From Ben Kallos, City Council Member <[email protected]>
Subject COVID-19 Update #7: Vote by Mail, Answers from Health Commissioner, Enrichment Centers Now Open to Children of Service Industry Workers
Date April 15, 2020 12:38 AM
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Dear Neighbor,

As we celebrate Easter and conclude the Passover Holiday, I hope you were able to connect with friends and loved ones by phone, or on video chat for a seder or two. As we enter the season of renewal, seven Governors across the Northeast led by Governor Cuomo are coming together as a regional advisory council to form a plan for how to re-open our economy in the most responsible way that continues to flatten the curve.

As of this afternoon, New York City has seen 110,465 total cases of COVID-19 with 7,905 New York City residents succumbing to the virus to date. 18,697 remain hospitalized throughout the state. A devastating 778 New Yorkers in our state died Tuesday, and the death of every New Yorker is one we should mourn. Our City and State can take comfort in the words of Governor Cuomo who has said he believes that as long as we keep up our social distancing efforts, “the worst” of this pandemic which has scarred our City forever “may be over,” as deaths plateau and new hospitalizations decrease.

You may now vote by mail in the Federal and State Primary on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. Primaries for President, Congress, Senate, and Assembly will be on the ballot. We authored an opinion editorial in Gotham Gazette ([link removed]) with Vote Early NY co-founder Jarret Berg calling for universal vote by mail to make voting easy. You MUST APPLY for an absentee ballot by calling 866-VOTE-NYC for a postage-paid application or downloading the form at When applying, you must check off “temporary illness,” and submit by fax (in New York County to 646-638-2047) or postmark by Tuesday, June 16, 2020. You will receive your absentee ballot up to 32 days before the election and it must be postmarked by Monday, June 22, 2020.

We have key updates on the following issues:
* Elections: (#ELECTIONS) Vote by Mail for June 23rd Federal and State Primaries
* Coronavirus: (#CORONAVIRUS) Answers from Health Commissioner, Expanded Testing, Enforcing Social Distancing, Donate or Sell PPEs and Ventilators, Treating Coronavirus on Roosevelt Island, Job Opportunities and Milestones.
* Youth & Education: (#YOUTHANDEDUCATION) Schools Closed Until June, Enrichment Centers Now Open for Service Industry Workers,
* Housing: (#HOUSING) Protecting the Homeless, NYCHA Rent Hardship Program
* Jobs & Volunteering (#JOBS&VOLUNTEERING) : (#JOBS&VOLUNTEERING) Improvements to Unemployment Process, Jobs with Health+Hospitals
* Food: (#FOOD) Citymeals, Free Beach Cafe Burgers for Healthcare Workers
* Transportation: (#TRANSPORTATION) Alternate Side Parking Suspension Extended
* Entertainment: (#ENTERTAINMENT) CityParks Anywhere, Public Theater Online
* Legal & Business Assistance: (#LEGAL) Paycheck Protection for Small Businesses & Non-Profits and Legal Assistance for Frontline Workers
* Health Resources: (#HEALTHRE-SOURCES) Assistance for Frontline Workers, Pet-Related COVID-19 Questions

If you missed our Town Hall with Health Commission Dr. Oxiris Barbot, you can hear her answers to your neighbors’ questions, including when New York City could be ready to reopen, by watching on ([link removed]) or ([link removed])


Ben Kallos
Council Member

P.S. See previous COVID-19 updates at ([link removed]) and check out our resource list at ([link removed])

Vote by Mail for New York Primary on June 23

You may now vote by mail in the Federal and State Primary on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. Primaries for President, Congress, Senate, and Assembly will be on the ballot. We authored an opinion editorial in Gotham Gazette ([link removed]) with Vote Early NY co-founder Jarret Berg calling for universal vote by mail to make voting easy. You MUST APPLY for an absentee ballot by calling 866-VOTE-NYC for a postage-paid application or downloading the form from When applying, you must check off “temporary illness,” and submit by fax (in New York County to 646-638-2047) or postmark by Tuesday, June 16, 2020. You will receive your absentee ballot up to 32 days before the election and it must be postmarked by Monday, June 22, 2020.

