As of Friday afternoon, New York State has seen 18,610 deaths. New York City’s death count was at 13,168, and the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in New York City was at 42,417. Sadly a total of 289 New Yorkers have died as a result of the virus today. The three indicators the City has been tracking as public health milestones, hospital admissions, critical care capacity, and positive test rates are all still trending downward.
Beginning this weekend the City will begin distributing FREE face coverings throughout the five boroughs at specific locations. Working with the Mayor and City Council Speaker Johnson we are opening-up miles of streets for including in our neighborhood. Overnight subways will be suspended nightly to disinfected. Lastly, my legislation to provide essential workers with 'Just Cause' protections will be heard in the City Council on May 5th at 10 am.
- Keeping You Safe: Free Face Mask Distribution Staring this Weekend, Streets Opened for Safe Outdoor Social Distancing, Overnight Subway Service Interrupted to Disinfect Train Cars
- Protecting Workers: Essential Worker Protection Legislation Gets a Hearing, City to Provide 150,000 Antibody Tests for Health Workers and Police & Free Mental Health Service for Essential Workers
- Helping Small Business: Small Business Town Hall (Virtual)
- Announcements from Governor Cuomo: Schools Closed for the Remainder of the Academic Year, Executive Order Based on COVID-19 Maternity Task Force Recommendations & Jacob Javits Makeshift Hospital Closes
Your heroism whether staying home or working as an essential worker or health care worker has made all the difference, let's keep up the social distancing and to follow all of the experts’ advice on washing your hands and wearing face masks if you have to venture outside.
P.S. Find updates from our previous COVID-19 updates at BenKallos.com/Newsletters
KEEPING YOU SAFE
Free Face Covering Distribution Starting this Weekend
Mayor de Blasio announced yesterday that New York City will be distributing over 100,000 face coverings in parks across the city free of charge beginning Saturday, May 2nd through Tuesday, May 5th. Use the map to find the closest distribution location, date, and time. My office is working with the administration to add distribution sites with sites suggested for the Upper East Side, Midtown East, Roosevelt Island, and East Harlem that I represents as well as neighborhoods throughout Manhattan. Currently, all New Yorkers are required to wear a mask or face covering when out in public and in situations where a 6-foot distance from others cannot be maintained.
Streets Opened for Safe Outdoor Social Distancing
Over seven miles of New York City streets will be closed beginning Monday, May 4th, to allow space for residents to properly practice social distancing while outdoors. On the Upper East Side I suggested East End Avenue from East 83rd to East 89th Street to address complaints of crowding in Carl Schurz Park's John Finley Walk which was accepted as part of the initial roll out. This will serve as a release valve for our local parks that have been crowded ever since the “Pause” order went into effect. As the weather gets warmer, it is expected that more New Yorkers will want to spend time outside for physical activity. These street closures will help to accommodate that need. Ultimately the City hopes to open 40 miles of streets citywide during May, with a plan to expand to 100 total miles to be identified in the weeks ahead.
Overnight Subway Service Interrupted to Dissenfect Train Cars
This week, Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio joined together in announcing that starting Wednesday, May 6, New York City subways will be suspending service every night from 1am to 5am in order to clean and disinfect train cars. The announcement comes as part of an effort to keep essential workers, including MTA employees, safe from COVID-19.
For-hire vehicles working for the City will be providing “Essential Connector” service for essential workers at no cost, including transportation to and from hospitals and other health care services, grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores and other essential services, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). Essential employees using the services will be limited to two trips per night on for-hire vehicles and will be required to show proof of essential travel with appropriate credentials. Rides will also accommodate employees who require wheelchair accessible vehicles. For more information, see the MTA’s press release.
Essential Worker Protection Legislation Gets a Hearing
This coming week the City Council will hear legislation I introduced with Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member Brad Lander, aimed at protecting essential workers from termination without ‘Just Cause.’ If passed workers would never again be fired simply for requesting PPEs or raising other safety concerns. The hearing in the Committee on Civil Service and Labor will be this Tuesday, May 5th at 10am.
