Johnson & Johnson announced Thursday it’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine was 72% effective in the United States and it planned to apply for emergency use status from the Food and Drug Administration as soon as next week.

Although the vaccine will be a huge help in getting more Americans vaccinated, there is some worry about its effectiveness against the mutant coronavirus strain coming from South Africa. In South Africa, the vaccines effectiveness is 57%, New York Times reported.

This week, the South African variant of the virus was found in the U.S., and it is now in 31 countries worldwide.

Over the past two weeks, daily case numbers have decreased by 34% to 159,625. The total number of deaths nationwide is now more than 434,783 and more than 25,876,500 people have been infected with the virus, according to the New York Times data

Worldwide more than 2,201,401 have died from the novel coronavirus.

On Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor, warned the new virus variants were a “wake up call” and vaccine manufacturers would have to reformulate vaccines if necessary.

Since taking office, President Biden has signed a series of executive orders addressing the pandemic, including that masks must be worn on all federal property, international travellers must be tested before entering the country and 100 million vaccines must be administered in his first 100 days.

NYC:

On Thursday, there were 151 deaths in New York State and 12,579 new cases, with a test positivity rate of 4.65%. 

At least 93 of those deaths were in New York City, where, over the past two weeks, cases have decreased by 8%.

There have been 597,312 confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York City, and 26,953 deaths. In the city, the 7-day positivity average is 9.13% and over the last 7 days there have been 27,819 new cases, according to city data. Currently, there are 2,383 people hospitalized with the virus in the city.

In New York City 610,095 people have had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 131,930 people have had their second dose. 1,223,250 doses have been delivered to the city.

Due to slow vaccine distribution and pressure from the federal and local government, Governor Andrew Cuomo extended vaccine eligibility to all those aged over 75 and a larger group of essential workers. A number of NYC officials have expressed deep concerns about the city’s vaccine rollout process, decrying the lack of planning and coordination, and have urged the governor and mayor to improve the process and ensure the swiftest vaccination timeline possible.

February 1 is the deadline to apply for the COVID Rent Relief program, where the state will subsidize eligible tenants’ rent for April, May, June and July 2020. Apply here. (Those who previously applied for this relief over the summer and were denied will be automatically reconsidered for this next round.) 

To qualify, tenants may now meet these criteria: Earned reduced income in April, May, June or July 2020, compared to March 2020 and paid more than 30% of that income in rent; Had a household income at or below 80% of the Area Median Income before March 7, 2020. (See the 80% AMI for your household size here.)

The NYC Health Department is urging people to follow these guidelines:

  • All New Yorkers should continue to follow the Core 4wear a face covering, practice proper hand hygiene, maintain safe physical distance from others, and stay home if you are sick.
  • Get tested! All New Yorkers should get tested whether or not they have symptoms. Tests are free. Find a testing site near you.
  • Worship safely: Avoid large gatherings, especially indoors. If your house of worship has reopened, wear a face covering, don’t share chalices or utensils and avoid close contact with others including hand shaking and hugging — wave instead. If you’re singing, you must stay at least 12 feet apart from others.
  • As we begin a return to activities like dining out and shopping, it is essential that we continue to take steps to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker recently said there was still a lot we don’t know about long-term effects of the virus, including the experiences of “long-haulers” reported in the New York Times. It seems the virus can have frightening long-term effects, including damage to the heart and inflammation.

Governor’s Update:

On Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced indoor dining in New York City would resume at 25% capacity on Valentine’s Day. The reopening will be subject to state guidance, which can be found here.

The Governor also announced marriage receptions could resume on March 15 if they are approved by the local health department. There will be a 50% capacity limit, no more than 150 people can attend an event and all guests must be tested prior to the event. 

“As data on infection rates and hospitalizations continue to improve, we must begin taking steps to jumpstart our economic recovery as long as public health can be protected,” he said. 

“The restaurant industry is the lifeblood of New York City and the economic hardship they have endured at the hands of COVID is nothing short of tragic. Thankfully, if our current trajectory holds, we will be able to reopen New York City dining at 25% capacity on Valentine’s Day. This doesn’t only give us more time to stamp out the virus even further, but also gives restaurants ample notice to begin preparing for a reopening.”

He said it was a great development, but the city could not become complacent – “we must all continue to do our part to keep beating back COVID so we can continue re-opening our economy and get back to normal.”

