Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Three Defendants Charged In Connection With Bronx Home Invasion Shooting And Robbery


 Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John B. DeVito, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”), and Dermot Shea, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced charges against SHAWN GARCIA, a/k/a “Ralph Porter,” OSCAR RIOS, a/k/a “Oski,” and SUTHA TAYLOR, a/k/a “Sutha Colon,” (collectively, the “defendants”), in connection with their participation in an August 29, 2020 armed home invasion robbery in the Bronx, New York.  GARCIA and TAYLOR were arrested earlier this morning and will be presented in Manhattan federal court later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker.  RIOS remains at large.

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss stated:  “Oscar Rios and his co-defendants allegedly planned and executed a violent robbery, during which one victim was shot and another had her head covered with a garment while the alleged perpetrators coerced her to divulge the location of the other victim’s cash.  The three ultimately absconded with a safe containing cash, a cell phone, and marijuana. I thank the ATF and NYPD for their assistance in bringing these alleged brazen and reckless actors to justice."           

According to the allegations in the Complaint charging GARCIA, RIOS, and TAYLOR, unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:[1]

On or about August 29, 2020, the defendants participated in an armed home invasion robbery of an apartment in the Bronx, New York.  Shortly before the robbery took place, defendant OSCAR RIOS, a/k/a “Oski,” coordinated with certain other co-conspirators (referred to in the Complaint as “CC-1” and “CC-2”) to cause a resident of the Apartment (“Victim-1”) to leave the Apartment, under the guise that CC-1 wanted to buy liquor from Victim-1.  Once RIOS learned from CC-2 that Victim-1 was about to exit the Apartment, RIOS informed defendants SHAWN GARCIA, a/k/a “Ralph Porter,” and SUTHA TAYLOR, a/k/a “Sutha Colon,” via text message.

When Victim-1 opened the door to the Apartment, GARCIA, TAYLOR, and a third co-conspirator (“CC-3”) ran into the Apartment and physically assaulted Victim-1, including by striking Victim-1 in the head several times with at least one firearm.  While the assault on Victim-1 was in progress, another resident of the Apartment (“Victim-2”) was thrown into the bathroom and ordered to remain there.  Victim-1 was then shot one time.  After the shooting, one of the robbers placed a dark garment over Victim-2’s head and demanded to know where Victim-1 kept his safe, which contained proceeds from Victim-1’s marijuana sales.  Meanwhile, RIOS, who had gone to a nearby building, texted GARCIA and TAYLOR to inform them that area was clear for them to flee.  GARCIA, TAYLOR, and CC-3 then fled the Apartment, stealing the safe with cash proceeds from Victim-1’s marijuana sales, as well as other items found in the Apartment, including cash proceeds from Victim-1’s liquor sales, Victim-1’s cellphone, and marijuana belonging to Victim-1.

As a result of the assault and shooting, Victim-1 was hospitalized for several days.  

GARCIA, RIOS, and TAYLOR are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of substantive Hobbs Act robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  GARCIA and TAYLOR are also each charged with one count of carrying and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the ATF and NYPD, in particular, the Strategic Patterned Armed Robbery Technical Apprehension (“SPARTA”) Task Force, which comprises agents and officers of the ATF and the NYPD.  

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Mayor de Blasio Holds Limited Media Availability


When there were in person press conferences by Mayor de Blasio he took questions from all reporters before taking a second question from the same reporter. 

Now with his virtual media availability only eight reporters get to ask the mayor a question, and they are allowed to ask two questions so the mayor does not have to answer any more reporters questions.

Today I called into the Mayor's Press office to ask why I have not been called on in almost three weeks. The response I received was "What questions do you want to ask the mayor"?

Here is what the mayor said today, which comes directly from the mayors press office. Note the COCID-19 indicators at the end is 5.72% or 4,14% depending how the numbers are read.

