Gotham Gazette City Says Medical Supply Stockpile Nearly Complete; Healthcare Workers Wonder If It'll Be Enough by Ethan Geringer-Sameth
City Council Member Ben Kallos, a Manhattan Democrat who chairs the Council’s contracts committee, said he has been seeking information on the peak PPE burn rate and the formula behind the city's stockpile figures without success, most recently at an oversight hearing in October. The mayor's office did not respond to a separate Gotham Gazette inquiry for the same information.
"The administration still hasn't shared how they came to this number and whether or not these numbers are accurate," Kallos said in a phone interview.
"We do know from common sense, common knowledge, anecdotes, and testimony at the hearing, that the numbers of PPE that we need are deflated because of people being instructed or choosing to recycle PPE that they shouldn't," he said, adding, "I am incredibly fearful that this 90-day stockpile is not the right number."
The City De Blasio Administration Millions Behind on COVID Mask and Glove Stockpile Goals by Greg B Smith
On Wednesday, de Blasio’s press release provided the specifics, touting 150 million PPE items on hand and a $900 million stockpile budget. “A second wave is at our doorstep, and we’re taking zero chances on preparedness,” the mayor said in a statement.
But the release did not measure the stockpile against the 90-day standard the administration had set for itself.
“The public needs to know that we are dangerously far from having enough N95 masks that are a key tool in fighting this disease,” Kallos said.
And despite the volume of PPE presented, the city's reserve remains insufficient, according to Manhattan City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who chairs the council's contracts committee.
"Mayor de Blasio needs to be honest with New Yorkers about the status of our stockpile," Kallos told Gothamist/WNYC. "I'm just upset that they put this out without putting it in the context of what their goal is."
Kallos said that an administrator with the city Health Department testified at a City Council hearing last month that 13.5 million N95 masks are needed to keep the supply from running out.
"They're claiming victory with 9.3 million masks, which is only enough for 60 days when we know we faced shortages last time," Kallos said.
NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- A councilman gave an update Thursday on how much personal protective equipment the city has in its 90-day COVID stockpile.
Councilman Ben Kallos tweeted a list of the protective gear announced at a joint hearing, along with the question: “Is this enough for NYC?”
Here’s what the city has in its stockpile, according to Kallos:
• 185 million nitrile gloves
• 54 million 3-ply surgical masks
• 37 million Level 3 isolation gowns
• 13.5 million N95 masks
• 6 million face shields
• 900,000 goggles
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 90-day #COVID19 stockpiles announced at our @NYCCouncil joint hearing:— Ben Kallos, NYC Council Member (@BenKallos) October 22, 2020
13.5M N95 masks,
37M Lvl 3 isolation gowns,
54M 3-ply surgical masks,
185M nitrile gloves,
900,000 goggles, &
6M face shields.
Open Question: Is this enough for #NYC?
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced back in May that the city would create and maintain a 90-day stockpile of PPE “to ensure hospitals citywide are equipped to handle a potential resurgence of COVID-19.”
The mayor made the announcement when the city was struggling to acquire enough PPE to get through a single week. He said the city would gradually add materials to its stockpile once it had a 14-day supply on hand.
“We’ve been to hell and back, beating this virus back inch-by-inch every day,” de Blasio said at the time. “But now is not the time to let our guard down. We are planning for every possible scenario with COVID-19, ensuring our hospitals and frontline heroes will have the reinforcements they need to save lives.”
StreetsBlog Hundreds of Activists Rally for More Space on the Queensboro Bridge — And DOT Agrees! by Gersh Kuntzman
undreds of protesters took over the south outer roadway of the Queensboro Bridge to demand a dedicated lane for pedestrians so that walkers in both directions don’t have to share a single path with two-way cyclists — and the Department of Transportation said it agrees with the demand.
But … it still can’t happen until 2022.
At the rally, politicians including Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Ben Kallos — whose districts are connected by the fabled span — and State Senators Jessica Ramos and Mike Gianaris made the same demands that activists and pols have been making for years: That booming bike and pedestrian use of the bridge — coupled with declining driving — made it essential to convert the southernmost car lane (which is conveniently already separated from other car lanes on the bridge) into a pedestrian-only lane. Cyclists would then split the north outer roadway.
“We don’t need the money to do this,” said Van Bramer, who, with Kallos, has promised to fund the security fencing that the DOT says it must construct. “We need the political will.”
In a statement, the DOT agreed with Van Bramer.
“We couldn’t agree more: adding bike and pedestrian capacity to our bridges is a great idea,” said agency spokesman Brian Zumhagen. “We’re completing urgent safety upgrades to the Queensboro Bridge, a 100-plus-year-old structure, and we need extra lane capacity to get it done. We also have to evaluate every project in the context of our historic budget crisis. But conversations are ongoing on moving this project forward, and we’re grateful for the community’s enthusiasm for it.”
That full-throated endorsement is more of a sore-throated kind: the repair work on the Queensboro Bridge won’t be finished until 2022, as DOT has said. But the agency has also been caught making other excuses that have contradicted previous explanations for why the additional space could not be made, as Streetsblog has reported.
As a result, the bridge configuration will remain nine lanes for automobile traffic, one-half lane for pedestrians and one-half lane for cyclists. That formula was mocked in one protester’s sign (right).
After the speeches, scores of pedestrians walked over the bridge, enjoying, for the first time since the roadway was seized from pedestrians for cars in the 1990s, spectacular views of Manhattan and booming Long Island City.
Meanwhile, on the north outer roadway, conditions continued to be dangerous and unnerving for all users. The roadway — a single car lane — has since 2000 been serving as the lone route for cyclists and pedestrians. But the narrow pathway has become a victim of the city’s own Vision Zero strategy of encouraging cycling and walking, former city transportation official Jon Orcutt ruefully pointed out.
“The bike boom is a fulfillment of years of city policy, but when it happened during the coronavirus, the city wasn’t ready” with more safety infrastructure, said Orcutt, who was one of two members of the so-called QB6 — six protesters who got arrested in 1990 at a similar rally to create more space on the bridge — on hand on Sunday. Charles Komanoff also attended and spoke about how basic transport is an essential equity issue.
