Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates October 26th

October 26th, 2020


Governor Cuomo provides a draft plan for a vaccine. The State has announced a draft Vaccine Administration Program, which will serve as an initial framework for the distribution of a vaccine. The three principles of safety, efficacy and equity are paramount. Governor Cuomo says the State will only distribute a vaccine that meets NYS’  safety standards, is proven to be effective, and that has clear prioritization that is fair and equitable.

This draft Vaccination Administration Program is designed to work in concert with the federal government's actions. Vaccinating New York will be a massive undertaking; indeed, it is a larger operational undertaking than anything NYS  has done against COVID to date. That's why NYS is planning and getting the advice of experts at every step. Read more about the State's Vaccination Administration Program here.

Any New Yorker who is concerned about COVID exposure can request an absentee ballot this year. While the official deadline to request one either online or by mail is October 27th, the post office recommends applying for an absentee ballot today. The earlier you request your ballot, the better. Request one here.

Two states were added to New York's COVID-19 travel advisory. Individuals traveling to New York from Arizona and Maryland must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania meet the criteria for the travel advisory but due to the region's interconnectedness, quarantine is not practically viable. As such, we highly discourage non-essential travel between these states and New York to the extent practical. See more info here.

The moratorium on commercial evictions is extended until January 1st. This measure extends protections already in place for commercial tenants and mortgagors in recognition of the financial toll the pandemic has taken on business owners, including retail establishments and restaurants. This date aligns with the moratorium on residential evictions.

The MTA launched a new digital map of the New York City subway. This map features live data streams to show the current status of all subway lines through the NYC Transit System. You can even see trains pull in and out of stations in real time. Remember that mask wearing is mandatory on public transit. If you do not have a mask with you, visit any station manager where you can request a free mask.

Governor Cuomo offers advice for Halloween. The State Department of Health has published guidance for Halloween. The best way to celebrate Halloween this year is to have fun with the people who live in your household — for example, carving pumpkins, watching scary movies or having a virtual costume party.

 If your family plans to celebrate outside your home this year, follow some simple "Do's" and "Don'ts" from the Department of Health to keep your family and community safe. Any activities should be socially distanced and outdoors. We advise New Yorkers not to participate in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed out at the door and you cannot maintain social distance. Please don't trick-or-treat indoors, unless you are at your own house with family members. If you live in an area with a high number of COVID cases, skip in-person celebrations altogether. (Read the full guidance here.)

Eight additional companies have received support from the State to help produce PPE. Empire State Development, New York's economic development agency, awarded $4.9 million to eight NY-based companies to help alleviate product shortages that could lead to unfair price gouging of life-saving supplies. These awards boost New York businesses while helping ensure New York is prepared in the event of a second wave.

For your health, don’t put off screenings. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The State encourages New Yorkers to stay updated with their breast cancer screenings. Breast cancer screenings are covered by most health plans, including Medicaid and health plans participating in the New York State of Health. More information about the screening program for the uninsured New Yorkers and other NYS Breast Cancer Programs can be found here.

You can look at updated regional COVID data anytime online.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control expanded its definition of “close contacts,” after a study suggested COVID-19 can be passed in brief interactions. Previously, the CDC defined close contact as someone who spent 15 minutes or more within six feet of someone who was infectious. Now, the agency says it’s someone who spent a cumulative 15 minutes or more within six feet of someone who was infectious over 24 hours, even if the time isn’t consecutive, news site explained.

A doctor at Mt. Sinai wrote an article in Our Town about potential second and third surges. 

Nature magazine issued its second progress report on the pandemic, looking at the key factors involved in making vaccines safe, effective and welcomed by the public: “Why decoding the immune response to COVID matters for vaccines.”

And Wired magazine this week published It’s Time to Talk About Covid-19 and Surfaces Again,” an informative (and reassuring) look at what’s called “fomite spread” of COVID-19.

Amid COVID, reports of DV have increased. Remember: You are not trapped because of COVID and you are not alone. If you need help, you can call the State's Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-942-6906, or text 833-997-2121

The statewide plastic bag ban went into effect. Shoppers will be charged a 5-cent fee to use store-provided paper bags; SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants and Children) recipients are exempt from the fee. To report stores still offering plastic bags, email this form to [email protected] or call the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation at 518-402-8706.

Monday (10/26) at 6 pm, the Dept. of City Planning hosts an information session about how to participate in the public review process of the SoHo/NoHo Neighborhood Plan. Register here.

Tuesday (10/27) at 4 pm, the Dept. of City Planning hosts a Zoom workshop for Upper Manhattan and the East Side about the next NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Platform. Register here.

Tuesday (10/27) at 7 pm, Manhattan Together and South Bronx Churches host “Stop Mold and Leaks” for NYCHA residents to hear from the independent mold ombudsperson. Click the title to register.

