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.
Public Schools Closed, Food Pick Up, and Remote Learning
Public schools have been closed effective today at least until April 20, 2020.
Today, grab-and-go breakfast and lunch will be available at the entrance of every school-building from 7:30am–1:30pm. Any student can pick up breakfast and lunch at any school building tomorrow until further notice.
Thursday, March 19 through Friday, March 20, students who need it will be able to begin the process of picking up the technology necessary for remote learning.
Starting Monday, March 23, 2020, remote learning will launch for grades K-12. DOE will support schools at all levels of readiness to deliver remote learning, and more information will be provided to families about online platforms.
Regional Enrichment Centers will be available for the children of first responders, healthcare workers, transit workers, and our most vulnerable student populations, with more details to follow.
Watch Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement and learn more at https://www.schools.nyc.gov/school-life/health-and-wellness/coronavirus-update
Free Broadband for All Public Students (Who Don’t Have It)
Last week in collaboration with Silicon Harlem, I reached out to Charter Communications, and on Friday they announced that Spectrum will offer free broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription with installation fees waived. Learn more at Corporate.Charter.com/newsroom. To enroll call 844-488-8395.
Free Zoom Video/Tele-Conference for Public Schools
Zoom has announced free accounts for all K-12 public schools. Zoom is temporarily removing the 40-minute limit on free Basic accounts for schools in Japan and Italy, and by request for K-12 schools in the United States. Administrators, staff, and teachers staff can simply sign up for a free Zoom account then have a member of your school fill out this form to request the temporary removal. Upon verification, all free Basic accounts using your school’s email domain will have the time restriction lifted.
Now teachers will be able to log in, schedule their classes, and send out invites to students. Students are not required to have a Zoom account and can join classes using the links sent from the teacher. Learn more from Zoom.us.
Senior Centers Closed, Home Delivered Meals Available, Call for Volunteers
As a result of the Governor and Mayor’s mandates senior centers are closed but providing meals to those in need.
Stanley Isaacs Center is closed but looking for volunteers to help serve residents with Meals on Wheels. Those interested should email Khristel Simmons the Director of Food and Nutrition at KSimmons@IsaacsCenter.org
Carter Burden Luncheon Club will be offering lunch from 12pm–2pm. If you have any questions, please call the Main Office 212-879-7400.
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House has closed all of its facilities. Anyone with questions can call them at 212-744-5020.
Restaurants, Bars, Gyms, Nightclubs, and Movie Theaters Partially Closed - Takeout and Delivery Only
Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have mandated that restaurants, bars, and cafes close to the public and only offer takeout and delivery. Gyms, nightclubs and movie theaters have also been ordered closed beginning 8pm tonight to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Food Supply at Groceries Stores – We Are Not Running Out of Food
As reported by the New York Times, some grocery stores may appear empty for now, but the United States and New York City are not running out of food.
The nation’s biggest retailers, dairy farmers, and meat producers have assured the public that the country’s food supply chain, remains intact and that in fact, it has been ramping up to meet the unprecedented stockpiling brought on by COVID-19.
We’ve received reports of residents being less than polite with one another at the supermarkets and are asking you to “keep calm and carry on.”
If you are in need of emergency food, please learn more about the resources available to you at: https://access.nyc.gov/programs/emergency-food-assistance/
Supporting Small Businesses
The New York City Small Business Administration has announced that businesses with fewer than 100 employees that have seen sales decreases of 25% or more because of COVID-19 are eligible for zero-interest loans of up to $75,000 to help mitigate losses in profit.
The City is also offering small businesses with fewer than 5 employees a grant to cover 40% of payroll costs for two months to help retain employees. Eligible owners who would like to learn more about these programs should fill out an interest form using SurveyMonkey.com
No Wait for Unemployment
New York State is waiving the 7-Day waiting period for Unemployment Insurance benefits for people who are out of work due to COVID-19 closures or quarantines.
Unemployment Insurance is temporary income for eligible workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. To collect benefits, you must be ready, willing, and able to work, and actively looking for work during each week in which you are claiming benefits.
