Saturday, April 25, 2020

Governor Cuomo Announces Expansion of Diagnostic Testing Criteria to Include All First Responders, Health Care Workers and Essential Employees

  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.

Governor Cuomo also announced he will issue an Executive Order allowing pharmacists to conduct diagnostic testing for COVID-19. This action will unlock a network of over 5,000 pharmacies as COVID-19 testing locations and help the state build a collection network to meet laboratory capacity and increase overall testing capacity.

The Governor also announced the state is continuing to conduct antibody testing for frontline health care workers, including at four hospitals and health care systems in New York City today. The antibody testing will be conducted at Bellevue Hospital, Elmhurst Hospital Center, Montefiore Medical Center and SUNY Downstate Medical Center which is currently being used only for COVID-19 patients. Additionally, the state will begin conducting NG antibody testing for first responders and transit workers starting next week, including MTA employees and transit workers, New York State Police and the New York City Police Department.

No. 202.23: Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency

No. 202.23

E X E C U T I V E  O R D E R
Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency 

WHEREAS, on March 7, 2020, I issued Executive Order Number 202, declaring a State disaster emergency for the entire State of New York; and 
WHEREAS, both travel-related cases and community contact transmission of COVID-19 have been documented in New York State and are expected to be continue; 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Section 29-a of Article 2-B of the Executive Law to temporarily suspend or modify any statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation, or parts thereof, of any agency during a State disaster emergency, if compliance with such statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation would prevent, hinder, or delay action necessary to cope with the disaster emergency or if necessary to assist or aid in coping with such disaster, I hereby temporarily suspend or modify, for the period from the date of this Executive Order through May 24, 2020 the following: 

  • Section 8-400 and any provision of Article 9 of the Election Law in order to provide that every voter that is in active and inactive status and is eligible to vote in a primary or special election to be held on June 23, 2020 shall be sent an absentee ballot application form with a postage paid return option for such application.  This shall be in addition to any other means of requesting an absentee ballot available, and any voter shall continue to be able to request such a ballot via phone or internet or electronically. Any ballot which was requested or received for any previously re-scheduled election, or for the primary election to be held on June 23, 2020 shall continue to be valid and shall be counted by the Board of Elections if it shall be returned to them.

IN ADDITION, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Section 29-a of Article 2-B of the Executive Law to issue any directive during a disaster emergency necessary to cope with the disaster, I hereby issue the following directives for the period from the date of this Executive Order through May 24, 2020:

  • The Commissioner of Health is authorized to suspend or revoke the operating certificate of any skilled nursing facility or adult care facility if it is determined that such facility has not adhered to any regulations or directives issued by the Commissioner of Health, and if determined to not be in compliance notwithstanding any law to the contrary the Commissioner may appoint a receiver to continue the operations on 24 hours’ notice to the current operator, in order to preserve the life, health and safety of the people of the State of New York. 

  • The state assembly and state senate special elections, which are otherwise scheduled to be held on June 23, 2020 are hereby cancelled and such offices shall be filled at the general election. The special election to be held for the office of Queens Borough President is hereby cancelled, and such office shall be filled at the general election. 

G I V E N   under my hand and the Privy Seal of the State in the City of Albany this twenty-fourth day of April in the year two thousand twenty. 


Secretary to the Governor

Attorney General James Demands Fast Food Restaurants Protect Workers

   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 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

Absentee Ballot Applications Will Be Sent to All Eligible Registered Voters for June 23 Primary and Special Elections

  • Application will include postage-paid return option
  • Will be sent to all active and inactive eligible voters in New York State
  • Previously requested absentee ballots for April 28 or June 23 elections will still be honored
  • Applications must be returned to receive absentee ballot
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New Absentee Ballot Regulations from Governor Cuomo
I am very pleased with the language included in the new Executive Order (202.23) issued by Governor Cuomo to ensure that all eligible voters in New York State will receive an absentee ballot application for the upcoming June 23 election. This is an important step towards ensuring that our democracy can continue operating amidst a global pandemic, and builds on the progress made after New York enacted several other election proposals that I had advocated for (such as moving the April 28 primary to June 23 and allowing all registered voters to apply for an absentee ballot).

