Saturday, April 11, 2020

Governor Cuomo Announces Partnership With NYS Court System to Provide Pro Bono Legal Assistance to New Yorkers

  Happy Saturday. Good enjoying Holy Week. Happy Passover. Holy Saturday. Easter is tomorrow. Big day.

Let's go through where we are right now. The good news is the curve of the increase is continuing to flatten. The number of hospitalizations appears to have hit an apex and the apex appears to be a plateau which is what many of the models predicted, that it wasn't going to be straight up and straight down. It was going to be straight up, you time the top number and then you plateau for a period of time and that looks like what we are doing.

The hospitalization rate is down and that's important. We have more people getting infected still. We have more people going to the hospitals but we have a lower number. That is all this is saying. Fewer people are going into the hospitals, still net positive. The three-day average which is what we look at, because day-to-day can be somewhat deceiving, especially when you get towards the weekend, because the weekend reporting gets a little different, but all of the numbers are on the downward slope. Still, people getting infected, still people going to the hospital, but a lower rate of increase.

The number of ICU admissions is down. The three-day average on ICU admissions is down. This is a little deceptive because at one time hospitals had discrete ICU wards for ICU beds. Effectively now in a hospital, all of the beds are ICU beds. It is like the entire hospital has turned into an ICU facility. This distinction is actually, I don't know how enlightening this is. This, however, is still a discrete category. The increase in the number of intubations. As we discussed, the intubations are a bad sign from a health diagnostic perspective. When we talk about the number of deaths, those tend to be people who have been intubated for the longest period of time. While ICU beds may not mean anything anymore in the hospital system, intubations are still intubations. This is a very good sign that intubations are down.

We were worried about the spread from New York City to Long Island and upstate. If you look at the bar chart you can see almost a wave where it did start to move. We have been working very hard in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, which are the surrounding suburbs to New York City and so far we've had hotspots but we've attacked them aggressively and we believe that we have stabilized the situation upstate and in the suburbs which is what you see in that chart.

Terrible news is the number of lives lost - 783 yesterday. That is not an all-time high and you can see that the number is somewhat stabilizing. But it is stabilizing at a horrific rate. 783 people, 777, 779, these are just incredible numbers depicting incredible loss and pain, especially this week especially this week, all 783 individuals and their families are in our thoughts and in our prayers. The total number of lives lost, 8,627, that's up from 7,844.

People ask, well, when is it over, when is it over, when is it over? My children ask that every day. I'm sure everyone's living with the same question. Every time you wake up, you say, when does this nightmare end? And everybody wants to hear that it ends in two weeks or three weeks or four weeks, or, here's the date that I can tell you that it's over, just give me some certainty, some closure, some control of my life back. But I also said from day one, and when I raise my hand to take the oath originally, I would never tell you anything but the truth, even if the truth is inconvenient or painful. Winston Churchill is a hero of mine. His granddaughter, Edwina Sandys, sent me a portrait, a tribute to Winston Churchill, and I thank her for that. But, Winston Churchill said now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. It's just a great Churchill quote, you know, it's precise in how he uses language. I think that's a fair statement of where we are now. This is the beginning that we are in. This was a beginning phase. We're all trying to figure it out. We're all trying to adjust. But it's the end of that beginning phase.

What we do now? We stay the course. What we're experiencing as a product of our actions, period. We do something different, we will see a different reaction in those numbers. Everyone wants to turn to the question of, when do we reopen? I get it. I think the first caution for me is as we enter this new phase of reopen, when do we do it, how do we do it, this person's opinion is here, this person's opinion is here, the best thing we have done to date is we have kept politics out of the discussion. Even though this is a hyper-partisan time, even though we're in the middle of a presidential election, even though it's one of the ugliest political periods I can recall, we've kept politics out of this crisis. I've worked very hard to do that, I've worked very hard to keep myself out of the politics. I have no personal politics, not running for anything. I'm governor of New York, thank you, and that's where I'm going to stay.

I've worked very hard with the president of the United States. We've have had our political differences in the past, no doubt. But there's also no doubt that I've worked hand in glove with the president here, and he has been responsive to New York and responsive to New York's needs, and he's done it quickly and he's done it efficiently. I've literally had conversations with him in the morning where he turned around a decision by that afternoon. I've been in the federal government, I know what it's like to make a decision. And he has really responded to New York's needs.

So, keep politics out of it. Focus on government and focus on policy and keep politics out of it. It's very hard, especially at this time. And you start to hear there's dialogue on reopening and you start to hear people with political theories on whether we should reopen faster, whether we should reopen sooner, why are people against reopening, why are people in favor of reopening? That is corrosive and destructive and if we don't stop it, it will feed on itself. There are no political conspiracies here.

All of the projection models have basically said the same thing. Everyone has basically said the same thing. Everyone has basically said the same thing, which is, first of all, no one has been here before. Second of all, everyone, all of the experts, I didn't have an opinion, because I'm not an expert, all of the experts had higher projection numbers than we actually experienced, and they all said, caveat, government action could flatten the curve, but we don't know what governments will do and we don't know if people will even listen to what governments will do.

But, almost all the experts, when you go back and look at it, had the same basic, heightened, fears. From the New York State projection point of view, Columbia University, highly credible organization, 136,000 New York City only. McKinsey, great organization, 110,000 statewide, 55,000 on a moderate level. Gates, 73,000. Gates-funded IHME, 73,000 statewide. The Gates-funded model I think is the one that the White House most relies on now, currently. All of those models were projections. they all said, depending on what people do. Not even government. What people wind up doing. But it wasn't just these academic, private organizations.

The White House task force was talking about 1.5 to 2.2 million deaths, without mitigation. With mitigation, they were projecting 100 to 240,000 deaths as the best-case scenario. This is the White House task force. The actual estimate has now been adjusted down, but they're still at 60,000 deaths, that they're projecting. The Peter Navarro White House memo was talking about loss-of-life, one to two million souls. One to two million souls, infecting as many as 100 million Americans. CDC was talking about 160 million to 214 million people infected. The whole population is only 328 million. So the CDC was projecting that more than half the population would be infected. They were talking about 2.4 million to 21 million people being hospitalized. We only have 925,000 beds in the United States of America. How would you hospitalize 2.4 million to 21 million people? And that was the CDC.