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. As we continue the fight against the coronavirus, we take a moment today to reflect today is World AIDS Day. We reflect on the decades – the decades-long fight of the AIDS pandemic. We reflect and we mourn those we lost. So many New Yorkers lost someone dear to them to HIV and AIDS. We reflect on the fight, the amazing struggle, the activism, the grassroots voices that stood up and said government has to do more. And we reflect upon the extraordinary efforts of our health care leadership, all those trailblazers and innovators who found new approaches to keep people alive and keep them safe. And we've come a long way, and it's a reminder of our ability to fight back even against extraordinarily difficult odds. And no place felt that more in the AIDS crisis than this city, but let's also appreciate how far we have come back and that we can now talk about ending the epidemic once and for all. 
So, today, it is a reminder of the crucial role our public health leadership plays in protecting us, hearing those voices of the people and finding solutions and approaches that will really help to guide people, to educate them, to give them the tools to protect themselves. And we have throughout the coronavirus crisis turned to our public health leadership for guidance, for strategies, even though for all of us, including the most learned medical professionals, we're all dealing in many ways with the great unknown when it comes to the coronavirus. Nonetheless, our health care leadership has helped us find solutions and a way forward.  
So, today, we're going to talk about the moment we're in now, and it's a challenging moment. We are fighting with everything we've got against this second wave bearing down on us. But we have the tools to fight back in so many ways. And we particularly have to remember what we learned in the spring about who is most vulnerable and the special precautions that need to be taken when it comes to our seniors and folks with pre-existing conditions. So, we today are going to make very clear that new measures need to be taken to protect those who are most vulnerable. And our health commissioner will be issuing a public health notice to make clear the standards that we have to hold as the second wave bears down on us. Here to tell you about it, New York City's doctor, our Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi. 
Commissioner Dave Chokshi, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor. And what you described is indeed what we're seeing, a marked increase in cases as well as hospitalizations due to COVID-19. This escalation unfortunately follows a tragically familiar pattern, cases grow, hospitalizations follow, and, sadly, too many result in critical illness or even death. Hospitals have reported more than 1,100 COVID patients. That's twice as many as were hospitalized less than three weeks ago and the highest number since early June. Every one of those hospitalizations represents a person, fighting to recover, a livelihood interrupted, and a household distraught. I know this because I've seen it with my own eyes. I remember the concern that I felt for my own primary care patients earlier this year, particularly those who are more susceptible to severe illness. I think about my young Dominican patient with type one diabetes and my older Bangladeshi patient with emphysema. And I know that some people face a much greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19. This includes people who are older or have underlying health conditions like cancer, heart disease, weakened immunity, obesity, sickle cell disease, diabetes, and others. These factors greatly increase the risk of poor outcomes and even death. That's why today I'm issuing a Commissioner's Notice that warns at-risk New Yorkers about the growth in COVID and that urges appropriate precautions. That means stopping nonessential activities, staying in as much as possible and avoiding social activities outside of your household. We'll be working with partner agencies, with community-based organizations, doctors, and others to distribute this notice.  
But there's one thing that I want to say to all New Yorkers – a risk factor does not alone determine risk. Whether or not you are a senior or have one of these conditions, COVID-19 can infect you. It can cause serious illness and sometimes long-term symptoms and could spread from you to others who are at even greater risk. To invoke the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. And with that same historic lens today, does make me take stock of another mystery virus, which a generation ago was fast-spreading and about which our understanding changed by the day – HIV/AIDS. At that time too, there were people who stepped up and changed the world. And so, on World AIDS Day, I'd like to recognize what those heroes achieved in our ongoing fight against HIV. We are close to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We must learn from that experience as we continue to hone our response to COVID-19. Foremost is the notion that it takes a whole community to beat back a pandemic. That's why the Commissioner's notice that I'm issuing today is just one step. We need you to carry the message forward to help protect at-risk New Yorkers.  
I do want to conclude, Mr. Mayor with one final appeal to New Yorkers. While I am discouraging nonessential activities, medical care is essential, both for COVID – that includes testing for COVID – as well as for other conditions. Whether for diabetes or depression, it's important to keep seeking routine care and to go to clinics and hospitals when you need to. It is safe. That includes getting the safe, effective, lifesaving vaccine that we already have – the flu shot. It's still may be the most important one you ever get. Let's all roll up our sleeves for this next phase in our pandemic response. Thank you. 
