Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates September 18th

September 18th, 2020



The deadline for health insurance special enrollment has been extended through December 31, 2020. New Yorkers without health insurance can apply for coverage through the NY State of Health Marketplace, by phone at 1-855-355-5777, or by connecting with a free enrollment assister.

There's still time to respond to the Census. While 93.4 percent of New Yorkers have filled out the Census, we need to ensure every New Yorker is counted. There's still time left to respond. You can respond by mail, by phone at 844-330-2020 or online at Spread the word and let's Get Counted, NY.

Due to the pandemic, there is still a severe shortage of blood and blood donations are needed. Giving blood is safe: New York's blood donation centers have implemented precautions to minimize density and ensure the safety of donors and staff, including requiring donors to make an appointment. Learn more here.

Call the City’s new COVID hotline (212-COVID-19) to speak with a clinician about COVID and discuss self-quarantine options and travel restrictions, available in English and Spanish.

The State Department of Motor Vehicles is expanding online services, making it easier for New Yorkers to do business with the DMV during this pandemic. The DMV is launching a pilot program to offer the written learner permit tests for passenger cars (Class D) and motorcycles (Class M) online. It is also piloting a process to allow customers who reside in counties served by the State DMV to register their vehicles online. In-person services are available for transactions that cannot to be done online, by mail or by drop box and reservations are required for all in-person transactions. Read more.

One of the greatest concerns of this pandemic is making sure all New Yorkers have access to food. No New Yorker should go to bed hungry. To find a food pantry that services your county, visit

Next Thursday (9/24) from 11 am until supplies run out, Lincoln Center and the Food Bank for NYC will distribute free food. Bring your own cart.

Manhattan has over 100 public restrooms. Borough President Gale Brewer’s office has compiled a map of where to, well, go in Manhattan. The map lists hours and accessibility information.

The City Council passed a bill to allow restaurants to charge a COVID surcharge of up to 10% of the total check price for in-person dining (whether outdoor or indoor) at restaurants that feel it’s necessary (until 90 days after full indoor dining is restored). The Mayor plans to sign the legislation.

The Mayor released the FY20 Open Data Annual ReportThe Open Data Portal and the work of the Open Data Team have become indispensable tools for oversight and transparency during the pandemic. New Yorkers have had easy access to information on open streets, outdoor dining, parks and food programs, and soon we’ll have information on storefront vacancies across the city as well.

Five new Open Streets: Restaurants locations have opened in Manhattan, Fridays through Sundays:

  • Duane St. (btwn Hudson and W. Broadway)
  • Reade St. (btwn W. Broadway and Greenwich St.)
  • Rivington St. (btwn Chrystie St. and Bowery)
  • St. Marks Pl. (btwn 1st Ave. and Ave. A)
  • W. 47th St. (btwn Broadway and 8th Ave.)

In addition there will be weekday hours added to many of the streets in the Open Streets program, including many in the East Village, Chinatown, FiDi, the Lower East Side, NoLiTa and Times Square. See the complete list here.

For those celebrating Rosh Hashanah, UJA Federation of New York has compiled a list of schedules and links to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services and programs. It includes information for a wide variety of denominations and Shofar in the Streets, on Manhattan’s Upper West and Upper East Sides. Find the schedule and format here.

The Jewish Learning Center is offering virtual pre-High Holiday events. Find streaming information here.

My Jewish Learning has compiled list of shofar blowings.

Chabad Centers across Manhattan are hosting socially distanced worship and programming. Click here for locations, schedule and registration information.

The Shul of New York High Holidays will host virtual events, services and programs with sign language interpreters. Click here for the schedule.

At 5 pm, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan hosts a “Virtual Rosh Hashanah Seder for Families with School-Age Children.”

Our Town wrote a special report on The Way Forward. Click here for a series of articles.

There has been an uptick in domestic violence during the stay-at-home directive. Tuesday (9/22) at 6 pm, Borough President Gale Brewer sponsors a virtual town hall with 16 groups, “Domestic Violence and COVID-19: What the Community Needs to Know.” Click the title to register.

Tuesday (9/22) at noon, join Civic Hall for “Pathways Through the Portal: A Field Scan of Emerging Technologies in the Public Interest,” as their team of researchers present their findings on key ways to ensure emerging tech best serves the public. Click the title to register.

Wednesday (9/23) at 5 pm, John Jay College of Criminal Justice hosts “Census Final Push: Get Counted Info-Session.” Register here.