For more information visit www.ny.gov/services/get-unemployment-assistance
Evictions and NYCHA Hearings Suspended
Evictions and NYCHA hearing have been suspended effective tomorrow, March 17. Each borough will have one judge handling emergency cases including illegal lockout cases, emergency HP Actions and post eviction cases. Anyone in this situation can call the court.
Our free legal clinics will continue through phone calls. To schedule your appointment please email email@example.com or call 212-860-1950 and press 1. You can also call Housing Court Answers during business hours at 212-962-4795.
City Council Offices Close with Hearings Cancelled; Constituent Service Online and By Phone
The New York City Council has suspended all deadlines for budget hearings, land use related votes and the requirement for the Council to hold two stated meetings each month. Therefore City Council hearings and the Stated Meeting scheduled for the week of Monday, March 23rd will not be held.
The City Council’s offices at 250 Broadway and in City Hall are also closed. Council Staff are not to report to 250 Broadway and City Hall unless asked to as part of the City’s effort to move Council staff to telecommuting.
Council District 5 March Events Cancelled
In order to keep all of us safe, to respect new rules relating to events with more than 50 attendees and maintain social distancing we are cancelling the following events hosted or sponsored by our office:
- Saturday, March 21, 2020 - Ben Kallos Chess Challenge
- Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - MWBE Job Fair
- Saturday, March 28, 2020 - Shredathon
- Saturday, March 28, 2020 - Rally to Expand 3K for All Citywide
Check updates at BenKallos.com/events
Participatory Budgeting Suspended
The City Council is suspending Participatory Budgeting in all Council Offices at this time. Stay tuned for updates on how you can help decide on how to spend one million dollars.
Special Election Cancelled
As a part of the City’s effort to combat the spread of COVID-19 Mayor de Blasio has canceled the special election for Queens borough president. The election was supposed to take place on March 24.
Complete the Census Now
This year, the Census is available on-line. Starting March 12th, New Yorkers can begin filing out their Census questionnaires at my2020census.gov.
By now, you should have received a mailing with your unique Census ID. If you have not received it, no need to worry, you can still fill the Census out by answering 3 short questions. Fill out your Census, today!
Prevention is key here in stopping the spreading of COVID-19. The following precautions can help you stay healthy. You do not need to wear a face mask if you are not feeling sick, unless you are instructed to do so by your health care provider. Face masks need to be reserved for the health care system.
To do your part in stopping COVID-19:
- Stay home. All New Yorkers — healthy or sick — need to stay home. You should only leave your home for essential tasks, such as work (if you cannot work from home), getting groceries and supplies or essential medical care. Try to use delivery services when possible.
- Wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds every time, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Do not touch your face unless you recently washed your hands.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing. Do not use your hands.
- Do not shake hands. Instead, wave or elbow bump.
- If you are an older adult or have any of the chronic health conditions listed above, avoid all unnecessary gatherings and events.
Learn more at www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/coronavirus.page
After we get through this together, we will need to rethink many of the outdated ways government functions. As climate change and the global economy show us now more than ever that we are all in this together.
We will need to 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.
Along those same lines, the case for Medicare for All or a public option has never been stronger, as now anyone experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms needs access to free or affordable medical care, in order to protect all of us.
We need to build a system that leaves no child on the wrong side of the digital divide, bridging the homework gap, and truly investing in our children to ensure everyone has broadband at home complete with an internet device for everything from homework, independent study, and remote learning.
We need online voter registration now to prepare for elections during a Global Pandemic. Elections should also move to what we call “no-fault vote by mail,” which means anybody can vote by mail if they choose, without having to prove that they are unable to vote in person. To keep our democracy running, we need these changes now, before the April 28 presidential primary.
Since my election, we’ve worked with residents just like you to make laws and shape public policy. Whether through First Friday, Policy Night, or other collaboration, we’ve passed laws authored by middle school students to support LGBTQ peers and rezoned communities to stop overdevelopment from supertalls. We even declared a Climate Emergency with Extinction Rebellion. If it wasn’t clear by now, everything is on the table, and we need your voices, your ideas, to make the world a better place, and in this very moment, potentially save us all. So email Policy@BenKallos.com and let’s get to work, together we can accomplish anything.