So, there was no political conspiracy theory. There is no political conspiracy theory. It's uncharted waters for all of us. So let's focus on the facts, let's focus on the data, and let's make decisions that way. And also, if someone says, "Well, CDC was wrong and the White House task force is wrong and Peter Navarro is wrong and the Columbia is wrong and Cornell is wrong and McKinsey is wrong and the Gates funded IHME..." They were all wrong. If I'm representing them, I say it's too soon to tell. It's too soon for Monday quarterbacking because the game isn't even over yet. What do you think we're in? Sixth inning for baseball. You think we're at halftime if it's a football game. You don't know yet what the actual issue is going to be. And you don't know yet how this turns out because many decisions have to be made. You have to reopen, you have to decide how to reopen. You have to decide when to reopen. That is going to be impactful. We don't know if there's going to be a second wave or not. All of these things are yet to come so anyone who wants to say, "Well, here's the score at halftime and I'm going to now claim and try to collect my bet because it's halftime," it doesn't work that way.  The game has to be over and this game isn't over. 

What do we do now? Well, we need to do more testing and more advanced testing and we have to do it faster. That's both the diagnostic testing, that's the anti-body testing. We have to get better at both and we have to be able to create a higher volume faster. We have to be more prepared. We should never go through what we went through on this preparation drill. The federal stimulus bill is going to be key. 

That legislation, in my opinion, has to be better than the past legislation. It has to be less political, less pork barrel and more targeted to the actual purpose. You want to help the places that were impacted, I'll tell you what the federal legislation should do. It should repeal SALT. You want to help New York, which is the most heavily impacted? By the way, you think you're going to reopen the economy without the engine of the New York metropolitan area? You're kidding yourself. You want to help New York, you want to help the places that are effected? Then repeal the SALT provision which was a gratuitous, offensive, illegal - in my opinion - action to begin with, but which literally targeted New York and some of these places, Michigan, Detroit, California. Repeal that if you really want to help places that are affected. To my delegation, they know this issue very well, as does the California delegation, as does the Michigan delegation. That's what you can do if you want to stop with the politics and help people. 

In the meantime, here you're going to have many people who are struggling, businesses who are struggling. We have government programs, but trying to access a government program is like trying to break into a bank sometimes. It's not that easy. The New York State court system and our chief judge is going to organize some lawyers statewide to do pro bono legal assistance to help people with issues that they may have: housing issues, access to government program issues, et cetera. Many legal issues are going to stem from this in many places where people need help. Lawyers who have time on their hands who are not working, they're looking for volunteers. 

Most of all, we have to think before we act. These are all big decisions. Reopening. Reopening is both a public health question and an economic question and I'm unwilling to divorce the two. There is no economic answer that that does not attend to public health. In my opinion, you can't ask the people of this state or this country to choose between lives lost and dollars gained. No one is going to make that quid pro quo. I understand the need to bring back the economy as quickly as possible. I understand people need to work. I also know we need to save lives and we have. One cannot be at the expense of the other. 

As we look forward, I'm still troubled by what we just went through. If no one sounded the alarm in January and February, how do we know that it's safe to proceed now? There are stories and there is information that says some of these places that reopened too quickly are now seeing a growth in the number of cases. They're seeing a growth in the infection rate again or they're seeing a second wave. So there's troubling signs on the horizon. I want to make sure that we know this time that we've learned from the other experiences. We're going to be putting together, in New York, a team of the best minds that look at what happened in Wuhan, look at what happened in Italy on the reopening and make sure that what we're doing is based on all the science available internationally. What is the probability, what is the possibility of a second wave happening? What is the possibility of people re-experiencing the virus? There's some reports from South Korea. Let's understand because fool me once, it's one thing to make a mistake once, but this nation should not go through it again. Before we make these decisions, let them be informed by the experiences we're seeing all across the globe. 

There's no doubt that what we're doing now is as impactful and as important as anything that has been done. This is a time where our actions will literally determine life and death. I've been in government most of my adult life on many levels through many circumstances. This is no doubt the most important period for government in my lifetime. There is no doubt about that. The decisions that we make now. Also the potential for the decisions that we make now. These are big questions and we should think about them both in the short term and the long term. How do we reopen? What do we rebuild when we open? How do we do it? Did we learn the lessons from the past? Did we learn the lessons from what we just went through and are we the better for it? Do we take this moment and make it a moment of positive growth? It's transformational, yes, but are we fully experiencing the reality of what we went through, learning from it, and actually going to be the better for it? Are we doing that as a society and are we doing that as individuals? I know the pain, I know the pressure, I know everybody wants to get out of the house. They want to get out of the house tomorrow. They want me to say, we are going to be reopening the economy in two weeks and we beat the beast. The worst thing that can happen is, we make a misstep and we let our emotions get ahead of our logic and fact, and we go through this again in any manner, shape, or form. So, that is what we have to do.

To all of my friends, enjoy this holy week. I know it is different. I am a former altar boy. This was the hectic, busy week when you were an altar boy. Good Friday, Holy Saturday, tomorrow is Easter. For Christians, Catholics it is a very high time of the holy year. Passover week to our Jewish brothers and sisters. To say different, everything has been different. Not going to church, not celebrating - Palm Sunday was last Sunday, not celebrating Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday is different and hard. But, it is the same message, right? Whether you do it from home, whether you do it over a television, or through a computer screen. It's the same message. If anything, that message is more profound during this situation than it normally is. New York Pause. We paused. We slowed down. The activity level slowed down. You reflect more, you think more. I think that is important during this holy week. In the meantime, we stay New York tough, which is smart, which is united, which is disciplined, which is loving. And we are going to get through this.

MAYOR DE BLASIO ON COVID-19 - April 11, 2020

  Mayor Bill de Blasio: Here we are, in the middle of this crisis but we are also in the middle of a holiday season that is one of the anchors of our year, any year, even in the time of pain and sorrow and challenge. Or Jewish community continues to celebrate Passover and our Christian community prepares for Easter, we are all feeling the strange pull of traditions that we cling to and care about and ground us on the one hand, and then pull of this crisis contradicting that, working against it feels like all the time. We are trying to have our deep connection that we all cherish to our traditions, to our faith, to our family and at the same time, working against so many things that hold us back from being connected to each other. I think one of the toughest parts of this is for all of us who are parents and I know even in some ways even more deeply for grandparents, who are not going to have the same connection that they might have and would have in a normal year to their children and grandchildren because people can’t travel, people can’t gather. I think there is a deep, deep yearning and a deep pain when on top of everything else, we are kept apart from the people we love the most and the people who give us so much joy. And all the adults are feeling this crisis and particularly when they can't be near their children and grandchildren, it just makes it even worse, even tougher.

