Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates November 23rd

November 23rd, 2020



The State launched a new web application to help New Yorkers find state services and benefits. The "Find Services" web application was developed in partnership with, to assist New Yorkers in locating appropriate services with one streamlined web application. This application provides an easy-to-use starting point for first-time program users.

On November 18, the infection rate met 3% exactly, triggering the closure of public schools. Find details on the Department of Education’s website. School buildings will be closed through Thanksgiving, with a shift to all remote learning. This does not apply to private and charter schools.

Indoor gatherings pose a serious risk for spreading COVID. Gatherings inside or outside of private homes are now limited to 10 people or fewer. If you are indoors with visitors, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of spread: Open windows to increase airflow, wear masks, keep distance and shorten the duration of the visit.

A virtual Thanksgiving may be healthier than the in-person dinner. To help facilitate virtual Thanksgiving celebrations during the pandemic, Zoom will lift its 40-minute meeting limit. The extended service will be available starting midnight on November 26th, Thanksgiving Day, through Friday, November 27th at 5 a.m.

Governor Cuomo announced that New Yorkers can take courses for free through Coursera.  In partnership with Coursera, New York State launched a free online platform for New Yorkers to learn new job skills, earn certificates and advance their careers. Whether you're unemployed, underemployed, or are simply interested in learning new skills, check it out.

Mental health is just as important as physical health. New Yorkers can call the State's mental health hotline at 1-844-863-9314 for free emotional support, consultations & referrals to a provider or visit the Office of Mental Health for resources.

Started in 2000 by six individuals at Bellevue Hospital, the Bellevue Literary Review ties together the medical and literary community. Over the past two decades, the journal has published fiction, nonfiction and poetry about health and healing. This fall, NY actors Erin Cherry and Nkosi Nkululeko held a virtual reading of pieces from the journal as part of a longstanding autumn tradition. Watch the reading here. New York State thanks the Bellevue Literary Review's Editor in Chief and frontline hero Danielle Ofri for sharing this with us.

New York announced new and modified COVID-19 micro-cluster zones. Part of Staten Island's Yellow Zone will become an Orange Zone. New Yellow Zones will be established in Upper Manhattan and Nassau and Suffolk Counties. New Orange Zones will also be established in Monroe County (in and around Rochester) and Onondaga County (in and around Syracuse). These changes go into effect this Wednesday, November 25, for businesses and Thursday, November 26, for schools. All the maps of the current micro-cluster zones are available here.

Northeastern colleges are asked to provide testing for students before students leave for Thanksgiving break. Gov. Cuomo was joined by the governors of New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Massachusetts in recommending that residential colleges in their respective states provide testing prior to sending students home for Thanksgiving. Read more about the regional coalition's announcement here.

Our Town reports on some potential potholes on the road to getting the vaccine.

If you are a veteran and would like to sign up as a volunteer in a COVID-19 vaccine study, see

For veterans, to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and the VA, click here.

Governor Cuomo urges New Yorkers to rethink any Thanksgiving travel plans. He explains that travel is a real concern because New York State has one of the lowest infection rates in the country. If people travel here from states with higher infection rates, that poses a great risk. He urge everyone to celebrate this American tradition with just your immediate household to help ensure the safety of your loved ones and your community.

Mayor de Blasio said last week (11/19) that “It’s only a matter of time” before New York City is in an orange zone. Orange zone restrictions will likely include the closure of gyms and personal care services; the end of indoor dining; and the reduction of capacity at houses of worship.

If you test positive for COVID, you can request a “Take Care Package” from a contact tracer, which includes enough PPE for two weeks, a thermometer, at-home testing kits for contacts and a pulse oximeter to monitor oxygen levels. Test and Trace will also walk your dog if you’re self-isolating. Call the NYC COVID hotline at 212-COVID19 (212-268-4319) to find out more.