At the time Komanoff and Orcutt were arrested, the rallying cry was “Just One Lane,” Orcutt reminded. “Now, it’s ‘One More Lane!'”
Here’s a mega slideshow of the best images from the day:
Wall Street Journal New York City Council Introduces Bills to Aid Restaurants in Coronavirus Recovery by Emma Tucker
Councilman Ben Kallos on Wednesday is expected to introduce two additional bills intended to support small businesses during the pandemic. The first one would streamline the process for restaurants to obtain a sidewalk-cafe license or renew one if it was previously approved. It would also allow for licenses to be transferred if the establishment undergoes a change of ownership.
Mr. Kallos, a Democrat who represents parts of Manhattan, also plans to introduce a bill that would establish a low-interest small grants and loans program that would provide restaurants with up to $250,000 in funds to bring their restaurants into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. Mr. Kallos said the funds could be used for infrastructure changes, as well as ventilation improvements and other public health measures to assist those who are at greater risk for developing serious complications of the coronavirus.
“Accessibility can be a challenge because there are so many old buildings that were built prior to the ADA,” said Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the city’s hospitality alliance, a nonprofit association representing restaurants and nightlife establishments. “This bill could provide the much needed support to assist them in becoming more accessible.”
“These are human beings and they should not be getting tossed around from community to community,” said City Councilmember Ben Kallos.
Mayor de Blasio’s office and the Department of Homeless Services did not return a request for comment, however, the Legal Aid Society says it will not rest until the city builds a culture of transparency with its shelter residents.
The Legal Aid Society has also threatened to sue the city unless mayor de Blasio meets their demands, including meeting with every family individually to determine their needs, help them relocate, and give them enough notice to leave.
Dear Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Carranza, and President Grillo,
As you prepare to open New York City public schools in September offering parents the option of staggered schedules or remote learning, I urge you to explore bolstering this blended learning model with remote learning centers for children who cannot stay at home.
Remote learning centers could be temporarily established by utilizing closed private and parochial schools or finding a new use for existing public spaces such as libraries or youth, senior and community centers. In neighborhoods where these existing schools or public spaces are already in use or provide insufficient space, we can look to the countless empty storefronts, houses of worship, or other temporarily closed or partially closed businesses. Remote learning centers established in these spaces would be supervised, required to follow social distancing measures, and would provide a safe space with a computer and an internet connection. Most importantly, they would provide a space for students whose parents cannot watch them at home to do remote learning, on days when they are not scheduled for in-person instruction at their school, or even full time if attending school requires a dangerous commute.
New York Times Public Spaces Weren’t Designed for Pandemics. N.Y.C. Is Trying to Adapt. by Matthew Haag
Some Upper East Side residents have called for one-way sidewalks. “The stressful part of going anywhere is getting there, because the sidewalks are so narrow,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents parts of the neighborhood and Roosevelt Island. “There’s no room for distancing, especially when people are walking toward you.”
Covid-19 Update #13: Phase 2 Reopening Begins Monday, Police Reform, and Reminder to Vote by Mail ? or Vote Early ✅
This coming week New York City is entering Phase 2 of the reopening thanks to our essential workers, staying home, social distancing and wearing masks. Please be sure to mail your ballot and if you haven't received it yet, then it's not too late to vote early today or tomorrow by 4pm. On Thursday, the City Council took its first steps towards police reform by passing legislation to ban the chokehold and kneeling on a person's neck.
New York City Council Member
Letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio proposing $15.24 billion in potential savings and revenue in order to invest $827 million in spending on programs that support children, families, seniors, and our planet
As we face unprecedented times and a budget that must-see painful cuts, we should look for possible waste and opportunities for revenues and savings. I have proposed $15.24 billion in potential savings and revenue for our city’s budget in order to invest $827 million in spending on programs that support children, families, seniors, and our planet that will reduce costs and generate revenues.
After numerous people on the Upper East Side disobeyed social distancing last weekend and converged in front of bars, elected officials are trying to come up with a solution.
On May 18, Council Members Ben Kallos and Keith Powers and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio asking to grant temporary permission before Memorial Day weekend for bars and restaurants to use sidewalks and streets to serve patrons safely for everyone’s benefit.
The elected officials were quite angry with the recent behavior on the UES and hope that if the city approves these plans, it will prevent those actions.
“Rather than rely on enforcement or fine individuals and small businesses that may already be hurting financially from the pandemic, we should adapt our city’s streets to allow for and encourage safe practices,” the letter states. “Without granting businesses a better option, we are afraid restaurants and bars may just take the risk and pay whatever violations may be issued as a cost of doing business rather than shutter their doors permanently.”
6sqft NYC politicians call for outdoor restaurant seating on sidewalks, streets, and parking spots by DANA SCHULZ
Today, NYC Council Members Ben Kallos and Keith Powers joined Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in addressing a letter to Mayor de Blasio requesting that “the city immediately grant temporary permission before Memorial Day Weekend for bars and restaurants to use sidewalks and streets to serve patrons safely for everyone’s benefit.” Despite warnings from the NYPD, the letter says that residents on the Upper East Side were “congregating outside the establishments without face coverings or respecting social distancing, putting essential workers, themselves, and those passing by at risk.”
Therefore, the letter asks the mayor to open certain stretches of parking spaces and streets for outdoor service and seating. Due to the scene in the neighborhood this past weekend, the officials are asking that the following Upper East Side locations be rolled out prior to this weekend:
- Second Avenue from 49th to 53rd Street, 55th to 58th Street, 66th to 70th Street, 73rd to 79th Street, and 81st to 92nd Street.
- First Avenue from 49th to East 64th Street, 68th Street to 69th Street, 73rd to 78th Street, 81st to 84th Street, and 87th to 89th Street.
- York Avenue from 75th to 79th Street and 84th to 86th Street.
Courthouse News Service Warren Joins NYC Workers on Virus Front Lines to Strengthen Protections by Amanda Ottaway
Councilman Ben Kallos co-sponsored a bill in the package with Lander and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson that calls for just-cause firing protection for workers. He referenced the city’s tradition of applauding essential workers at 7 p.m. every evening.
