Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Coronavirus field hospital tents in Central Park is run by a discriminatory religious organization

Volunteers with Samaritan's Purse erect a makeshift hospital in the East Meadow of Central Park on Sunday


On Tuesday morning, a makeshift tent hospital in Central Park will begin treating overflow patients from Mount Sinai, as the spread of COVID-19 begins to overwhelm local hospitals. Announcing the 68-bed respiratory unit this weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the relief organization, Samaritan's Purse, responsible for funding and erecting the facility.

The mayor did not mention that the group is led by Franklin Graham, a notorious anti-LGBTQ and Islamophobic preacher with a track record of using humanitarian missions to proselytize an evangelical agenda.

Graham, the son of prominent minister Billy Graham, has specifically sought to recruit Christian medical staff to the Central Park facility. According to the group's website, all volunteers, including health care workers, should read and adhere to a statement of faith, in which marriage is defined as "exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female" and the unrighteous are sentenced to "everlasting punishment in hell."
Asked whether the Mayor's Office considers this problematic, a City Hall spokesperson said the field hospital will operate as a Mount Sinai facility, and must adhere to the hospital's policy against discrimination. The spokesperson did not say whether the city was concerned that volunteers on the project are expected to agree with the group's anti-gay faith statement.

"Our record on human rights is clear; and we are confident that the joint effort by Mt. Sinai and Samaritan’s Purse will save New Yorkers' lives while adhering to the values we hold dear by providing care to anyone who needs it, regardless of background," said Jane Meyer, the City Hall spokesperson.

What human rights record is that, Jane? Telling people they have to right to go mingle in bars and go to events as a nascent virus was spreading across the five boroughs?

The MTA was unprepared for a pandemic despite an early plan to defend against it


Preparations for a pandemic have been taking shape for years at New York City Transit, with the agency outlining plans to protect workers and riders while stockpiling supplies.

But as the coronavirus crisis escalates — with seven MTA employees among those to die from COVID-19 — transit union leaders say workers are deeply concerned over a shortage of protective equipment.

“It looks good on paper, but in a lot of cases, it’s not happening — I have no wipes, I can’t get N95 masks and it’s crazy,” said JP Patafio, a vice president for TWU Local 100. “What good is a plan if you’re not going to take stuff off the shelf when you need it?”
THE CITY obtained a 2012 copy of New York City Transit’s pandemic plan to “prevent or minimize illness among employees,” to limit service disruptions and maintain “an environment that is safe for both our employees and our customers.”

But a former MTA chief safety officer said the plan — similar to ones transit agencies across the country put in place after the 2009 swine flu pandemic — assumed a “rapid national response.”

“These plans don’t contemplate, nor were they required to contemplate, a sustained nationwide response with the associated shortages of supplies that we are currently seeing,” said David Mayer, the MTA’s chief safety officer from December 2014 to June 2018. “I don’t think these plans expected the level of service cuts, nor the duration of response that we are experiencing.”

The “Pandemic Plan Policy Instruction” maps out the need for subway and bus service reductions due to rising absenteeism, instructs transit workers to limit face-to-face contact with the public and not shake hands.

 The 2012 plan includes keeping a six-week supply of protective equipment. MTA officials say they maintained the stockpiles, but workers have complained they can’t get protective equipment.

 The MTA confirmed Monday that five more employees have died due to complications from COVID-19. 

"This is a devastating day," NYCT Interim President Sarah Feinberg told WCBS 880.

The employees were identified as Scott Elijah, a 15-year track worker with the Combined Action/Emergency Response Unit based in Long Island City; Caridad Santiago,a cleaner for 13 years assigned to the Stations Department in the Bronx; Ernesto Hernandez, a bus operator for 15 years most recently working out of the Jackie Gleason Bus Depot; Victor Zapana, a supervisor in the Stations Department who worked from various locations throughout the subway system for almost 30 years; and Warren Tucker, a bus mechanic for almost five years at the MTA Bus Company, assigned this year to the Central Maintenance Facility in East New York.