If you are interested in becoming a Community Board member, apply nowCBs are the most grassroots form of local government. The Boards are pivotal in shaping their communities and work to enhance and preserve the character of the city’s many unique neighborhoods. Applications close Monday, 2/1/2021.  The Borough President and City Council Members appoint new Community Board members.

Materials on how to stay safe and celebrate Thanksgiving, recommended by Borough President Gale Brewer.

  • The Swiss Cheese Covid-19 Defense posted by Jason Kottke,, November 16, 2020 Virologist Dr. Ian Mackay of the University of Queensland, Australia, has visualized the Swiss cheese Covid-19 defense in a wonderful way (pictured above). There’s even a “Misinformation Mouse” in the middle which opens more holes in the cheese!

The Dept. of Parks has canceled all athletic permits until further notice

Give your feedback on voting absentee, early in person and on Election Day during the NYC Campaign Finance Board’s Voter Assistance Advisory Committee virtual hearing on Wednesday, 12/9 at 5:30 pm. I hope that parents who were upset about the use of public schools for early voting sites will participate. Register here.

Dancers can apply by Thursday, 12/3 to perform in the “Virtual Salon Performance Series” hosted by local dance nonprofit Mark DeGarmo Dance.

To read about the partnership between  the New York Academy of Medicine and the New York City Administration for Children’s Services to provide youth in foster care with virtual information on health and well-being, click here.

To read Northwell / Lenox Hill Hospital's monthly update, click here.

Aretha Franklin will be inducted in the National Women's Hall of Fame in this year's virtual induction ceremony. Located in Seneca Falls, NY, the organization will honor the Queen of Soul and five other Black women on December 10th, in a ceremony that will be broadcast online.


Learning Bridges sites-- free childcare locations for 3-K through 8th grade students and run by local nonprofits-- will remain open, and there are still seats available throughout Manhattan. If you apply and are assigned a location that is too far from you, you can request a different site.

Free Grab & Go meals are still available to students and their families at any school building Monday - Friday, 9 am - noon. From 3 - 5 pm, members of the community can pick up meals at Grab & Go locations across the city. See for more details.

To read about the frustration and anger parents are feeling with the shut-down of in-school learning, click here.


Cooking has been a respite for many during this pandemic. To help New Yorkers plan for smaller holiday gatherings, I Love NY created a list of scaled-down recipes that are great for smaller Thanksgiving celebrations.

For information about the New York Academy of Science’s program on The Lunar Future, or to make a donation to support the Academy’s work providing COVID-19 information to global audiences, click here.

For information on the Academy’s webinar on Bioengineering for Space, click here.

The iconic Christmas tree arrived in Rockefeller Center. The 75-foot Norway spruce is New York grown—specifically, the tree comes from Oneonta, NY. It will be illuminated on December 2nd, but there will be no public viewing of the tree lighting ceremony because of the pandemic. The tree lighting will instead be broadcast nationally on NBC.

For what’s on WNYC, click here.

While the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was being installed, workers discovered that an unexpected traveler had hitched a ride during the tree's two-day trip from Oneonta, NY, to New York City. Staff who worked for the transportation company found a small baby Saw-whet owl, the smallest owl in the northeast, in the tree. The baby owl, dubbed Rockefeller, was moved to the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, where he will be cared for until he's ready to be released into the wild.

For the Smithsonian Magazine and articles ranging from a global map, to looking at the Hawaiian language, and a review of first ladies, dinosaur parasites and Jimi Hendrix’s vest, click here.

For an article on the Museum of Modern Art keeping the promise it made to refresh galleries twice a year, click here.


The City’s new Open Storefronts program will now allow storefront businesses to operate directly outside their store from Friday, 10/30 through Wednesday, 12/31. Read the FAQ for eligibility and operating guidelines, and apply here.

Open Restaurants that use outdoor heating must follow newly released guidance from the Dept. of Buildings and the FDNY for electricnatural gas and propane heaters.

