So much has happened this week.
P.A.U.S.E. (shelter in place) is now extended until May 15th, and as of 8pm tonight, New Yorkers will now be required to wear a mask covering their nose and mouth when they can’t socially distance. As of now, there won’t be any civil penalties, but law enforcement will be out to remind us if they see a disregard for the executive order.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has also asked that if YOU witness a disregard for social distancing to text a picture and a location to 311-692. Oh, to be a fly on the receiving end of those text messages…
This week we saw our hitherto rising numbers plateau… a bit, but we added those that died outside of a hospital to a new category called “probable covid deaths,” that painted a much darker reality of our numbers.
[Keep scrolling if you don’t care about political back-and-forth right now.]
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that pools and beaches would be closed for the summer, to the chagrin of Governor Cuomo, who can’t seem to stress enough that he would like to plan all recreational closures with counties and between the states in the regional pact. There are fears that closing these areas downstate would drive folks north and west, to communities who want nothing to do with fleeing urbanites clogging up their parks and beaches.
Governor Cuomo ended the week with a scathing condemnation of the President. During his daily presser, the President tweeted some dismissive remarks about the Governor. Reporter Bernadette Hogan of the New York Post read aloud a tweet from said President during Q & A, and asked if Cuomo had a comment: and boy, did he ever.
Here are a few quotes from the 9 minute screed, which sounded like a monologue from a Spike Lee joint.
“You want me to say thank you? Thank you for doing your job,”
“Thank you for participating in a modicum of federal responsibility in a national crisis.”
“I don’t need the president of the United States to read the Constitution for me.”
“The only thing he’s doing — let’s be honest — ‘well, it’s up to the states’ … it was always up to the states. What, are you going to grant me what the Constitution gave me before you were born?”
This week, released numbers got really wonky. At some point, the City and the State were releasing different numbers for COVID deaths, and it was a mess. Then, reporting showed a dramatic rise in deaths at home, which prompted officials to consider which of those deaths were COVID-related as well.
The city is now releasing more reliable numbers, but they aren’t releasing them until a day later, so that the accuracy of said numbers can be confirmed. They are also including a new category of “probable,” COVID-19 deaths. This category includes persons who are presumed to have died from the effects of COVID-19, but were not officially diagnosed and can’t be confirmed until further examination.
- City and State put together a fantastic review of the numbers up until this point, broadening from a local focus to include national numbers and breakdowns. Read the review here.
- Our hopes seem to rise and fall with the death count in New York. Once a day we hoot and bang pots out of our windows to thank the healthcare workers, to feel less alone. Today we are mourning the 630 New Yorkers who died in the last 24 hours.
- Testing is a big part of the City’s strategy to reopen and resume normal business.
- Both the Governor and the Mayor say they will need help from the Federal Government to implement the kind of testing necessary to safely “reopen,” the economy.
- 10 more testing sites are set to open in NYC, targeting high areas of sickness.
- The sites aren’t for everyone yet: these sites are only for medical workers, essential employees, and “those most vulnerable”: the elderly, and those with underlying medical conditions.
- SILive reports on the two sites on Staten Island, and who qualifies to get tested.
- Tests are going to start to be manufactured in New York City in May, as well as purchased from a company in Carmel, Indiana called Carmel, Aria Diagnostics. In total that should produce 100K tests per week. Read more in Politico HERE.
This is a bad time to be talking about money, but rules are rules, and because of that, the Mayor put forward his budget for 2020 and projections for 2021.
Unlike normal years, where budgets represent dozens of competing priorities and ideas, this year the math is pretty simple: we’re spending on the response to COVID-19, and cutting everything we don’t need or can’t afford.
Some key takeaways from the Budget and the Mayor’s message announcing it:
- Key areas protected: “health, safety, shelter, and access to food.”
- City is projecting to receive $2.2 billion less in taxes this year, and $5.2 billion less in taxes next year. (!!)
- Those PEG programs mentioned two weeks ago were done, and their results are cuts in dozens of programs and departments totaling over $2.7 billion.
- Some savings come as a result of programs impossible under COVID-19 shelter in place (for example, Fair Fares (cheaper metrocards for low-income New Yorkers), saving $65.5 million.)
- Others represent savings from delays, like hiring delays from the NYPD, the April election postponement, reducing Staten Island Ferry service, and delayed implementation of the Green Wave plan, which would have done several things to make the City better for bikes and bikers.
- Other cuts include reducing highway cleaning, eliminating 4th day curbside collection,
- The city notes that the CARES Act stimulus money won’t act as a true stimulus, but will instead act “as a safeguard against further deterioration”. They say there’s going to be a major economic hit starting now and continuing through June, with things getting better by the end of the year as long as nothing gets worse.