But again, we keep reaching back for our faith, for our beliefs, for our values, for our traditions to help us see our way through. At the same time, we got to think about what our children are going through. This has been such a tough time for them. Such a disorienting time. Our kids, we all know are resilient and we all know that our children can feel our love even if we can't be in the same room with them or even in the same city with them. They can feel our love. But for so many children right now, this is a really difficult, challenging time. And think about what we've asked of our children. It's a lot, nowadays just in normal times, to deal with all the challenges of modern society. I can say as a parent, our children deal with challenges today that I never dealt with when I was growing up and they grow up kind of faster nowadays and there's too much information available, too many real difficult things put before our children, even in normal times. Now think about what these last weeks have been like for our children. Think about the disruption. Think about the confusion and in so many cases the trauma.

A lot of our children have lost a loved one. A lot of our children have seen their families racked by disease. A lot of our children know that someone in the school community they come from, has been real sick or even has passed away because of the coronavirus. I know our children are resilient, but I also know they feel that fear and they feel it in a different way than the rest of us. On top of that, think of what children are going through when they can only spend a little bit of time outdoors. They can't really see their friends the way they are used to. They can't go to school, they can't play team sports. It's been a tough, tough time. But at the same time, we know everything we're doing is to protect our children, our families to help end the pain and the trauma. We've all been through so much, but we have to work constantly to make sure that this ends. This is the thing we all have to be focused on. I know every New Yorker feels this. People are always asking when will this end? And to get to that point we have to work together and we all have to do our part. We all have to support each other. And in this season of faith and this season of love, the highest love we can show for each other is to protect each other, support each other, practice these new rules, these new realities that have actually started to help us get safer. The social distancing, the shelter in place, the things that have been really difficult for everyone and probably in some ways the most difficult for our children are also how we protect our children and our families and we get to that point where we can start to turn the page and work towards a day when we get back to some kind of normal. We get back to the lives we once knew.

So, this conversation about how to protect everyone and how to really keep bending the curve of this disease and how to move us forward. It's been something we've been talking about every day, every hour here at City Hall. And I've been having these conversations with Chancellor Carranza particularly in terms of our schools. And we all have felt that the real pain of knowing that our kids are missing out on so much of what they could have if they were in a school building. But we've also been more and more sure every day that keeping this policy, this strategy of social distancing and shelter in place, keeping that going and deepening that is the best way forward to protect all of us. At the same time, we've seen really heroic efforts by everyone at the Department of Education, by our educators, by all the people who work in our schools, to find every way to keep educating our kids and keep supporting them even through these extraordinary times. And I have to remind everyone, our educators were asked to learn an entirely different way of teaching. And they weren't given a year to get ready. They weren't given a month to get ready. They had a week to quickly retool and turn to distance learning, online learning and make it work. And it's been really an amazing story. And I think when this crisis is over, this is going to be one of the heroic passages. This is going to be one of the amazing moments that will be looked at with admiration. The New York City Public Schools, even in an hour of crisis, managed to come back so strong and create a new reality online to support our kids.

When I made that very tough decision, and I know the Chancellor felt the same way, it was literally a painful decision to close our schools because we feared that moment that we would not be able to bring them back. And I said it bluntly from the very beginning that if we close the schools, there was a very strong likelihood we wouldn't be able to bring them back for this school year. We knew that would be a really huge problem in terms of what we would lose and the education of our children, what families would lose. So many families who depend on, depended on, and still depend on our school system for food, for their children, for a safe place for the kids to be. We knew a lot was being lost, but we also knew, painful though it was, it was the right thing to do to protect everyone, our children, our parents, our families, our educators to protect everyone. And I had a real faith that even though we were asking our educators to do something they'd never done before, that they would rise to the challenge. And they have. You know when you make a decision, it's with the information that you have at the moment. I felt my gut, and I know the Chancellor did too, that our educators would find a way, even with the little time they had to prepare, they'd find a way to do something amazing with distance learning. They have surpassed every expectation. And everyone at DOE, all the folks who are in the leadership at the Department of Education, all of the technology people, everyone who had to put together this amazing system and all the companies we turn to for help who really, really stepped up. Everyone went above and beyond because they realized they had to help our kids. And we didn't know how long this crisis would go on. 

So, before I go on to tell you how we're going to go forward, I just want to say a real thank you. Thank you to Chancellor Carranza, thank you to the whole team at the DOE headquarters that work so hard and I can tell you everyone, whether I called them at midnight or I called them at seven in the morning, they were all working. Because they knew this was sacred, if you will, to make sure that every child got the help they needed. I want to thank all the educators who have done so much who just never gave up, including all those educators who came in and continue to come into our regional enrichment centers to protect and teach the children of first responders and health care workers and essential workers that we need so desperately right now. I want to thank parents. This has not been easy. As I said, it's not easy to be a kid nowadays. It's not easy to be a parent nowadays and parents have really had to dig deep and create and deal with really challenging situations. It is not easy to have a child cooped up at home, I assure you. But our parents have really stepped up and they've been great partners in the distance learning that the DOE has done and we're going to work with them to become even stronger partners. And I want to thank our kids. I want to thank the children of the New York City public schools. There's no, I've said to people for years and years and years, there's nothing more wonderful than a New York City public school education. Not only for what it gives you academically, but for what it gives you in your heart and soul, how it teaches you to deal with every kind of person, the whole world. And our kids, they're finding a way as well.

So, everyone, thank you. Thank you for stepping up and I'm going to ask you to keep stepping up. I'm going to ask you to dig deep and help us through to the end of this crisis. We originally said the best-case scenario would be to come back on Monday, April 20th at the end of the spring break. We could see already, that was not going to be possible many days ago. And then the State put the pause on until April 29th. But we've had conversations in the last few days to say, is it viable? Is it safe? Is it smart? Would it work? Would it help our children? Would it be fair to the entire school community to bring our schools back at this point, at any point between now and the end of June? And after very careful consideration, I announced today that the New York City public schools will remain closed for the remainder of this school year.

Again, there is nothing easy about this decision. I can't even begin to express how much for all of us, the goal of making our schools better for all our kids and fighting against the inequalities that were so clear in our school system. You know, that was the first mission in so many ways of this administration and making sure that kids, including so many kids who have been left behind, got much greater opportunity. That's what we've been so focused on for six years. So, Lord knows having to tell you that we cannot bring our schools back for the remainder of this school year is painful. But I can also tell you it's the right thing to do. It clearly will help us save lives because it will help us to guarantee that the strategies that have been working, the shelter in place, the social distancing, all the focused strategies that are finally beginning to bear fruit, they need the time to continue to be effective. And when I talked to you the other day about the stages we would go through, I reminded everyone, the worst mistake we could make is to take our foot off the gas and end up in a situation where this disease had a resurgence and threatened us even more. We're not going to allow the coronavirus to start to attack us even more and to make sure it doesn't, we have to, we have to be cautious. We have to be smart about the moves we make and we can never get in a situation where we end up jumping too soon and regretting it later.

