Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates October 19th

October 19th, 2020



The plastic bag ban, and 5 cent fee on paper bags, was supposed to go into effect on March 1, 2020 but implementation was delayed due to legal challenges to the law. Implementation of the law is starting today, October 19, 2020. To avoid the 5 cent fees, use your own bags. For information on implementation of the law, please visit the NYC Department of Environmental Conservation's website. To view answers to some frequently asked questions on the law, please visit the NYC Department of Sanitation's website.

Ohio, Michigan and Virginia have been added to New York's COVID Travel Advisory. The three states join 35 other states and territories reported yesterday from which travelers arriving to New York must self-quarantine for 14 days. See the full list here.

SUNY just launched a grant program for personal protective equipment inventors. The SUNY Prepare Innovation and Internship Program will provide $10,000 for students and faculty who want to develop innovative alternatives to the PPE our frontline workers need as we continue the fight against COVID-19. Applications are open to students and faculty at all SUNY state operated and Community College campuses, and SUNY is accepting applications through November 15th and the first grant will be awarded December 15th.

Red Zone virus clusters are facing new measures to reduce infection rates. Enforcement by local governments of public health laws — including the new measures to contain these micro-clusters — has been uneven at best. So Governor Cuomo is sending a notification to local governments that they must enforce public health law under Section 16 in the designated cluster zones, or else they will lose state funding. Separately, Governor Cuomo sent a letter telling public and private schools in cluster zones that if they fail to comply with state regulations, they will also lose state funding.

The positivity rate in the "Red Zone" focus areas fell slightly to 3.31 percent. The statewide positivity rate excluding these areas was 1.13 percent yesterday. There were 934 total hospitalizations. Of the 82,009 tests reported yesterday, 998, or 1.21 percent, were positive.

Cluster areas (the newly defined Red zones have accounted for approximately 70 percent of the increase we have seen in daily hospital admissions between early September and today.

In anticipation of a vaccine, Governor Cuomo asks some questions of Washington. He sent a letter with National Governors Association Vice Chair Asa Hutchinson to President Trump asking him to discuss the role states will play in vaccine distribution. As governors, we will assist — but we need to know the plan. Many questions remain, including on the delineation of federal and state responsibilities, funding, supply chain management and the vaccine allocation process.

COVID can have frightening long-term effects, which include damage to the heart and inflammation. According to State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, there is still a lot that we don't know about long-term effects, including the experiences of "long-haulers" reported recently in the New York Times. The more we learn about the virus, the more we'll understand these effects. Dr. Zucker advises physicians to be alert to potential effects that patients may have and to take patients' concerns seriously. Additional research and longitudinal studies are needed.

Ski resorts can reopen with 50 percent indoor capacity starting November 6th. There will be strict health and safety protocols put in place, including masks required at all times, except when eating/drinking or skiing/snowboarding; restricting gondolas; and ski lifts to members of the same party, and limiting lessons to no more than 10 people.

New York launched new Domestic Violence Regional Councils that will help transform and modernize delivery of services for victims, survivors and their families. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and throughout the pandemic we have seen an alarming rise in domestic violence cases. These 10 new councils will engage with local experts to help domestic violence survivors and their families. And an important reminder that you aren't trapped because of COVID. If there is an issue where you face imminent harm, call 9-1-1 immediately. If you need help, you can call the State's Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-942-6906, or text 844-997-2121.

Register by Friday, 10/30 for the Salvation Army’s Holiday Assistance. Bring a photo ID and proof of residency, household and income to the Salvation Army at 175 E. 125th St.

Lighthouse Guild’s new podcast series, “On Tech & Vision,” holds interviews about how technology can improve life for people with vision loss.

PBS has made available for free the documentary “Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America” through Tuesday, 11/10.

Wednesday (10/21) at 7 pm, the Jewish Coalition on Criminal Justice Reform kicks off the six-part series “Reimagining Criminal Justice in New York City Today.” Register here.

Wednesday (10/21) at 7 pm, the New Pride Agenda hosts “Civic Engagement During A Pandemic,” a virtual town hall. Register here.