- The City has spent over $700 million to fight COVID so far this year, and estimates spending $3.5 billion by the end of 2020.
Read the Budget here (especially the Mayor’s Message, starting on page 11, which is a really good explanation of what’s going on with the economy right now), the mayor’s announcement with a list of cuts here, and the New York Times review of the budget here.
What is happening with rent relief, utility shut offs, eviction, unemployment, and food?
- On April 15, many New Yorkers received their federal stimulus checks.
- If you have questions about your check (or lack of one), here’s the IRS website with some frequently asked questions, as well as how to enter your direct payment details.
- If you are broke, Vice did a piece just for you. They spoke to several financial experts and got practical advice and answers to financial support questions. Read the full list of questions, and their answers, here.
- The discussion of rent is starting to ramp up again, as May 1st is fast approaching, and many New Yorkers have been out of work for more than a month.
- Patch reports on the increased likelihood of rent strikes here, including a larger effort organized around May 1.
- The State Assembly is reviewing a bill that establishes a rent relief assistance program, with emergency vouchers for eligible individuals or families. (S08140, here.)
- Members of city government and the state assembly have also signed an open letter asking for rent relief efforts from the State’s Congressional delegation.
- Housing Justice for All put out a Rent Strike Tool Kit for those interested in organizing their neighbors, you can find it HERE.
- Mayor de Blasio announced a one time, $20 million dollar fund, paying out money to undocumented New Yorkers.
- The payments would start at $400 for singles, and go up to $1000 for larger families.
“COVID-19 does not discriminate, but for immigrants, often working on the frontline of this crisis, it is a hardship multiplier for them and their families.”First Lady Chirlane McCray
- The money comes from the Open Society Foundation, notable for its founder and chairman, George Soros.
- Need a Job?
- “The city will hire people in clerical, transportation, cleaning and maintenance roles at public hospitals, he said. Wages range from $15 per hour for drivers to $22.91 per hour for clerical workers,” says the New York Daily News. Read More HERE
- The Department of health and mental hygiene is hiring city mortuary technician and it is indeed as eerie as it sounds. A link to the Job posting is HERE, but first read this account of a “Morgue Truck Worker,” from Gothamist.
- Gothamist reported this week that the MTA would be paying the families of employees killed by COVID-19 $500,000
- This is equal to what they would have received if their death was classified as a ‘line of duty’ death.
- Gotta love streetsblog’s friday morning roundup of bike and car related headlines. Enjoy! Friday’s Headlines: This Is Your City On Cars Edition
Hospitals & Hotels
- Friend of FAQNYC Dave Colon (@DaveColon) highlighted two stories about crowded hospitals.
- The New York State Nurses Association is filing a lawsuit against their hospitals, alleging that they “did not protect their nurses and provide them with adequate protective equipment”.
- They allege that the hospital gave them guidance to reuse PPE and to find their own methods to clean them.
- They also allege that some hospital staff were not given guidance to wear PPE at all.
- Read the full story in Politico.
- The City reported this week that many workers in NYC hospitals are testing positive for COVID-19.
- By Wednesday, over 900 staffers have been officially diagnosed, which does not include anyone symptomatic that self-quarantined without a diagnosis.
- Over 3000 took some form of sick leave or preventative quarantine between Tuesday and Wednesday of this week (that’s 5-7% of all employees).
- Read the full story in The City here.
- The Mayor announced 11,000 additional rooms would be ready for City use starting April 22.
- There are several ways the City is using hotel rooms:
- Host medical volunteers (Read more on the City website here)
- Quarantine homeless patients
- Hospital beds for active treatment
- There are several ways the City is using hotel rooms:
Over the past week it has become impossible to ignore the growing number of deaths in New York nursing homes.
This untenable situation, where adult care facility workers were overwhelmed, under staffed, short on supply, and had no idea how to handle the amount of sick and dying, became undeniable by the end of the week.
- Last Friday on April 10th Gothamist reported on the dire situation in which on nurse told them ““They’re slumped over in bed, just laying there rotting.”
- Today a list was released with the names of nursing homes affected by COVID, this list is only a partial list.
- Every newspaper outlet did a great break down of the situation from every perspective.
- Gothamist “Coronavirus Is Decimating NYC Nursing Home Populations, State Data Shows”
- NY Post “Coronavirus has ravaged NYC nursing homes at a startling rate.”
- SILIVE Reported on the “44 coronavirus deaths at Dongan Hills nursing home,” and how Carmel Richmond, the only facility on the list in Staten Island might be painted unfairly due to their high numbers. However they say it is because they test and report that their numbers are high and infer that in the coming days as other nursing home report accurately New Yorkers will see similar numbers from other facilities relative to their size.
- The City reports that the “true magnitude” of the nursing home situation is still unknown.
