 5 percent COVID test positivity rates or 100 cases. Previously, that threshold had been at 9 percent. National outbreaks at universities prompted the change.

That percent positivity threshold applies only to students and faculty on campus, not to the overall population in the New York region within which the college operates. Cuomo said he'd also re-close a college if there are 100 cases, if that number is lower than the 5 percent threshold for the school community.

If the positivity rate inches above those marks, the school must go to remote learning immediately for two weeks. The same goes if clusters emerge on certain campus even if the positivity rate stays below the new thresholds. After those two virtual-only weeks, the college will reassess in consultation with the local health department, Cuomo said. During that time, athletic activities and other extracurriculars must be suspended, and dining hall options must move to take-out only. If two weeks remote don't address the problem, remote learning may continue or other mitigation measures may be required.

Upper East Side Patch reports that the principal’s union complains that the new learning rules will lead to a staffing crisis.

Suggestions from Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright for children.

Entertainment/Distractions

Tomorrow (9/1) at 6 pm, Hunter College’s [email protected] will host “The Presidents vs. the Press: From the Founding Fathers to Fake News.”

For a charming story of two dogs who, meeting in a dog park on the Upper East Side, recognized each other as siblings, see the Our Town story here.

For stories and photos of exotic, ever more appealing  places and some of their inhabitants , see Atlas Obscura.

Wednesday (9/2) at 6:30 pm, Ballet Hispánico continues its Diálogos series with “The Stereotypes of Machismo in Dance,” a discussion about gender stereotypes.

Thursday (9/3) through 9/28, the Whitney Museum will offer pay-what-you-wish admission. Visit whitney.org/ticketing-info for timed-entry tickets.

Borough President Gale Brewer is asking for entries for her “Manhattan’s most charming outdoor dining sites” contest! By Sept. 1, submit photos of the best sidewalk dining setups, and she will  be sure to eat at the best ones with some of the winning submitters. Send an email with photos of top contender(s) attached to [email protected] by Sept. 1, with the subject line “Dining Contest” (be sure to include the restaurant’s name and address in the email!).

Enjoy the parks from your apartment with [email protected], virtual NYC Dept. of Parks programming, including park tours, meditation, fitness, art classes and kids activities.

This year, The Great New York State Fair will be held virtually. The State Fair is a beloved New York tradition. For example, the annual Butter Sculpture—an 800-pound sculpture carved out of butter—will be unveiled on September 1st. The State Fair is an event worth seeing.

WAYS YOU CAN HELP

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 my2020census.govEach individual response (multiply for families or others living in the same apartment) brings approximately $4000 in federal funding to New York City. If you are spending your summer outside New York City, you may complete the form with New York City as your residence.

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: The New York Times found that those ignoring the mask rule are nearly twice as likely to be men as women. 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 nybc.org 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 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]

FINANCIAL AND LOCAL BUSINESSES UPDATES

Apply by Monday (8/31) for a $10,000 Community Food Funders 2020 Food Movement Support Fund grant for grassroots food justice organizations. Apply here.

Apply now for $5,000 - $10,000 Neighborhood Business Grants from Citizens Committee for NYC.

Apply now for interest-free small business loans up to $20,000, co-sponsored by Hebrew Free Loan Society and Bank Leumi.

GetFoodNYC has compiled resources for small food businesses about reopening, PPE, grants and loans.

Institute for Career Development has reopened its 123 William St. office for in-person services and will also continue online services. IDC provides vocational assessment, counseling and training to youth, adults, veterans and people with disabilities. Employers, contact [email protected] for qualified interns and employees.

New Yorkers who meet 2019 income requirements are eligible for free tax preparation aid from the Dept. of Consumer Affairs through Oct. 15.

Tuesday (9/1) at 4 pm, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council will hold an information session for Creative Learning and Creative Engagement Manhattan Arts Grants applicants. Register here.

City Council Speaker reported on legislation passed by the City Council to help small businesses. The New York City Council on Thursday voted on four bills to provide support to small businesses. The first extends the cap on the amount of commission a third-party delivery service is allowed to charge for delivery and all other types of charges while a second bill will prevent third-party delivery platforms from charging restaurants for telephone calls that do not result in an order. These new measures would be in effect until restaurants are able to resume indoor dining at maximum occupancy and for an additional 90 days afterward.

Members also voted on two additional bills within the small business package. They voted on legislation requiring the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) to report on businesses that received a grant or loan from the New York City Employee Retention Program or New York City Small Business Continuity Loan Fund. These grants were created in response to the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses. The reporting would determine if the grants were distributed equitably across the city.

The fourth bill is the continuation of the Commercial Lease Assistance Program (CLA), for which funding has since been restored after being temporarily unfunded in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget. This vital program provides lease-related assistance and counseling for small business tenants, This legislation will also allow the extension of the CLA to encompass “in-court” legal representation for tenancy issues, such as filing a notice of appearance for small businesses facing eviction.

Welcome Back Saturdays on Madison Avenue: 9/12, 9/26 & 10/3. To celebrate the launch of the fall season and re-introduce shoppers to over 300 businesses, the Madison Avenue B.I.D is organizing “Welcome Back Saturdays” starting on September 12. Each Saturday will focus on a different 10-block area, presenting the public with new shops and restaurants to explore each week. For more details, please visit MadisonAvenueBID.org.

The Dept. of Small Business Services has launched Career Discovery NYC, a free career search and skills training tool.

If you’re a property owner or building manager, please advise your staff and residents to allow (properly identified) Census enumerators into the building to visit those residents who have not completed their census forms.

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.

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

Apply by Sept. 13 to the NeON Arts Grantwhich awards up to $15,000 to artists and arts organizations pursuing projects in community and justice settings. Grants are sponsored by NeON (Neighborhood Opportunity Network) and Carnegie Hall.

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).

LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS' TELE-TOWN HALLS

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 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:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Past Updates from CB8