“We are heartbroken at the passing of five heroic members of the New York City Transit family. Scott, Caridad, Ernesto, Victor and Warren were all inspiring and valued colleagues, well-loved and well-respected by their co-workers," Feinberg and Acting MTA Bus Company President Craig Cipriano said in a joint statement. "They dedicated their lives to serving the public and keeping New Yorkers moving. This is a tragic loss for the city. Their families and friends are in our prayers during this incredibly difficult and painful time.”

Last week, two transit workers passed away due to coronavirus and a third died trying to evacuate a train that was on fire in Harlem.

U.S. Open stadium will be used for triage for COVID-19 patients

WCBS 880

 The home of the U.S. Open will be transformed into a temporary hospital to take some of the pressure off Elmhurst Hospital, which was been described as the "epicenter of the epicenter" of the coronavirus outbreak.

An indoor training area at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center will house a 350-bed medical facility that will accept COVID-19 patients from Elmhurst Hospital, which has borne the brunt of the crisis in the city.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said while it will take three weeks to build out the facility, it will start receiving patients next week. 

"This place will be a life saving place," de Blasio said.

The Louis Armstrong Stadium is being converted into a commissary, to turn out 25,000 meals a day for patients and New York City schoolkids. They will be prepared every day with six meals per package.

 The city has been rushing to triple its hospital capacity in anticipation of the apex, which is expected to hit in a matter of weeks. A 68-bed field hospital has been set up in Central Park's East Meadow, a temporary facility has also opened at the Javits Center and the 1,000-bed U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort arrived on Monday.

Empire State Building provides a dubious and dystopian essential service for the pandemic

NY Post

New Yorkers were left spooked Monday night by a glaring Empire State Building light display intended to honor emergency workers fighting coronavirus.

The iconic Midtown skyscraper announced the debut of a display that began at 9 p.m. Monday, and will continue on through the course of the ongoing pandemic.

“Starting tonight through the COVID-19 battle, our signature white lights will be replaced by the heartbeat of America with a white and red siren in the mast for heroic emergency workers on the front line of the fight,” read a tweet from the building’s official Twitter account.
But to some, in addition to solidarity, the siren induced anxiety, as it spun for the first time surrounded by low clouds.

“The @EmpireStateBldg reminding us that the city is in the middle of an emergency,” tweeted Rita King, who also posted a video of the display depicting an eerie scene.

King said on Twitter that she fully supports the cause, “but recommend[s] that the siren be replaced by the iconic pulsing heartbeat effect to reassure our heroic healthcare workers that their efforts will succeed, and soothe nervous New Yorkers now sheltering in place.”

Impunity City
As if New York being the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic didn't give enough stress, fear and uncertainty on the citizenry (and surely the world); the concerned folks that manage the Empire State Building actually thought this rapidly growing crisis needed a visual aesthetic aspect to it.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Coronavirus stats lag of homeless people sleeping outside and in the subway


Hidden in plain sight between a children’s playground and the stream of traffic into Brooklyn, a homeless encampment sits hard by the Manhattan Bridge.

Three makeshift “bedrooms” allow residents to hunker down for the night under an open sky, just a few feet from one another. There’s no sink or soap to follow the city’s wash-your-hands admonition and no sign of hand sanitizer. A pale blue surgical mask lies in the dirt.

A table in one of the bedrooms includes a paperback copy of “Birth of Tragedy,” by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

In the time of coronavirus, this encampment lies outside the reach of the frantic effort to contain an illness that had killed more than 770 New York City residents as of Sunday afternoon. And as the virus spreads, it’s touching the ranks of New Yorkers who live outdoors, bedding down on sidewalks and subways.
A man camps out in Times Square on March 24, 2020. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY
Last week, only one unsheltered person had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, according to city officials. By Saturday, there were four — three of whom remain hospitalized.

As for the rest of the estimated 3,200 New Yorkers living on the streets and in subways, keeping tabs on where they are or on who is infected is proving a steep challenge.

The city has stopped tracking down close contacts of those who have COVID-19 as the number of those infected skyrockets, so there is no account of who these four unsheltered individuals had contact with in the days before they tested positive.

