Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the state is expanding diagnostic testing criteria to include more frontline New York workers - a direct result of rapidly increasing diagnostic testing capacity. The expanded criteria will now allow all first responders, health care workers and essential employees to be tested for COVID-19 even if they aren't symptomatic. The state will continue to expand testing criteria as testing capacity increases.
Saturday, April 25, 2020
Governor Cuomo Announces Expansion of Diagnostic Testing Criteria to Include All First Responders, Health Care Workers and Essential Employees
Attorney General Letitia James released the following statement demanding that fast food restaurants provide employees with personal protective equipment (PPE) in accordance with New York law:
“It is critical to public safety and required under the law that fast food restaurants provide adequate PPE to their workers. These workers are risking their lives to serve New Yorkers during this crisis, and they must have the proper resources to protect themselves and those around them. My office will not hesitate to take action if we determine that these companies are in violation of executive orders that were implemented to protect our communities and stop the spread of COVID-19.”
If you believe your employer is violating labor laws or your rights during this public health crisis, please report it to the Attorney General’s Office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 1-800-771-7755.
State Senator Biaggi Hands Out 300 Meals, Masks, Gloves, and Hand Sanitizer to Pelham Parkway NYCHA Residents
Saturday at 11 AM State Senator Alessandra Biaggi with Kyle Munoz, and others who donated money for Masks, Gloves, and Hand Sanitizer along with three hundred meals prepared by Posto 22 Restaurant of New Rochelle provided the much needed items to residents of the Pelham Parkway Houses.
The orderly line of people began forming at 7:30 AM from Astor Avenue down Wallace Avenue. By the time the distribution began at 11 AM the line went around the corner onto the Pelham Parkway North Service Road. Three stations were set up, a meal table, a mask and glove table, and a table to fill small bottles from gallon sized bottles of hand sanitizer.
Senator Biaggi gave out each of the three hundred meals that were placed in a paper bag. Police officers from the 49th precinct were on hand to keep order, but only had to help give out the supplies since the people were very well mannered.
Above - The line went from Astor Avenue, down Wallace Avenue, and around the corner onto the Pelham Parkway North Service Road.
Below - Station one, pick up a delicious prepared meal from Senator Biaggi who was smiling under her mask.
Above - Station Two, Gloves and Masks.
Below - Station Three fill up your bottle with hand sanitizer.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz - COVID-19 UPDATE: Absentee Ballot Applications to be Sent to All Registered Voters
Friday, April 24, 2020
Governor Cuomo: We're looking at that now. We don't have a decision now, but I'll tell you the truth. I said to the federal government, I've been talking about this for how long, two months. Two months. I said how can you have a federal government in a position where they're not going to provide funding to state governments and local governments? Small business, airlines, business program, now some of these large corporations now apparently have been taking money from the government programs and they're not funding state and local.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. So, you know, when we started on this road together, none of us asked for it. None of us could have imagined it. But in the beginning, as we were dealing with the coronavirus, there were some phrases that we would hear and some efforts to characterize it and sort of tell us what we were dealing with. And at first, we thought it sounded right. And I remember one phrase we heard a number of times was that coronavirus was the great equalizer. And that's because very early on we saw celebrities getting infected, heads of state, athletes, royalty, literally royalty getting infected by this disease. I remember when all of us think about celebrities, the night people heard that Tom Hanks was infected. It was kind of a shock to people given what he means to so many folks in this country. So, in the beginning we heard about all these very prominent people testing positive and the story kept getting written as this was something affecting everyone the same and no one was immune and no one could hide from it. And it really did seem to be something that affected everyone equally.
So, we have a choice to make at this point. Every city, every state, our nation all have a choice to make. We can either ignore these disparities or we can throw up our hands and say, hey, that's just part of life. There's nothing you can do. Or we can attack these disparities. We can take them head on. We can fight back when we see something unacceptable and something that doesn't fit our values as New Yorkers. And I think you know where this is going. New Yorkers have a lot of fight in them. It's one of the great things about this city. People don't back down from a fight. People are not intimidated. New Yorkers will fight back against these disparities. We will fight back against these inequalities. We will not accept the status quo that's broken. We didn't accept it before and now it's been laid bare even more and it's time to fight with everything we've got
Now, two weeks ago when we laid out the facts about these disparities, we wanted to show what was really going on. And again, at first it wasn't entirely evident but it became more and more so. And then when we are able to show the whole picture, it was quite clear. So at that time I laid out the outline of a four point action plan and we've continued to build that plan each step along the way. Let me go through it with you now to let you know the things we're doing.