I had a conversation last night with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who's really been a hero in this entire national crisis. And I said to Dr. Fauci, that I had talked to the Chancellor and to our health care leadership, and really increasingly we were thinking it did not make sense. And he said to me he agreed and he appreciated the sense of being cautious and careful because the most important mission for all of us in New York City and all of us in this country is to end this crisis. To not let it reassert and keeping the New York City public schools closed is a way to contribute to finally beating back the coronavirus. And of course, what we think about every single day, and we think about this during normal times as well, protecting our kids, protecting our families, protecting our educators. From that perspective, this was obviously the right thing to do. So, it's not an easy decision. It's not a decision that is satisfying for all of us who have devoted so much of our time to try and make sure our kids got the very best education. But it is the right decision. And it's also a decision made a little clearer by the fact that the distance learning is working more and more every day and we're going to have more and more good ways to reach our kids and help them over the next few months.

Now we'll be working with the State of New York. We want to work with the State in many ways as we have throughout this crisis. But one of the specific ways is that the State regulations officially require that all school systems around the State have kids in the classrooms for 180 days. Those regulations have been waived to date all over the state. We're going to work with the State to continue that waiver so that we can see the school year through, but again, with distance learning, not with our kids in their school buildings.

Look, the other thing to recognize here is that the timeline says it all. I told all New Yorkers over the last few days, we got to assume that April will continue to be real tough. We're going to go into May, we don't know yet what this disease will do. We may get the kind of relief in May that allows us to begin to make some changes, but that may go into June. But the one thing that was clear to us was if we even want to consider bringing our schools, there was going to be a lot of lead time, a lot of work that would have to be done including in the school buildings to get ready. And again, it was not realistic to believe that that work, which would have to start in just a matter of weeks, would be appropriate given the challenge we face, given the timeline we're looking at.

We also knew that if we just brought kids back for a few weeks, it really wouldn't add that much to their lives academically. The risks simply – the risk did not outweigh the reward. It just proved to be that there was not a clear reason of what we would gain to help our kids. But the challenges and the problems were very, very clear. And we knew that there was a real danger that if we came back, some schools would have to close because of individual cases of coronavirus and it would create so much disruption and confusion. But there's another factor that's really important to point to and it's where I started about what our kids are going through. Our kids have gone through a lot of trauma here. We all know, again, kids are resilient and sometimes they don't show it, but look at what they've had to witness. Look at what they've had to experience and think about those kids who are grieving right now who've lost a grandparent or aunt or uncle or a member of their school community, an educator or another member of their school community. Think about what that's doing to our kids and we want to help them through that. We want to support them. And we don't think the best way to do that is by bringing them back into the schools between now and June. We do think there's much that we can do to support them in the meantime. 

And there's a lot we're going to have to do starting in September that's very different than what we've ever done before. I've spoken with the Chancellor about this, we're going to have to think about September in a way that really is a new era for the New York City public schools and a new approach. And one that's going to have to be very, very mindful of all the trauma that everyone's been through. And really, we're going to have to all work together to overcome it.

So, I'm going to lay out quickly, a five point plan for how we get from here to the opening of school in September. And again, we're going to ask a lot of parents, of teachers, principals, all educators to help us through this path together and work together to help our kids. And it's going to get tough. And not because of the disease alone, but because of the weather. As it gets warmer and warmer, our kids are going to get more and more restless. We know that. So, we have to help you through and we have to give you the best possible tools, the most compelling options to keep our kids focused on the distance learning and keep them safe and indoors for a lot of the day until we really see things change with this disease.

So, the first point is to make sure that the devices, the iPads and all the other devices that we have given out, will give out to kids, that every student who needs one gets one. And we will ensure that that happens by the end of April. I said at the day we had to shut down our schools that we knew a lot of kids just didn't have these devices and there would be a lag time. But we've gotten great cooperation from the companies involved and again, the team at DOE has stepped up. We now need to get devices distributed on a very fast pace. We already can say that 66,000 devices have been distributed. We have to get 240,000 more in the hands of our kids over the next couple of weeks by the end of April. And we will do that. And then I've said to the Chancellor, whatever it takes, the entire City government will assist to make sure this happens. So that's point one, devices for every child by the end April.

Point two – parent help line, we're going to take the helplines and hotlines we already have for parents and that they can reach through 3-1-1. We're going to expand them, we’re going to add more educators, add the ability to get much more coaching and support for parents in multiple languages and expand the hours. And we'll have a further announcement on that shortly. But a lot of parents, since they're dealing with an unprecedented challenge, they need coaching, they need help, they need support, they need ideas. And a lot of educators and trained professionals that they can reach at any hour of the day in multiple languages to give them that support.

Third, we're going to provide a lot more creative at-home programming. So, teachers already – teachers have always known how to be creative, but they have been extraordinarily creative in this crisis. So, DOE’s been creating new programming. Teachers themselves have been creating all sorts of important new ideas to help our kids. The Parks Department has put together some great new programming online and our Children's Cabinet is doing the same. We're going to be working with a number of media companies here in New York City and creating a variety of free programming to help children and help our families get through this, and more and more compelling options to make that stay at home a little bit easier, but also supercharge the education process in the meantime.

Fourth, we got about 75,000 seniors. They were looking forward to graduation, want for every child who we can help to meet the requirements in time, we need to do that. So very, very important mission and one that the whole DOE family feels deeply right now. We do not want to see these seniors robbed of their future, robbed of that joyous moment when they graduate high school. We have no idea, at this point, if there's going to be anything like a graduation ceremony this year, but we do know that so many of our seniors can graduate on time if we support them properly. So that's going to be a very important focus. We will have a full plan out next week that will allow us to focus on each and every senior individually, help them if they're on track to graduation right now, see it through. If they're not on track, do all we can to get them there. We have a lot of focused capacity to help these seniors. That's going to be a primary objective. So, to all the seniors out there we are going to help you and we're going to communicate with you and figure out what you need. We want the maximum number of seniors graduating on time by June, and we want to support them in every way possible.