New York launched a new website about the COVID-19 vaccine, providing accurate and up to date information on the vaccine, safety, distribution priorities and more. The site has general information about the vaccine, a detailed Frequently Asked Questions section that provides facts about the vaccine’s safety and efficacy, and other questions you may have.

Mayor’s Updates:

On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio held his last State of the City address, where he pledged to administer five million vaccines by June, reopen schools by September, ban fossil fuels connections by 2030 and much more, in an attempt to lift the city out of the coronavirus-induced crisis before he leaves office.

“We will reach high levels of immunity to create a safer city, a city ready for a comeback,” he said. “Together, we will drive a recovery for all of us.”

De Blasio said New York City’s Vaccine for All campaign has already vaccinated more than half a million New Yorkers and had reached a pace of one New Yorker every three seconds.

With 412 vaccination sites spread across the city, from 24/7 mega vaccination sites to dozens of community health clinics, “New York City will meet our aggressive goals if we receive enough supply and the freedom to vaccinate,” he said.

“New York City’s vaccination effort is the foundation of a recovery for all of us. With every vaccine shot, New York City moves closer and closer to fully reopening our economy, restoring the jobs we lost and ensuring equality in our comeback.”

Officials, including the mayor, are urging New Yorkers to get tested at one of the hundreds of convenient testing sites across the city, as well as mobile testing units visiting different locations throughout the five boroughs – you can find your nearest testing site here.

The City has a database of resources for New Yorkers who need assistance with employment, access to food, rent and housing, school and education and more. You can access it here.

Watch the Mayor’s latest full update here:

Go here to read the NYC Department of Health Coronavirus fact sheet.

  • NYC BOC Absentee Ballot: To access an absentee ballot application click here.
  • Job Opportunities: To access NYC Health and Hospitals job postings click here.
  • Project Cupid: For more information on virtual Marriage License programs, click here.

Outlook in Brooklyn:

As of Friday, there have been at least 168,505 confirmed cases in Brooklyn. In the borough there have been 8,341 deaths. On Wednesday, Brooklyn’s test positivity rate was 5.58%.

There are now 22 sites in Brooklyn to receive a vaccination. Click here to find a vaccination site near you. 

Hospitals in the borough are filling up at an alarming rate, with Woodhull Medical Center at 103% of its I.C.U capacity, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center at 95%, New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital at 94%, Brookdale Hospital Medical Center at 93% and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center at 82%.

Black and Brown communities continue to be disproportionately affected by the virus, in both infection and fatality rates.

Other news in Brooklyn included:

Brooklyn Borough President COVID-19: A Rundown and Review

Brooklyn BP Eric Adams is asking all Brooklynites to remain vigilant in fighting the virus with, “determination, common purpose, and love — for our families, friends, communities, and our city.”

His office has composed a list of resources for those in Brooklyn seeking help and assistance through the pandemic.

Updates And Important Information:

EDUCATION

  • From November 2nd through November 15th families can fill out a form to indicate if they are interested in and planning on returning to a blended model for their child/children. The first in-person day for these students will be during the weeks of November 30th and December 7th. For more information click here.
  • Learning Bridges offers no-cost preschool and school age child care options for children from 3-K through eighth grade on days when they are scheduled for remote learning. Click here to learn more.
  • Brooklyn Museum’s “Youth Tours: Art at Two” offers virtual programming for children ages five through 10. Click here for more information.
  • “Let’s Learn NYC!” is an educational public television program produced by the WNET Group in partnership with the New York City Department of Education (DOE), features lessons for children in 3K through second grade that will supplement remote learning. More information can be found here.
  • NYC, which is powered by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), released a downloadable guide for free and low-cost tech courses in New York City.

