Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates December 21st

December 21st, 2020



Hospitalizations could approximately double in one month if the current rate of growth continues. The fall and winter surge could lead to 11,000 people hospitalized with COVID and 3,500 additional fatalities in a month if the current rate continues. Please take this threat seriously. Yes, we have a vaccine—but we must be cautious and diligent in the days ahead to slow the spread as the vaccine distribution ramps up.

New York announced updated micro-cluster focus zones. See all cluster zones and look up your address on our interactive map.

As of this morning, more than 38,000 vaccine doses have been administered in New York State. This is the highest reported total of any state in the nation thus far. The first 346,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine are expected to begin arriving in New York today, with an additional 120,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine expected later this week.

New York State began administering vaccines to nursing home residents and staff. The first nursing home residents began to be vaccinated today as part of a federal program that partners with pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate nursing home residents and staff at nursing home facilities. There are 618 facilities across the state that will participate in the program.

To help with vaccination efforts, New York is developing Community Vaccination Test Kits. These kits will provide communities, particularly those located within health care deserts, with the supplies and resources needed for standing up vaccination sites. They will include materials such as schematics on assembling the space, chairs and tables, computers and other equipment needed to administer the vaccine.

When you're indoors with people outside of your household, remember to wear a mask. Contact tracing data shows that 74 percent of COVID cases where the cause is known can be traced to small gatherings and the household. The CDC is urging—as are we—that you wear a mask indoors whenever you are with people that you don't live with, in both public and private settings.

See Our Town’s article for more on the vaccine here.

New York launched a new website about the COVID-19 vaccine. It provides New Yorkers with a one-stop location for accurate and up to date information on the vaccine, safety, distribution priorities and more. On the site, New Yorkers can find general information about the vaccine, a detailed Frequently Asked Questions section that provides facts about the vaccine's safety and efficacy, and answers other questions you may have.

The State has identified Regional Vaccination Hubs to develop vaccination networks ahead of Phase 2. These hubs will be led by local hospital systems and will work with community leaders to develop vaccination networks, which will guide vaccination administration for the second phase. Under the state's plan, the second phase of administrations will focus on essential workers and individuals in the general public who are most at risk.

New York State health insurers will be instructed to cover COVID-19 vaccinations. The New York State Department of Financial Services issued a letter to New York-regulated health insurers directing them to immediately cover, without cost-sharing, approved COVID-19 immunizations and administrations. No New Yorker will have to pay a penny to get the vaccine.

Governor Cuomo reports good news about the vaccine. New York State has found that in many cases, vaccinators can get as many as six or seven doses from a single "five dose" vial. That means that the State’s supply of vaccine doses is actually bigger than it had thought—and more people can be vaccinated during this early stage of the process.

The Department of Health issued guidance on administering "extra" doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from vials. COVID-19 vaccine providers have consistently been able to withdraw more than five doses from one five-dose vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. As a result, after consulting with the FDA and the manufacturer, the State Department of Health issued guidance permitting vaccinators to withdraw more than five doses from a single vial, and to use any extra vaccine that can easily be drawn up in a syringe to meet the 0.3 milliliter dose requirement. But extra vaccine fluid from more than one vial cannot be combined to produce extra doses.

New York State's independent COVID-19 Clinical Advisory Task Force approved the Moderna vaccine. Their unanimous vote to approve the Moderna-developed vaccine followed the FDA vaccine panel's vote last week to recommend it for Emergency Use Authorization. The FDA approved the Moderna vaccine. The state anticipates receiving 346,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week.

Today Governor Cuomo announced the new NYS COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Task Force, co-chaired by Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, Attorney General Letitia James, National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial, and Healthfirst President & CEO Pat Wang. This Task Force will break down barriers to vaccination, build confidence in the vaccine and ensure there is a fair and equitable distribution of the vaccine across the state.

Our Town provides suggestions for getting through the holidays during this difficult, possibly anxiety-producing or depressing time in an article written by  the Associate Dean for Medical Student Wellness and Student Affairs and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Delta and British Airways have agreed to require pre-departure COVID tests before passengers leave from the U.K. to New York. In the wake of a new, more contagious variant of the COVID-19 virus found in the United Kingdom, British Airways and Delta Airlines have voluntarily agreed to our request to require their passengers to receive a negative COVID-19 test before they travel from the United Kingdom to New York. With this move, New York joins the list of 120 countries with a similar requirement on flights from the U.K. I have also asked Virgin Atlantic, the third major airline that services travel between the U.K. and New York, to do the same. The first virus came to New York via Europe, and we don't want history to repeat itself with this new variant.

This Monday (12/21) at 6:30 pm, Borough President Gale Brewer is moderating a virtual town hall, “Community Briefing: the COVID-19 Vaccine in NYC,” co-sponsored with Columbia University and Community Boards 7, 9, 10, 11, and 12.  We’ll hear from public health experts about the vaccine rollout and safely achieving herd immunity. Register here.