“The reality is, we need to do more than clap,” he said.
Gotham Gazette City Council Questions De Blasio's Priorities at First Executive Budget Hearing by Samar Khurshid
With the city facing a severe budget crunch because of the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive budget proposal released last month cut $6 billion in planned spending, tapped $4 billion from reserves and delayed major capital investments to future years when another mayor will be in office. On Wednesday, about eight weeks before a deal must be reached between the two sides, the City Council held a virtual hearing on the mayor’s spending plan. Council members questioned de Blasio administration budget officials on the mayor’s decisions, why he chose to prioritize certain city agencies and programs over others, and whether they have any contingencies now that the city’s reserves have been all but depleted and tax revenue projections continue to slide.
The mayor’s $89.3 billion executive budget proposal was crafted with much uncertainty. The city has received far less than it has asked for in federal stimulus funds. The state shifted as much as $800 million in costs onto the city. Cash flows have been interrupted as the annual tax deadline was postponed. It could be months before the economy can be rebooted, with no certainty around what that reboot will look like given the contraction taking place. And the city continues its daily struggle against the coronavirus, with the administration spending $950 million by April 21 on its pandemic response, according to the mayor's office, with those costs only increasing by the day.
New York Post NYC leaders slam de Blasio plan to cut frontline workers, suggest slashing ThriveNYC instead by Julia Marsh
“We’re very concerned even more so now about mental health especially regarding our students who have been through a sort of traumatic once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Deputy Budget Director Kenneth Godiner replied.
“Can we cut our bloated contracts?” Manhattan Democrat Ben Kallos asked Godiner.
Godiner promised to look at the issue.
De Blasio defended ThriveNYC during his press briefing, saying he disagreed with Stringer’s assessment that it wasn’t making an impact.
“Anything that’s about health and safety is a priority whether it’s about physical health or mental health,” he said.
A mayoral spokeswoman defended ThriveNYC’s annual budget of about $250 million a year for four years, and instead detailed planned cuts to mental health consultants in schools as well as delays to mobile treatment teams and crisis response teams.
Lander alongside Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo and Councilman Ben Kallos co-sponsored a four-bill package which aims to provide protections for essential workers. This so-called "Essential Workers' Bill of Rights" will be the subject of Council hearings starting Wednesday.
The bills call for premiums of up to $75 a shift for essential workers for large employers, prohibiting firing without just cause, paid sick leave for gig workers and to reclassify certain types of independent contractors as employees.
AM New York Tuesday hearing eyes combat pay for New York’s essential workers during pandemic by BEN VERDE
“If I had to go out to work, I would have to pay for childcare that I normally would not have to pay for because my child would be at school,” she said. “That is an essential cost.”
Also included in the package is a bill sponsored by Lander, with Councilman Ben Kallos and Council Speaker Corey Johnson, that would require businesses to provide just cause when firing essential workers, in the hopes that workers do not feel intimidated to speak up against workplace conditions or organize with other employees.
The trio’s legislation comes after Staten Island Amazon warehouse worker Chris Smalls was fired by the e-commerce giant after organizing a protest of conditions at his facility.
Upper East Side Patch Volunteers Deliver Meals To UES Public Housing Senior Center by Brenden Krisel
Volunteers Deliver Meals To UES Public Housing Senior Center
Local City Councilman Ben Kallos and workers with Wildcat helped deliver food to seniors at the Stanley Isaacs Center.
May 1, 2020 2:56 pm ET
Volunteers led by City Councilmember Ben Kallos handed out 200 meals to seniors at the Upper East Side's Isaacs Center. (Google Maps)
UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — A team of volunteers led by Upper East Side City Councilmember Ben Kallos handed out meals to neighborhood seniors on Thursday.
Kallos and workers with Wildcat Services — which partnered with the councilmember for 2018 on a street cleaning pilot program — distributed 200 meals at the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center. The center, located on the campus of the New York City Housing Authority's Stanley Isaacs Houses on First Avenue and East 93rd Street, had previously expressed a need for healthy volunteers to deliver meals to its seniors forced to stay inside during the coronavirus pandemic.
"In this moment of extraordinary crisis, and in alignment with all appropriate health and safety guidelines, we are proud to maintain critical operations to provide meals to isolated, homebound, and medically fragile older adults," Isaacs Center President and Executive Director Gregory J. Morris said in a statement.
Wildcat Services agreed to divert some of its workers from street cleaning to meal deliver after being approached by Kallos, who noted that a reduction in foot traffic due to social distancing measures reduced the need for street cleaning. Wildcat workers went door-to-door at the Stanley Isaacs Houses to drop meals at seniors' homes. Seniors, who are especially vulnerable to severe cases of the coronavirus, are being urged to avoid meal pickup locations due to the risk of infection.
In March, the Isaacs Center suspended all of its services except for meal delivery and case management to reduce the potential for exposure for the seniors who rely on the center. Before the coronavirus outbreak, the center served as a place for neighborhood seniors and children to socialize.
Wildcat Services employs New Yorkers experiencing homeless, chronically underemployment and other hardships in an effort to provide people with the means to economic well being, according to the organization.
"Our neighborhood facilities that feed our seniors and house NYCHA residents needed help with getting meals to the community," Kallos said in a statement. "I knew I could not do it all myself so I called in reinforcements. My friends over at Wildcat pounced at the chance to help, today is a win for everybody involved."
NYC.gov Office of the Mayor Open Streets: Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Johnson Name First Streets to be Used for Social Distancing Among Pedestrians and Cyclists by The Press Office of the Mayor
NEW YORK—In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson today announced the first group of streets that would be opened to pedestrians and cyclists every day starting next week, when spring temperatures are forecasted to arrive. The streets, spanning over seven miles and reaching all five boroughs, are part of the Open Streets initiative designed to provide greater social distancing among New Yorkers.
"As the weather gets warmer, we need to make sure New Yorkers can go outside safely. East End Avenue is a perfect street to open exclusively to pedestrians. Making East End from 83rd to 89th Street one continuous pedestrian plaza will expand our open space to make it much easier for New Yorkers to get fresh air without risking infection. Once the street is open to pedestrians, this will relieve the pressure off our local parks and give everyone the space they need to the practice social distancing outdoors correctly," said Council Member Ben Kallos.