Please note that the Board of Elections will only automatically send you the application, not the ballot itself. You must complete this application (or one that you download and print from online) and return it to the Board of Elections by June 16, 2020. If you do not receive the absentee ballot application by mail, you can contact the Board of Elections by telephone (1-866-VOTE-NYC a.k.a. 1-866-868-3692) or by visiting their office in person (although I highly recommend avoiding an in-person visit if you can due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic). It is not decided yet when the applications will be mailed out to all active and inactive eligible voters. If you have already applied for an absentee ballot for either the April 28 election or the June 23 election, that request will be honored for the June 23 election.

DO NOT FORGET: You must sign your absentee ballot application or it may not be processed and you may not receive your absentee ballot.

The application will be sent with a postage-paid return option, but just in case the address where Bronx voters should send their application is 1780 Grand Concourse, 5 Fl, Bronx, NY 10457. The Bronx Board of Elections can be contacted by telephone at 718-299-9017. The citywide Board of Elections can be reached by their voting hotline (1-866-VOTE-NYC) or by email (

The Board of Elections will send the absentee ballot itself at least 32 days in advance of the election (May 22), or soon after they receive and process your application if it is submitted after that date. Once the absentee ballot is received, you must complete it and it must be postmarked no later than the day before the election (June 22). It must be received by the Board of Elections no later than 7 days after the election (June 30) to be counted.

To complete an absentee ballot, here are instructions from the NYC Board of Elections: "Fold the ballot and put it in a smaller envelope. Sign and date the back of the envelope. Seal the envelope and put it in the larger envelope that is addressed to the Board of Elections. Mail or deliver your ballot to your borough Board of Elections office."

A few notes from me on this process:
  1. If you are not currently staying at the location where you are registered to vote, you will have to request an absentee ballot application separately from this automatic mailing. Theoretically, if you have arranged with USPS to forward your mail it should arrive at your temporary address, however I would not personally trust USPS right now to ensure that you receive this application in a timely manner.
  2. I highly encourage eligible voters to complete their absentee ballot application and the ballot itself as soon as possible. Given the difficulties we have had with USPS mail service in recent weeks, I anticipate that delays are highly likely and I do not want anyone's vote to be discarded because paperwork was not received on time.
  3. As of now, in-person and early voting have not been cancelled. I anticipate there will be discussion about how to safely operate in-person voting, but it is possible that the Board of Elections will reduce the number of polling sites due to insufficient staffing. In my opinion, everyone should plan to vote by mail for the June 23 election.
  4. There are no special election in our district for June 23., only Democratic primaries.

If there are any questions or concerns about the absentee ballot voting process, please contact my office at or by leaving a voicemail at 718-796-5345. You can also visit the NYC Board of Elections website at
Thank You to Election 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. If you want to share your gratitude for essential workers, please send me your photos, videos, links, or whatever you have and I will try to include it in a future newsletter.

Election workers are the unsung heroes of our democracy, from citizen pollworkers to Board of Elections technicians and administrative staff. These essential workers are being asked to step up and dramatically expand New York's absentee voting apparatus so that our elections can continue unimpeded by pandemic. Thank you!


This comes from the state legislator who says his constituents are getting mail weeks late if they get any mail. The absentee ballots will probably arrive after the election. By the way Mr. Steven Richmond Senior Law Advisor to the Board of Elections told me Friday that the Board of Elections is not responsible if the USPS can't deliver mail on time. The Absentee Balot then has to be mailed back to the BOE.

Why not just push the primary back to its old September date this year. What are you state legislators trying to do, haven't you sickened or killed enough Board of Elections employees?

