New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Coronavirus

Gotham Gazette City Says Medical Supply Stockpile Nearly Complete; Healthcare Workers Wonder If It'll Be Enough by Ethan Geringer-Sameth

City Says Medical Supply Stockpile Nearly Complete; Healthcare Workers Wonder If It'll Be Enough

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

De Blasio Administration Millions Behind on COVID Mask and Glove Stockpile Goals

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.

Gothamist NYC Stockpiles Nearly $1 Billion Worth Of PPE As Second COVID-19 Wave Looms by David Cruz

NYC Stockpiles Nearly $1 Billion Worth Of PPE As Second COVID-19 Wave Looms

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.

1010 WINS NYC's PPE by the numbers: How many masks, gloves, goggles the city has by Adam Warner

NYC's PPE by the numbers: How many masks, gloves, goggles the city has

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

 

 

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

Hundreds of Activists Rally for More Space on the Queensboro Bridge — And DOT Agrees!

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

New York City Council Introduces Bills to Aid Restaurants in Coronavirus Recovery

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.”

FOX 5 WNYW Confusion, anger as more NYC homeless are shuffled around city by Dan Bowens

Confusion, anger as more NYC homeless are shuffled around city

“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.

Letter to Mayor and Schools Chancellor Proposing Remote Learning Centers

Friday, July 10, 2020

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

Public Spaces Weren’t Designed for Pandemics. N.Y.C. Is Trying to Adapt.

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.”