The deadline to sign up for a health plan through NY State of Health has been extended. New Yorkers have two more weeks (until December 31) to enroll in a health plan that begins on January 1. "As the pandemic continues, it is especially important for New Yorkers to have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance," said Donna Frescatore, NY State of Health Executive Director. Visit their website or call 1-855-355-5777 to enroll.

Many are mentally bracing for a “pandemic winter” and what it may bring. Dr. Robert Leahy, an attending psychologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and a national expert in cognitive therapy, talks with Health Matters about protecting your mental health during the upcoming months.

This week marked a pivotal moment in the battle against COVID-19, as staff members across NYP campuses received their first dose of the vaccine. This is an extraordinary accomplishment as we turn the tide of the virus in New York! NewYork-Presbyterian is working closely with public health officials to plan vaccine distribution for our patients. As the statewide plans for vaccine distribution become clear and supplies begin to arrive in adequate numbers, Columbia, Weill Cornell Medicine, and NewYork-Presbyterian expect to begin offering COVID-19 vaccines to our patients in early 2021. Please see our Letter to Our Patients for the latest information.

Read Northwell Health Lenox Hill Hospital's Monthly Update here.

The FDNY’s winter/holiday fire safety public service announcement shares tips for avoiding fires caused by furnaces, decorations, and cooking.

Articles recommended by the Borough President’s office.

Lemontree Food Helpline connects New Yorkers to free food resources. Call 888-489-7212 or text “FOOD” to 90847 to speak with a Lemontree agent.

Tuesday (12/22) at 6 pm, SAGEVets hosts a panel commemorating the 10th anniversary of the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military policy that excluded queer people from the military. Register here.

Chapter 11 of Met Stories from the Met Museum. Watch Episode 11, in which Dariel Vasquez, Co-founder & Executive Director, Brothers@, describes how he didn’t feel welcome at The Met, even though he grew up in nearby Harlem. His first visit was on a class trip, and seeing the confidence and enthusiasm of his professor Teju Cole, a fellow Black man, at the front of the class dramatically transformed the discomfort he felt into a sense of belonging.

Congress is about to approve $900 billion pandemic relief package:

  • A $600 one-time payment for individuals earning up to $75,000/year (couples earning up to $150,000/year would get $1,200; those with dependent children will receive $600 per child);

  • Enhanced federal unemployment benefits will be partially restored, offering an extra $300 for 11 weeks;

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (for those not covered by traditional unemployment insurance) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (which provides aid after state benefits expire) will also be extended for 11 weeks;

  • The federal eviction moratorium was extended through 1/31/2021.


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 pm Help is available in Armenian, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Greek, Haitian-Creole, Hebrew, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Tagalog.

The city’s Department of Education announced that applications opened for children applying for a kindergarten seat next fall; the deadline to submit applications is January 19, 2021. Parents should check the DOE website for further information and sign up for update emails at

The City’s Dept. of Education made significant changes to middle and high school admissions last week, but TODAY (12/21) they also have finally opened Specialized High School Admissions Test registration (open through 1/15):

  • The test will be administered at students’ home schools the week of 1/27.

  • The Discovery program, for students scoring just below cut-off scores, will reserve 20% of seats at each specialized high school for Discovery program participants (learn more here, under the Specialized High Schools tab).

  • The DREAM program (for 7th grade SHSAT prep) will be held virtually.

Non-specialized high school applications open on 1/18 (until 2/22). “Screens” for state tests and grades from the 2018-2019 school year and first marking period of the 2019-2020 school year will continue. High schools are no longer allowed to prioritize seats by district, and priority by borough will be eliminated beginning in the 2021-2022 school year.

Middle school applications open 1/11 (until 2/8):

  • Screens based on grades, attendance, and state test scores will be paused for this year.

  • Students will rank their top 12 choices and will be placed into a lottery for schools that receive more applicants than there are seats.

  • Middle schools can maintain geographic priority or priority for students of particular needs/demographics.


New radio show The Harlem Connection” features artists from different eras who helped turn Harlem into a cultural Mecca. New episodes air Fridays 10 pm - midnight on 99.5 FM and online. Past episodes are available here.

Third Street Music School Settlement students recorded a virtual rendition of “Greensleeves” for the holidays.

Acrobatic light installation Tumbling Brights” is now on display on the 10 Broadway medians between Columbus Circle and 70th St., sponsored by the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District. The lights will be up through February.

Lincoln Center’s nightly winter light installation is on view through New Year’s Eve.

Now through Sunday, 1/3, “A Christmas Carol in Harlem” is available to stream for free through The Classical Theatre of Harlem.

Tuesday (12/22) at 11 am, the Center for Civic Design presents its findings from a ranked choice voting education campaign among communities of color and non-native English speakers. Register for the Zoom here.

Wednesday (12/23) at 7:30 pm, Ballet Hispánico hosts a virtual watch party of signature performance “Club Havana.” Watch on YouTube or Facebook.

The Art Institute of Chicago is sharing stories that it hopes will bring moments of peace and creativity.

Apply now to join your Community Board, 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.


