Saturday, January 9, 2021

Governor Cuomo Announces New Record High Number of COVID-19 Tests Reported - And Results JANUARY 9, 2021


258,031 Test Results Reported to New York State Yesterday 

8,527 Patient Hospitalizations Statewide 

1,428 Patients in the ICU; 876 Intubated 

Statewide Positivity Rate is 6.57% 

188 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday 

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 258,031 COVID-19 test results were reported to New York State yesterday—a new record high.

"The good news -- a new testing record has been set. The bad news -- three more cases of the UK COVID strain have been found," Governor Cuomo said. "If we are to beat COVID once and for all, we need to win the footrace between how fast the infection rate rises and how fast vaccinations are administered. The UK strain's Usain Bolt-like infection rate has certainly made that job all the more difficult, especially since the federal government has refused to mandate testing for international travelers, but New York is forging ahead nonetheless. We have worked tirelessly to expand hospital capacity and are doing everything we can to accelerate the distribution of the vaccine. What we all need to do now is remember that our actions will determine what happens next - so stay smart, wear a mask and avoid gatherings."

Today's data is summarized briefly below:

  • Test Results Reported - 258,031
  • Total Positive - 16,943
  • Percent Positive - 6.57%
  • Patient Hospitalization - 8,527 (-34)
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 1,075
  • Hospital Counties - 56
  • Number ICU - 1,428 (-47)
  • Number ICU with Intubation - 876 (-36)
  • Total Discharges - 109,035 (+891)
  • Deaths - 188
  • Total Deaths - 31,519

Governor Cuomo Announces New Record High Number of COVID-19 Tests Reported


258,031 Test Results Reported to New York State Yesterday 

8,527 Patient Hospitalizations Statewide 

1,428 Patients in the ICU; 876 Intubated 

Statewide Positivity Rate is 6.57% 

188 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday 

 Good morning, still. Thanks for getting on the phone. I'm joined by Melissa DeRosa, Robert Mujica, Beth Garvey, Dr. Zucker, Gareth Rhodes, Peter Ajemian. I want to get through this call relatively quickly because 1 o'clock, we have to be ready for the Bills game, and I have to make sure I'm all situated, TV's working, right snacks.

Today is day 315. 258,000 tests. That's a new record in the number of tests. The numbers vary. Positivity rate, et cetera, varies with the number of tests. We're 258. Some days, we only have like 100,000 tests, 120,000 tests. When the number of tests is lower, we believe it tends to be more symptomatic people who are going for tests. But in any event, 258,000 tests, that's a one-day record. The positivity is 6.5. That is down from 7.7. Now, is that a function of more people being tested? You could suggest that, but 6.5 is down from 7.7. 188 New Yorkers passed away yesterday, which as I've said before, that's the most significant number to me. 8,527 hospitalized, that's down 34 from the day before. 1,400 in ICU, that's down 47. 876 intubated, that's down 36. So that is good news. Again, highest testing number ever.

Looking across the state, Mohawk Valley has the highest number. So that is the worst news. 10.5. Finger lakes, 9.8, Long Island, 9.7, Capital region, 9.5, North Country, 8.4, Western New York, 8.4, Central New York, 8.2, Mid-Hudson, 7.9, New York City, 6.2, Southern Tier, 4.9. Statewide, 7.7. New York City, Staten Island, 7.95. Bronx, 7.91, so Staten Island is highest. Queens, 7.51, Brooklyn, 6.7, Manhattan, 4.2.

Again, these variations tell a story. Hospitalizations, the highest rate is still the Finger Lakes, .07. Then Mohawk Valley, .06, Capital Region, .05, Central New York, .05, Long Island, .05, Mid-Hudson, .04, New York City, .04, Western New York, .04, Southern Tier, .03, North Country, .02.

Vaccines, 543,000 dosages given. Just to give you an idea of how that has increased since we have been focusing on the hospitals, and I have been direct with the hospitals but just to be clear, my friends, this is a matter of life and death and getting these vaccines administered is a top priority. I have been direct, but sometimes direct communication works.