Friday, April 24, 2020

Governor Cuomo Remarks on Federal Funding for New York State

  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.

When you don't fund state and local, you know who you don't fund? Police, fire, school teachers, school officials. What was the possible theory of funding large corporations but not firefighters and not police? And not health care workers. It boggles the mind. All they said was "don't worry." Don't worry, we're going to do it in the next bill. We're going to do it in the next bill. I said to our Congressional delegation, I said to our Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, don't pass this past bill that they just did, unless you have state and local funding because they're not going to do it. "Don't worry, don't worry," They're not going to do it.

As soon as the Senate acts, McConnell turns around and says, "Oh I'm not going to do it, the state should declare bankruptcy." Bail out to the blue states. Bail out to the blue states. Again, the most un-American, uncharitable, ugly statement of all time. Yes, New York had more coronavirus cases than Kentucky. You know why? The flights from Europe land in New York. The flights were not landing in Kentucky. That's why we have the coronavirus cases. That's what the researchers now found two months later. That the virus went from China, to Europe, got on a plane and came here. And, by the way, the virus probably got on a plane in China and came here, but China maybe landed in California. The European flights landed here. That's why New York has the coronavirus cases.

Bail out New York. You're not bailing out New York, New York has bailed you out every year it's bailed you out. Mitch McConnell is a taker, not a giver. New York is a state of givers. We put more money into the federal pot every year. We're the number one state in donating to the federal pot. Number one. Kentucky is the number three state in taking from the federal pot. They take out more from the federal pot than they put in. Every year. Every year.

This is America. States, one federal pot, you put in what you can and the states that need it, take it. Okay, so for every year, New York was the number one donor state putting in more money than it took out. Putting in more money than anyone else and taking out less. Number one donor state. Kentucky, every year, was the number three state that took out more than they put in. So we were putting money into the pot, they were taking our dollars out of the pot.

Now, he wants to look at New York and say, "We're bailing you out." You're bailing us out. Just give me my money back, Senator. Just give me my money back. It's just ridiculous. "They should declare bankruptcy." Okay, Senator, pass the bill that authorizes state to declare bankruptcy. Sign the bill, Mr. President.
Economy is coming back, we're doing great. Pent up demand. Stock market wants to take off. Good. Pass a bill allowing states to be bankrupt and then let's watch how the stock market takes off at that great news about our economic resilience.


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.

Board of Elections continues tradition of unfairly disrupting grassroots candidates

  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.

Governor Cuomo Update on COBID-19 - April 23, 2020

The hospitalization rate is down again, so that is good news. The overall, if you project the curve, everybody's looking at curves nowadays. If you look at the curve, the curve continues to go down. And that's also in the total hospitalization number, bounces up and down a little bit, but it's clearly down. Number of intubations bounces a little bit, but it's also clearly down. The number of new COVID cases walking in the door or being diagnosed is relatively flat. That is not great news. We would like to see that going down but it's not going up either. Number of lives lost is still breathtakingly tragic - 438. That number is not coming down as fast as we would like to see that number come down.

The numbers are trending down. Do they continue to trend down or do they pop back up? If they continue to trend down, how fast is the decline and how low will the decline go? In other words, if 1,300 people or about that number keep walking in the door, then you're going to have a hospitalization rate proportionate with the number of people walking in the door. So we want to see the number of people walking in the door reduced, the number of new infections reduced, so we hit a low plateau, if you will. It's been remarkably flat for the past several days. So that's the best indicator of how containment is working and how the close-down policies are working. And over the past few days, we've basically flattened at 1,300 new cases a day. We would like to see those new cases reducing even more and we'd like to see them reducing faster.