And then the fifth point, we are working now on a comprehensive plan to reopen the schools in September and as I said, it will be unlike any other reopening of schools we've ever seen because we're going to have to ensure the safety of all our students in a new way. We're going to have to make sure our vulnerable students get maximum support. We're going to have to do so much for the mental health of our students who have been through as trauma and the mental health of the whole school community. Our educators have been through so much – everyone who works in the schools. We're also going to need to address the emotional impact on parents and families. All of that. This focus on mental health and support for everyone who's been through this crisis will be crucial to our plan to reopen in September. And next school year is going to have to be the greatest academic year the New York City public schools have ever had, because we're going to be playing a lot of catch up. So, we're going to be looking for every conceivable way to make it the richest, most powerful year we've ever had to really help our kids move forward. I'm going to turn to the Chancellor. I think it would be good to let him weigh in now and then I'm going to come back on just a couple of other items before we take questions from the media. So, Chancellor –

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. And I want thank you for your leadership. This is not an easy time, but I also want to echo your words of thanks to all of our educators, our administrators, our food service workers, our custodians, everyone that has been out supporting our students and our families. I've had the opportunity to participate in a number of online forums with families and parents. And the stories that they share with me are both inspiring but also challenging. So, I want to thank our families who have really stepped up and moved mountains to support all of our students. A special thanks to all of our colleagues and friends that are volunteering at the Regional Education Centers, our food service workers, who are also demonstrating true heroism every single day. I want to thank you for your service to your fellow New Yorkers. Without you, this city would grind to a halt. So, thank you for what you're doing. You are true heroes and every night at 7:00 pm when you hear all of those claps and cheers and pots banging, you're part of the heroes that they're celebrating. So, I want you to remember that.

I know that this news today may come as a bit of a shock to everyone out there, but the Mayor and I absolutely agree that this is in the best interest of all New Yorkers. We know that the past few weeks have not been easy. And we've asked a lot of our teachers and our administrators and our families and our students, I know you're exhausted. But thank you for continuing to do the work that you do. While we may not be together in school buildings, I want to be very clear that schools remain in session because of our teachers and our administrators and the learning continues. We just don't do it in person. And that'll continue throughout the rest of the school year by this announcement. I also want to reemphasize what the Mayor said. We are going to be here to support you, both our teachers, our administrators, our students, and our families, through this transition. We're staffing up our parent hotline, we're speeding up device delivery. And I want to thank you, Mr. Mayor, for helping us work with the supply chain. We, literally, when you think about what is happening around the world, every school system in the world is ordering devices right now. And we are at the top of the list because of your intercession, Mr. Mayor. So, thank you.

We're staffing up and we're going to be there every step to support you as we finish this school year in remote learning mode. We know what an undertaking this has been. But we want to thank you. Remember the two words that we've continued to emphasize. Number one is flexibility and the second is patience. So, thank you for your flexibility and your patience. We will also be reaching out to families to get your feedback about how remote learning is not only going but what that should look like as we go into the rest of this school year because we truly want it to be as an enriching experience as possible. You are truly our partners in this effort and we want to thank you.

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you very much, Chancellor. Let me just turn to a couple of other quick items, important matters, but I want to get through them quickly and then we'll say a few words in Spanish and we'll turn to our colleagues in the media for questions. So, another area where we are focused, of course, on protecting people, protecting their health, ensuring that we do everything to address this crisis is with some are almost vulnerable New Yorkers who are homeless. And our shelter system is an area where we are focused on ensuring that those who do not have a home are protected, that they are given the support they need through this crisis. It's tough enough to not have a place to live. We want to keep people safe and healthy and make sure all the support they need is there for them.

So, first I want to announce that by Monday, April 20th, we will have 6,000 homeless people in our shelter system who were in other settings, will now be in hotel settings. So, 6,000 single New Yorkers, meaning single adults, will be in hotels, not traditional homeless shelters. That's about one-third of the single clients of our overall shelter system moved into hotel settings. We are doing that because we think that is the right balance to strike as we ensure that people get what they need to be safe. And I want to remind everyone, when we talk about the health and safety of homeless people, we have to protect everyone from COVID-19. We also have to support the needs of homeless folks well beyond COVID-19, folks who have serious physical issues that they might need support with, but also a lot of whom have mental health issues and need support and need services available to them constantly. And that's what happens, of course, in so many of our homeless shelters. So, we're going to keep that going while also recognizing a number of people need to be in hotel settings. We'll strike that balance.

Those who will be prioritized across our shelter system for transfer to hotels, will include seniors, will include, of course, anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, or who tested positive for COVID-19. They, of course, will be isolated in hotel settings. And anybody in shelters where it's been difficult to achieve social distancing. So, I want this to be clear. Some shelters have a lot of space, some do not. Where it's clear to our Department of Social Services and our Department of Homeless Services that social distancing cannot be achieved properly, a number of those clients will be moved to hotels to achieve the balance, to make sure there is the proper social distancing. So, we will use those hotels aggressively as a tool to support homeless individuals, to strike the right balance in our shelters to make sure people who need to be isolated are isolated. Commissioner Steve Banks is with me here, our Social Services Commissioner. I want to thank him and his whole team. They've done a remarkable job of keeping people safe in the shelter system and we have all agreed on this plan as the best way forward to use hotels to ensure that we can strike the balance and achieve those health and safety goals that are paramount right now.

We are also at the same time in this crisis working to continue what we talked about before the coronavirus hit us, which is getting more and more New Yorkers off the streets who have been permanently living on the streets. To do that, even in the midst of this crisis – and I commend everyone at Social Services, Homeless Services – we’ll open 230 new Safe Haven beds and low-barrier beds. These are the kinds of beds and facilities that help us get people immediately off the street who have reached that point where they're ready to finally come in and accept shelter and change their lives and hopefully never, ever go back to the streets. A lot of our street homeless folks are going through a lot right now like everyone, of course. We're going to remind them and show them that there's a better way and it's available to them now. And those outreach workers, those hero outreach reach workers continue to do their work while being safe. And we're going to work hard to get more and more people off the streets into shelter, particularly those who are older. That will be a focus – an intense focus in these next weeks.

Finally, I want to do some thank-yous every chance I get. I want to thank people who are doing amazing things. So many New Yorkers have been heroic, so many New Yorkers have dug deep to help each other. I want to do a special thank you to everyone at the Parks Department. We have asked a lot of them and they've been doing amazing things. The one thing I don't think people think about is, the Parks Department has part of how we help our kids who have to stay home because of shelter in place. But they have been, they've been coming up with great, exciting content to ensure that kids have something new and exciting to participate in from home. If you go to, you can see the great content that Parks Departments put together.