HEALTH

  • Governor Cuomo released details on the metrics regarding COVID-19 micro-clusters.
  • Red Zone — Micro-Cluster: A “Red Zone” focus area is put in place to contain spread from a specific, defined geographic area.
  • Orange Zone — Warning/Buffer: An Orange Zone area either is put in place primarily in densely populated urban areas as a tight buffer zone around a Red Zone micro-cluster (“Orange Buffer Zone”) area OR is implemented independently as a focus area based on the below metrics (“Orange Warning Zone”). The purpose of an Orange Buffer Zone is to 1) restrict activity to prevent further spread from Red Zone area; 2) provide a defined geographic area where metrics can be monitored daily to ensure COVID is not spreading beyond the Red Zone.
  • Yellow Zone — Precautionary/Buffer: A “Yellow Zone” area either is put in place as a broader buffer area to ensure COVID outbreak is not spreading into the broader community (“Yellow Buffer Zone”) OR is implemented independently based on the below metrics (“Yellow Precautionary Zone”). The purpose of a Yellow Buffer Zone is to 1) restrict some activity to help prevent further spread from Red and/or Orange Warning Zone area; 2) provide a larger defined geographic area where metrics can be monitored daily to ensure COVID is not spreading beyond the Red Zone or Orange Warning Zone.
  • For more details click here.
  • The Mayor’s Office released an interactive map of closure zones in parts of Brooklyn and Queens due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. The map allows businesses and residents to look up what zone they’re in and what closures impact them. To view the map, click here.
  • Free tele-support group services are available with Lighthouse Guild Family Service Network. For young adults with vision loss, click here. For adults with vision loss, click here. For all questions, call (212) 769-7833.
  • COVID-19 testing has been made available to all New Yorkers. COVID-19 testing sites are available in your area with new ones being added on an ongoing basis. To find the one nearest you, visit the state website [New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) website], the City’s website [New York City’s COVID-19 Information Portal], or type “COVID testing near me” in Google Maps.
  • Crisis Text Line has support resources and counselors available for free 24/7 for frontline and essential workers. Text NYFRONTLINE to 741-741 to be connected, or visit crisistextline.org.
  • Mayor de Blasio announced an emergency financial relief program for survivors of domestic and gender-based violence to provide funding for immediate safety, economic, and housing needs currently exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Helpful resources that are currently available include the agency website, the “NYC HOPE” resource directory, and the Resources for Survivors During COVID-19
  • Worried about having to self-isolate in a dangerous home situation? Co-quarantined with an abuser? Please reach out and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Call 1 (800) 799-7233, TTY 1 (800) 787-3224, or chat online at org.
  • If you need mental health support, the New York Emotional Support Hotline is (844) 863-9314.
  • The New York Peace Institute has online resourcesto mitigate stress with tools such as meditation.
  • Use telemedicine services BEFORE going to the doctor’s office, urgent care, or the ER. Call (800) 633-4227 or your doctor for more information if you are on Medicaid. Whether you utilize Medicaid, private insurance, or are a self-payer, options are offered across many specialty areas. Urgent care telemedicine is available with New York-PresbyterianMount Sinai, or NYU Langone. Mental health telemedicine is available with Columbia Doctors. Diabetes telemedicine help is available with NYC Health + Hospitals. If you know other services, email askeric@brooklynbp.nyc.gov.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extendedits deadline to register for an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) to November 21, 2020. This new date will provide an additional five weeks beyond the original deadline. This extension is solely for those who have not received their EIP and do not normally file a tax return.
  • Mayor de Blasio announced the free “MEND NYC” program to provide mediation to New Yorkers and hospitality businesses across the city who are in disputes over quality-of-life issues. Mayor de Blasio recently expanded eligibility to neighbor disputes and landlord/commercial tenant disputes.
  • New York State is offering an additional 20 weeks of unemployment benefits. Visit ny.govto see if you qualify.
  • Distribution sites for small businesses looking to obtain face coverings, are open. Visit gov/businessfor more information across the boroughs.
  • The New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) has published plain language industry guides as a tool for small businesses to adhere to the latest mandatory guidance and to share best practices. Visit gov/businessfor more information on the guides.
  • Unemployed New Yorkers can access support at the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA)’s new website, org/legalhelp, which was set up to provide resources for filing an unemployment claim. If needed, NYSBA will match people with a pro bono attorney.
  • The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has launched the Bring Back Brooklyn Fund to support small businesses that have been shut out of other COVID-19-related loan programs, with 65 percent earmarked for minority and/or women-owned business enterprises (MWBE). The Bring Back Brooklyn Fund will offer no-interest recovery loans between $500 and $30,000. You can contribute to the effort here.
  • The New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) launched the NY COVID-19 Legal Resource Hotline to help New York City residents impacted by COVID-19 get answers to their legal questions on issues including unemployment benefits, employee rights, housing, public benefits, consumer debt, advance planning, stimulus payments, and special education issues. Call (929) 356-9582 Monday-Friday 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM to leave a message with your name and contact information or visit org/hotlinefor more information.
  • DCWP’s Office of Financial Empowerment has transitioned all financial counseling and coaching programs to offer services remotely. Book an appointment here.