You then have other long-term questions. Is there a second wave of the virus? We talk about the 1918 pandemic. It came in three waves. Is there a second wave? Does the virus mutate and come back? The federal officials are starting to talk about the fall and potential issues in the fall. They're worried about the virus waning somewhat during the summer. Remember, will it go away when the weather gets warm? No one is really saying it will go away when the weather gets warm in the summer. But there's still a theory that the virus could slow during the summer but then come back in the fall. If it comes back in the fall, then it comes back with the normal flu season. That's then problematic because you are then quote/unquote testing for the flu and you're testing for covid on top of all the other tests you do. That could be a possible overwhelming of the testing system.
If people could have the flu or could have COVID in the fall and they don't know which it is they could get nervous and start going into the health care system which could then bring back a capacity issue in the health care system. So that's something we have to worry about and watch. 

Nursing homes are our top priority. They are private facilities. They get paid to provide a service. They get regulated by the State government. There are certain rules and regulations that they must follow and we put in additional rules and regulations on nursing homes in the midst of this crisis. Staff must have appropriate PPE. They must have their temperatures checked before they come into the facility. There are no visitors who are coming into the facility which is a tremendous hardship but it's necessary to protect public health. If they have a COVID-positive person in the facility that person has to be in quarantine. They have to have several staff for the COVID residents versus the non-COVID residents.

The nursing home is responsible for providing appropriate care. If they cannot provide that care then they have to transfer the person to another facility. They have to notify residents and family members within 24 hours if any resident tests positive for COVID or if any resident suffers a COVID-related death. That is a regulation they have to follow and they have to readmit COVID-positive residents but only if they have the ability to provide the adequate level of care under Department of Health and CDC guidelines.

We're going to undertake an investigation of nursing homes now to make sure they're following the rules. It's going to be a joint Department of Health and Attorney General investigation, but those are the rules. The State Department of Health and the Attorney General are going to be commencing an investigation to make sure all of those policies are in place and being followed. If they're not being followed, they can be subjected to a fine or they can lose their license. It's that simple.

Testing is going to be a major operation that happens from now until the situation is over. It's new, it's technical, it's complex, it's a political football, but testing does a number of things for us. Number one, it reduces the spread of the virus by finding people who are positive, tracing their contacts and isolating them. That's a function of testing.

Testing also - what they call anti-body testing - you test people to find out if they have the antibodies. Why? Because if they have the antibodies they can donate blood for convalescent plasma which is one of the therapeutic treatments. So you want to find people who had it so you can identify them to donate for convalescent plasma. The testing also can tell you the infection rate in the population, where it's higher, where it's lower, to inform you on a reopening strategy and then when you start reopening, you can watch that infection rate to see if it's going up. If it's going up, slow down on the reopening strategy. 

We have undertaken the largest, most comprehensive study of New York State to find out what is the infection rate. That, we started a few days ago. Sample size so far, 3,000 people statewide. Let's find out what the infection rate is. We have preliminary data on phase one and this is going to be ongoing. We're going to continue this testing on a rolling basis. I want to see snapshots of that is happening with that rate. Is it going up? It is flat? Is it going down? It can really give us data to make decisions.

We did 3,000 surveys in about 19 counties, 40 localities across the state. The surveys were collected at grocery stores, box stores, et cetera. That's important. It means you're testing people who, by definition, are out of the home and not at work. These are people who are out and about shopping. They were not people who are in their home. They are not people who are isolated. They are not people who are quarantined who could argue probably had a lower rate of infection because they wouldn't come out of the house. These are people who were outside. These are people who were not at work so they're probably not essential workers. So that has to be calibrated.

What we found so far is the statewide number is 13.9 percent tested positive for having the antibodies. What does that mean? It means these are people who were infected and developed the anti-bodies to fight the infection. So they were infected 3 weeks ago, 4 weeks ago, 5 weeks ago, 6 weeks ago, but they had the virus, they developed the antibodies and they are now quote, unquote recovered, 13.9 percent, just about 14 percent.