But I also want to thank all the Parks workers, everyone at the Parks Department, especially the frontline workers in our parks. They've been working, despite all the challenges, to keep the parks safe and clean. They have been absolutely teaching and enforcing social distance and it's been remarkable how well they've done that. The results we've heard consistently from the Parks Department, from the NYPD have been really striking how well they've done it, convincing people that we all have to do social distancing together. This was not, I assure you, what Parks workers thought they had signed up for when they took their jobs, but they have been adapting and doing a hell of a job, helping to ensure that our parks are safe for everyone. So, thank you to everyone at the Parks Department.

And always want to thank those who are supporting all of our frontline heroes. And a lot of people have stepped up. Someone that New Yorkers know well from his illustrious career on the basketball court, John Starks. He has dished out an assist, and this time it's not with a basketball. This time it's 3,00 sets of scrubs for our city hospitals to help out our health care workers. IBM has provided a half-a-million dollars in [inaudible] technology to the Department of Health and a million donation to the Department of Education. Apollo Global Management, and cofounder Josh Harris, have provided 100,000 N95 masks. That's outstanding. 100,000 N95 masks to our public hospitals, particularly to Elmhurst Hospital. We are so grateful for that. And Salesforce has made a half-million dollar donation as well to help the effort to fight COVID-19 in New York City. So, a lot of people stepping up, a lot of people helping from all over the city, all over the country, and we are so appreciative. And I'll close, before a few words in Spanish by saying, look, even in the midst of this challenge and this pain another thing that people are doing that brings out the beauty of the holiday season is they are living out their faith.

All of you are helping each other, respecting each other, supporting each other. All of our faiths, all of our beliefs, no matter what your belief system is, they almost all come back to the same place, which is love each other, help each other. And that's what we're seeing New Yorkers do. And it's beautiful even amidst the pain and the struggle. So, thank you because you're showing the whole world something very beautiful in this time of challenge. 

What's Happening in the 81st Assembly District?
  • NYC DOE Closes Schools for Rest of Year
  • USPS in Trouble
  • Updated Unemployment Claims Process
  • Absentee Ballots Authorized for June 23
  • Van Cortlandt Park Field Hospital
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NYC DOE Closes Schools for Rest of Year
Today, New York City announced that public schools would be operating remotely for the duration of the 2019-2020 school year. I believe this is a prudent decision that allows teachers, parents, students, and school administrators to settle into a new routine and will make everyone involved a little bit more comfortable knowing what to expect for the next several months. However, please note that Governor Cuomo has said that the decision to close schools is up to him and that no final decision has been made yet.

As a reminder, all students have the option of free home WiFi through Altice (aka Optimum). I recommend working through your student's school if you have difficulty getting access to this necessary resource, but please let my office know if you need any help. New York City has also made available remote learning devices for those students who do not have them at home. Links and details are available in the summary section below.

It is also important to remember that school is also about more than academic learning for students. School is an opportunity for kids to socialize with each other, have fun and explore a wide variety of interests. I highly encourage families to explore some of the resources that our city has made available to support non-academic learning and fun.

New York City has launched a Fun at Home portal which contains links to a number of virtual activities that kids and teens can take advantage of during this stay-at-home period. The New York Public Library also has a number of great activities and resources available for people of all ages through their website.
USPS in Trouble
It has been several weeks now since my office first started hearing reports of people not receiving their mail. I am happy to hear people who had been missing packages have started to receive them, but new problems are cropping up and I fully expect this to be a big problem for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

USPS has responded to our concerns from several weeks ago about the Kingsbridge Station and 10463 mail delivery. They brought in extra workers and should have sorted through the backlog by now. I have some serious concerns about the information being communicated between local post offices and leadership in Washington D.C. For example, USPS leadership seems to think that information about reduced post office hours and problems with delivery were effectively communicated by signs posted outside of the post office. Respectfully to the people working at our post offices, I think it is clear that the communication between USPS and postal customers has been wholly inadequate and highly problematic.

I am continuing to work hard to organize our community's elected officials for an escalated response to USPS. The United States Postal Service was already financially constrained before this pandemic, and I believe it was also plagued by ineffective management and internecine conflicts about privatization of mail services. The pandemic has only exposed the pre-existing cracks in USPS in a dramatic fashion, with people entirely reliant on mail service while they are confined to their homes. I strongly believe that it is important for our country to have a nationalized postal service (although I do think it is okay to charge more to online retailers like Amazon, especially since their business model detracts from brick and mortar stores that are part of the backbone of our communities).

As much as I am loathe to admit this, I cannot solve this problem on my own. I am in active conversations with our Congressional representatives, Congressman Eliot Engel and Congressman Adriano Espaillat, as well as other elected officials in the Bronx to brainstorm ideas on how to get the USPS to step up and offer us some transparency about what to expect for the next several months we are expected to be dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. I have raised the issue with representatives from the Governor's Office as well as the White House.

I appreciate everyone's patience as we wait for USPS leadership to address the systemwide problem with mail service due to worker shortages. To be frank with you, I believe we should all be tempering expectations about how frequently we get mail delivered to our homes. I am personally expecting mail delivery once every three or so days. I am extremely concerned about people who have gone without mail delivery for over a week, and sometimes more than two weeks.

Please continue letting my office know if you are having issues and we will keep adding you to our list. I intend to work with my office to create a dedicated portal (likely through Google Forms) which should help streamline our office's ability to process hundreds of complaints. Stay tuned for updates.
Updated Unemployment Claims Process
At long last, it appears that the New York State unemployment claims process has improved. The NYS Department of Labor coordinated with Google to update their website (so hopefully people don't get bounced out and lose everything they already wrote), and have designed a system which now alerts you when you are missing fields that will require a phone call follow-up.

The telephone system, which is the single-largest complaint related to this specific issue that my office has been receiving, has also been changed. Now, you do not need to call the telephone line in order to complete your claim. Once your claim is submitted online, you should be added to a queue for NYS DOL to call you within 72 hours.

This is a new system, so I expect there to be hiccups over the next few days as DOL workers adjust to the changes. Please let me know if you experience any problems with the new website or phone system, especially if you do not hear from someone within 72 hours of submitting your claim online. I am also interested to hear from people who had success with the new system so we can estimate how widespread any problems are.