So first of all, again, the outline of the plan. Point one was to protect and preserve our public hospitals to make sure they could be that front line of protection for all people, and particularly those who had experienced the greatest disparities. Point two, a massive public awareness campaign. This disease is confusing to everyone. For a lot of folks who haven't had as much access to information including if they don't happen to speak English, it was very important to really double down with a huge public outreach campaign. Second grassroots – I mean third, excuse me, grassroots outreach. And then last -- phone, a clinician, telemedicine, the ability for people to talk to even if it's not the right time to go to a doctor's office, to talk to a doctor or a nurse or trained professional to get advice and to get guidance whenever, however, people need it. This is all about protecting people. This is all about keeping people healthy, but it's about focusing as well on people who need help and oftentimes haven't gotten it in the past. We want to fix that in so many ways right now. And make that help, make that health care, make that guidance more available than ever.
So first, with the public hospitals, we've talked a lot about it, but I want to summarize because it's important to realize when I came into office, the public hospitals were in deep trouble, Health + Hospitals on the verge of bankruptcy, and there was talk all the time, would we have to close public hospitals? We would not lay off doctors and nurses and health care workers, and we didn't. In fact, we invested billions to keep our public hospitals going. No one gave me or anyone else in City Hall a memo and said, Hey, there's going to be a pandemic in 2020, you should keep your public hospitals going for that reason. We kept them going because it was the right thing to do to help people, anyone, everyone in New York City who needed health care. But thank God that those actions allowed us to fortify our public hospital system in advance of this horrible pandemic. Because right now they have been heroic and all the folks who work at Health + Hospitals, thank you. I want to say thank you and I'll say it a lot of other times. You've been heroic. You've been extraordinary. Some of the most famous instances of heroism in this story over the last two months have come from our public hospital system. All our public hospitals, of course, we all know what's happened at Elmhurst Hospital, but at Lincoln Hospital, at Bellevue, at so many, there has been a heroic fight. And this has been one of the reasons we've been able to hold the line and keep our hospitals going and keep saving lives.
So, in the midst of this fight, it was clear we had to throw everything we had into supporting all our hospitals, but that our public hospitals were really the front line of the front line. So we added thousands more personnel. We hired nurses and other medical personnel, not only from around New York City in this area, but from all over the country to come in and help out our public hospitals. We worked with the federal government to bring in hundreds of military medical personnel who have been outstanding and had done so much to help us through this crisis.
Those PPEs, we always talk about personal protective equipment. We've sent hundreds of thousands of masks, gloves, face shields, you name it. Constantly into our public hospitals and all our hospitals. We've been building our own, as we've talked about this week, literally for the first time in New York City -- face shields, surgical gowns, ventilators, all these things. The bridge ventilators we talked about earlier in the week. All of these things being made to protect our ability to provide health care.
That was what we had to do just to get to the point that we knew that our hospital system would hold and that we could fight back this disease. But now we're going on the offensive with the community testing sites, also run by our public hospital system, by Health + Hospitals, five sites already open around the five boroughs. And now adding additional Health + Hospitals testing sites today, adding – at the Health + Hospitals facilities. Adding three more next week at NYCHA buildings, public housing, buildings run by Health + Hospitals. We also have, it's important to note another part of the community-based testing, working with Local 1199SEIU the health care workers union and One Medical, a private provider. Those are open as well. These grassroots testing facilities all focused on the hardest hit neighborhoods, combined will be able to do about 10,000 tests per week to begin. That number will keep going up as we get more capacity.
So that is about what we've done to strengthen public health care. The first rung of this effort to fight back disparities. Now the second is the public awareness campaign. So I’ve been over some of this before, I want to add back in mid-March we ran the first big campaign, $8 million focused on television, print, digital, 15 languages, but we then found that we needed to do even more to reach the communities that needed more information that weren't always getting it because of language barriers and economic realities. We had to get more and more information out there. And so, we have now initiated a $10 million public awareness campaign, advertisements specifically aimed at the hardest hit communities. And we're hoping that more and more people of course so many people at home, that this will really reach people and saturate and get them all the information that will give them a sense of what to do, but also where to turn for help.