Mayor: Thank you very much, Commissioner. Everyone, look, what you're hearing Dr. Chokshi say is we need you. We need you, if you're older, you have preexisting conditions to take additional precautions. We need you. We need you to go out and get that flu shot. If you haven't done it already. And we need you on another absolutely crucial mission for this city, because we need to keep people alive. And that is not only an issue when it comes to fighting the corona virus, it also is so crucial when it comes to anyone who ends up in a hospital and a moment literally of life and death and needs a blood transfusion. We need to make sure that that blood supply is there for all New Yorkers, any New Yorkers who need it in their hour of need. And people constantly ask me how they can help. I can't tell you how many times I've heard just every-day New Yorkers saying, I want to help, I want to do more, I want to help us over this crisis. Here's something everyone can do – you can get blood. And it makes such a difference. We have seen a market decrease in the blood supply, because, of course, there haven't been corporate blood drives and blood drives at colleges and all the things that used to – government offices – the things that used to make such a difference. But we have to come up with another way now, and it's going to come down to every one of you who can help, helping out. The current blood supplies down to just a few days – just a few days. This is really a very, very urgent situation. So, we need you. We need you to lend a hand, or, more accurately, to lend an arm and give blood. Everyone, the New York Blood Center is leading the way, as always, with a new campaign, Give Blood NYC, helping us to understand how important it is and how easy it is. And the goal here is to get 25,000 New Yorkers to give blood this month – 25,000 people this month so we can get that supply back up. And the good news is, not only is it the right thing to do, not only will you help save a life, and you're going to feel great inside that you did something so good, not only will you get a cookie and a juice box – one of the great fringe benefits of giving blood – but now you have an opportunity to also win some great prizes. The Blood Center is working with us and a lot of other great people to make this something that is life-saving, but also a lot of fun. And I'm talking about real good prizes, notwithstanding the travails of the New York Jets season – you could get coach club tickets – coaches club tickets to the home opener for the Jets next year. You can get a VIP tour of the Empire State Building and – Dr. Chokshi, do not listen to this prize – free Krispy Kreme donuts for a year. That is not approved by the Health Department, but the rest of us would really like that. So, anyone who wants to be a part of this great contest, you can go to nybc.org and sign up. And here to tell you about what it really means – and to talk about the extraordinary work of the folks at the Blood Center, who we depend on. They don't get the credit they deserve, but we depend on them every day. The President CEO of the New York Blood Center, Dr. Christopher Hillyer. 
Mayor: Thank you, Dr. Hillyer. Again, thank you to you and all your colleagues. And really want to make sure people understand, there's a lot of folks looking out for us every day who we don't get to know so well, but we really need to thank the folks who work at the Blood Center who do so much for us. We're going to hear from another special guest. And she is an educator who serves our kids and if she was just here to tell you about her life of helping others and helping uplift our children, that would be powerful enough. But she's here to tell you about what it means to be someone who got one of those blood transfusions, what it means to be someone who really needs that help. And so, you can feel the impact of what you're going to do, what it means humanly to be there for your fellow New Yorker. So, my pleasure to introduce a great educator, someone we're so happy to have with us, Shatera Weaver. Welcome, Shatera. 
Mayor: Thank you so much, Shatera. And thank you for telling your story, because it really is powerful and reminds people this is such a beautiful and important thing you can do for your fellow New Yorker. So, I want to thank Shatera. Thank Dr. Hillyer, everyone who's doing this good work. Thank you to all the folks who are donating the prizes, the companies and the folks who are really stepping up to make it something so appealing for New Yorkers to get involved. But really, we need you. So, we're going to start today, saying we need 25,000 people for the month of December. We're going to keep giving you updates to remind you how we're doing and how much we need. But everyone, you're going to feel so good after you give blood. Maybe not as much as spinach to Popeye – to use that great analogy – but you're going to feel good, because you're going to feel in your heart that you did something so good for your fellow New Yorker. 
And imagine, just that that few minutes of your life could save someone else's life. So, please, everyone, we need you now.  
All right, let me go to our daily indicators. And again, this is another day where we have some results that are lower than recent days, meaning the number of tests that we are relying on is lower because we saw a reduction around the Thanksgiving weekend and the number of people being tested. So, we're going to give you the numbers, but with a bit of an asterisk that they're based on a lower sample size than usual. Okay. Number one, daily number of people admitted to New York City hospitals for suspected COVID-19, threshold 200 patients – today's report 132. Confirmed positivity rate, that continues to go up. We're watching that very carefully, 58 percent now. Number two, new reported cases on a seven-day average, 550 cases is the threshold – of course, far beyond that now, 1,685 cases. And number three, percentage of the people testing city-wide positive for COVID-19, threshold five percent – today's report, 5.72 percent. So, that's a daily report. And, again, based on a lower sample size, but obviously something we're very concerned about. The more important number, even though also affected by a lower test numbers recently, lower amount of tests recently, but still on number that we are really concerned about, 4.14 percent. 

Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress During COVID-19 Pandemic - DECEMBER 1, 2020


Positive Testing Rate in All Focus Zone Areas is 6.27 Percent; New York State Positivity Outside All Focus Zone Areas is 4.46 Percent     

Statewide Positivity Rate is 4.96 Percent

66 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"Thanksgiving was not just one day or weekend - it was the commencement of the holiday season, and the holiday season means increased social activity, which means an increased viral transmission. The rate will likely continue to go up through New Year's and the number one priority when you get into this situation is tracking hospitalizations and ensuring hospitals do not become overwhelmed. Our five-part strategy is focused on that, but it's also critical that New Yorkers continue to do the right thing by remembering to wash our hands, wear masks and remaining socially distant," Governor Cuomo said. "Looking ahead, the vaccination program is going to be a major governmental undertaking and it has to be done right. Unfortunately, there are gross omissions in the federal plan that are going to fundamentally impede effective vaccination. Not only has the federal government failed to provide states with any funding, but the existing federal plan fails to provide any effective plan for getting the vaccine to Black, Brown and poor communities, and it contains a data-sharing agreement that could dissuade the undocumented community from participating in the program. The vaccination program only works if everyone is vaccinated and if you are not reaching the Black, Brown and poor communities and then you're alienating the undocumented community, you are making it virtually impossible for this vaccine program to ever be successful - and we need this program to be successful."

The Governor noted that the positive testing rate in all focus areas under the state's Micro-Cluster strategy is 6.27 percent, and outside the focus zone areas is 4.46 percent. Within the focus areas, 40,802 test results were reported yesterday, yielding 2,558 positives. In the remainder of the state, not counting these focus areas, 105,873 test results were reported, yielding 4,727 positives. 

Today's data is summarized briefly below:

  • Patient Hospitalization - 3,774 (+242)
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 502
  • Hospital Counties - 55
  • Number ICU - 718 (+37)
  • Number ICU with Intubation - 348 (+23)
  • Total Discharges - 85,808 (+252)
  • Deaths - 66
  • Total Deaths - 26,816

Attorney General James Announces Final Rules to Modernize and Streamline Securities Filings in NYS


Adopted Rules Will Move Filers to National Electronic Systems, Create Greater Protections for Investors

 New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced the adoption of final rules that will modernize registration and filing with the Investor Protection Bureau (IPB) in the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). This adoption is the latest step in Attorney General James’ ongoing efforts to streamline and enhance the oversight of the securities industry in New York by moving filings and payments to standardized federal and multi-state systems. Once these changes are fully implemented in 2021, New York’s registration procedures will better conform to the federal securities registration regime, cure industry confusion when it comes to certain registration requirements, and better track exam requirement compliance and disciplinary disclosures for thousands of investment advisers who provide investment advice to New Yorkers. Earlier this year, while these new rules were being completed, Attorney General James announced procedural changes to respond to growing impediments stemming from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health crisis. An update to those changes, that reflect the new rules and recent executive orders, can be found on the OAG website.

“These new rules reflect years of hard work by this office to bring securities registration into the 21st century,” said Attorney General James. “By moving to standardized electronic filings and payments, our systems will be more resilient to disruption in the future and will be better equipped to protect investors from frauds, especially critical as we have seen an exponential rise in these types of scams as a result of COVID-19. It is more important than ever for New Yorkers to know who they are dealing with when making an investment, and these rules will do exactly that by expanding the registration and tracking of individual investment advisers. Ultimately, this action represents a significant step forward in our efforts to protect New York investors and oversee securities sales practices.”

A detailed summary of the changes in the new rules can be found on the IPB’s Rule Proposal page, but the revisions impact two benchmark rules for New York securities regulation. The first adoption — amending Part 10 of Chapter II, Title 13 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York (NYCRR) — will move required notice filings for federal “covered securities” being sold in New York to the electronic filing depository system for the North American Association of Securities Administrators (NASAA). The adopted rules clarify that these filings are mandatory and should be filed on the NASAA website beginning on December 2, 2020.