For details about how the federal CARES Act impacts your unemployment benefits, please see this webpage from the NYS Department of Labor:
Absentee Ballots Authorized for June 23
At long last, New York State has temporarily authorized absentee ballot eligibility for people who are worried about getting sick. The Governor's Executive Order specifies that this only applies to elections held on or before June 23, which I believe is an important detail that helps this change comply with the New York State Constitution (which governs eligibility for absentee ballots).

Please note: you will still have to apply for an absentee ballot.

This can be done by requesting a paper application by telephone (1-866-VOTE-NYC aka 1-866-868-3692) or downloading a paper application and mailing it in (available here). The Executive Order also includes language that permits voters to apply for an absentee ballot online (i.e. eliminating the requirement for an in-person signature or appearance), however it does not appear that New York City's Board of Elections has released the details of that process yet.

I believe this is a critical change in policy that will empower our democracy to continue operating through the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I do think it is important to remember that Boards of Election are operated by people just like everyone else. These workers are getting sick and are afraid of getting sick too, and this expansion of absentee eligibility will undoubtedly be a huge logistical challenge for them. I hope that the federal government steps up with financial support to help local jurisdictions operate elections by mail, as is necessary to continue fighting against the spread of novel coronavirus.
Van Cortlandt Park Field Hospital
As you may have noticed, our beloved Van Cortlandt Park has been identified as a site for an emergency field hospital to help expand hospital capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. I received a call from the contractor who is building this facility in coordination with the Army Corps of Engineers last week saying that they have been told to stop work until the need for beds is more clear.

I am worried that this decision is premature, but frankly if we don't need the beds (due to sufficient hospital capacity elsewhere) then I think that would be a major victory in our fight against the pandemic. However, presuming that the work resumes as more people get sick, I am incredibly proud that our park will be used to help save lives.

For my entire tenure as your Assemblyman, I have fought to protect Van Cortlandt Park. But the lives that could be saved at this location might be those of someone you or I care about, and we should do everything we can to prevent the loss of life.

Adding a wrinkle to this field hospital are some unfortunate concerns about the track record of the contractor selected by the federal government to build this field hospital (Parsons). Although I am concerned about the allegations raised in this article from Courthouse News, my immediate priority is saving as many lives as we can. As a state legislator, I will likely not have any oversight capacity on this contract – but at some point, we will need to do a retrospective on all the money that has been spent by every level of government on this public health crisis.

For now, I am waiting to see what the need will be. I hope from the bottom of my heart that construction of this field hospital is not necessary, and that delaying work by at least one week will not result in the loss of any lives. Time will tell.
Thank You to Grocery Store Workers
It is important to remember that many members of our community are not able to work from home because their jobs are essential to helping people stay alive during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grocery store workers are on the frontlines of this public health crisis, and they are putting the health of themselves and their families on the line every day they come to work. Please remember to be patient and kind to grocery store workers when you go shopping (from a safe six-feet away). Even though New York has raised minimum wage to $15 per hour, it is still hard for many workers to put food on their own tables. While I do agree that all frontline workers deserve hazard pay for their work during this pandemic, in the short-term we can all do our part to say thank you.
Call NYS Department of Health Hotline at
1-888-364-3065 for Information about Coronavirus
As COVID-19 takes hold in our state, including here in our own backyard, people are understandably getting more nervous and we are seeing changes in how our daily lives typically go. I believe one of the most important things we can do is to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of disseminating accurate information.

The New York State Department of Health has set up a Novel Coronavirus Hotline so that you can get accurate, up-to-date information about COVID-19. Please call 1-888-364-3065 with any questions. You can also visit their website:

  • For your convenience, here is my running summary of information that is being put forward by Governor Cuomo and other government entities. Items that have been recently updated are marked with the date the new information was announced. Most new items are discussed in detail above, and marked as new below.
*UPDATED* SYMPTOMS: Per the NYS Department of Health, the 2019 novel coronavirus may cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms like: cough, fever, trouble breathing, and pneumonia. The CDC believes at this time that symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone at high risk for complications should talk to their healthcare provider for more information. NYC Department of Health has issued guidance on when people should call 911 with concerns about COVID-19 symptoms. If you have mild to moderate symptoms, you do not need to call 911 but should self-isolate and contact your doctor if symptoms do not improve after three-four days. If you have any of the following symptoms, please call 911 or go to an emergency room right away: trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to stay awake, and blue lips or face. This is not a complete list. If you are concerned you may be experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 immediately.