In week one, hospitals administered 33,000 vaccines. In week two, 102,000 vaccines. In week three, 148,000 vaccines. This past week where we did a full court press, to-date 259,000. So, that's double but it was basically last week, this week hasn't ended yet. So, 33,000 week one, 102,000 week two, 148,000 week three, 259,000 to date, but the week is not over.

Bad news, because what would a day in the COVID War be without bad news, three more cases of the UK COVID strain have been found. Two cases are related to the Saratoga Springs jewelry store where we identified the first case. So, two additional cases related to that one case, that's the read from the Saratoga situation. Also, an additional case in Nassau County, it appears to be unrelated to the Saratoga case. What we know about the case in Nassau County is a 64-year-old male from Massapequa, New York. The sample was received from a private lab sent to the state Department of Health, which has been doing sampling. That brings the number of UK cases in this country to just about 55, and we believe that it is more widespread than that number would suggest. That is, again, as far as I'm concerned, a situation with the federal government was asleep at the switch. If you remember, we heard about the UK strain, you had 120 countries that had required testing for people from the UK. New York required testing for people from the UK. The nation did nothing.

On the vaccine, we are greatly expanding the distribution network. We're adding thousands of new distribution sites, primarily by bringing in now pharmacies, doctors' offices, et cetera. The Department of Health is talking to distributors over the weekend. 1a and 1b are open. Hospitals will continue to prioritize health care workers. It's most important to get the health care workers vaccinated, especially with this UK strain out there. The UK strain is incredibly virulent and dangerous, so the hospitals will continue to prioritize healthcare staff, it's what's called the group 1a. The Department of Health is communicating with hospitals this weekend. It's essential that they offer the vaccine and make it available to all hospital staff. We're hoping for an acceptance rate close to 80 percent with a minimum of 70 percent. Hospitals can do 1b after prioritizing the 1a workers. County Health Departments we're speaking with, we want them to focus on the allocations to the public employees in 1b.

I've asked the public employees where possible to organize a distribution network where police can do it, fire departments can do it, etcetera, and we're asking the health departments to primarily attend to those public employees. If you have volunteer firefighters and they cannot administer, organize their own administration, let the Health Department help with those. If you have a school district that needs help, let the county health department help with those but focus on the public employees. That will allow the pharmacies to focus on the largest group which is the public, 75-plus - that's 1.4 million people. 75-plus is by far the largest group in 1b. So that's the allocation of responsibility if you will. Hospitals, continue to prioritize health care workers. Simple question for a hospital - have you made the vaccine available and accessible to all your employees, prioritize health care workers, hospitals, but they're open to 1a, 1b. County health departments, focus on the public employees and the groups of public employees, 75-plus, pharmacies, doctor networks, reservations can become available on Monday. All this with a caveat of Matilda's Rule.

At this rate of supply, 300,000 per week, the State receives 300,000 dosages per week, it will take 14 weeks to do 1a and 1b. It will take 14 weeks to do 1a and 1b. Just because the reservations become available, don't expect everyone is going to get a reservation right away. By the rate of supply it will take 14 weeks. It will take 14 weeks for the public employees to get fully vaccinated. So if a police department starts vaccinating, prioritize your workforce assuming it's going to take 14 weeks. Teachers who start to get vaccinated get allocations from the local health department. Assume it will take 14 weeks and the question to the public employees we're not answering, if it take 14 weeks do you want to prioritize certain workers within your workforce? Query, teachers, do you want to prioritize teachers who are often in classrooms? Do you want to prioritize older teachers? Do you want to prioritize teachers in communities with higher infection rates? That's what the public employee unions should be thinking about. And I will stop there so I can get my potato chips ready. Questions?

You know Gareth, or Rob, I'm going to ask you after the first question if you can give an update about how the stadium is going today, if you have any update.