The legislation would protect essential workers, including healthcare workers, first responders, utility workers, and employees on the front line, including those at supermarkets, making deliveries, and anyone working at an essential business as defined by the Governor’s Executive Order during this pandemic or the next emergency.
Since the COVID-19 crisis started, heroic health care and warehouse workers have faced retaliation for speaking out against unsafe conditions at their place of work. The bill would also require essential businesses 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. For more information on the legislation, read the release or coverage in amNY and Forbes. Please consider testifying in support of this legislation at council.nyc.gov/testify or watch at council.nyc.gov/livestream.
City to Provide 150,000 Antibody Tests for Health Workers and Police
The City will begin offering free COVID-19 antibody testing to 150,000 front line workers as soon as next week. The testing, which determines whether a person has contracted COVID-19 at any point during the outbreak, will be provided for employees at hospitals, police precincts, firehouses and correctional facilities.
Free Mental Health Service for Essential Workers
In his most recent announcement, Governor Cuomo introduced a mandate requiring New York State-regulated health insurers to waive out-of-pocket costs for mental health services for frontline essential workers, as supported and enforced by the State Department of Financial Services. Our frontline heroes are risking their health AND mental health every day. Cost shouldn’t be a barrier for them to receive the help they deserve.
The state is also partnering with Kate Spade New York Foundation and Crisis Text Line to provide round-the-clock emotional support services to frontline workers by simply texting NYFRONTLINE to 741-741. In addition, if you or someone you know needs support, call the New York State Emotional Support Hotline at 1-844-863-9314.
HELPING SMALL BUSINESS
Small Business Town Hall (Virtual)
The New York City Small Business Administration and my office have teamed up to offer the public a virtual town hall featuring Small Business Administration Commissioner Gregg Bishop. The virtual town hall will be on Tuesday, May 12 from 6pm to 7pm. At the event the Commissioner and I will give reports and updates on relevant points and then we will open up for questions from those in attendance. You must RSVP to submit questions or participate on Zoom.
VideoConference: RSVP for your URL, create a free account at Zoom.us.
Teleconference: RSVP to receive the number and access code.
Facebook Live: Skip the RSVP and watch the stream at Facebook.com/BenKallos
RSVP at BenKallos.com/events
Questions must be submitted with RSVP or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM GOVERNOR CUOMO
Schools Closed for the Remainder of the Academic Year
Governor Cuomo announced this week that all K-12 schools and colleges in New York will remain closed and continue with remote learning for the rest of the academic year. The decision comes five weeks after the initial closures, with Governor Cuomo citing it as the safest option for students, faculty and staff as the state works to recover from the COVID-19 outbreak. Schools are required to continue providing meal programs and child care services. The governor’s decision on summer school programs will come at the end of May. To learn more, visit governor.ny.gov/news
Executive Order Based on COVID-19 Maternity Task Force Recommendations
Governor Cuomo issued an executive order codifying recommendations from the COVID-19 Maternity Task Force that seek to protect pregnant and birthing mothers during this pandemic. The recommendations include measures to mandate testing for all pregnant New Yorkers, offer a greater variety of birthing site options and support patient choice, extend the period of time a healthy person can accompany a mother post-delivery, ensure equity in birthing options with special emphasis on reducing racial disparities in maternal mortality and more.
For many mothers, the idea of giving birth amidst the chaos and uncertainty of this public health crisis can create added stress and anxiety that affects their unborn child, which is why offering proper safety and protection to all people affected by the spread of COVID-19, but especially those who are bringing new life into the world in these times, is of the utmost importance. For more information, visit governor.ny.gov/news
Jacob Javits Makeshift Hospital Closes
New York City is closing the temporary U.S. Army hospital at the Javits Convention Center on May 1. The makeshift hospital treated over 1,000 patients since it opened back in March. Thank you to all of the workers, volunteers and members of the armed forces that worked to treat and save New Yorkers. The U.S.N.S. comfort also left New York City's harbor this week. Every New Yorker is grateful to the sailors on the ship that helped our residents.