Connecting to Health Care Providers
In making that possible, Mason has been working with Council Member Ben Kallos to identify ways to distribute the test throughout the city. Kallos said he’s been connecting Mason to health care service providers throughout the New York, including City Med.
“They have something like 200 locations all over the city of New York as well as the metropolitan area,” said Kallos. “So we were working with them on having a situation where City Med could be a place to go and get rapid testing while [patients] waited, and that we could take one of the exam rooms and turn it into a lab processing room where we could be testing several hundred people an hour.”
Kallos said he’s been disappointed by how much time the United States lost by not having testing ready by the time the outbreak was declared a pandemic.
“I think the key thing here is when the President was saying we don't need testing, when my colleagues in this government were saying we don't need testing, I knew that the only way we were gonna get out of this crisis is with access to testing to everyone,” said Kallos, who is running to replace the term-limited Gale Brewer as Manhattan Borough President in 2021. Notably, Kallos’ opponent in the race, fellow Council Member Mark Levine, who chairs the health committee, had been calling on New Yorkers who were not extremely ill to stay home and not get tested for the virus to avoid overwhelming the city’s health care resources. “But that being said, we have the brightest minds on the planet here in my district, and in the city, and I'm certain that between Dr. Mason and others in our city and in our country that will be able to shore up the kind of testing that you need to get back to work and back to normal as soon as possible.”
New York Post DOE’s $269M iPad deal for remote learning is a ‘waste of money,’ says lawmaker by Susan Edelman
The total cost: $269,187,271, the DOE said. The department will seek federal reimbursement, it added.
At least one lawmaker, City Councilman Ben Kallos, said the DOE “got a bad deal,” because laptops are not only much cheaper than iPads but better for schoolwork.
Enlarge Image“This is such a waste of money,” he told the Post.
DOE spokeswoman Miranda Barbot called it a “cost effective long-term investment in our kids that will be used as an educational tool long after the COVID crisis passes.”
The iPads are being “loaned” to kids, not given for free. A tracking device is installed in case kids do not return them.
Barbot said the DOE chose iPads because Apple could commit to producing devices on a large scale in a short time frame and give students connectivity without WiFi.
New York County Politics City Council Introduces New Relief Package at First Ever Virtual Hearing by William Engel
On Apr. 22, the City Council conducted the first virtual hearing in its 52-year history. The meeting saw the introduction of several new COVID-19 relief bills, courtesy of Laurie Cumbo, Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen), and Council Members Carlina Rivera (D-East Village, Gramercy Park), Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn), Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), Adrienne Adams (D-Queens), Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) and Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill), among others.
The four bills in this category were as follows:
- Int. 1918, sponsored by Speaker Johnson and Majority Leader Cumbo, would require large employers to pay premiums to non-salaried essential workers, until New York lifts its state of emergency.
- Int. 1923, sponsored by Councilmembers Kallos, Johnson and Lander, would ban all employers from firing essential workers without just cause.
- Int. 1926, sponsored by Councilmember Lander, would expand the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act to include freelancers and gig economy workers.
- Res. 1285, sponsored by Councilmembers Lander and Kallos, would prevent businesses from misclassifying their employees as independent contractors to avoid paying benefits.
“As we continue to thank and praise all these workers, including cheering for them nightly, we must protect them from facing retaliation for speaking out against unsafe conditions and demanding protective equipment,” said Kallos, explaining the rationale behind Int. 1923.
MANHATTAN — After responding to the city’s COVID-19 crisis for weeks, members of the City Council are back together thanks to technology.
On Wednesday, the council held its first virtual stated meeting.
“It was a little unreal. I never thought we'd actually be doing it,” Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos told PIX11 News.
“We have an essential workers’ bill of rights that I'm hoping we can get passed in the next two weeks in time to have a real impact during this pandemic,” Kallos said.
The bill of rights proposes paid sick leave for independent contractors and businesses with more than 100 essential employees would have to provide hazard pay ranging from $30 to $75 per shift.
“We have legislation that would put protections in place for those essential workers, so that they speak out and say, 'I need protective equipment,' they can't get fired for that,” Kallos explained.
Job Protections for Essential Workers Including Whistleblowers Proposed by Council Members Ben Kallos, Brad Lander and Speaker Johnson
“Just Cause” Legislation Would Provide Protections for Essential Workers During the Pandemic
New York, NY—Today, New York City Council Members Ben Kallos, Brad Lander, and Speaker Corey Johnson introduced legislation to protect essential workers from termination without “Just Cause.” Essential workers include healthcare workers, first responders, utility workers, and those on the frontline including those at supermarkets, making deliveries, and anyone working at an essential business as defined by Executive Order. Heroic health care and warehouse workers have faced retaliation for speaking out against unsafe conditions where they work. Essential businesses would be required to provide progressive discipline and a “just cause” within a week of termination subject to arbitration, a private right of action, with essential employees able to recover back pay and employers subject to fines of up to $2,500 per violation.
“No one should lose their job simply for asking for protective equipment during a pandemic. Our city’s essential workers are heroes and deserve to be treated that way complete with job protections for putting their lives on the line,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Member Brad Lander, and our brothers and sisters in labor for joining us in our fight to protect essential workers.”
“At a time when the very lives of our hospital and health care workers are on the line, it is unconscionable that they would be fired for ringing the alarm bell about health and safety issues,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “It is imperative that we stand up for these doctors, nurses, and health care workers, listen to and lift up their concerns, and ensure that they cannot be unjustly fired for telling the truth about the conditions they face.”
Over the last month, private hospitals have issued guidance to their workers about what public communications is deemed acceptable. Some of the guidance threatened workers with termination if the communication is not first approved by executive-level staff. New York City’s 11 public hospitals have not issued such warnings and the Council Members urge the private hospital network and all healthcare institutions to follow the lead of New York City’s Health + Hospitals and allow their frontline workers to speak out without fear of an unfair firing.
New York Daily News Protect health-care whistleblowers: Shield doctors and nurses who report problems from retaliation by Brad Lander
At Mount Sinai, nurses blew the whistle on PPE shortages by posting pictures of themselves in garbage bags. Afterwards, along with protective gowns, they received warning notices about their jobs as well.