Gareth Rhodes: Sure. So we, all sides there has been very smooth administration so far. The test results, the full test results from the effort, there were 7,200 negative tests, 137 positive tests, 1.9 percent positivity. That was all the testing done before the game. Thirty lanes of drive through testing to get this done at a rapid pace. There is limited point of care testing available on game day if needed. So far, all the reports are that it's gone extraordinarily smooth and people are excited for the game.


Senator Alessandra Biaggi


Dear Community,

On Monday, January 11th, 2021, New York State will begin scheduling vaccinations for the next group of people in Phase 1B. New Yorkers eligible for the vaccine under Phase 1B include:

  • People age 75+
  • Teachers and education workers
  • First responders (police and fire departments)
  • Public transit workers
  • Public safety workers

Vaccination sites will include pharmacies, doctor’s offices, the Javits Center, and more.

On Monday New York State will launch a registration website for eligible New Yorkers to schedule an appointment to receive their vaccination. Check for updates and more information here.

New Yorkers who fall into Phase 1A of the distribution plan will continue to be eligible for the vaccination.

Additionally, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed an Executive Order expanding the eligible pool of trainees who can administer vaccinations at a "POD site" (flexible vaccination sites that can be set up in any community) pursuant to a non-patient specific order provided they first receive training. These include:

  • Licensed practical nurses (LPNs)
  • Pharmacists who are not certified to administer immunizations by SED
  • Midwives who are not certified to administer immunizations by SED
  • Dentists
  • Dental hygienists*
  • Podiatrists
  • Emergency Medical Technicians
  • Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians
  • Students in eligible education programs (medicine, nursing, PA, pharmacy, dentistry, podiatry, and midwifery)

*Must have been issued a dental hygiene restricted local infiltration anesthesia/nitrous oxide analgesia certificate

You can learn more about vaccination training here.

With Gratitude,

State Senator Alessandra Biaggi

Governor Cuomo Announces Three Additional Cases of UK Strain Identified in New York


Total of Four Cases of UK Strain Now Identified in New York to Date 

Two Cases Related to Original Case Identified in Saratoga Springs; Third Case Identified in Massapequa 

New York's Wadsworth Laboratory Has Sequenced More than 2,200 Samples As Part of UK Strain Testing Program 

Potential UK Variant Contacts Prioritized at State Testing Sites 

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that three additional cases of the UK strain of the COVID-19 virus have been identified in New York. Two of the cases are connected to the initial discovery of the UK strain identified in Saratoga Springs last week, while a third case, unrelated to the Saratoga Springs exposures, has been traced back to an individual living in Massapequa, Nassau County. The cases were sequenced through Department of Health's Wadsworth laboratory which has analyzed more than 2,200 viral sequences as part of the state's UK strain testing program. 

"The UK strain is here, it is real, and the Usain Bolt-like speed through which it spreads is nothing short of frightening," Governor Cuomo said. "There's no mystery as to how it got here - it got on a plane and flew here from Europe, just like the original strain did. Yet, the federal government continues to refuse to learn from the spring and mandate testing for all international travelers. Their failure to act means the rest of us need to be that much more vigilant in our work to stop the spread, as well as do all we can to accelerate the distribution of the vaccine. In the meantime, Wadsworth Lab will continue to aggressively sequence samples from around the state, so that any more instances of the UK strain can be identified, and immediately contained and contact traced."

Following the initial identification of the UK strain associated with an employee at a jewelry store in Saratoga Springs, Saratoga County, Wadsworth Laboratory sequenced the virus from five additional employees from the jewelry store who had tested positive for COVID-19. After sequencing, Wadsworth can confirm that the UK strain was present in two of those individuals.

The Department of Health conducted free COVID-19 testing this week for anyone who may have had an exposure related to the Saratoga case.  More than 400 people were tested and the Wadsworth Center is screening all positive cases for the UK variant. 

