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The Week in COVID-19 (10/16/20): Brooklyn, Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Brooklyn sees protests over new restrictions in virus hotspots, the latest presidential debate is canceled, deaths climb over 218,000 nationwide and drug company Pfizer announced it won’t seek authorization for vaccine until after the election…
Brooklyn museum
Brooklyn Museum reopening. Photo: Mateo Ruiz Gonzalez for BK Reader.

On Thursday, the United States recorded its eighth million coronavirus case and by Friday it had surpassed 218,266 deaths.

The  pandemic has continued to spread across the country as cases rise across the Midwest, and surges occur in Texas, Florida, California, and elsewhere.

Also on Thursday, the second scheduled presidential debate was cancelled after President Trump contracted coronavirus, but refused to participate in a virtual debate. Instead, both presidential candidates held separate town halls.

In New York, in order to stem rising case numbers in certain hotspot areas Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have placed new restrictions on certain neighborhoods. Those restrictions have been met with backlash from Orthodox Jewish and other religious leaders.

Borough Park saw nighttime protests where masks were burned, a local journalist was assaulted and Cuomo and de Blasio were urged to back down over restricting religious gatherings, schools and local businesses.

This week, a letter condemning the politicization of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its fight against the coronavirus got its 1,000th signature — all from current and former CDC epidemic intelligence officers. Also, drug company Pfizer said it would not seek emergency authorization for its coronavirus vaccine until late November.

As of Friday, the global death toll from the virus is 1,100,635 and in the United States more than 218,266 people have died.


Total cases as of October 16, 2020:

  • This week, an average of 54,399 people are being infected with COVID-19 per day, a 25% increase on two weeks ago.
  • As of Friday, nationwide more than 8,036,100 have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 218,266 have died, exceeding the population of Rochestor, New York, one of the first city's in the state to be hit by the pandemic.
  • There are more than 2.3 million cases in Florida, California and Texas, and as colleges reopen for fall, college towns are seeing some of the highest per capita increases in cases in the country.
  • More than 233,000 people have been infected in United States jails and prisons, and at least 1,372 inmates and staff died.
  • More than 83,000 nursing home residents and employeeds have died, making up 35% of the total death toll in the country.
  • The Government has started Operation Warp Speed to produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines. The initial doses are due to be available by January 2021, as part of a broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Despite President Trump pushing for a vaccine to be in use ahead of the election, that seems unlikely given drug company Pfizer announced Friday it would not seek authorization for its vaccine until late November.
  • Large gatherings, including high school sports games, concerts and festivals, continue to be cancelled or moved online, and many schools across the country are also moving online for the fall.
  • Large scale food and housing insecurity has taken hold across much of the country. There is a national eviction moratorium in place until December 31, to protect people nationwide from homelessness.


As of Friday October 16, 2020, there have been more than 484,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New York, including more than 257,000 in New York City.

More than 33,337 people with COVID-19 have died in the state, not including the deaths of people with probable cases. In New York City, that number is 23,915.

New York City is now in its final phase of reopening, with schools and indoor both having recently reopened with a number of precautions in place. This week, the City Council voted to permanently install outdoor dining on city streets.

A large increase in positive coronavirus tests in several ZIP codes across the city has lead Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to reinstate restrictions on gatherings in certain neighborhoods across the city and state. The zones are color coded depending on the rates of the virus, with red zones facing the most restrictions, then orange, and yellow. Cuomo launched the Cluster Action Initiative to prevent COVID-19 spreading in hotspot areas.

To read what restrictions are in place in each zone, click here.

Cuomo tweeted out this map of Brooklyn on October 6 with the new zone designations.

The NYC Health Department released 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 outand shopping, it is essential that we continue to take steps to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said this week there was still a lot we don't know about long-term effects of the virus, including the experiences of "long-haulers" reported recently 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:

Governor Cuomo announced the state would withhold funds for localities and schools in COVID-19 cluster zones that failed to enforce public health laws. The New York State Department of Health sent a letter warning local governments in cluster zones that they would lose state funding if they failed to enforce state limits on gatherings and the closure of schools.

The letter was sent to New York City, Orange County, Rockland County, the Town of Ramapo and the Village of Spring Valley.

Cuomo also announced DOH would send a letter warning public and private schools in cluster zones they would lose state funding if they did not comply with state requirements on closure and testing.

He said there were violations where yeshivas were operating and religious gatherings were happening that exceeded the guidelines. He said this was especially a problem in Brooklyn and Orange and Rockland Counties.

"If the local government does not effectively enforce the law, we will withhold funds. We're also sending a letter to all schools in the red zones saying to them that they must be closed. If they violate the Section 16 order, we will withhold funding from the schools. This is a last and final warning."

On Friday, he said New York's numbers remained steady, despite the handful of clusters it was experiencing. Positivity rates for test results in red zones was 4.84% on Thursday, unchanged from the day before, he said. The red zone focus areas were home to 2.8% of state's population, yet had 15.6 percent of all positive cases, he said.

"We are addressing these clusters through our targeted approach to ensure that they don't become community spread," Governor Cuomo said.