You could work as a snow laborer removing snow and ice for the city Dept. of Sanitation. If you apply now, you’ll be ready to work after the next storm. Pay is up to $22.50 an hour; you must be over age 18 and eligible to work in the U.S. (The Census Bureau is also hiring-- looking for employees to take additional surveys. View a field representative job description and application link here.)

Gov. Cuomo has reopened COVID Rent Relief applications through Monday, 2/1/2021 to provide a one-time subsidy paid directly to landlords. Because most of the program’s $100 million in funding wasn’t disbursed in the fall, eligibility has been broadened to help more New Yorkers. Those who previously applied and were denied will be automatically reconsidered for this next round-- they won’t have to reapply. Newly eligible renters or those who never applied can apply here. To qualify, tenants must have:

  • Had reduced income in the four months of April, May, June, or July 2020 (compared to March);

  • Had a household income at or below 80% of the Area Median Income before 3/7/2020; and

  • Paid more than 30% of their gross income in rent from April through July.

Those criteria applied to New York County (i.e. Manhattan) translates to a maximum income of $63,700 for a single-person’s household paying over $1,592 in monthly rent; or $90,950 max for a four-person household paying $2,273 a month; view other household sizes’ income caps here.

Learn about the Paycheck Protection Program application process at a webinar hosted by Congressmember Adriano Espaillat. Watch on FacebookYouTube.

TechCongress, a technology policy fellowship, is recruiting for its 2021 Congressional Innovation Scholars program, which places technologists to serve as tech policy advisors to Members of Congress. The program pays a stipend equivalent to an annual salary of $60,000 and other benefits. Scholars have been working on the House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee report on Big Tech, helped pass the OPEN Government Data Act into law, and worked to change defense procurement policy to allow start-ups to better compete with larger contractors. TechCongress will host an information session Wednesday, 1/27 at 2 pm. Applications close Friday, 2/5.

Asian-American and Pacific Islander college students can apply to the AAPI Community Fellowship about mental health, sponsored by local wellness nonprofit CollectedApplications close Friday, 1/8.

Arts organizations can now apply for an ArtTable fellow for summer 2021. ArtTable provides $4,000 stipends for women arts students or emerging professionals to spend up to eight weeks with an arts organization. Host organizations can apply here by Sunday, 1/31.

Applications are now open for the Cultural Arts Capital Loan Fund from the Fund for the City of New York. This loan initiative provides bridge financing to assist small and mid-sized nonprofit cultural arts organizations with their capital project expenses, with a priority to groups that have capital grants from the Borough President, City of New York and the Department of Cultural Affairs. BIPOC-led organizations are strongly encouraged to apply. Fill out this inquiry form to start an application.

All in NYC: Bookstores promotes shopping at independent booksellers. Rediscover your favorite bookstore and find special offers through the All in NYC: Neighborhood Getaways program at website is a good source of information and offers.

Eligible storefront businesses can apply for an interest-free NYC LMI Storefront Loan of up to $100,000, from the NYC Dept. of Small Business Services and Pursuit.

The Interest Rate Reduction Grant reduces the interest expense owed on an existing business loan with select Community Development Financial Institutions. Click here to find participating CDFIs and more information.

Artists are invited to apply for the Experimental Projects Residency Program from Alfred University’s Institute for Electronic Arts. Apply here.

Applications for HEAP can be accessed by calling 212-331-3126 or visiting the ACCESS HRA website for instructions here. HEAP applications are available for download here.

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.

The DSNY has issued the below information about restaurant outdoor dining and snow. For more information, 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.

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.

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.


Friday (12/25), Goddard Riverside needs volunteers to deliver Christmas meals. Sign up to volunteer here.

The fire that devastated the Lower East Side’s Middle Collegiate Church last week also displaced the women living next door in a Women’s Prison Association shelter. Everyone is safe, but the women lost most of their possessions, and WPA is asking for donations to help replace what was lost (I’ve already donated).  (In full disclosure, the Borough President’s office posted this, not the CB8 member who is on the Board of the Women’s Prison Association).

Order directly from restaurants, not from delivery apps. See why the New York Times.

Businesses and organizations can donate extra food and supplies to local organizations that can then redistribute them. Details about eligible donors and recipients can be found online: For food donations visit; for non-food donations, visit

Community and advocacy group Open Doors’ campaign to protect nursing home residents and workers from COVID is holding a holiday mask drive for Roosevelt Island’s chronic care facility, Coler Specialty Hospital.

Find a coat drive drop-off location through this New York Cares map.

Borrow free equipment for community clean-ups from the Dept. of Sanitation by calling 311, emailing [email protected] or submitting this form.

If you are experiencing COVID symptoms or believe you may have been exposed to someone who is positive, get tested. Find a testing site near you. You can also call 1-888-364-3065 to schedule a free appointment at a New York State-run testing location.

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.)

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.

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.

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? Shifts: Meal Plating from 7:00am-9:00am; Meal Delivery from 9:45am-1:00pm; Cold Packing from 10:00am-1:00pm. 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:

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

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Past Updates from CB8