Wednesday (9/23) at 5 pm, attend “Virtual Rat Academy” and learn safe and effective rat prevention methods for your building and neighborhood, hosted by the NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene and Council Speaker Corey Johnson. Click the title to register.

Wednesday (9/23) at 6 pm, the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute and artist Doris Rodriguez host “Monocorde,” a virtual exhibition of drawings inspired by COVID first responders in the Dominican Republic.

Next Thursday (9/24) at 12:30 pm, the Climate Museum hosts Covid’s Lessons for Climate and Inequality: from Sacrifice Zones to Justice,” a discussion with climate experts. Click the title to register.

Individuals traveling from California, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada and Ohio will not be subject to a 14-day quarantine. The Northern Mariana Islands have also been removed, but Puerto Rico has been added to the list. See more info here.

New York will not ban trick-or-treating this Halloween. When Halloween comes around, I'll give New Yorkers my advice and provide guidance so everyone can make a decision for themselves and their families on whether or not trick-or-treating is something they want to do this year

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will be held in a virtual format this year. The parade will be televised on November 26th, but will feature pre-recorded performances. The iconic balloons will also be flown over New York City but using approved specialty vehicles.

As part of New York Academy of Medicine’s ongoing Race & Health series, this October 1 event will look at the profound health inequities around giving birth, further laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic. Discussions with experts will include how slavery and the history of reproductive medicine intersect, the impact that medical racism has on Black birthing people from slavery to freedom, engagement in the national reproductive justice movement, and recent efforts to address racial inequities in maternal mortality and morbidity in NYC. To register, click here.

Our Town reports on the changes in the City’s policy to use certain hotels as homeless shelters, click here.

Revel is offering NYC’s pre-K-12 teachers and school staff 30 days of free rides to help them commute in a socially distant way as schools reopen. They know our teachers and school staff are taking on a very different kind of school year and hope this makes their commute a bit easier. Educators and school staff may visit our website to sign up for the program and free in-person lessons. Free lessons are available 7 days a week across four boroughs -  Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx. This program will also be available to teachers and school staff in our other markets in the coming months as public schools reopen for in-person learning.


The Mayor delayed Monday’s start of in-person instruction (except for 3k, pre-k and District 75 students) until Tuesday 9/29, when K-5 and K-8 schools will start. Then, later that week on Thursday, 10/1 middle and high school students start. (Fully remote instruction started yesterday, 9/16, and will continue until “blended learning” starts.)

If you’re a parent or student having trouble obtaining or using a device for remote learning, call the Dept. of Education Service Desk at 718-935-5100. If you can’t get help, call my staff at 212-669-8300.

Elementary and middle school principals of economically disadvantaged schools can partner with the Stuyvesant Study Society for free tutoring programs. Stuyvesant High School students volunteer to tutor in English, Bengali, Mandarin or Spanish. Contact [email protected] for more information.

Tuesday (9/22) at 3:30 pm, kids can learn how to make East African chapati during Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Alliance’s virtual Traveling Kitchen for Kids.


The “City Without People” photo exhibition by Giles Ashford is now online at the Municipal Art Society of New York. He captured unusually empty New York spots during the height of COVID.

The U.S. Open Championship began. Earlier in July, I announced that the U.S. Open would be held at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, and this marks the start of the first of six championship tournaments. Due to the pandemic, the U.S. Open is taking place without fans.

Mental health resources are available to any New Yorker who needs them. The ongoing effects of this pandemic are impacting many people's 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.

September 18 at 8 pm, La MaMa kicks off its 59th season with a series of online arts performances, “Downtown Variety.” After Friday’s opening, there will be a virtual launch party. Register here.

Saturday (9/19) at 10 am, Harlem School of the Arts hosts a virtual open house to showcase upcoming studio and performing arts classes. Click the link to register.

Saturday (9/19) from 2 - 9 pm, the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute’s virtual AfriBembé Festival celebrates the African Diaspora through music and dance. Stream at

Next Thursday (9/24) at 11 am, Hudson River Park’s SUBMERGE Marine Science Festival celebrates NYC’s coastal waters by bringing marine science to life. Stream on Facebook.

For more from Atlas Obscura, click here.

For non-partisan creative visuals on the importance of voter advocacy, click here.

If you like Yayoi Kasumi, there’s a new graphic novel biography of her life.

If you like interior design and shelter magazines, click here.


There is a national shortage of poll workers, and New York State needs your help. Poll workers are essential to ensure that the election runs smoothly throughout New York's early voting period and on November 3rd, Election Day. The positions are PAID. To be eligible as a poll worker, you must be a registered voter in New York State.