The second adoption — amending Part 11 of Chapter II, Title 13 of the NYCRR — will require the registration of investment adviser representatives (IAR) in New York, fully implementing the OAG’s registration authority under the Martin Act. IARs will be required to register through the Central Registration Depository/Investment Adviser Registration Depository (collectively CRD/IARD). Beginning on February 1, 2021, IARs will be explicitly required to meet exam requirements and register with the state. To accommodate this change, the rule contains a significant implementation period, which allows those currently engaged in business covered by the new regulations to continue their business without an approved registration until December 2, 2021, so long as certain criteria are met. The adopted rule also creates a new exam special waiver category for people who have been serving as IARs for at least two years.

The OAG expects publication of the adopted rules in the State Register to occur tomorrow, December 2, 2020. The new Part 10 adoption will be effective upon publication. The new Part 11 adoption will be effective as of February 1, 2021, though the OAG expects that persons subject to the rule will begin preparations for compliance well before the effective date. The OAG plans to post further guidance on these rules prior to their taking effect.

A summary of the rule changes, guidance on EFD filings and IAR registration, and the full text of the new rules can be found on the IPB’s Rule Proposal pageAll forms referenced in the rules may be found on the OAG’s website.

Applicants and registrants should periodically check the IPB’s Rule Proposal page for updated guidance on the new rules. The IPB will also be updating its website in the coming months.



Donors earn the chance to win one of 50 prizes; 25K blood donations needed between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve

 Mayor de Blasio today joined the New York Blood Center (NYBC) to unveil GiveBloodNYC, a new campaign this holiday season to encourage New Yorkers to give the gift of life. GiveBloodNYC has a simple goal: to collect 25,000 blood, plasma, and platelet donations throughout the season of giving. 
From Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, New Yorkers will be eligible for one of 50 prizes after they donate blood. Donors are encouraged to post photos of themselves to spread the word at donor centers and blood drive locations with the hashtag #GiveBloodNYC. 
“Giving blood makes a difference,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “It’s an easy, meaningful way to give back to your community this holiday season, and I urge New Yorkers to join the fight this month to keep New York City healthy.”
“Throughout this pandemic, the people of this city have stepped up and done what was needed to keep each other healthy,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. “Donating blood is one more way to quite literally give life to our fellow New Yorkers. Schedule appointment today.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a chronic deficit in blood donations needed for patients in the hospitals served by the New York Blood Center. Since March, nearly all high schools, colleges, offices and other community groups have had to cancel their blood drives, which has jeopardized 75 percent of the incoming blood supply. New York Blood Center reports that, as of November 30th, the city is at a 3-day blood supply, down from its ideal 7-day supply. With the city amid another uptick of positive cases, it’s more important than ever that New York has an adequate blood supply to support healthcare facilities.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have experienced a chronic deficit in blood donations. We are launching this campaign with the hopes of getting New Yorkers into our centers and stabilizing the blood supply,” said Andrea Cefarelli, Senior Executive Director of Recruitment & Marketing for New York Blood Center. “As the second wave looms, we are grateful to have the support of the City. This winter will not be an easy one, but we have been through difficult times before. When times get tough, New Yorkers always find a way to take care of each other.”
How You Can Enter 
  1. Schedule an appointment at nybc.org/donate to donate at one of New York Blood Center’s NYC locations before December 31.
  2. While you are at the donor center, we encourage you to take a selfie of your visit and tag New York Blood Center on social media with the hashtag #GiveBloodNYC.
  3. Visit www.nybc.org/givebloodNYC to fill out your entry form.
Every Monday, NYBC will announce 10 winners and prizes on social media and their website. Participants who did not win that week will have their entry rolled over to the following weeks, until the contest is over. One entry per person. Please visit nybc.org/sweepstakes for the full contest rules.