Separate from the Saratoga Springs cases,a third case was identified in Massapequa, Nassau County. In this case, a man in his 60's has been identified as having the UK strain after first testing positive for COVID-19 on December 27. Wadsworth received this sample from BioReference following the Department of Health's call to labs across the state requesting samples which could be analyzed for the UK strain. The Department isworking with contact tracers in Nassau County to identify additional potential exposures. 

New York State operates a free COVID-19 drive through testing locations at the University at Albany and Jones Beach which are both open seven days a week and will prioritize testing for contacts to the UK variant case as needed. 



Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you, Congressman Jefferies. Thank you for your leadership. Look around you, everyone -- these members of congress who serve us, their lives were in danger that day. The people who worked for them, their lives were in danger. Everyone was put in danger because of a rebellion that was somehow tolerated, that was aided and abetted by Donald Trump, created by Donald Trump and Josh Hawley, and so many others, somehow tolerated by security forces. 
Look behind you at City Hall. Can you imagine – a lot of you have spent time here – can you imagine a mob taking over this building? It’s never happened. It will never happen in New York City, but it happened in Washington D.C. Why? And I support Congressman Bowman’s efforts for have a full investigation, because someone gave the order to let that happen, and we need to know who, and they must be punished. When I think of my friends, these good people I’ve served with for years, they were in danger and democracy was in danger. It’s very clear what the result must be. Donald Trump must go now.
Now, anyone who is that treasonous, anyone who has lost control of his mental abilities to that level as to start an insurrection against the United States should not have his finger on the nuclear button. He needs to resign right now. And you may say, well he’s not going to do it. Well then, Vice President Pence, use the 25th Amendment. And you may say, well that’s not politically convenient for Vice President Pence. Well, thank God, for these people, these members of Congress who will impeach Donald Trump, because we need them to. We need them to, to protect America and American democracy. Thank you, every single one of you, and God bless you all.

11 more days of Donald Trump.

356 more days of Bill de Blasio

Councilman Mark Gjonaj - COVID-19 Information and Updates


NYC has launched the COVID-19 'Zone Finder' to determine if residents live in hot zones. The zone finder allows you to enter an address or intersection or click on the map to find out whether you are in a COVID-19 zone, and get informed about the proper precautions to take for specific activities. Click Here to access the COVID-19 Zone Finder. For updated statistics by ZIP code, please Click Here.

Governor Cuomo announced the state will start scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations for the next group of people on Monday, January 11, 2021. That includes first responders, education workers and public transit workers. People 75 and older and public safety workers, will also be eligible to start making appointments for vaccinations. New York City is currently in Phase 1A, which means only front line hospital workers and people in nursing homes can be vaccinated. The next step opens scheduling for Phase 1B. Together, the phases include four million people, according to the governor. For more information, Click Here.

Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress During COVID-19 Pandemic - JANUARY 8, 2021


8,561 Patient Hospitalizations Statewide 

1,475 Patients in the ICU; 912 Intubated 

Statewide Positivity Rate is 7.72% 

161 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday 

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

"We know these numbers and we know what is happening. This is all predictive. You have the holidays, socialization, holiday spread and the number goes up. We've said that since before Thanksgiving, and we said celebrate smart and stop the spread. Social gatherings happened and the infection rate went up. Slowing the spread depends on your behavior, and your belief in your community. You resolve community spread when the community acts differently," Governor Cuomo said. "We are in a footrace between how fast the infection rate goes up and how fast the vaccination rate goes up. I am telling you, we are in a danger zone. The infection and hospitalization rates are going up quickly, and when the hospitalization rate goes up, the hospitals reach capacity and the economy shuts down. Add to that footrace a new factor: the UK strain. The UK strain is here and it's spreading. This is the Usain Bolt of infection rates and it is frightening."