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. If you have a second home, please fill out any census form you may receive there with “0” residents if you filled out a census form previously with New York City as your primary residence.

Monday (9/21) at 6 pm, Borough President Gale Brewer will cosponsor GMHC’s virtual “Get Out the Count Census Town Hall.” Drag Queen Cacophony Daniels will MC, and we’ll have a panel about best organizing practices for the final days of Census completion. Register here.

This school year, especially, so many students need help in math, reading and writing. The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan is recruiting virtual tutors for one or more 40-minute sessions each week (at various times each day) with students performing below grade level in grades K-12; tutors can be 14 or older and are vetted by the Dept. of Education. Complete the JCC’s school year registration form here. Orientation sessions will be offered via Zoom during the week of 9/28, and tutoring will begin 10/14. For additional information, please email Judy Gross, Director of Literacy and Math Programs at the JCC ([email protected]).

Next Thursday (9/24) at 1 pm, sew clear masks and then donate them during Virtual Sewing Festhosted by Adaptive Design Association. Find information about registering, getting mask-making materials and donating the masks you sew here.

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 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]


September 18, those unemployed due to the pandemic may begin receiving an additional $300/week in federal unemployment benefits -- for just three weeks-- from the NYS Dept. of Labor’s UI and PUA program (under the Lost Wages Assistance Program as established by the Trump Administration). The payments are retroactive to 8/2, 8/9 and 8/16 and will be sent in three individual weekly payments of $300. (NY State has applied for an additional three weeks of payments beyond those retroactive to 8/16, but it’s unclear if the feds will approve the application.)

There are two groups of people: those who will automatically receive the extra $900 total and those who must take action with the NYS Dept. of Labor to receive the payments. Both groups should have received an email last Friday (9/11) from the NYS Dept. of Labor about their status-- whether they must take action or if no action is needed. So, check your email!

The Federal Trade Commission has published guidelines to avoid COVID-related scams.

Wednesday (9/23) at 10 am, the NYC Dept. of Small Business Services hosts a webinar for restaurants about indoor dining regulations and best practices. Indoor dining can resume at 25% of capacity on 9/30. Click the title to register.

NYC & Company launched “All In NYC,” with over 100 ways for local New Yorkers to save when they visit local cultural institutions, restaurants, hotels, museums, and tours across the city. Included in the initiative is an offer from MasterCard that offers $10 back on every $20 spent on the experiences-- or $25 back on every $100 spent on hotels-- for up to $100 in statement credits per cardholder (while supplies last); visit

Minority small business owners can apply for grants of $10,000 from LISC NYC’s Small Business Relief & Recovery Fund for payroll, overhead, training, technology and infrastructure upgrade costs. Click the link above or email Ibrahima Souare, LISC Community Development Officer.

The Aspen Policy Acceleration Partnership Grant will fund city, county and state agencies who can extend services and supports to help college students who are parents. Attend an online information session 10/1 at 3 pm and apply by 12/11 for a $150,000 grant.

Visual, literary and performing artists ages 15-18 can apply by 10/16 to win financial awards and creative development opportunities through the YoungArts National Arts Competition.

Tuesday (9/22) at 1 pm, small business owners are invited by Pace University’s Small Business Development Center to a webinar titled “Internal Controls - Detecting Fraud in Your Small Business.” Next Thursday (9/24) at 1 pm, entrepreneurs can attend Pace’s “Selling Physical Products Online” webinar.

Tuesday (9/22) at noon, join Civic Hall for Pathways Through the Portal: A Field Scan of Emerging Technologies in the Public Interest,” as their team of researchers present their findings on key ways to ensure emerging tech best serves the public. Click the title to register.

Additional unemployment benefits for eligible New Yorkers affected by COVID will begin going out next week. The New York Department of Labor will start distributing an additional $300 a week in unemployment, which replaced the expired weekly $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit that many New Yorkers had been receiving. The Department of Labor will be contacting New Yorkers who may need to submit additional certification to qualify for the benefit.

 CARES funding will be directed to assist child care providers in reopening. Child care is essential to getting people back to work and $88.6 million in federal CARES funding will be made available to assist child care providers in the State. Starting next week, child care providers may apply for funding here. The application period will be open through December 31st.

New York State is providing funding for workforce development. Across the State, 66 businesses, schools and community-based organizations have been awarded nearly $9 million to support job training opportunities for more than 3,600 New Yorkers adapting to the post-COVID economy. New York's Workforce Development Initiative will help support workers who are helping our ongoing efforts to Build Back Better.

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

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.

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).


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