Governor Cuomo Announces Winter Plan to Combat COVID-19 Surge in New York State


5 Targeted Strategies to Manage and Mitigate the Spread of COVID-19

Strategy 1: Manage Hospital Capacity to Enhance and Equalize Care

Strategy 2: Increase and Balance Testing Resources and Availability

Strategy 3: Keep Schools Open Safely 

Strategy 4: Prevent Viral Spread from Small Gatherings

Strategy 5: Operationalize an Equitable and Safe Vaccination Program

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York's plan for combating COVID-19 this winter. Over the past week, Governor Cuomo and the state's COVID Task Force has worked in consultation with global public health experts, local governments and other stakeholders to ensure that the plan builds off the lessons learned during the past nine months to anticipate and prepare for an expected increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations over the Holiday season.

Specifically, the winter plan consists of five targeted strategies focused on mitigating the spread of the virus and bolstering New York State hospital preparedness including:

  • Continue and Strengthen New York's Targeted Micro-Cluster Strategy while Managing Hospital Capacity to Enhance and Equalize Care;
  • Increase and Balance Testing Resources and Availability;
  • Keep Schools Open Safely;
  • Prevent Viral Spread from Small Gatherings; and
  • Operationalize an Equitable and Safe Vaccination Program

"While the holiday season often brings joy to many, the increase in social activity and mobility will also bring an increase of viral transmission. We understand the cause and effect, and the effect is dramatic," Governor Cuomo said. "We must adapt to this reality and have a plan in place that specifically addresses the challenges that come with it. We've been through the worst, and while we're not done yet, we are moving forward with the lessons we learned in the spring to come through this together."

Strategy 1 - Continue and Strengthen New York's Targeted Micro-Cluster Strategy while Managing Hospital Capacity to Enhance and Equalize Care

Since Governor Cuomo first launched New York's micro-cluster strategy in mid-October, it has proved effective in identifying targeted areas with high infection rates and implementing additional restrictions to reduce viral spread in the micro-cluster area. This approach has allowed state and local health officials to target resources, has encouraged community members to take greater action to reduce viral spread, and helped prevent the need for larger, regional shutdowns which impact all aspects of life and the economy.

Under New York's Winter COVID-19 Plan, this strategy will be strengthened through the utilization of additional, hospital-related metrics to provide a clearer picture of where a particular zone stands in the fight against COVID and how each neighborhood, municipality, and other geographic area contributes to daily hospital admissions due to COVID. Under this improved strategy, the New York State Department of Health will include factors such as regional hospital bed capacity, ICU capacity, staffing ratios, and daily hospital admissions as part of the analysis and metrics used to determine which geographic areas qualify as micro-cluster zones. In addition to the 3 existing micro-cluster zone levels (Yellow Precautionary, Orange Warning and Red), New York will also add a new 'Emergency Stop' level, which will effectively put that area under the NY Pause guidelines, if needed to preserve hospital capacity. Hospital metrics associated with these zones will be identified in the next week to 10 days, once data from the Thanksgiving holiday is received and analyzed.

Additionally, the Department of Health today began to initiate emergency hospital measures to prepare the state's hospital system for an expected surge in new admissions over the upcoming weeks. Specifically, these measures include: 

  1. Hospital systems must begin to identify retired nurses and doctors to bolster staff;
  2. Hospital systems in Erie County must suspend elective surgeries to create new bed capacity for COVID patients;
  3. Hospital systems must begin balancing patient loads across their individual hospital facilities;
  4. Prepare plans to utilize emergency field hospitals;
  5. Prepare plans to increase hospital bed capacity by 50 percent;
  6. Prepare plans to implement statewide 'Surge and Flex' operations (similar to load balancing, but patient shifts would occur across all hospital systems, as opposed to within individual hospital systems)
  7. Prepare plans to staff emergency field hospitals; and
  8. Confirm availability of resources in existing stockpiles. 

The Department of Health will also be launching a new, statewide hospital metric tracking system.

We must adapt to this reality and have a plan in place that specifically addresses the challenges that come with it.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Strategy 2 - Increase and Balance Testing Resources and Availability

Under the Winter Plan, New York state will take steps to increase the amount of testing available statewide, but do so in a way that ensures distribution is balanced with testing sufficient across different segments of the population, including:

  • Healthcare workers;
  • Nursing homes;
  • Schools;
  • Essential workers;
  • Business professionals;
  • Personal services testing; and
  • General population, returning students and travelers, etc.