Open Restaurants are subject to new regulations pertaining to roadway barriers, snow and dining enclosures, per the Dept. of Transportation.

If you are a New York City renter at risk of eviction, you may be eligible for free legal assistance. For more information, please contact the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants or the City Tenant Helpline by calling 311, or visit the New York City Tenant Resource Portal by clicking here. You may also seek help through the Legal Aid Society by calling (212) 577-3300 or by clicking here for more information.

NYC Department of Social Services/Human Resources Administration (DSS/HRA): For updated information on COVID-19 and changes to social services benefits, including SNAP food assistance, cash assistance, and burial assistance, please refer to DSS/HRA’s Important information about COVID-19 and your HRA benefits.

Attend one of two virtual information sessions to learn about grants available from my office for schools and nonprofits and get your questions answered by my budget staff. These projects enrich the community and city as a whole.

If you have questions before the session, visit the capital funding page of Borough President Gale Brewer’s  website or contact Director of Budget and Capital Projects Vanessa Díaz-López at [email protected].gov.

Funding Opportunity for Small Businesses: DreamxAmerica and global social impact non-profit Kiva U.S. have partnered to distribute $1 million of funding to 100 small businesses in the form of 0% interest, $0 fee, highly accessible loans $1,000 to $15,000 in size, depending on need. All U.S. small businesses are eligible, including those in need of COVID-19 relief; immigrant, refugee, and first-generation entrepreneurs are especially encouraged to apply. Apply here and a member of the DreamxAmerica team will reach out personally to support you.

Apply now to earn up to $22.50 an hour removing snow and ice as a snow laborer with the Dept. of Sanitation. You must be 18 or older and eligible to work in the U.S.

Learn new job skills and earn certificates to advance your career through 4,000 free online courses offered by the state Dept. of Labor and Coursera, such as “How to Manage a Remote Team” and “Entrepreneurship.” View the course catalog.

Apply by Friday, 12/4 to the Neighborhood Commons fellowships in policy, design, engagement and communications, sponsored by the Design Trust for Public Space and the NYC Dept. of Small Business Services.

Applications (or nominations for others) for the David Prize close Friday, 12/4, which awards $200,000 to five visionary New Yorkers seeking to better the city through transformative projects.

Black college sophomores can apply to a paid, six-week internship with JP Morgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways Fellowship Program. Attend a virtual information session Wednesday, 12/2 (5-6:45 pm) or Tuesday 12/8(noon - 1:45 pm). Apply here by Sunday, 12/20.

Small business owners can check if they are eligible for New York State support programs or incentives. There are a number of business incentives that small business owners may be able to take advantage of. To get started, simply answer questions about your business and New York's Business Express Incentive Wizard will provide a list of New York State programs and services that could help your business get off the ground.

New York State is providing $328 million for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) which helps income-eligible families pay heating costs. Visit to learn more or apply.

Free financial counseling is available by phone through the NYC Dept. of Consumer and Worker Protection. Book an appointment online or by calling 311.

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

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

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.


Don’t travel for the holidays.

Donate holiday gifts to clients of Services for the Underserved. Learn more here or by emailing Minjung Park, volunteer and community relations manager.

If you get a call from NYS Contact Tracing, pick up. Contact tracers are working around the clock to trace clusters and inform people who have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID. How can you help? Simply by picking up the phone. If your caller ID says "NYS Contact Tracing," pick up and help New York stop the spread. (Tracers will never ask for your Social Security Number or financial information; if someone does, they are not an official tracer and you should hang up.)

Testing is one of the best tools against this virus. You can easily search for a testing site near you here. You can also call 1-888-364-3065 to make an appointment at a New York State-run testing location.

Religious facilities can share their space with dancers looking for rehearsal space, a project of Partners for Sacred Places. NYC Dance in Sacred Places can be a mutually beneficial opportunity for artists struggling to find affordable studios and sacred places seeking to share space with the community.

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.

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


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