Answers from Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot

[link removed] you missed our Virtual Town Hall with Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, it’s not too late to catch up on what was discussed, including when New York City may reopen. Watch the entire video conference featuring Senator Liz Krueger, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Speaker Corey Johnson and many more elected officials on ([link removed]) or at ([link removed])

New Requirements to Fight COVID-19 Throughout the State

In an Easter press conference, Governor Cuomo announced ([link removed]) two executive orders, one that requires all employers to provide face masks or coverings to their employees who come into contact with other people on the job, and another that will expand who gains access to antibody testing that can detect those who have had the coronavirus, recovered and built an immunity to it.

New COVID-19 Testing Sites Coming This Week

The Mayor announced the expansion of COVID-19 testing ([link removed]) to four new sites that will open this week as part of the effort to mitigate the disproportionate effect the pandemic is having on communities of color. The new locations ([link removed]) are at the South Bronx Health Center, Jamaica Health Center, Brownsville Health Center and a Sears parking lot in Flatbush, Brooklyn, as well as locations in Harlem in Manhattan and Clifton in Staten Island.

Enforcing Social Distancing

In the past 22 days, NYPD officers have visited a total of 303,330 locations as part of the Department’s efforts to help flatten the curve by educating people about social distancing and ensuring adherence to the State PAUSE. On Sunday, officers visited 2,463 supermarkets, 1,346 bars and restaurants (5,585 closed), 1,196 public places, and 3,201 personal care facilities (all closed). Please report any locations that merit a visit or special attention to 311 and email [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) .

Donate or Sell PPEs and Ventilators

New York remains in need of ventilators, hospital bed space, medical PPE and food. To donate or sell these items, use the links below, then email [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) so we can help ensure you get a response.

If you are or know an oral surgeon, plastic surgeon, or veterinarian please consider donating or asking them to donate ventilators by going to

If you wish to donate, manufacture, or sell supplies please visit ([link removed]) or call 1-833-NYC-0040. After you do so, please email [email protected] so we can help ensure you get a response.

Any New York City company that has materials on hand and is willing to DONATE or SELL medical supplies or equipment (e.g. gowns, masks, ventilators, face shields) should visit ([link removed]) . Offers submitted will be vetted and respondents will be contacted if there is a need from the City.

Local manufacturers looking to begin producing the supplies needed to fight the coronavirus should visit ([link removed])

To donate food and other non-medical donations, go to ([link removed])

Reminder: once you have filled out the appropriate form, email our team at [email protected] so we can help.

Treating Coronavirus on Roosevelt Island

When Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the re-opening of an old wing of Coler Hospital on Roosevelt Island, I was proud to welcome the 350 beds. Initially, the plan was to use the beds for patients who did not have coronavirus but still required hospitalization in order to accomodate the volume of intakes throughout the system. At the time, I shared my support for using beds anywhere in my district to help with coronavirus treatment. We were also working with the Hospital for Special Surgery, which was able to make 200 beds available to Cornell/New York-Presbyterian patients to ease the coronavirus surge. Last week, a number of patients that had been transported to Coler with no symptoms developed coronavirus while there. As the surge continues, the City has begun placing patients with coronavirus at Javitz, U.S.N.S. Comfort, and now Coler. The patients who remain at Coler with coronavirus do not need intensive care and are in a wing isolated from other occupants of Coler, with all safety
precautions being taken. I couldn’t be prouder to have provided an additional 550 beds for coronavirus treatment here in my district.

Public Health Milestones

The Department of Health just launched a Public Health Milestones dashboard ([link removed]) to show trends in the spread of COVID-19 related to hospital admissions, critical care capacity, and positive test rates. If an indicator reaches a certain predetermined level, or milestone, it will show that the spread of COVID-19 may be slowing. Once all of these indicators reach their milestones, the City will likely begin to gradually lift restrictions.