Wednesday (10/28) at 11:30 am, the COVID-NYC Documentary Project hosts a panel, “Documenting the Pandemic Experience in New York City.” Watch on Zoom.

Next Wednesday (10/28) and Thursday (10/29) at 6 pm, the NYC Dept. of Education, Imm Schools and Access NYC host virtual “Immigrant Family Forums” to explain resources for immigrant students and families. Wednesday’s forum will be entirely in Spanish, and Thursday’s will be translated into Mandarin and Haitian Creole. Click the title to register.

The City of New York, NYPD, Urban League, FPWA and Robin Hood have begun a Reform and Reinvention Collaborative listening tour. The remaining sessions of phase 1 of the listening tour for Manhattan are Wednesday (10/28)at 7 pm for Northern Manhattan residents and next Thursday (10/29) at 7 pm for Southern Manhattan residents. Click the session date to register.

Thursday (10/29) at 9:30 am, the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York hosts “Racial Equity Advancement Labs - Justice Equity Event,” a webinar about mass incarceration. Register here.

Thursday (10/29) at 1 pm, law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan hosts a virtual panel, “Leveraging PropTech Innovation to Help Meet Climate Mandates.” Click the title to register.

Thursday (10/29) at 5 pm, NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge hosts “Looking Ahead: Enhanced Democracy by 2030 Through Digital Innovation.” Click the title to register.

Thursday (10/29) at 6 pm, the Coordinated Children’s Services Initiative hosts “Know Your Rights!” to teach youth under 30 about their rights in police encounters and what to do in the event of police misconduct. Register here.


The DOE’s Daily COVID Case Map shows closed public school classrooms and entire school buildings due to COVID cases.


Through Thursday (10/29), Baruch Performing Arts Center and Opera Omaha debut the opera “dwb (driving while black).” Register for free (or donate-what-you-can) tickets here.

Through Saturday, 10/31 is Harlem Restaurant Week.

Tuesday (10/27) through Thursday (10/29) at 7 pm, Mark DeGarmo Dance hosts “Virtual International Arts Festival for Social Change.” Click the title to register.

A painting by a famous Black artist that was missing for 60 years was discovered thanks to a visitor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met is hosting an exhibition of an important series of paintings about Revolutionary War times by Jacob Lawrence, an acclaimed American painter. But the series was missing one of the panels. What happened next was a stroke of fate: A patron realized she had seen a very similar work on the wall of her neighbor's apartment on the Upper West Side, just across Central Park from the Met. It was the missing panel. The owners, who did not realize their painting was "missing" to art historians, were happy to lend the piece to the Met, where it is now displayed with the rest of the series. According to Eric Widing, Deputy Chairman of Christie's New York, the painting is worth "in the seven figures." The elderly owners had bought it at an auction for a modest sum in around 1960.

Movie theaters outside of New York City reopened. Theaters can open at 25 percent capacity with up to 50 people per screen. Only theaters outside of New York City in counties that have positivity rates of less than 2 percent on a 14-day average, and which do not have any cluster zones, are permitted to open.

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.

If your regular poll site is Marymount Manhattan College, you will be voting at the Park Avenue Armory instead this year. Look up your poll site here.


Get a flu shot. Find pharmacies and clinics offering flu shots through the NYC Health Map. You can sort for free shots and for locations covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Below, find information about a free flu shot event sponsored by Assembly Member Seawright on October 28th.

Give your friends a call. Check in with your family. Ask them how everything is going and how they are feeling. Let's show each other some love because mental health is just as important as physical health. New Yorkers can also call the State's mental health hotline at 1-844-863-9314 for free emotional support, consultations & referrals to a provider.

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


Gov. Cuomo extended the COVID-related commercial eviction moratorium through January 1, 2021, when the residential eviction moratorium expires.

Restaurateurs participating in Open Restaurants can schedule a free virtual compliance consultation with the Dept. of Small Business Services to help understand reopening guidelines. No non-compliance fines will be issued.

Restaurants can apply by Friday, 11/6 for a $5,000 DoorDash Local Restaurant Grant to help offset outdoor heating costs.

Former Summer Youth Employment Program Bridge participants who attend a “Career Ready Work, Learn, Grown” high school can apply by next Friday (10/30) for the NYC Dept. of Youth and Community Development’s Career Ready WLG program, earning college credit and completing a paid internship.

Organizations led by and serving women of color can apply by Monday, 11/9 for a $50,000 grant from the Survivor Safety and Securing Democratic Futures Funds.

Apply by Monday, 11/9 for a $1,500 Community Change Grant from America Walks for projects that create healthy, active and engaged places to live, work and play.

Nonprofits and government agencies can apply by Tuesday, 11/24 for a grant from Robert Wood Johnson’s Policies for Action: Public Policy Research to Advance Racial Equity and Racial Justice program.

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

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