Our Town reports on what to do with a botched (by the Board of Elections) absentee ballot. Read it here.

Our Town reports on the City’s preparedness for a second surge of the virus. Read it here.

Our Town gives five suggestions to boost your immune system. Read it here.

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

Upper East Side Patch reviews Governor Cuomo’s new book on the State’s efforts to control the pandemic, click here to read their review.


Get free homework help from licensed teachers through the United Federation of Teachers by calling 212-777-3380 or visiting the Dial-A-Teacher website, Mondays through Thursdays, 4 - 7 p.m. Help is available in Armenian, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Haitian-Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog.

The State will send 200,000 rapid test kits to New York City schools in "Yellow Zones." This builds on an earlier initiative deploying rapid test kits to every county throughout the state. The tests will also be made available on an as needed basis to help schools in "Yellow Zones" test students and staff as required of the Cluster Action Initiative.


Register by Wednesday (10/21) for Concerts in Motion’s 10/28 fall virtual salon, featuring a performance by the Emeril String Quartet.

Cast members of the Off-Broadway show "Emojiland" virtually came together to perform a quarantine music video of the show's original songs, "Stand For." In their virtual performance, the cast is joined by hundreds of young musicians, including students from Honeoye Falls-Lima High School.

The New York Academy of Medicine will present a program on Women in Academic Medicine on November 19 at 4-5:15. The program is free. To register, click here.

Wednesday (10/21) at 11 am, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House’s Caregiver Program hosts “Virtual Meditation and Relaxation.” Register at [email protected].

Wednesday (10/21) at 7 pm, the Morris-Jumel Mansion hosts “Historic House Museums and the Paranormal.” Register here.

Friday (10/23) at noon, BetaNYC hosts “Open Data Journeys 003: Tenants, Housing and Displacement.” This is a Brooklyn-centric event, but we can still learn about housing and how to use data for good. Click the title to register.

The Yorkville 81 Block Association is hosting a "Fall Clean-Up and Bulb Planting" event on Saturday, October 24th at 11:00 am. Meet up in front of 424 East 81st Street. (Rain date, Sunday, October 25)

Election 2020 Resources

Some New Yorkers have received an absentee ballot with a misprint that reads “Official Absentee Military Ballot” instead of “Absentee/Military Ballot." The ballots are VALID and can be used.

The Manhattan Board of Elections has posted the poll sites for early voting and election day. Election logistics: First, if you’re NOT registered to vote in New York City, the deadline to register is October 9, 2020. Not sure if you’re registered? Check here.

Once you are registered, you may vote three ways:

Early voting is a great option to avoid mail-in ballot delays and potentially long lines on Election Day (11/3). Absentee voting is best if you’re not comfortable going to the polls. Our Town covers early voting as an important option, click here.

Become a poll worker. New Yorkers who are currently unemployed can apply to be a paid poll worker without losing their unemployment benefits. Poll workers are vital in ensuring that Election Day runs smoothly and I signed an Executive Order that allows New Yorkers who currently collect unemployment benefits to sign up for temporary work on November 3rd. Sign up to become a poll worker.

How to Complete Your Absentee Ballot

  1. Carefully read and follow the instructions printed on the ballot and the ballot envelopes.
  2. Mark your votes on your ballot using a pen with black or blue ink - please make sure not to make any stray marks, as this could interfere with the scanner properly reading the votes marked on your ballot.
  3. Fold the ballot and put it in the smaller envelope provided by the Board of Elections
  4. Sign and date the back of the envelope - you will see a red X that marks where to sign your name, and there is a line directly below to write the date.
  5. Seal the envelope - there is an adhesive on the envelope for sealing - do not use tape or glue to seal the envelope
  6. Put the smaller envelope in the larger envelope provided by the Board of Elections, which is addressed to the Manhattan Board of Elections Office.

Please Note: if you have not followed all of these steps, your absentee ballot will not be counted.