Breakdown, Female 12 percent positive, males close to 16 percent, 15.9 percent positive. Regionally, Long Island at 16.7, New York City at 21.2, Westchester, Rockland 11.7 and rest of state, 3.6. This basically quantifies what we've been seeing anecdotally and what we have known, but it puts numbers to it. Rest of the state is basically upstate New York, 3.6. It's been about 7-8 percent of the cases that we've had in the state. Westchester, Rockland we had an initial significant problem. Remember Westchester had the largest, hottest cluster in the country at one time. Eleven percent, so it's literally somewhere in between. New York City 21, which again, supports what we knew anecdotally. Long Island, 16.7 so it's not that far behind New York City and it is significantly worse than Westchester, Rockland. We've been talking about Westchester, Rockland and Nassau, Suffolk basically as one. But there is a variation with the Long Island numbers. 

By race, Asians about 11.7 percent, African-American, 22 percent, Latino, Hispanic, 22 percent, multi none other, 22 percent, white 9.1 percent. This reflects more the regional breakdown, African-American and Latinos are in this survey, disproportionately from New York City, and New York City is at 21 percent. So, the African-American number, Latino number is 22 percent. Upstate, whites, they're talking about more upstate, which is 9, but it's 3.6 in the survey. By age, nothing extraordinary here. We did not survey anyone under 18. So it starts with 18 years old. 18 to 24, 8 percent. 45 to 54, 16. 75 plus, 13.

But it's a small percent of the total. Again, how many 75-year-olds were out shopping and about? That is the group that's supposed to be isolating because they are the most vulnerable. 65 to 74 also. But that's the distribution. Again, the sample was by definition, people who were outside the home, so we have to analyze that. What does that do to the numbers? But that is a factor that has to be taken into consideration. If the infection rate is 13.9 percent, then it changes the theories of what the death rate is if you get infected. 13 percent of the population is about 2.7 million people who have been infected. If you look at what we have now as a death total, which is 15,500, that would be about .5 percent death rate. But, two big caveats. First, it's preliminary data, it's only 3,000. Well, 3,000 is a significant data set, but, it's still preliminary.

But there's a second complicating factor, because there always is. What you do in a region still has to be coordinated because you have a pent up demand in the whole tristate area where one region opens up for business - you could see people come in, literally, from the tristate area and overwhelm that region. We try to rationalize with Connecticut and New Jersey because there have been facilities in Connecticut that were open and you have all sorts of New York license plates there. 

Also, you have more people in the New York City area. More people getting on subways, getting on buses. More people dealing with that density. We know that's where it communicates. But, New York City Housing Authority - we're starting more testing today at New York City Housing Authority facilities. You talk about public housing. I was a HUD secretary. I worked in public housing all across this nation. That is some of the densest housing in the United States of America. People crammed into elevators, crammed through small lobbies, overcrowding in their apartment. So, public housing does pose a special issue and it should be addressed.

It also makes no sense that the entire nation is dependent on what the governors do to reopen. We've established that it's up this governor, it's up to this governor. But then you're not going to fund the state government? You think I am going to do it alone? How do you think this is going to work? And then to suggest we're concerned about the economy? States should declare bankruptcy? That's how you're going to bring this national economy back, by states declaring bankruptcy? You want to see that market fall through the cellar? Let New York state declare bankruptcy, let Michigan declare bankruptcy, let Illinois declare bankruptcy, California declare bankruptcy. You will see a collapse of this national economy. 
So, if you fund states that are suffering from the coronavirus, the Democratic states, don't help New York state because it is a Democratic state. How ugly a thought -- I mean just think of what he's saying. People died, 15,000 people died in New York, but they were predominantly Democrats, so why should we help them?

That's why look, our rule has been very simple from day one. There is no red and blue. When we talk about New York tough, we are all New York tough, Democrats and Republicans. We're all smart, we're all disciplined, and we're all unified, and we're all in this together and we understand that and that's how we operate. We operate with love and we're strong enough to say love. Say love is not a weakness. It is a strength and New Yorkers are that strong.