Health-care workers are already risking their health to save lives. They should not also have to risk their jobs when they tell the truth.
Together with my colleagues Mark Levine, Carlina Rivera, Ben Kallos and Adrienne Adams in the City Council, and a wide coalition of health-care unions and worker advocates, we are proposing legislation to protect health-care workers from being fired for speaking out.
At a time when the very lives of our hospital and health-care workers are on the line, it is unconscionable that they would be fired for ringing the alarm bell about health and safety issues. Our bill would prevent doctors and nurses from losing their jobs if they speak publicly about conditions in their hospitals.
April News + COVID-19 Update #5: $2 Trillion Relief Package, 550 New Beds, PPEs, SHSAT, New H.S. Library, and First Friday Online
The beginning of March feels like a lifetime ago, before the “new normal” we are all now living. Thank you to every New Yorker who is staying home, to those working in essential roles, and to everyone making huge sacrifices as we work together to flatten the curve to save those most at risk from COVID-19. Although we won’t be returning to our regular routines in time for the upcoming holidays, I want to wish everyone a Happy Passover, Easter, and Ramadan.
As of today, we have 113,000 cases and 1,895 deaths nationwide, 52,318 cases and 728 deaths in New York State, 29,777 cases and 517 deaths in New York City.
Senator Chuck Schumer led the Senate in passing a $2 trillion relief package that was signed into law yesterday that includes direct $1,200 payments, improved unemployment benefits, funding for the MTA, medical supplies for New York, and loans for small businesses. Learn how it applies to you.
To combat the pandemic, we've supported efforts to open 550 beds in the district for the surge, and we have connected with countless people near and far offering to donate, manufacture, or source personal protective equipment to the city and state's healthcare systems. We've provided laptops to students to learn from home and worked with internet service providers to provide free broadband to students who don't already have it. New York state remains under the Governor’s “PAUSE” directive.
I wrote an op-ed in Crain's with economist Teresa Ghilarducci outlining the 5 things we can do to save small businesses. I also wrote an open thank you letter in LaborPress to the teachers, healthcare workers, cleaners, MTA workers, police officers, EMTs, utility workers, restaurant workers and delivery workers who have been keeping this City running during this time.
This month I proposed new legislation aimed at increasing access to NYC’s specialized high schools and we announced the opening of two French dual language pre-kingedergarten classes following our collective advocacy.
One tradition I would still like to honor is my office’s monthly First Friday meetings. I am inviting residents to join me for a First Friday on video or tele-conference on April 3rd at 8:00am using Zoom.
How have you been holding up? Is there anything I can do to help? Let me know.
Council Member, District 5
- $2 Trillion Relief Package: How It Applies to You
- 550 New Beds for Treating Coronavirus
- Arrival of Navy Medical Ship to Ease NYC Hospital Surge
- Securing Personal Protective Equipment for Healthcare Workers
- New York State on PAUSE
- Senior Centers Closed with Volunteer Opportunities
- Keeping Nonprofits Open During Pandemic
YOUTH & EDUCATION
- Laptops Purchased With My Funding Used for Remote Learning
- Free Broadband for All Public Students (Who Don’t Have It)
- Free Zoom Video/Tele-Conference for Public Schools
- Remote Learning for K-12 Students
- Food Pickups for NYC Students
- Legislation to Increase Diversity and Access to Specialized High Schools
- Cutting the Ribbon on $212,000 Library Upgrade for Eleanor Roosevelt High School
- Won French Dual Language Pre-Kindergarten for Upper East Side
- Healthy Happy Meals Taking Effect
- “A Taste of Wagner” Silent Auction and Dinner
- Sign the Petition for Universal 3K
- Citi Bikes Coming to Roosevelt Island
- Street Closures
- Revel Scooters Offer Free Rides to Medical Workers
- Alternate Side Parking Suspended
- Ride-Share, Pools, and Shared Access-a-Ride Trips Limited
- How Drivers Can Stay Safe During COVID-19
- International Travel: Return Home If Abroad
- New Affordable Housing Units Now Available on 86th Street
- Tenants’ Rights During COVID-19 Pandemic
- Legal Assistance for Tenants in HUD-subsidized Housing
- Mortgage Relief
JOBS, SMALL BUSINESS & VOLUNTEERING
- Crain’s Op-Ed: “Five Steps to Save Small Business During the Pandemic”
- Op-Ed for LaborPress: “Thank Our Workers”
- No Wait for Unemployment
- Resources for Small Businesses
- Recruiting Licensed Drivers for COVID-19 Relief
- The Hebrew Free Loan Society to Help Small Business Hurt by COVID-19
- Serving Up Justice: 32BJ Rallies for Fast Food Workers
- Operation “5-Borough Food Drive” Citywide Initiative
- Combating Food Insecurity with GetFoodNYC
- Urban Outreach Center NYC Opens Food Pantry
- ASPCA Commits $5 Mill in COVID-19 Relief Initiative to Help Pet Owners
- Accessible Entrance for John Finley Walk Completed
- Remembering Dave Rosenstein
- SOMOS Albany 2020 Conference
- COVID-19 Relief Funds
- Hotlines for your COVID-19 Questions
- Taking Care of Your Mental Health
- New Yorkers with Disabilities
- Medicare Rights is here to help!
- NYPL Connect: Access Tools from home
- How to Donate Much Needed Blood Safely
- Museum of Jewish Heritage Shares Resources Online
- New York Academy of Medicine Resources Online
- Child Mind Institute: Support and Resources
Yesterday, the city saw more than 4,500 new cases for a total of 8,115 testing positive for coronavirus in New York City and 11,600 in New York State.
Starting TONIGHT, Sunday, March 22nd at 8 p.m. all non-essential businesses must close their front doors. This does not include groceries, healthcare, non-profits delivering vital human services, and a list of other essential business listed below.
We are actively working with members of the community just like you to expand testing, treatment capacity, and to get vital supplies.