The Mayor’s office is paying particular attention to three key indicators, and the good news is that all indicators are currently moving downward together:
○ People admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19
■ 383 new hospital admissions (Day before was 463 as of April 10^th)
○ People currently in Health and Hospitals in ICUs for suspected COVID-19
■ 835 (857 as of April 10^th)
○ Percentage of people tested who are positive for COVID-19
■ Citywide: 58.1% (59.3% as of April 10^th)

More Data - We know you have asked for more data about COVID cases. DOHMH has added different breakdowns of the available data to their website in an effort to be as transparent as possible. Please note, the numbers are constantly changing, and there is sometimes a lag:

○ Data by race ([link removed]) (new)
○ Big City Emergency Managers Data Tracker ([link removed])
○ Case counts (including age, gender and borough breakdown) ([link removed])
○ Deaths (including age, gender and borough breakdown along with pre-existing conditions) ([link removed])
○ Hospitalizations ([link removed]) (including age, gender, and borough breakdown)
○ Emergency Department Surveillance ([link removed]) (date by age group)
○ Percent of patients testing positive ([link removed]) by zip code

City Schools Close for Remainder of the Year, Plan Developed to Help Parents and Educators

On Saturday, April 11, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City Public schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year. The announcement ([link removed]) ensures that teachers and students will finish the school year using remote learning. The City will continue to operate its 400+ Grab-and-Go ([link removed]) school-based Meal Hubs, which serve three free meals a day to any New Yorker who needs them.

The City also revealed a Five-point Plan for Helping Parents and Teachers throughout the crisis.
1. Complete deliveries of internet-enabled digital devices for remote learning to all remaining students by the end of April.
2. Expand parent helpline, tech support hours, and staffing.
3. Creative At-Home Programming involving media companies that create programming for families.
4. Come up with a plan to graduate approximately 75,000 seniors over the next week and coordinate with students who will not graduate and will need remedial schooling over the summer.
5. Create a comprehensive plan to re-open schools in September 2020 while combating learning loss.

For more information on New York Public Schools COVID-19 related updates visit

Enrichment Centers Open for Service Industry Workers

On April 10, the Department of Education announced that 57 Regional Enrichment Centers able to accommodate up to 23,000 kids will be immediately available for children of health care workers, transit workers, emergency responders, some sanitation department staff, residential and commercial building staff, restaurant, food, takeout and delivery workers, and other essential workers. These centers offer three hot meals, activities like art, music, and gym, time for remote learning, and emotional support. Of the 57, ten are in Manhattan.

If your family works in an essential industry, find out if you qualify ([link removed]) for childcare at one of the City’s Regional Enrichment Centers ([link removed]) .

Non-Emergency Childcare Centers Close

Starting April 7th, all child care centers, with the exception of emergency child services operated or authorized by the Department of Education, are closed due to an Executive Order from the Mayor. Programs will likely reopen with New York City public schools, unless otherwise authorized by the Health Commissioner. This decision is intended to protect the health and safety of workers and families. Failure to comply with this Order can result in civil penalties or other enforcement.

City Bans the Use of Zoom for Remote Learning Over Privacy Concerns

The New York City Department of Education has banned the use of video conferencing platform Zoom in city schools due to reports it received about the software’s privacy and security issues, Chalkbeat reports. ([link removed]) The DOE has advised ([link removed]) using safer alternatives like Google Hangouts Meet or Microsoft Teams. Training for teachers and the transition to new software is expected to take several weeks.

City Suspends 2020 Summer Youth Employment Program

According to the Department of Youth and Community Development ([link removed]) , uncertainty over how COVID-19 will continue to affect social distancing guidelines, worksite availability, and provider and site staffing as we head into late spring and summer makes it difficult to ensure that Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) can be operated safely and efficiently. Effective immediately, SYEP has been suspended for Summer 2020. During this difficult time, tough choices will have to be made with regard to the City budget. Summer youth employment is a valuable program that benefits our City’s families and I will continue to advocate for it while the City adjusts its finances.

City Hotels to House COVID-19 Patients in Recovery

New York City announced a $250 million deal to use many of the City hotel ([link removed]) rooms for COVID-19 patients who are sick and need isolation but do not require hospitalization. This plan will also help the City’s effort to relieve hospitals that have been stretched to the brink of their physical capacity.

Protecting Homeless New Yorkers

The Mayor announced that a third of single homeless New Yorkers will be OUT of congregate settings by next Monday, April 20, moving 2,500 more vulnerable people into hotels.