FOOD PANTRY/FOOD ASSISTANCE

  • The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) released indoor dining guidelines that can be found by clicking here.
  • The Mayor’s Office released guidance to heat outdoor dining spaces for restaurants participating in the Open Restaurants program.
  • Electric radiant heaters will be allowed for sidewalk and roadway seating setups. For full guidance from the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB), click here.
  • Natural gas radiant heaters will be allowed on the sidewalk only. For full guidance from DOB, click here. Natural gas radiant heaters must also comply with the Fire Code.
  • Portable heaters fueled by propane will also only be allowed on the sidewalk. Propane heating will be regulated by the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), with requirements for safe handling, use and storage. For full guidance from the FDNY, click here.
  • All students who would have received a free or reduced-price meal at school are now eligible for additional food assistance through Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT). This includes undocumented students, students whose private schools participate in the National School Lunch Program, and students in districts that implement the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). New York City families will receive an additional $5.70 for every day school has been closed to purchase foods available through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
  • School sites are open for grab-and-go meals from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM, outside of main entrances of every school building. The program is now open to anyone who wants food, no questions asked. Go to nyc.gov, or text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877 for lists of where meals are being served. Breakfast and lunch will be distributed from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM in select schools at over 200 locations as the program moves toward an after-school schedule.
  • New Yorkers can use their SNAP benefits to order online.
  • The City has streamlined the home delivery of meals to seniors and is working to support our food pantries, which are critical partners in these efforts. In the interim, you can find a list of key resources at gov/GetFoodor by calling 311 and saying “Get Food.”
  • Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center has partnered with Share Meals, Hunger Free America, BetaNYC, and Plentiful to compile a listing and guide on food resources available to New Yorkers.

GENERAL

  • The Civic Engagement Commission officially launched its poll interpretation website, which details their poll site interpretation program, lists all voting sites where CEC interpreters will be assisting voters, and has a “Know Your Rights” section. Visit the site by going to gov/wearevoters.
  • NYC Parks has resumed permitting its athletic fields across the city for outdoor youth sports. Supportive of children’s physical and mental health, lower- and moderate-risk youth play on permitted fields has also resumed. They will continue to allow sports activity of low-to-moderate-risk on courts and fields across the city on a first-come, first-served basis, in accordance with the State’s reopening guidelines for sports and recreation.
  • Mayor de Blasio announced COVID-19 traveler registration checkpoints into New York City to ensure compliance with New York State quarantine requirements. Travelers who have visited 41 designated states or territories with high COVID-19 transmission rates are required to complete the New York State Department of Health traveler formand quarantine for a period of 14 days upon entering New York City.
  • The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will only offer services in person by reservation for limited transactions that cannot be done online or by mail or drop box. You can make reservations at ny.gov/reservation.
  • Visit NYCfor information on groups and individuals working on mutual aid in their communities, as well as if you need help or can help.
  • Free and low-cost childcare options during the COVID-19 crisis are available through Workers Need Childcare, for parents and caregivers in New York City’s essential workforce.
  • For veterans and their families, the NYC Veterans Alliance has a list of resources on their website.
  • Twenty-two branches of the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Public library are open with Grab-and-Go services.

HOUSING

  • Utilities have been ordered to not shut off service for gas, water, or electricity. Internet services will not be cut off during this time.
  • For New Yorkers requiring quarantine or isolation, NYC Health + Hospitals is offering free hotel rooms for up to 14 days if there is a need for a place to isolate. Call (844) NYC-4NYC (844-692-4692) and press “0”.
  • National Grid customers should be aware of a phone scam demanding immediate bill payment and threatening service disconnection. Learn ways to protect yourself and your family here.

TRANSPORTATION

  • The MTA launched a new interactive beta digital map to allow riders to plan their trips and see real time alerts. To view the map click here.
  • There is currently no subway service from 1:00 AM to 5:00 AM to allow for cleaning and disinfecting of trains and stations. The “MTA Overnight” pageprovides details on the service changes.

For City alerts in English, text COVID to 692-692.

For City alerts in Spanish, text COVIDESP to 692-692.


This coverage of coronavirus is a special to BK Reader. We are asking for your help in keeping our coverage and database current with any helpful references and news tips. Please send all tips to covid19@bkreader.com. With your help, Brooklyn will emerge stronger and more unified as a borough. Thank you.

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