Selling Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): With a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves, masks, and gowns, we are asking anyone to sell any products not in use. Anyone interested in selling to the state should email firstname.lastname@example.org with copy to Coronavirus@BenKallos.com.
Making PPE: We are encouraging any company with proper equipment or personnel to begin the manufacture of PPE products. If you are interested in receiving state funding to manufacture PPE products, please email COVID19supplies@esd.ny.gov with copy to Coronavirus@BenKallos.com.
More Beds: The Governor is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to convert the Javits Center into a temporary hospital. This will add to 350 beds we are hoping to open at Coler Hospital on Roosevelt Island in my district. If you have space with existing capacity or commercial space that can be converted, please email Coronavirus@BenKallos.com.
New York State on Pause: Late on Friday afternoon, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the “New York State on PAUSE” Executive Order effective TONIGHT, Sunday, March 22nd at 8 p.m. The Executive Order will be in effect through April 19, 2020 though it may be modified as necessary including being extended.
The Governor's 10-point NYS on PAUSE plan is as follows:
- Effective at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, all non-essential businesses statewide will be closed;
- Non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g. parties, celebrations or other social events) are canceled or postponed at this time;
- Any concentration of individuals outside their home must be limited to workers providing essential services and social distancing should be practiced;
- When in public individuals must practice social distancing of at least six feet from others;
- Businesses and entities that provide other essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet;
- Individuals should limit outdoor recreational activities to non-contact and avoid activities where they come in close contact with other people;
- Individuals should limit use of public transportation to when absolutely necessary and should limit potential exposure by spacing out at least six feet from other riders;
- Sick individuals should not leave their home unless to receive medical care and only after a telehealth visit to determine if leaving the home is in the best interest of their health;
- Young people should also practice social distancing and avoid contact with vulnerable populations; and
- Use precautionary sanitizer practices such as using isopropyl alcohol wipes.
"Matilda's Law" includes the following rules for vulnerable populations (including anybody 70 and older or with a compromised immune system):
- Remain indoors;
- Can go outside for solitary exercise;
- Pre-screen all visitors and aides by taking their temperature and seeing if person is exhibiting other flu-like symptoms;
- Do not visit households with multiple people;
- Wear a mask when in the company of others;
- To the greatest extent possible, everyone in the presence of vulnerable people should wear a mask;
- Always stay at least six feet away from individuals; and
- Do not take public transportation unless urgent and absolutely necessary.
The Governor has provided additional guidance detailing essential businesses or entities. For purposes of Executive Order 202.6, "Essential Business," means:
1. Essential Health Care Operations, including:
- research and laboratory services
- walk-in-care health facilities
- emergency veterinary and livestock services
- elder care
- medical wholesale and distribution
- home health care workers or aides for the elderly
- doctor and emergency dental
- nursing homes, or residential health care facilities or congregate care facilities
- medical supplies and equipment manufacturers and providers
2. Essential Infrastructure, Including:
- utilities including power generation, fuel supply and transmission
- public water and wastewater
- telecommunications and data centers
- transportation infrastructure such as bus, rail, or for-hire vehicles, garages
- hotels, and places of accommodation
3. Essential Manufacturing, Including:
- food processing, manufacturing agents, including all foods and beverages
- medical equipment/instruments
- sanitary products
- household paper products
4. Essential Retail, Including:
- grocery stores including all food and beverage stores
- convenience stores
- farmer's markets
- gas stations
- restaurants/bars (but only for take-out/delivery)
- hardware and building material stores
5. Essential Services, Including:
- trash and recycling collection, processing and disposal
- mail and shipping services
- building cleaning and maintenance
- child care services
- auto repair
- warehouse/distribution and fulfillment
- funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries
- storage for essential businesses
- animal shelters
6. News Media
7. Financial Institutions, Including:
- services related to financial markets
8. Providers of Basic Necessities to Economically Disadvantaged Populations, Including:
- homeless shelters and congregate care facilities
- food banks
- human services providers whose function includes the direct care of patients in state-licensed or funded voluntary programs; the care, protection, custody and oversight of individuals both in the community and in state-licensed residential facilities; those operating community shelters and other critical human services agencies providing direct care or support
9. Construction, Including:
- skilled trades such as electricians, plumbers
- other related construction firms and professionals for essential infrastructure or for emergency repair and safety purposes
- defense and national security-related operations supporting the U.S. Government or a contractor to the US government
11. Essential Services Necessary to Maintain the Safety, Sanitation and Essential Operations of Residences or Other Essential Businesses, Including:
- law enforcement
- fire prevention and response
- building code enforcement
- emergency management and response
- building cleaners or janitors
- general maintenance whether employed by the entity directly or a vendor
- automotive repair
12. Vendors that Provide Essential Services or Products, Including Logistics and Technology Support, Child Care and Services:
- technology support for online services
- child care programs and services
- government owned or leased buildings
- essential government services
Single Employees: Any business that only has a single occupant/employee (i.e. gas station) has been deemed exempt and need not submit a request to be designated as an essential business.
If you believe your business is essential and was omitted from the list you may complete this form and email it to email@example.com with copy to Coronavirus@BenKallos.com.
Thank you for all of the sacrifices you are making as we seek to get through this pandemic together. While we've done our best to provide the most useful updates, we've put together additional resources and will be updating them at BenKallos.com/coronavirus
As the coronavirus continues to spread, my team and I are monitoring the latest updates and will keep you apprised of the simple steps you can take to keep yourself and our community safe. Please continue to let me know any question or feedback you have, or even just how you are staying engaged or passing the time at home.
Council Member, District 5
P.S. If the links in this email aren’t working for you, please click here to view it in your browser. You can see our prior updates at BenKallos.com/newsletters or click Update #1, Update #2, and Update #3.
COVID-19 Update #3: New Numbers, Testing, More Beds, Online Classes, Alternate Side Parking Suspended, and Protections for Tenants and Home Owners
As of this afternoon there were more than 5,200 cases statewide and 3,615 cases in New York City.
We continue to monitor the situation closely and are actively working with the community, the private sector and health providers to increase capacity for a likely surge and increase access to testing.
The following information and resources can help you get up to speed on the latest developments, get involved, and ensure you have everything you need to stay healthy in body and mind:
- The Numbers & Will We Shelter in Place?