Strategy 3 - Keep Schools Open Safely

One of the most critical aspects of managing the COVID-19 pandemic for governments and parents alike has been answering the question of how and when schools should remain open. On that point, experts from around the globe have determined that as long as a school's infection rate is under control and remains under the infection rate of the community at large, schools should remain open, particularly for students in K-8. Not only does school provide parents with support in terms of childcare, it provides a regularity to life which has been missing for so many children throughout this pandemic. 

Under New York's Winter Plan, efforts will be focused on keeping K-8 and Special Education schools are kept open as long as it can be done safely. The first step will be to establish sustainable, ongoing testing in schools so that they can continue operating in the long term. As part of this, schools located in Orange and Red micro-cluster zones will be required to conduct weekly testing. Schools in Orange Zones will be required to test 20% of in person students, faculty, and staff over the course of a month and schools in Red Zones will be required to test 30% of in person students, faculty, and staff over a month. Pool testing will be allowed as well.

These protocols represent the minimum standard required for schools to stay open and the state may adjust requirements for specific districts based on any special circumstances which may arise. While local districts are able to close at levels under the state's mandatory closure rule, they are urged to keep K-8 schools open whenever it is safe.

Strategy 4 - Prevent Viral Spread from Small Gatherings

Small gatherings have now been identified as the number one spreader of COVID-19, with at least 65 percent of all cases coming from these settings. Now that we are in holiday season, behavioral shifts must be observed by New Yorkers to mitigate the spread. Sixteen states, including New York, have already instituted gatherings limits of less than 10 people, with Kentucky recently moving to gathering limits to 8 or less. While government's ability to monitor small gatherings is limited, public education on the safety concerns of small gatherings is crucial. As New York State did with public campaigns urging mask compliance, New York State will be launching a public education campaign to highlight how small gatherings can lead to the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Strategy 5 - Operationalize an Equitable and Safe Vaccination Program

While a vaccine is expected to be released in the coming weeks, it will be months before a critical mass of available vaccinations for the general public will be available. As the state builds its plan to distribute vaccinations, it will be founded on three main pillars:

  • Fairness;
  • Equity; and
  • Safety.

These pillars, as well as outreach to the Black and Brown communities with poor health outcomes who have been hit hardest by the pandemic, are critical to ensuring a fair distribution of the vaccine.

Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation Establishing a "Right To Publicity" for Deceased Individuals to Protect Against the Commercial Exploitation of their Name or Likeness


Legislation (S5959D /A.5605-C) Establishes Right to Publicity Protections for Deceased Individuals, Ability to Transfer Rights to Descendants

Legislation Establishes Protections Against Revenge Porn and "Deep Fakes"

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S5959D /A.5605-C) that establishes a "Right to Publicity" for deceased individuals to protect against the commercial exploitation, or unauthorized use, of their personal characteristics that have commercial value - their name, picture, voice or signature after their death. Additionally, these rights can be exercised by their descendants, giving performers estates the ability to control and protect their likeness or image after they have died. The legislation also creates new penalties for publishing sexually explicit depictions of individuals, protecting people from revenge porn and "deep fakes," which are synthetic media that are increasingly being used in the digital age to create images of fake events.

"In the digital age, deceased individuals can often fall victim to bad actors that seek to capitalize on their death and profit off of their likeness after they pass away - that ends today," Governor Cuomo said. "This legislation is an important step in protecting the rights of deceased individuals while creating a safer, fairer New York for decades to come."

The "Right of Publicity" refers to every individual's inherent right to control the commercial use of his or her personal characteristics. This legislation balances longstanding First Amendment protections with the need to further protect the unauthorized exploitation of performers for commercial purposes in the digital age, after they have died.

Senator Diane Savino said, "This legislation will protect artists and their image both today and after their death for years to come. It also takes the important step of protecting them from having their image superimposed onto pornographic imagery, which only looks to damage their reputations. These important steps will make our state a safer and fairer place for artists of all levels to call home. I thank Gov. Cuomo for signing this bill into law and look forward to continuing the fight for workers' rights alongside him."

Assemblymember Helene E. Weinstein said, "At present, tens of thousands of performers and broadcasters who call New York home have no protection from unscrupulous operators who steal their image and persona for commercial gain to use after their death. This bill creates significant legal protections against such wrongful conduct, and also protects those in the acting community from those who would use "deep fakes" to falsely depict them as engaging in sexual activity."