Options For How to Submit Your Absentee Ballot

1. Mail Your Ballot

  • One stamp is sufficient to mail your ballot to the Manhattan Board of Elections Office. However, if you are concerned about your ballot being delivered, you can use two stamps
  • Ballots that are postmarked by Election Day will be counted if they are received by the NYC Board of Elections no more than 7 days after Election Day. However, if your absentee ballot is not postmarked, it must be received by the Board by the day after Election Day in order to be counted. Since there is no way for you to know whether the Post Office will actually postmark your ballot, and due to strong concerns about delays in mail being delivered, I urge you to mail in your absentee ballot as far in advance of Election Day as possible.

2. Deposit Your Ballot at a Poll Site Absentee Ballot Collection Box

  • There will be an absentee ballot collection box at every Early Voting and Election Day Poll Site.
  • You may deposit your completed absentee ballot at any Early Voting or Election Day Poll Site in New York City, however, it is best and preferred that the Poll Site be in Manhattan. If you deposit your absentee ballot at a Poll Site that is outside of the five boroughs, it will not be counted.

Please Note: You can deposit your completed absentee ballot at a poll site collection box personally, or a trusted friend, neighbor, or family member can do so for you.

3. Deposit Your Ballot at the NYC Board of Elections Office

  • You or a trusted individual can take your completed absentee ballot and deposit it at the Manhattan Board of Elections Office at 200 Varick Street, 10 Fl, New York, NY 10014 through Election Day at 9:00 p.m.
  • We will provide more information about Board of Elections office hours as details become available.

If there is a problem with your absentee ballot, you can contact the NYC Board of Elections office:

  • By email at [email protected],
  • By phone at 1-866-868-3692, or
  • On Twitter, send a direct message to the NYC Board of Elections (Twitter handle @BOENYC)

For those absentee voters who are skittish about even entering an early-voting poll site to drop their ballots in the drop boxes there, there’s a solution. Invisible Hands, a nonpartisan volunteer group that’s done amazing work running errands for the homebound, will pick up sealed absentee ballots from seniors and deposit them in the drop boxes at early voting sites.  Homebound seniors (or whoever) can request a volunteer to pick up their ballot here. And if you’d like to volunteer for Invisible Hands to do ballot runs, complete the volunteer form here.

The New York Civil Liberties Union has an FAQ about voting rights for people with a criminal record.


Get a flu shot. On October 19 from 1-4, Borough President Gale Brewer, along with other elected officials, is sponsoring a flu shot clinic, Lenox Hill Hospital (Hearth Room, 130 E. 77th St.). Other times the flu shot clinic will be at Lenox Hill Hospital are Wednesday (10/21), 4 - 7 pm, and Thursday (10/22), 1 - 4 pm. Contact [email protected] or 212-434-2751 for appt. for any of those times. While the flu vaccine will not prevent COVID19, it will help lower the risk of you and your family getting sick with the flu and needing medical care. All New Yorkers should get the flu vaccine. Find a flu shot location near you:

If you order for delivery, order directly from the restaurants, and not through third-party apps that charge restaurants high fees, making it even tougher for them.

The pandemic has caused declines in organ donations. With so many people awaiting lifesaving organ transplants, Governor Cuomo urges New Yorkers to become organ donors and join the NYS Donate Life Registry.

Apply to become a member of the NYC Community Emergency Response Teamwhich assists first responders with community preparedness and disaster support. Apply here.

Donate Plasma: 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 Center, 415 E. 93 St., needs help supporting their older adult clients through meals and case management services. Interested in volunteering? Contact [email protected]


Tomorrow (10/20) at noon, the NYC Office of Nightlife hosts a “Multi-Agency Town Call: New Indoor/Outdoor Dining Guidelines and Regulations” for restaurants. Click the title to register.

Tomorrow (10/20) at noon and Thursday (10/22) at 12:30, NYC Small Business Services host “Small Business Forum: Grow Your Business in the Era of COVID-19.” Register for Tuesday’s presentation and Thursday’s panel.

Wednesday (10/21) at 4 pm, the NYC Dept. of Finance hosts “Homeowner and Renter Benefit Presentation,” explaining how to lower your property tax bill and freeze your rent. Register here.

Robin Hood’s COVID-19 Relief Fund is now accepting grant applications for nonprofits that provide frontline support to vulnerable populations.