- Healthcare: What to Do If You’re Sick, Testing, Beds, & Call for Staffing
- Work From Home Mandate + Relief for Workers & Businesses
- Protecting Tenants & Homeowners
The basic advice remains the same: healthy or sick, please stay home. You should only leave your home for essential tasks such as work (if you cannot work from home), and getting groceries and supplies or essential medical care. You do not need to panic if you feel sick. If you are sick, stay home. If you do not feel better in three to four days, consult your healthcare provider. Try to call, text, tele-medicine or use your patient portal to contact your physician.
Thank you for all of your sacrifices you are making as we seek to get through this pandemic together. While we've done our best to provide the most useful updates, we've put together additional resources and will be updating them at BenKallos.com/corovavirus
As the coronavirus continues to spread, my team and I are monitoring the latest updates and will keep you apprised of the simple steps you can take to keep yourself and our community safe. Please continue to let me know any question or feedback you have, or even just how you are staying engaged or passing the time at home!
Council Member, District 5
P.S. If the links in this email aren’t working for you, please click here to view it in your browser. You can see our prior updates at BenKallos.com/newsletters or click Update #1, Update #2.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing Non-profit organizations, specifically human service providers, to operate under heavy financial burdens. Many are providing vital services under serious challenges, while others face mandated closures. One of the biggest challenges being faced, include not being able to meet contracted service requirements. While non-profits face these increasing challenges, they continue to have fiscal obligations such as rent, payroll, and other overhead costs that are primarily paid for by City provided funds. These funds are typically tied to unit of service requirements established in their City contracts.
Many providers are reporting that clients are not able to participate in person for safety reasons and many have started utilizing phone and video conferencing as opposed to in-person meetings. Although, these organizations are being innovative in delivering services, most are not currently equipped to do so and all have incurred increased costs creating cash flow concerns.
Providers are also communicating other issues affecting staff. Some have staff who are unable to work onsite safely due to social distancing guidelines but could work remotely. However for various reasons, including contractual language, providers cannot allow for telecommuting as an option for staff. Still other providers have workers who cannot practically work from home, such as food servers, who they must send home without a guarantee of being able to pay these workers to stay home. The City must provide relief for these affected providers.
We need every bed we can find to care for those who may come down with coronavirus. These 350 beds at Coler public hospital can really help provide the critical care that our family, friends, and neighbors may need to recover. I am proud to represent so many hospitals, including public hospitals like Coler, that can play a pivotal role in treating our most vulnerable.
Once we are through this crisis, we must reverse the damage done by the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century in 2006 that recommended closure of 9 facilities, affected 57 hospitals and 81 acute care and long-term care facilities removing as many as 4,200 inpatient beds from our healthcare system. We must rebuild a resilient medical system that can run at a fraction of built capacity, ready to take on the next major medical emergency or pandemic.
COVID-19 Update #2: Closing Schools, Senior Centers, Restaurants, Cancelled Events, Supporting Business & Unemployed, Volunteer, and Moving Forward
The Coronavirus is continuing to spread throughout the United States, with New York State recording the most cases in the country. As of this morning there were 463 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the 5 boroughs and 950 cases throughout New York State.
As we move forward our lifestyle will change drastically for an extended period of time in order to level off the spread of the virus and to keep our health care system from being overwhelmed.
During the past 24 hours we’ve seen a lot of changes and we are doing our best to keep you updated. For up to the minute updates follow us on social media at BenKallos on Facebook and Twitter. Below you will find detailed articles with the following updates:
- Public Schools Closed, Food Pick Up, Remote Learning
- Free Broadband for All Public Students (Who Don’t Have It)
- Free Zoom Video/Tele-Conference for Public Schools
- Restaurants, Bars, Gyms, Nightclubs, and Movie Theaters Partially Closed - Takeout and Delivery Only
- Food Supply at Groceries Stores – We Are Not Running Out of Food
- City Council Closes with Constituent Service Moved Online
- District 5 March Events Cancelled
- Participatory Budgeting Suspended
- Special Election Cancelled
- Complete Your Census Now
We are continuing to monitor the situation and update you on the latest developments. If you have any questions, suggestions, or feedback about the information you are receiving, please let me know.
P.S. call 212-860-1950 or email BKallos@BenKallos.com Monday through Friday between 9am and 5pm and you should reach our staff who are here to help or get a response the same day.
Many parents have expressed concern that New York City public schools have so far remained open during this COVID-19 outbreak. As a parent myself, I too share those same concerns regarding the safety of our children.
The decision to close schools rests with Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Education. I have personally communicated your concerns to City Hall and have joined Speaker Corey Johnson and UFT President Michael Mulgrew in urging the Mayor to take aggressive actions such as an official policy allowing students the option to learn from home or even full school closure, in order to keep our teachers and children safe.
Moving towards temporarily online instruction will be difficult without Universal Broadband. In the past, we've worked with Charter Communications to help bridge the digital divide with Internet Assist for students on free and reduced lunch or seniors receiving supplemental social security.
After I worked with Silicon Harlem to recommend free broadband during this outbreak, Charter announced free broadband and Wi-Fi for every student K-12 to college who does not already have broadband for the next 60 days starting this Monday.
Free and low-cost broadband for all students is the key element we needed to allow our children to continue their learning in the safety and security of their homes.
My office and I remain in close communication with state officials and the Mayor's office as this situation develops.
Kallos and Silicon Harlem Applaud Free Broadband for Students from Charter and Call on All Other Providers to Do the Same
Statement from Council Member Ben Kallos:
Technology is going to be a major tool in fighting the spread of novel coronavirus, but only for those who aren't trapped on the wrong side of the digital divide.
We've worked with Charter to bridge the digital divide with Internet Assist for students on free and reduced lunch or seniors receiving supplemental social security. Today, Charter announced free broadband and Wi-Fi for every student K-12 to college who does not already have broadband for the next 60 days.
Free and low-cost broadband for all students is the key element we needed to allow our children to continue their learning in the safety and security of their homes.
Thank you to Silicon Harlem for their leadership and partnership. Thank you to Charter for leading by example and I call on every other phone and cable internet provider to take similar steps to save us all.