TV, radio, digital, again, 15 languages focus on 88 particularly critical zip codes where we've seen the greatest challenges.
We're creating webinars with health officials and commissioners of different agencies to help people directly hear what's going on. That's reaching thousands of New Yorkers more. And we're going to start soon specific efforts with community-based health clinics, not going to announce those details today, but they will be announced in the next few days. This is going to be a crucial piece of this equation as well.
The last piece – telemedicine, and this again gets to working more and more at the community level in another way. Because telemedicine allows you to have that direct connection with a trained provider and allows people to just ask whatever's on their mind, whatever questions, whatever concerns. I think a lot of times given just the sheer confusion that has been part of this experience for all of us. There's such a kind of every day set of questions that people have about the coronavirus and there's no fully satisfying answers because the scientific community still doesn't understand it enough. But I think people need to talk. They need to get their questions out. They need to ask, what do I do in this situation? What I do for example, if you know, I'm in a crowded home and someone appears to be getting sick, how do we isolate that person properly? Is it time for that person to be sent to a hotel or someplace else where they can be fully isolated? How do I know when it's time to reach a doctor or go into a health care facility? These kinds of questions, people need more human interaction. A lot of folks have their own doctor they can call and that's great. But for folks who don't have their own doctor or can't reach their doctor, we need to keep building the telemedicine capacity. And this is a lot through working with community health providers as well. A lot of smaller community-based health practices, again, have tremendous trust from the people they serve, but they don't necessarily have experience dealing with telemedicine. So, we're working with a thousand small community-based health providers to help them determine what's the best way to reconnect more deeply with those they serve. Now for 250 of them, they've signed up immediately to get trained in telemedicine to make this much more of what they do. We're going to help them quickly get fully involved with telemedicine, particularly for their patients who have chronic conditions. Other small providers need other types of support. Whatever they need, we're going to give it to them because we know they're having that kind of frontline direct relationship with people who need help.
Now we have more, that will be coming out soon on telemedicine because this is going to be a much bigger effort. And again, in the next few days we'll have additional announcements. But one thing I will raise now and it is a good thing and it's something that is historic because it's the first time in the city's history that the City has done this. The City government helping these local clinics, local providers to do wellness calls. So again, this is not just someone calls when they have a question or a problem, but proactive wellness calls as an aggressive strategy to reach the most vulnerable patients, to just check in with them regularly and see if they need something. I want on a very big scale, the ability to anyone who needs to talk to a health care professional to be available so folks can get those questions answered. But we want to more and more pinpoint the individuals who need those proactive regular wellness calls. And that's something we're ramping up as well..
Now I want to switch gears here and talk about another reality of people being hit really hard by this crisis. And this goes now to some of the economic reality. It's hitting the same neighborhoods that are feeling those health care disparities. They're being hit very hard by this economic crisis. Obviously, everyone's being hit hard. This is something where we're seeing the pain very widespread. So many folks have lost their jobs of every description in every community -- working class people, middle class people, you name it. People have been thrown for a loop. And we've got to help people through this crisis. And for so many New Yorkers, that means if you don't have your livelihood, you cannot keep the basics going. How are you going to pay for food? How are you going to pay for medicine? And the question all New Yorkers ask themselves all the time, how am I going to pay the rent? We need to make sure that every New Yorker can stay in their home during this crisis. We got to keep a roof over everyone's head. And so this is a crucial part of what we're doing right now to make sure that that basic human need, knowing you will have shelter, knowing you will have a roof over your head, is something that New Yorkers know as secure as we fight through this crisis.
Now, that begins with knowing the most basic thing, that you will not never be evicted during this crisis. That no landlord will tell you, you have to leave even temporarily. We've heard reports of some landlords saying, Oh, you have to leave because you're sick. Come back when you're, well. That's not legal. If someone needs a place to be because they can't properly be in their apartment while they're sick. Again, we have those hotel rooms available, but that's a decision for doctors to make, not for landlords to make. So, anyone who is experiencing a problem with a landlord can call 3-1-1, get our tenant hotline. You'll get free support. Everything we provide is free of course, support knowing what's available to help you, and the rules, the standards that you need to know about your rights and how you can protect yourself if you're dealing with an unreasonable landlord. Obviously, all the other ways you can get help, whether it's food or any other kind of assistance. But if you need legal help, we will provide it for free. If you're being threatened by eviction, which no one should be at this point, but if it's happening to you, we will get you legal help immediately to stop it. And that is regardless of who you are, it doesn't matter what neighborhood you are in, what your income is, what your immigration status is. Anyone threatened with eviction at this moment, the City of New York will step in and we will stop that eviction. And I want people to remember, when in doubt on something, anything COVID-19 related, I mean we use 3-1-1 for many other things traditionally. But right now, especially the focus of 3-1-1 is anything related to the coronavirus. If you might be threatened with eviction in the middle of this crisis, that is a fundamental problem. Pick up that phone to 3-1-1 so we can help you.