SPREAD: Per the Center for Disease Control, the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. This happens in the following ways: between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet); through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks – these droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
PREVENTION (HEALTHY): The New York State Department of Health has recommended that everyone should: wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (especially before eating), avoid touching eyes/nose/mouth with unwashed hands, avoid close contact with people who are sick (keep a distance of at least 6 feet), cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and discard it in a closed container, clean frequently touched surfaces and objects. The CDC also recommends covering your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others, but instructs that we not use facemasks that are meant for healthcare workers.
PREVENTION (SICK): The New York State Department of Health has recommended that people who are sick should: stay home (if there is a fever, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicines such as acetaminophen), keep sick household members away from others (separate room is best), and avoid sharing personal items. For cleaning purposes, NYS DOH recommends using soap and water, a bleach and water solution, or EPA-approved household products. You can make your own cleanser with a mixture of 1 cup of liquid unscented chlorine bleach in 5 gallons of water.
MENTAL HEALTH: If you are having trouble coping with things like stress, depression, anxiety, or drug and alcohol use, NYC Well is available 24/7 in 200+ languages by phone (1-888-NYC-WELL), text ("WELL" to 65173), or chat (here).
JOBS: The city's Workforce1 Career Center launched a Bronx-specific Virtual Center (or call 718-960-2458) to help New Yorkers prepare for, and connect to, jobs across New York City's five boroughs and in every sector of the economy.
  • Reported incidents of domestic violence have risen since the beginning of COVID-19 restrictions. If you or anyone you know is in this situation, please know that nobody has to suffer through it – regardless of pandemic. New York is taking domestic violence very seriously, and will investigate any and all claims that they received.
  • NYC Family Justice Centers: Available by phone (Bronx: 718-508-1220) Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. They can help you with: planning for your safety, applying for public benefits/shelter/housing/other support services and programs, mental health and counseling services for you and your children, referrals to job training and education programs, legal help for orders of protection/custody/visitation/child support/divorce/housing/immigration, connecting to trained law enforcement.
  • 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-621-4673 or online at
  • Chat with a Safe Horizon advocate: Information, advocacy, and support available online through SafeChat on Monday to Friday from 1pm to 6pm (except for holidays).
  • *UPDATED 4/9/2020* ELECTIONS: Governor Cuomo has postponed the Presidential Primary election (originally scheduled for April 28) until June 23 (the same date as a previously scheduled primary election for state elections). New York has also expanded absentee ballot eligibility for the June 23 elections to anyone who is worried about getting sick (in addition to already existing eligibility for temporary illness). Absentee ballots can also be requested electronically, instead of requiring an application to be mailed. For the specific language, please refer to Executive Order 202.15.
MASS GATHERING RESTRICTIONS: New York State (as well as Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) have ordered that non-essential gatherings of any size be cancelled or postponed. In conjunction with city agencies, NYPD is enforcing these restrictions at places like parks, supermarkets, and more. Please let my office know about any problematic locations and we can refer them to the Mayor's Office for their attention.
WORKPLACE RESTRICTIONS: Non-essential businesses must closed. Exemptions will be made for essential service industries, including shipping, media, warehousing, grocery and food production, pharmacies, healthcare providers, utilities, banks and related financial institutions, and other industries critical to the supply chain. For more information, please read Governor Cuomo's guidance on what is considered an "essential" business here. If you believe your employer is violating existing labor laws or any current executive orders, please file a complaint with the NYS Attorney General's Labor Bureau at (212) 416-8700 or For a full list of employment protections offered by the NYS Attorney General, please visit their website here. If your employer is forcing you to work while you are sick, threatened or fired you for reasons related to COVID-19, or to report a non-essential business that is continuing to operate, please file a complaint with the NYS Department of Labor here.
CONSTRUCTION RESTRICTIONS: New York State has clarified the definition of essential construction activity. The only construction activity that is currently permitted is: roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters. For more information, please visit the Empire State Development website here.
*UPDATED 4/10/2020* UNEMPLOYMENT INFORMATION: Claims should be filed online and if necessary, the NYS Department of Labor call center will call the claimant within 72 hours. NYS Department of Labor is asking that last names starting with A-F file on Mondays, G-N file on Tuesdays, and O-Z file on Wednesdays. Anyone who missed their scheduled day should file on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. If you have to call the Department of Labor regarding your claim, their hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8am to 7:30pm and Saturday/Sunday from 7:30am to 8pm and can be reached at 1-888-209-8124. If you are having difficulty with your account, please direct those requests for assistance to 800-833-3000. For more information, please visit the NYS Department of Labor unemployment page. Please contact my office if you do not hear from NYS Department of Labor within 72 hours of partially filing a claim or have other technical challenges or questions.
*NEW* SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE: There are several options available for small businesses who need assistance to continue operations during or after the COVID-19 pandemic. These may include programs run by the United States federal government, New York State, New York City, and non-governmental institutions. Please visit the US Small Business Administration for information about their COVID-19 relief resources: SBA Guide to COVID-19 ReseroucesPlease visit the NYS Empire State Development website here for information about the federal loans available as well as several other resources available from New York State. Please visit the NYC Small Business Services website here for more information about the federal loans available as well as several other resources available from New York City.
PAID LEAVE & BENEFITS: For employers with more than 100 employees, employees are entitled to at least 56 hours of paid sick leave (up to 14 days if COVID-19 related) but no temporary disability insurance (TDI) and no paid family leave benefits. For employers with between 5 and 99 employees as well as employers with 4 or fewer employees that generate more than one million dollars in revenue per year, employees are entitled to at least 40 hours of paid sick leave followed by NYS paid family leave benefits and TDI. For employers with fewer than 5 employees and who generate less than one million dollars per year, employees are entitled to 40 hours unpaid sick leave as well as NYS paid family leave benefits and TDI. Employers can independently offer paid sick leave at any time. For more details (including about if you chose to self-quarantine yourself) and to apply, please visit the NYS Paid Leave website. If your employer is refusing to pay leave that you believe you are entitled to, please file a complaint with NYS Department of Labor here.
*UPDATED* TAX FILING: The IRS has delayed the filing deadline for federal taxes until July 15, 2020. If you are expecting a refund, you are encouraged to file electronically in order to expedite the receipt of your refund. New York State has also extended their filing deadline until July 15, 2020. For more information from the IRS, please see this guidance here. For more information from NYS Taxation and Finance, please see their website here.
RENT RELIEF: Governor Cuomo has ordered a moratorium on all commercial and residential evictions for 90 days (starting March 20, 2020). I have introduced legislation to extend this for six additional months and prevent landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment due to COVID-19 lost income. NYCHA has launched their Rent Hardship Program, which reduces rent if there is at least a 5% reduction in income and current rent is at least 30% of net household income (apply via NYCHA self-service portal or by contacting your management office).
MORTGAGE RELIEF: The Department of Financial Services has issued a new directive to New York State mortgage servicers to provide 90-day mortgage relief to mortgage borrowers impacted by the novel coronavirus. This includes: waiving mortgage payments based on financial hardship, no negative reporting to credit bureaus, grace period for loan modification, no late payment fees or online payment fees, postponing or suspending foreclosures. PLEASE NOTE: This is not automatic and you must speak with your mortgage lender before adjusting any payments. For more information, please read Governor Cuomo's press release here.
ALTERNATE-SIDE PARKING: Alternate-side parking enforcement will be suspended until Friday, April 17, 2020). For more information: here. I have asked that alternate-side parking be suspended for the duration of this crisis.
DMV LICENSE EXTENSION: If your driver or non-driver ID (issued by the NYS DMV) expires on or after March 1, 2020, Governor Cuomo authorized an extension of that ID until further notice. Online DMV services are available but may experience delays. For more information, please reference Governor Cuomo's executive order: here. The Department of Homeland Security also announced that the REAL ID deadline has been extended until October 1, 2021.
VEHICLE INSPECTION EXTENSION: I've asked the state to extend the time motorists have for car inspections and I am pleased to say any vehicle with a safety or emissions inspection that was valid on March 27, 2020 can continue to operate until at least April 26, 2020. For more information, please see Executive Order 202.11.
*UPDATED 4/11/2020* SCHOOL CLOSURE: NYC DOE schools will continue remote learning over what was previously scheduled as Spring Break (4/9 - 4/17). NYC Department of Education school buildings will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. If your child needs a device for remote learning, please submit this form to NYC Department of Education: here. For more information, including about remote education and meals, please visit the NYC Department of Education website: here. All schools in New York State have been ordered to close until at least April 29, 2020 in accordance with Executive Order 202.14.
PRICE GOUGING: Please report any incidents of price gouging to the NYS Attorney General