NYCHA Rent Hardship Program

Households within the New York City Housing Authority, may qualify for a rent reduction based on rent hardship ([link removed]) if all the following conditions are met:
* There is at least a 5% reduction to gross income
* Current rent is more than 30% of net household income

Loss of income examples include but are not limited to:
* Cut Hours
* Laid off
* Lowered business profits

Residents can initiate an Interim Recertification via the NYCHA Self-Service Portal or by requesting a paper form to be mailed to their residence by calling respective Management Offices. Contingent on the documents provided, your rent may be adjusted for the month following the submission of your interim. Any rent adjustment that does take place will be retroactive to the first of the month after you submitted your complete interim recertification (including verification documents). If it takes longer than a month for NYCHA staff to process your interim, you may not see a change in your rent immediately.

Job Opportunity with NYC Health and Hospitals

On April 12th, the Mayor announced that NYC Health + Hospitals is looking to fill 500 positions with non-medical staff to help combat coronavirus.

The public hospital system needs clerical and cleaning staff, as well as workers to help transport patients. Those interested in applying should visit, ([link removed])

Donate Plasma to the New York Blood Center

The New York Blood Center (NYBC) continues to collect blood plasma donations from people who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat other patients with advanced illness.

The treatment, known as convalescent plasma, the patient is transfused with the donor’s plasma with the goal of using the donor’s antibodies to help clear the virus more rapidly. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the treatment for use on a case by case basis and NYBC is the first to collect plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients for this purpose. For more information, and to donate plasma, visit ([link removed])

Department of Labor and Tech Companies to Improve Unemployment Application Process

The New York State Department of Labor and the New York State Office of Information Technology Services have put into place a “Tech Surge” thanks to a partnership with Google Cloud, Deloitte, and Verizon. The surge will be focused on improving the reliability of the state’s online and telephone-based unemployment insurance application systems. The Tech Surge will include critical upgrades to the Department of Labor’s technology systems in order to increase its capacity to process applications, making it easier for New Yorkers to apply for benefits.

The Tech Surge will include a new, streamlined, and more reliable online application system – which will be available at New Yorkers are urged to use the new online system, which can handle most applications from start to finish, dramatically reducing the number of New Yorkers who must speak to a claims specialist on the phone.

Specific actions include:
* Google Cloud worked with the State Office of Information Technology Services to create a more user-friendly, streamlined, and reliable unemployment insurance application for the Department of Labor
* Deloitte is opening an additional unemployment insurance call center staffed by hundreds of experienced customer service professionals
* Verizon is expanding the number of phone “ports” for the Department of Labor’s call center from 1,750 to over 10,000 by the end of this week
* The Department of Labor will begin rolling out a “call back” feature which allows state representatives to call New Yorkers with incomplete unemployment insurance applications and finish their applications over the phone.

Update on Citymeals Service

Home-bound seniors can still visit ([link removed]) to receive the number of the local case management agency that can assess the client for home-delivered meals.

If the constituent is temporarily home-bound due to the COVID-19 crisis, the best route is to go through

Free Beach Cafe Burgers for Health Care Workers

Beach Cafe, located one block away from four of the most important and largest public hospitals in NYC (Sloan Kettering, Hospital For Special Surgery, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Cornell Weill), is offering a free Beach Burger and fries for health care workers to enjoy as they head into their very hazardous but vital, lifesaving positions.

In addition to the Grab and Go services, Beach Cafe is also set up to deliver Beach Burgers directly to the receiving gates at the hospitals themselves for a total of 100 Beach Burgers everyday (Monday-Friday) for front line health care professionals. For more information or to donate funds that will be matched by Beach Cafe to provide these services to thousands, visit ([link removed])

City Extends Alternate Side Parking Suspension

The New York City Department of Transportation announced that Alternate Side Parking will be suspended for an additional two weeks through Wednesday, April 28. Parking meters remain in effect.

CityParks Available Anywhere

City Parks Foundation has created recommendations for indoor activities, including everything from staying fit ([link removed]) tostarting an indoor garden ([link removed]) tolistening sessions ([link removed]) featuring both new and beloved SummerStage artists. Check out their website ([link removed]) for new recommendations.