Now as we get to the first of each month, this question of how am I going to pay the rent is coming up for more and more New Yorkers. And people are struggling. Thank God there's been some help finally from the federal government but it hasn't reached everyone by any stretch and it's not going to last for long. So, the bottom line is tenants need more help. And the first thing we have to do is make sure that comes from the City of New York. I'll talk about what the State needs to do and there's a lot the State needs to do and they need to do it quickly. But the City has to do our part of the equation and that comes to our Rent Guidelines Board. The Rent Guidelines Board put out a report late yesterday. And I think it was very confusing to people. And I want to set the record straight now. It's a report they do every year. It is a report that explains in an objective manner what is going on with the economy and what it means for landlords, what their costs are. It's a report that's supposed to take stock of one piece of the equation. But as I said from the very beginning of this administration, the problem historically with the Rent Guidelines Board was, and I'll be blunt about this, it was over decades in the city, it's been around about 50 years. It was more focused on the interests of landlords than the interests of the vast majority who are tenants. And so, when I came into office, I said the Rent Guidelines Board needs to consider both sides of the equation, factually objectively and determine what to do. And the Rent Guidelines Board over the last six years in several instances decided that a rent freeze made sense, in the other instances that our rent increased made sense, but a modest one. It's been a much more fair equation since the needs of tenants were given the weight that they deserve.
The report yesterday I think was misleading because it suggested that the interest was in what landlords are going through and I said very clearly last night, the challenges that landlords are facing right now are real. I'm not belittling them, but they pale in comparison to the challenges that tenants are facing. It is abundantly clear, of course the Rent Guidelines Board will hold hearings. It will go through its processes very quickly and get to a decision. But to me it's abundantly clear we need a rent freeze. The facts couldn't be clearer. Greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. I can't even believe, and I never thought as your mayor, I would be telling you that we were going through something that could possibly compare to the Great Depression. And when I think of the Great Depression, I think of the stories my older relatives used to tell me about, that sounded like something that was so severe, so difficult that we couldn't possibly imagine it happening again. And yet a lot of what we saw in the Great Depression is happening right now, right here. So, my message to the Rent Guidelines Board is clear. Issue your reports, do your research. That's great. Hold your hearings as quickly as possible. Take your vote and give the tenants who are rent stabilized in this city, over 2 million New Yorkers give them a rent freeze. They need it. It's clear, the facts are clear. Let's get this done.
Now the State of New York has a lot more they need to do. And I've said this a number of times, and I know we've all been dealing with a crisis. The State’s had a lot to deal with, but it's time to focus on the needs of renters. First of all, the most obvious solution, let renters use their security deposits to pay the rent now. This is something the State could do quickly and easily and it makes so much sense. Those security deposits are stuck in escrow accounts. The tenant can't use them. The landlord can't use them until someone leaves their apartment for good. It makes no sense given that we're dealing with an absolutely unprecedented crisis. The State needs to act, free up those security deposits, let the tenant use them for rent. That helps the tenant, that helps the landlord. There's no reason not to authorize this right now. It's an emergency action that would help a lot of people. Second, for folks who can't afford it, look, some people can still afford the rent. That's great. Or some people can afford their rent for a period of time and we hope the economy comes back quickly. But for folks who simply can't afford anything and still, you know, hopefully they can get that right to use their security deposits, but especially while they don't have that right, if people just run out of money, let them defer the rent. They can pay it back after a period of time. If people don't have any money, they don't have any money. I believe there should be a plan to allow people to defer their rent and then have a repayment plan that's set that everyone agrees to. So, the landlord knows they will get the money back eventually. But you can't ask people to come up with money they just don't have. And lastly, as I said right now, there is an eviction moratorium. This is something the City and State have worked on in common. The court system, everyone's on the same page, but it needs to be extended not only to the end of this crisis, but 60 days past the end of this crisis because what I do not want to see is landlords – and this is not the majority of landlords, it's only some – but landlords waiting for that moment when the moratorium comes off to then start evictions. And I don't want to see a whole lot of New Yorkers put in that horrible situation. Just as soon as things get a little better, bang, here come a bunch of evictions. No, let's give that 60 days to help people get back on their feet after the crisis ends and make sure we can avoid those evictions. So, people need these things. They need them now. So, I'll just make it clear to the State of New York, it's time to act, people need to know they're going to get through, and this is something that would give so many New Yorkers peace of mind and security at this moment where they need both.