- In Brooklyn the highest numbers are from cobble hill where, today ambulances arrive to clear all the bodies. Read More in the Brooklyn Eagle.
- Staten Island Borough President, James Oddo called for a nursing home task force. The letter to Cuomo and de Blasio is signed by 9 congresspeople both republican and democrat.
- On Thursday, April 16th Governor Cuomo issued an executive order saying that nursing homes MUST Inform family members of residents of COVID-19 cases.
- Gothamist released a report today talking to parents and students about the city’s remote learning programs, and follows with answers to some common questions. View the full list here.
- The NY Department of Education released its first accounting of COVID-19’s casualties among its employees.
- If students don’t go to school, how can they take the SAT or ACT? How can they apply to colleges? The New York Times reported on the potential plans for at-home testing, as well as the concerns that this might increase already known inequities in the test. Read the full story here.
Summer in the City
As the year progresses, and the weather gets warmer, the change to city life in New York will only become more apparent.
- Cancellations and closures of public events continue. Mayor de Blasio today confirmed the cancellation of all May permit-holding events (SummerStage, the Brooklyn Half Marathon), and is talking with the organizers of June’s events, but as one reporter pointed out, if the pools are closed, it is probable that Gay Pride will also be nixed for this year too.
- One major update that caused some controversy was the statement from the Mayor that, “we can’t give you a plan to open the beaches”, followed by a line item in the budget that closes NYC public pools for the remainder of the year.
- Here’s City Limits, last October, talking about the potential for warmer and warmer summers, and their potential consequences on life in the city.
- Curbside composting is one of the many city services shutting down this year.
- In response to the Mayor’s refusal to consider closing streets for increased walking and biking space, the City Council put forward a bill that would do just that.
- Speaker Corey Johnson: “New Yorkers don’t have the street space they need to maintain proper social distancing, which we know is essential in this public health crisis.”
- Read more in NYC StreetsBlog.
- We must all wear masks now, but New York has had some really interesting Anti-Mask Laws on the books since 1845. New York also has the distinction for holding the oldest anti-mask law. Read more at QUARTZ.
Now that the region as a whole is pledging to coordinate on reopening their economies and public spaces, plans and details start to take shape.
- McKinsey hired to develop a plan to re-open, presumably for the whole group. Read more in the New York Post.
- The NYPD seized the drone of a photojournalist documenting the mass burials on Hart Island. Read more from Gothamist.
The Multi-Lingual Plan
- Last week, new data released by the state showed major disparities in the effects of COVID-19 along race and class lines. Both city and state governments promised to do what they could to mitigate that disparity.
- This week, here is what they did:
- Announced a $10M ad campaign to bring essential information to the communities it has hit hardest.
- According to the Daily News, “the campaign will include robocalls, live phone calls and texts to residents of the 88 zip codes most impacted by coronavirus, as well as flyers at essential businesses, direct snail mail and TV, radio and digital ads in 15 languages in those areas.”
- Announced a $10M ad campaign to bring essential information to the communities it has hit hardest.
- Congressman Meeks is demanding updates from the warden at NYC’s only private jail, after the infection rate has jumped 1700% in less than two weeks. Read more in the Queens Daily Eagle.
Hey, That Was A Nice Thing You Did
- The Brooklyn Paper is reporting a group of neighbors installed an outdoor refrigerator stocked with free goods for the community, refilling it several times a day. Read the full story here.
Ways to Help
- Spoonbill Books in Williamsburg is raising money in order to stay afloat. You can donate directly to them, or shop on the site and order online. Alex interviewed the author Jonathan Lethem there last October and they were exceptional hosts (watch the interview here).
- The Gothamist Guide to Helping Out
- Leveler.info Support ten freelancers, artists, and gig economy workers directly at this link.
The Largest Apartment Complex in Latin America, under Quarantine
- National Geographic profiled the residents of the Copan, a massive apartment building designed as a social experiment in Brazil in 1966, which is now holding itself together amidst quarantine. Read the full profile here.
WE PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR FUN
- Online Talent Show for NYC on Saturday, April 18
- The Urban Archive is collecting stories to document the lived history of Queens. Add your own and browse their amazing archive.
- Brian Lehrer interviewed the associate director of Reader Services for New York Public Library, and she recommended a list of books appropriate for reading in the current moment.
- The New York Botanical Garden has videos of spring flowers and plants to watch. We actually find them nice to have on in the background on grey days. Saturday looks rainy, so enjoy. https://www.nybg.org/nybg-at-home/
|Friday 4/17, 1pm
|Monday 4/20, 2:30pm
|– The Bronx
|– Staten Island
|7890(NYC) / 8893(NYS)
|9101(NYC) / 10022(NYS)
This weekend: 1200+ deaths
If you like what we’re doing, consider backing us on Patreon.