The Public Theater Goes Digital

The Public has converted their website ([link removed] ([link removed]) ) to highlight access to digital content and provide resources to artists and the general public in the wake of COVID-19.
* The Public’s 2019 Shakespeare in the Park production of MUCH ADO ([link removed]) & The Gabriels are both available for streaming for free via WNET.
* Joe’s Pub Live! ([link removed]) Archive streaming (every Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8pm)
* Watch Me Work with Suzan-Lori Parks every day at 5pm ([link removed]) (March 30th - April 17th)
* Resources for artists & freelancers ([link removed]) including links to grant opportunities and webinars
* Health and Safety info ([link removed]) from NYC and other sources including guidance related to COVID-19, mental health resources and work from home resources

Paycheck Protection Program for Small Businesses and Nonprofits

The Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program ([link removed]) (PPP) extends loans to provide an incentive for small businesses and non-profit organizations to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive the loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the loan funds are used for payroll, and other designated operating expenses.

Loan amounts are calculated based on eight weeks of average monthly payroll (using 2019 figures) including benefits, plus an additional 25% of that amount used for rent, mortgage interest, or utility payments made before February 15, 2020, up to a maximum of $10 million. Applications for the loan are processed through SBA 7(a) lenders. Click on the PPP application ([link removed]) and go to the list of participating lenders
([link removed]) to find a lender near you.

Some other key program details include:

* Terms: fixed 1% interest rate and maturity of two years with six-month deferral (interest will accrue)
* Businesses must have been in operation on 2/15/20
* The loan application process is now live for all small businesses except for independent contractors and self-employed individuals, who can apply starting on April 10, 2020. Application deadline for all businesses is June 30, 2020.
* Re-Hiring: You have until June 30, 2020, to restore your full-time employment and salary levels for any changes made between February 15, 2020, and April 26, 2020.
* No collateral or personal guarantee requirement, or borrower or lender fees payable to SBA
* Payroll costs will be capped at $100,000 annualized for each employee

For more information, you can also check out the SBA’s FAQ document ([link removed]) as well as the Treasury Dept program overview. ([link removed])

City Bar Justice Center Providing Legal Assistance to Front-Line Health Care Workers

The City Bar Justice Center’s Planning & Estates Law Project (PELP) will provide free, remote legal assistance to New York City front-line health care workers in preparing simple life-planning documents, including wills, powers of attorney, designations of standby guardians and health care proxies.

PELP consists of a panel of experienced Trust and Estates attorneys who provide advice and assistance to clients on estate matters and document preparation.

New York City front-line Health Care workers can apply for PELP assistance on the Justice Center’s website ([link removed]) or by calling 212-382-6756.

Samaritans COVID Resources and Services

Samaritans’ “NYC Resource Guide ([link removed]) ” provides guidelines on how to respond to a person in distress as well as warning signs and risk factors to be aware of and how to get help. Additionally, you can access their podcast on effective listening here ([link removed]) . Samaritans is also offering to make direct, personal follow-up calls to anyone you think would benefit from having someone to talk to during this time. This includes students, staff, health care workers, and anyone else you feel would benefit from emotional support. Parking meters remain in effect.

Assistance for Those on the Frontlines

The State Department of Health continues to accept donations for The New York State COVID-19 First Responders Fund. Donations will go to support food, transportation and housing assistance for healthcare staff. Donations can be made electronically at

Support and Resources from the Child Mind Institute

The Child Mind Institute is offering all-digital services and resources aimed at helping school communities to navigate this situation and offer extra support in the context of the unique stressors of the coronavirus crisis. Free services and expert resources for school and community partners, children and families everywhere:

* Free access to our educator webinars at on a variety of mental health topics ([link removed])
* Comprehensive resources for parents in both English and Spanish ([link removed])
* Twice daily Facebook Live video chats with our expert clinicians ([link removed])

NYC Animal Care Centers Answers Pet-related COVID-19 Questions

Quarantined with a furry friend? Have questions about COVID-19 and your pets? Visit the NYCACC website ([link removed]) , updated frequently as new info becomes available.

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