"As we go through the fall and into the winter and cases continue to rise across the country, it's going to take the work of all New Yorkers to maintain our progress."

He urged New Yorkers to keep up hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing.

On Thursday, Governor Cuomo sent a letter with National Governors Association Vice Chair Asa Hutchinson to President Trump asking him to discuss the role states will play in vaccine distribution.

Cuomo said many questions remained, including on the delineation of federal and state responsibilities, funding, supply chain management and the vaccine allocation process.

Cuomo also announced Thursday the State would send 200,000 rapid test kits to New York City schools in "Yellow Zones."

Mayor's Updates:

On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said there was a plateauing of test results in New York City and he felt the increased testing efforts had helped in the COVID cluster areas in Brooklyn and Queens.

"We can stop it in these areas of Brooklyn and Queens and therefore protect the whole city," de Blasio said. On Thursday the citywide COVID-19 positivity rate was 1.2%.

There are 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 postingsclick here.
  • Project Cupid: For more information on virtual Marriage License programs, click here.

Outlook in Brooklyn:

As of Thursday October 16, 70,569 people in Brooklyn have tested positive for COVID-19 and 5,719 have died.

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

The majority of Southern Brooklyn has been coded either as falling in a red, yellow or orange zone. Neighborhoods are facing different levels of restrictions on schooling, dining out, religious gathering and business openings depending on the zone they are in. The Brooklyn neighborhoods of concern in cluster areas include: Midwood, Borough Park, Bensonhurst/Mapleton, Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/ Sheepshead Bay and Flatlands/Midwood.

To see if you are in a COVID-19 color coded zone, check here.

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:


  • The Learning Bridges is a new program offering 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.
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza announced "Outdoor Learning," a citywide outdoor learning initiative for the 2020-21 academic year, which will allow schools to hold classes outdoors in schoolyards, adjacent streets, and nearby park space. The program is open to all public, charter, and private schools, as well as Learning Bridges. Schools in areas hardest-hit by COVID-19 with no outdoor space will receive priority for the program.
  • Brooklyn Museum's "Youth Tours: Art at Two" offers virtual programming for children ages five through 10. Click here for more information.
  • NYC H2O has an online portal for all ages to explore and learn about New York City's Water System.
  • "Let's Learn NYC!", the new 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 coursesin New York City.
  • Generation Citizen has provided free online resourcesto stay educated during the pandemic.


  • 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.
  • The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has partnered with select CVS and Walgreens pharmacies to make FREE naloxone kits available to any individual who requests one. Click herefor a list of participating pharmacies across the five boroughs.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

Financial Support

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Public Service Commission approved an increased bill-credit program for low-income Con Edison customers to ensure that they can access air conditioning during the hot summer months.
  • 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

  • Governor Cuomo announced the return of indoor dining at 25 percent capacity. Rule guidance can be found here.
  • Mayor de Blasio combined the Open Streets and Open Restaurants programs. Locations can be found 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 this week, from 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM, outside of main entrances of every school building. The program is now open to anyone who wants food, no questions asked. Go to, 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.


  • The Brooklyn Historical Society has launched the Muslims in Brooklyn website to prompt conversation on Muslim communities. Visit the website hereto learn more and join the conversation.
  • The New York City Parks Department (NYC Parks) will resume 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 will resume Tuesday, September 15th. 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.
  • As per Governor Cuomo, there will be upcoming universal absentee voting in November. To apply for an absentee ballot visit here.
  • Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) firms interested in earning City certification should visit nyc.govto complete the application. For application assistance, call (888) SBS-4NYC or dial 311.
  • 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 35 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.
  • City employees can partake in virtual events online with Work Well NYC. Click here for their August calendar.
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that large events requiring a City events permit will be cancelled through Wednesday, September 30th. The City will not issue a permit for any event in a location that interferes with the Open Streets or Open Restaurants program.
  • 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
  • New York City COVID-19 Response Maps are available online.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • If you see price gouging, report it to 1 (800) 697-1220, fill out the complaint form on the New York State Attorney General's website, or email


  • The pause on evictions is extended until October 1st but cases filed in Housing Court before March 17th will proceed, both online and potentially in person, with a court ban on final warrants of eviction tenants' only safeguard.
  • 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".
  • As per Mayor de Blasio, all tax lien sales will be postponed. Property owners who are facing hardships making their property tax payments can take advantage of several existing New York City Department of Finance (DOF) programs. These include exemption programs to lower the amount of taxes owed, standard payment plans, or a new Property Tax and Interest Deferral (PT AID) program, for those who qualify. DOF also provides a monthly property tax billing service to facilitate budgeting for property owners billed on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. More information on those programs can be found on the agency's website.
  • 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.


  • The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT)'s Staten Island Ferry has returned to four boat 15 minute rush hour service. All passengers must wear face coverings at all times on the ferries.
  • The Driver Resource Centerlaunched by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) offers a wide range of services to all TLC-licensed drivers and medallion owner-drivers.
  • 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.

*Thank you to the office of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams for contributing much of the updated information in this list. For more updates and resources, you can visit the BP's coronavirus online update here.