Okay. As I start to wrap up here, what we do every day is track the indicators. We talked about this week, understanding our larger trajectory we’re on, understanding the progress we made, but the challenges ahead of us too and how we have to keep working hard, and then link up to that next phase where we're going to do the testing and tracing in May. So, today I am happy to say we have just plain good news. Our indicators are now moving all in the correct direction, which is down. So, let me go over them. We've got – first of all, the daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19, that is down. Again, these numbers on the two-day lag. That's down from 227 to 176 – so that's great, that's a serious decline. The daily number of people in ICUs across our public hospitals for suspected COVID-19, also down – it's only a little, but it's still progress – 796 to 786. Now, this is an area again where we need to see much more progress, but I still like seeing a step in the right direction. The percentage of people tested positive for COVID-19 citywide down from 32 percent to 30 percent. The public health lab tests, down from 57 percent to 52 percent.
Okay, just plain good day. Congratulations because you did that. Everyone out there, you did this – social distancing, shelter in place – you made this happen. Now we got to keep doing it. The plan that we stated from the beginning – do this, all indicators down – we need to do that for ten days to two weeks and that's when we can actually start to talk about how to begin loosening up some of these restrictions and taking a step towards normalcy. And again, that handoff to the massive test-and-trace effort. Good day. Keep working hard. Let's get some more just like this day.
So, as I close, and I'll say a few words in Spanish, as always, look, I want to just note, I talked to you honestly about these disparities we're facing in this city. And again, it's something we've talked about for a long time, but it was seeing it in a new, even sharper light, and is even more unacceptable when you see the human toll, what's happened here. The important thing as we prepare for this next phase of life in our city, as we prepare the long road back, but it will be a clear and strong effort to come back to because that's what we do in New York City. We can never look away from these disparities. We're going to stare them in the face and beat them back. I think the important thing is that blunt honesty about what we have continued to learn and why it just does not fit with what we believe in, here in the city, and how we have to fight it every day and we can and we will. And we'll do that together. Fighting these disparities makes us all stronger. Fighting these disparities fits what we believe in as New Yorkers. And there's a reason New York is admired and respected all over the world, and it's because it's a city for everyone. We have more work to do to ensure that everyone gets the same health care, everyone gets the same treatment when they need it, and that's what we're going to focus on as a big piece of our recovery ahead.
The Muslim Democratic Club of New York (MDCNY) condems rulings by the Board of Elections to force two Muslim women candidates—Mary Jobaida (Assembly candidate for AD-37) and Moumita Ahmed (District Leader candidate for AD-24)—off of the ballot in their respective elections, with the rulings coming on the eve of Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar.
The Board’s decision to disqualify Mary and Moumita based on a frivolous technicality relating to their use of nicknames is a travesty of the democratic process. The ruling goes against established precedent, common practice by all candidates, including candidates for the presidency of the United States, and comes in the midst of a pandemic that is disproportionately impacting Bangladeshi New Yorkers in Queens,—a community that Mary and Moumita would be the first to represent in their respective offices.
Yesterday’s actions by the Board—along with its bizarre interpretation of petitioning requirements to force City Council candidate Sandra Nurse (CCD-37) off the ballot—only serve to reinforce the perception that the BOE is implementing an agenda to protect incumbents, political machines, and the status quo.
“The BOE is using the cover of coronavirus to disadvantage candidates seeking to improve diversity and representation in our local government. We should all be outraged,” said Tahanie Aboushi, president of MDCNY.
MDCNY calls on Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo to condemn the rulings.
MDCNY has endorsed both Jobaida and Ahmed and looks forward to supporting these candidates in their legal battle against the BOE’s absurd rulings and to building a city where all communities are represented and given an equitable chance to participate in the democratic process.