Today's data is summarized briefly below:

  • Test Results Reported - 243,903
  • Total Positive - 18,832
  • Percent Positive - 7.72%
  • Patient Hospitalization - 8,561 (+13)
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 1,068
  • Hospital Counties - 56
  • Number ICU - 1,475 (+51)
  • Number ICU with Intubation - 912 (+53)
  • Total Discharges - 108,144 (+901)
  • Deaths - 161
  • Total Deaths - 31,329

Darlene Jackson, Candidate for 18th Council District Calls for Passage of SMALL BUSINESS JOBS SURVIVAL ACT


 Under the Westchester Avenue el Darlene Jackson Community Board 9 member and candidate for City Council District 18 held a well attended press conference to push the Small Business Jobs Survival Act and the Lift the Caps Intros in the city council which candidate Jackson said the Small Business Survival Act has gone nowhere in ten years, because council members are being paid off by big real estate.

Candidate Jackson was joined by about ten people who were holding up various signs to support the two intros to the council. When asked what she would do if elected next year, candidate Jackson said that she would push to get the two intros passed. However should candidate Jackson be elected the two intros would have to be reintroduced to the next City Council which would take office January 1, 2022 because all legislation from the outgoing council goes with the council members, with the new council starting from Bill #1. 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Overall Crime in New York City Reaches Record Low in 2020 As Reported By the NYPD


Significant Surge in Shootings and Murders Amid the Ongoing COVID-19 Outbreak

 New York City and its Police Department were buffeted by conflicting forces in 2020, as a historic low in overall index crime was accompanied by significant upticks in homicides, shootings, burglaries and car thefts. In calendar 2020, overall crime was lower than in 2019, dropping to a new benchmark of 95,552 reported incidents – representing 681 fewer victims than last year and 11,668 fewer victims than in 2014, the first year of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration.

At the same time, the NYPD in 2020 confronted a + 97% (1,531 v. 777) increase in shooting incidents and + 44% increase in the number of murders (462 v. 319) amid the challenges of an ongoing international health pandemic that has strained city residents and the police officers sworn to ensure public safety for everyone. Burglaries increased by 42% (15,463 v. 10,909) and car thefts increased by 67% (9.038 v. 5,422). Through it all, the NYPD has worked to mitigate violence as reflected in a 29% increase (4,253 v. 3,299) in annual gun arrests for 2020 compared with 2019 – including 2,057 gun arrests in the last four months of the year.

Unprecedented events of 2020 presented significant challenges for New York City and its police. From a diminished headcount beginning at the onset of COVID-19 to large-scale protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd in May, the NYPD’s resources were stretched further than at any time in recent memory. Yet the NYPD’s work continued. Investigators focused on concentrated areas of violence and used intelligence-based precision to attain justice for victims. The NYPD made an arrest in 32% of shooting incidents and established probable cause to arrest a suspect in an additional 6% of shooting incidents. On murders, NYPD detectives cleared 54% of homicides that occurred within calendar 2020. The clearance rate for this violent crime reflects the NYPD’s deep commitment to public service and will only continue to improve over time as investigations progress.

More broadly, the NYPD in 2020 continued to engage the people who live, work and serve throughout the city in its ongoing effort to ensure public safety that is fair, responsive and considerate to all New Yorkers. Buoyed by the resiliency of New Yorkers and officers throughout 2020, the NYPD’s undertaking to transform New York City policing to be safer and fairer for all concerned will continue in 2021, building on the fundamental changes and the strengthening of bonds between the police and the community that have developed over the last seven years.

“What New York City and our nation experienced in 2020 will resonate for a long, long time,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “The NYPD recognizes this as a time for asking and answering difficult questions, for reflection and action and for encouraging and serving New Yorkers. This will determine the way forward for all of us. Together, we will ensure the preservation of our collective public safety while also cultivating a culture that upholds the values and dignity of every New Yorker, in every neighborhood.”

Statistics on Index Crimes

 YTD 2020YTD 2019+/-%
Fel. Assault20,56120,873-312-1.5%

Additional Statistics For December 2020

 YTD 2020YTD 2019+/-%
Citywide Shooting

Attorney General James' Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit Releases Report on Investigation into the Death of Tina Davis


New York Attorney General Letitia James’ Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit (SIPU) today released its report into the death of Tina Davis. After a comprehensive investigation, SIPU did not find criminal culpability on the part of the members of the Spring Valley Police Department (SVPD) who were involved in the incident. Based on witness accounts, video evidence, and an exhaustive review of the facts, insofar as it played a role in Ms. Davis’ death, the officers’ use of physical force could not be found to be unjustified beyond a reasonable doubt.