Statement from Clayton Banks Co-Founder and CEO of Silicon Harlem:
The 2020 pandemic sheds light on the need for connectivity, devices, and digital literacy for our workforce, students, and underserved communities. I stand with Ben Kallos, and commend the effort of Charter to be a part of the solution.
My team and I are closely monitoring developments relating to COVID-19 as they unfold and we wanted to provide a more substantive update than you may have otherwise been receiving.
At this point we are hoping to contain the virus in order to keep our healthcare system from being overwhelmed as we have seen in Italy and other countries. If we are successful some might question why we took such extreme measures, but that is far better than the alternative.
There are currently 95 cases in New York City with 25 in Manhattan, 24 in Brooklyn, 17 in Queens, 10 in the Bronx, and 5 on Staten Island.
Earlier this week Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the purpose of expediting the bureaucracy of government including procurement of necessary medical supplies.
As of today, the Governor has banned large gatherings of 500 people or more. Today, Mayor de Blasio joined the Governor in declaring a state of emergency along with banning gatherings of 500 or more. For gatherings of less than 500 hundred people the city is mandating occupancy reduced by 50% to provide social distancing. The Mayor has also set a goal of having 10% of the city employees working from home with an additional 20% working staggered hours.
The World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control are urging us all to help stop the spread of COVID-19. To reduce the number of people at risk of infection, they recommend individuals practice “social distancing” and that employers create plans to accommodate employees working remotely.
As the Daily News reported yesterday, the City Council is encouraging staffers to work from home whenever possible in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19. As I said in the paper, I think this is a good thing and that it is important to lead by example in hopes that the private sector will do the same.
Our office will remain available to assist constituents by phone and online while our doors are closed to keep all of us healthy.
As always you can reach us phone at 212-860-1950 or by email at BKallos@BenKallos.com. If you call during business hours we will pick up, if you leave a voicemail we will get it instantaneously and reach out the same day if not immediately. Outside of those hours, we will contact you the next business day. In case of an emergency, please call 911.
City public schools will remain open though non-essential or non-instructional activities are being cancelled or moved online such as athletic leagues, school assemblies, and PTA meetings. You can learn more at Schools.NYC.gov. At one school building in the Bronx and in any school where a student or family tests positive under State policy the school will close for 24 hours for cleaning and disinfection followed by inspection by the Department of Health.
My team and I remain fully committed to serving you, and I believe we all have a responsibility to prioritize our mutual well-being during this time. If you are making similar decisions for your workplace or institution, I urge you to encourage telecommuting to reduce in-person interactions for your employees and members of the public you interact with.
For the latest information and guidance, visit the nyc.gov/coronavirus
You can also text COVID to 692-692 for updates from the City.
By being responsible, taking preventative measures and staying calm, together as a community we will get through this.
March News: 3K Rally, 20 Floors Ordered Off Supertall, Plastic Bans, Vote in Participatory Budgeting, Job Fair, and Coronavirus Update
We finally have enough Pre-Kindergarten seats on the Upper East Side, but while the Mayor has promised "3K for All" by 2021 next, there are still no plans for most of Manhattan: we've got to start pushing now. Make sure to apply for 3K or Pre-K, sign the petition and join our rally.
Ben Kallos Chess Challenge
Saturday, 3/21, 9am
MWBE Job Fair
Wednesday, 3/25, 6pm
Saturday, 3/28, 11am
3/28 - 4/5
MONTHLY SPONSORED EVENTS
Drag Queen Story Hour
Saturday, 3/7, 12pm–1pm
$10 Tennis Senior Tennis
M-F: 6am, 7am, 1pm, 2pm
$10 Drop-in Tennis (All Ages)
M-F: 6am–8am, 1pm–3pm, 10pm–12am
Sa/Su: 6am–8am, 8pm–12am
MONTHLY DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS
Friday, 3/6, 8am–9:30am
(note early end time)
Free Legal Clinics
(By Appointment Only)
(If you experience trouble with the links below, click here to read on the web)
- Apply for Pre-K and 3K Now
- Fighting to Expand 3K for All Citywide - Including to UES
- Court Orders 20 Floors Off Supertall Tower
- A Month of Love and Marriage
- Coronavirus Update
- De Blasio Implements My Ban on the Sale of Single-Use Plastic Bottles in City Parks
- Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags Takes Effect
- 3K Rally
- Participatory Budgeting Ballot/Drop-off Info
- Ben Kallos Chess Challenge
- Drag Queen Story Hour
- MWBE Job Fair
- Indoor Tennis $10 All Winter and Free All Summer
- Free Summer Camps For All NYC Kids
- Ribbon-cutting for New STEM Preschool
- Fighting for French Dual Language Program
- Celebrating 150 Years of Hunter College
- Recognizing Nightingale’s Centennial
- Office of Food Policy Passes
- Opening the First Pediatric Urgent Care Center in Manhattan
- Ribbon-cutting for ExpressCare at Metropolitan Hospital
- Banning Toxic Pesticides in Parks Gains Support
- Give Kids A Smile NYC 2020
- Standing in Solidarity with NYPD
- Questions Continue Around Rivington Scandal
- Tech “Moonshot” Division Proposed for City Government
- Bringing Transparency to City Contracts
- Getting Online Voter Registration in Time for Elections
- Property Commission Tax Report
- Maloney Passes Equal Rights Amendment and Women’s Museum
- Honoring Black History with Mayor de Blasio
- Celebrating Black History Month at Stanley Isaacs
- NYSABPRL Caucus Weekend
- 12th Annual Asian Pacific American City Advocacy Day
- Celebrating the Chinese New Year with Chinese-American Planning Council
- A Lunar New Year Celebration
- Rallying with Labor Unions Against Worker Abuse
- Worker Abuse Brings Protest to the German Consulate
- City and State NY’s Diversity Summit 2020
- Helping The Homeless
- Lenox Hill Neighborhood House and AARP Tax Services
- Isaacs Center AARP Tax Aide
- 92Y Teen Art Week
- College Scholarship for 11th Grade Young Women
- PS 198M Sneaker Drive
- Get Counted NYC