NYC Small Business Services is hosting dozens of upcoming webinars about business reopening guidelines, reaching more customers and increasing business.

Tomorrow (10/20) through Friday (10/23), East Harlem nonprofit Union Settlement hosts a virtual hiring fair for open positions on its staff. Register for tomorrowWednesdayThursday or Friday.

Open Restaurants Update: On September 25, 2020, NYC announced that the popular Open Restaurants program will be made permanent, and restaurants will be permitted to use heating and enclosures, and expand seating to adjacent properties with neighbors’ consent. Specific guidance is forthcoming.

Adjacent Properties

  • The City will allow restaurants to expand seating to the frontage of adjacent properties, as long as the adjacent property owners formally agree to the use of the space for a specified period of time and commit not to charge a fee for its use
  • The City will work with the State Liquor Authority (SLA) on any requirements associated with extending alcohol service to the expanded seating in front of adjacent properties
  • In early October, NYC DOT will issue a template agreement and provide instructions on how to file the agreements
  • Adjacent properties may not be used prior to the release of official instructions and formal agreements


  • As cooler weather arrives, the City will allow restaurants to incorporate heating elements into their outdoor dining setups
  • Electrical heaters will be allowed on both sidewalk and roadway
  • Propane and natural gas heaters will be allowed on sidewalks only; they will remain prohibited in roadway seating
  • Propane will require a permit from FDNY and compliance with FDNY regulations for outdoor use, handling and secure outdoor tank storage overnight
  • Official guidance on what will be considered approved installation and use of heating elements will be released before the end of September, and restaurants are prohibited from installing heating elements until guidelines are released and followed


  • Restaurants will also be permitted to use tent enclosures to keep diners warm
  • In partial tent enclosures, at least 50% of the tent’s side wall surface area must remain open and electrical heaters are allowed
  • In full tent enclosures, the tent’s side walls may be closed but occupancy limitations will be capped at 25% of capacity, and indoor dining guidelines must be followed; electrical heaters will also be allowed
  • Enclosed structures, such as plastic domes, will be allowed for individual parties and must have adequate ventilation to allow for air circulation

Roadway Safety

  • As the program’s duration will now continue through the winter months, and winter weather creates potential for inclement weather to impact road conditions, the City will engage the restaurant industry and other stakeholders to develop additional safety features to further strengthen roadway barriers
  • To ensure timely implementation, the City will require restaurant owners to comply with new safety features by November 15, 2020
  • In addition, significant snow events may necessitate the temporary removal of some barriers from the roadway

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.

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.


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:

New York State developed a contact tracing app to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The app uses Bluetooth technology — not location data — to quickly alert users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Once alerted, users can quickly protect themselves and others by self-quarantining, contacting their physician and getting tested.

Governor Cuomo assures us that the app does not violate privacy. The app does not compromise privacy or collect your personal information. Use of the app is completely voluntary and anonymous. The app will never track your location. Privacy is protected because your data is kept anonymous and is not identifiable to any individual. Any data you voluntarily choose to share is anonymous and can be deleted at any time. Learn more about the app's expert-vetted security and privacy here.

As you go about your day, the app uses Bluetooth to sense when another person with the same app comes within 6 feet of you. Your phone exchanges a secure random code with the other phone to record your proximity.

 If the app notes that you've been within 6 feet of someone for more than 10 minutes, the app adds their phone's random code to a list of close contacts. When a fellow app user tests positive for COVID-19, a Case Investigator from the county health department will ask if the person is willing to share the app's list of "close contact" codes to help protect other people. Sharing your list is secure and private. The app never reveals who you are to anyone.

Each day, the list of codes for "confirmed cases" is sent to every phone that has the app. The app compares its own list of close contact codes to the list of confirmed cases. If there's a match, the app displays a COVID Alert. Using these lists of anonymous codes, the alert is kept private. No one ever knows who generated the COVID Alert. Neighboring states including New Jersey and Pennsylvania have launched Exposure Notification Apps that work in concert with New York's.

Alerts can only come from other people who use the app, so we need as many New Yorkers as possible to download the app.

 Download the app on your iPhone here.  Download the app on your Android device here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Past Updates from CB8