Although SIPU found no criminal culpability in this tragic matter, there are several serious concerns about SVPD’s handling of the incident. SIPU issued a number of recommendations to address these concerns, that included the need to better train SVPD officers on how to respond to circumstances in which mental and/or medical health needs play a role in the situation they are facing. Particularly with mental health episodes, especially in areas where emergency mental health crisis workers are not available, it is important to have trained personnel respond to these types of situations. Another notable recommendation for SVPD is to implement the use of body cameras for officers. SIPU has recommended this course of action for many other departments across the state in past investigations.

“Tina Davis’ death was a tragedy, and I offer my deepest sympathies to her family and loved ones,” said Attorney General James. “After a thorough and exhaustive investigation, we determined that there was not a crime committed by the officers who responded to the incident. However, we were concerned by some of the actions and policies of the SVPD and have issued recommendations that the department should take into account, including mandating additional training for officers to handle individuals experiencing a mental health crisis and requiring that every officer be outfitted with a body camera.”

Governor Cuomo Announces Proposal for Historic New York State Election Reform as Part of 2021 State of the State

Overhauls County Election Administration and Speeds Up Ballot Counting 

 Advances Absentee Voting for All New Yorkers 

 Adds Additional Hours of Early Voting   

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a transformational proposal that continues to expand access to voting and improves procedures as part of the Governor's 2021 State of the State agenda by speeding up vote counting, and adding additional time for early voting. These efforts build on Governor Cuomo's previous landmark election reforms. 

"Our election system, on which our democracy is built, has, and continues to be, under attack by those seeking to undermine the founding principles of our nation and we must not only protect it, but ensure it can be accessed by all," Governor Cuomo said. "While we have already made some progress in modernizing New York's election system, there is much left to do and this historic package of election reforms will be critical in strengthening how elections are run and ensuring all New Yorkers are able to exercise this fundamental right."

Expand Access to Early Voting: Among Governor Cuomo's most important voting rights and election administration achievements is the 2019 enactment of legislation establishing early voting in New York State. In the general election in 2020 - the first major election following the implementation of New York State's early voting law - more than 2.5 million New Yorkers, representing nearly one-fifth of all registered voters in the state, chose to cast their ballots during the early voting period. Governor Cuomo will advance legislation that extends early voting hours from 6pm to 9pm on weekends as well as on a minimum of three week days during the ten day early voting period.

No-Excuse Absentee Voting for All New Yorkers: In 2019, Governor Cuomo celebrated the Legislature's passage of a resolution beginning the process of amending the state constitution to make no-excuse absentee voting a reality in our state. In 2021, the Governor will call on the Legislature to act quickly to pass the resolution again so that the proposed amendment can go on the ballot to be ratified by the voters.

Allow More Time for Voters to Request Absentee Ballots: The state's election law currently prohibits voters from requesting their absentee ballots more than 30 days prior to Election Day. Particularly in elections with large numbers of absentee voters, this timeline may make it difficult for county boards of elections to process ballot requests in a timely and efficient manner. This, in turn, provides voters with less time to receive their ballots, vote, and mail them back. Governor Cuomo will advance legislation allowing voters to request absentee ballots 45 days prior to the election, ensuring they can be mailed as soon as the ballot is finalized and approved by the Board. 

Speed Up the Counting of Absentee Ballots: New York State's election law does not facilitate the speedy counting of large numbers of absentee ballots - the law only requires that boards of elections meet to process and count ballots within two weeks of a general election and within eight days of a primary election. In practice, this means that counties do not finish counting absentee ballots until weeks after Election Day, and in 2020, when large numbers of absentee ballots were cast, New York State was among the slowest states in the country to post the results of its absentee ballots. To ensure that New York State counts absentee votes quickly and efficiently after each election, Governor Cuomo will introduce legislation requiring county boards of elections to process absentee ballots as they are received and to begin counting and reporting those ballots on Election Day.



 With the giving of gift cards during the holiday season increasing in popularity, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli is urging New Yorkers to read the fine print for details about fees and expiration dates. Even as some sellers of gift cards have eliminated inactivity fees, consumers should still ask whether fees apply. DiNapoli reminds New Yorkers to spend the gift cards in a timely fashion. If not, the money could eventually get turned over to his Office of Unclaimed Funds.

“After the holidays, it’s easy to lose track of your gift cards,” DiNapoli said. “In 2020, over $16 million worth of unused gift cards were received in our office. To help stop this from happening to you, register the card with the retailer. It could help to get a replacement card if it is lost and could also help recover any unused balance if it’s reported to us as unclaimed funds. It is important not to wait too long to spend your gift cards to avoid inactivity fees.”

After five years of dormancy, money from unused gift cards issued by New York businesses is turned over to DiNapoli’s office as abandoned property. Under the federal Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, many types of retail gift cards sold after August 22, 2010 are not permitted to charge inactivity fees unless the card has been inactive for at least 12 months. All terms and conditions for a card must be disclosed directly on it and gift cards cannot expire within the first five years after purchase. New York law provides that gift cards cannot be assessed a monthly service fee against the balance prior to two years or the 25th month of inactivity.

Since January 2011, New York has required companies offering rebates to disclose whether they will be issued in the form of a gift card and whether any fees will apply to those cards. Rebate cards are not all covered by the same rules as regular gift cards, so this disclosure helps consumers to identify the different cards and how they can be used.

Gift cards may have other terms and conditions that can decrease the value. These may include:

  • Service fees when the card is purchased;
  • Dormancy fees if the gift card is not used within a certain time period;
  • Fees to call and check the balance remaining on the card; and
  • Replacement fees for lost or stolen gift cards.

DiNapoli’s office is currently holding more than $16 billion in unclaimed funds. He urges New Yorkers to visit to see if they are owed money.



Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams issued the following statement after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that there are hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses available which the city has been unable to distribute to the elderly or essential workers as a result of state restrictions and the threat of fines. 

"On a day when thousands of New Yorkers tested positive for COVID-19, the city has hundreds of thousands of vaccines going to waste rather than to those in need. Mayor de Blasio should immediately direct NYC Health + Hospitals to distribute these lifesaving doses to the vulnerable populations next in line, regardless of state approval. If Governor Cuomo wants to issue a million-dollar fine to the city that he has already deprived of adequate financial aid, revenue raising, and borrowing authority, then I am ready to stand-in court or not- and defend the decision to protect as many people as possible, as quickly as possible."

Three Kings Event in 13th Council Distric


Balthasar, Melchior, and Gasper The Three Kings came to say hello to Councilman Mark Gjonaj at his office on Williamsbridge Road  Wednesday, and to help Santa give out a sleigh full of toys to the boys and girls who stopped by. The local McDonalds provided hot cocoa and those delicious McDonald cookies for the children to enjoy. 

Gifts for the children included a book, a toy, a hat or scarf, and taking your photo with the Three Kings and other spiritual leaders. The line stretched down and around the block as over one hundred children took part in the event.

Above - Councilman Mark Gjonaj with the three Kings and members of the Bronx McDonalds executive team.

Below - The line stretched down the block and around the corner.

Above - Members of the 45th Precinct Community Affairs Division were on hand for crowd control, and also to hand out the McDonalds cookies and hand sanitizer. 

Below - Santa with one of his favorite helpers Lilly Anna.

Above and Below - Santa helps children pick out their gifts.

A group photo with Councilman Gjonaj, The Three King, members of the Clergy who helped, Santa Claus, Executive Team members from the Bronx McDonalds, and some of the children who participated in the event.