Meanwhile, police are breaking up encampments around the boroughs, THE CITY has learned.

“This population is finding it remarkably difficult to do the things they’re being told to do,” said Josh Dean of HumanNYC, a group that presses to house the unsheltered homeless. “The general guidance is to stay at home and wash your hands and unsheltered homeless people can’t do that.”


A COVID-19 field hospital grows in Central Park

Volunteer workers could be seen in Central Park on Sunday erecting tents for an emergency field hospital to treat COVID-19 patients, providing another grim visual reminder of the severity of the coronavirus crisis in NYC. The tents are being assembled in the East Meadow by international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse, to serve overflow from Mount Sinai hospital.

The Central Park field hospital will consist of 68 beds specially equipped with respiratory care, powered by generators. The first patients are expected to come from Mount Sinai Brooklyn and Mount Sinai Queens, according to a press release on Samaritan's Purse's website.

This looks like the opening credits scene from M*A*S*H*


NYC nursing homes also lack adequate medical supplies to prevent COVID-19 contagion


Nursing homes have emerged as a second major front in New York’s battle to stem the coronavirus crisis — with their residents accounting for 15% of COVID-19 deaths in the state, the state Department of Health revealed Sunday.

Like staffers at many city hospitals, nursing home industry officials say they’re suffering from shortages of protective equipment and testing kits — even as they’re caring for a population with the highest risk of succumbing to the virus.

“I’m not getting the equipment I need to properly protect my staff and to properly protect my patients — and that is my absolute biggest concern,” said Scott LaRue, CEO of ArchCare, a network of five nursing homes with 1,700 beds in the city and upstate that’s affiliated with the Archdiocese of New York.

LaRue, who confirmed residents in his network have tested positive for COVID-19, said he spent Sunday delivering thousands of items of protective equipment to his facilities — but that it was barely enough for one day.

He said his workers don’t have enough surgical gowns and face shields to keep them safe when caring for symptomatic patients.

“We’ve been buying rain ponchos and beautician gowns off of Amazon,” said LaRue.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Queens has passed 10,000 people testing positive for coronavirus


New data that the city’s Health Department released Sunday morning shows the coronavirus pandemic continuing to take a horrific toll on the five boroughs.

Approximately 3,150 new cases and 161 deaths occurred in the last day, the data revealed. As of 9:30 a.m. March 29, there were 32,308 positive coronavirus cases and 678 related fatalities.

Nearly 24 hours earlier, the Health Department accounted for 29,158 positive cases and 517 deaths. In little more than 24 hours, the number of coronavirus patients went up 10.4%, while fatalities rose 31.1%.

Queens now has more than 10,000 confirmed coronavirus patients and continues to be the city’s hot zone in the outbreak. The 9:30 a.m. March 29 numbers revealed that the “World’s Borough” has 10,373 cases, 219 of which were fatal.

Brooklyn has the second-highest coronavirus cases in the city with 8,451 infections and 168 deaths, followed by the Bronx with 6,145 infections and 153 deaths, Manhattan with 5,438 infections and 94 deaths, and Staten Island with 1,866 infections and 43 deaths.

Approximately 20% of all coronavirus patients in New York City (6,287) have required hospitalization, the Health Department noted.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Steamrolling Flushing Creek hyper-development plan doesn't include a hospital

https://thenypost.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/flushing-gentrification2.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=777NY Post

A $2 billion development along toxic Flushing Creek will pollute the neighborhood with gentrification, critics say.

Affordable housing activists, unions and mom-and-pop shops have packed public hearings on the waterfront proposal, pushing back against more luxury apartments and designer stores.

And as livid as they are about the revitalization, they are just as angry about the government-approval process — claiming Community Board 7 and ex-Borough President Claire Shulman have steamrolled the project through. After wrapping up 15 years as beep, Shulman set up a nonprofit that makes private investments like the Flushing Creek venture possible.

Three developers — F&T Group, United Construction and Development Group, and Young Nian Group, in a partnership called FWRA LLC — want to transform 29 mostly unused acres into 3.4 million square feet of 1,725 apartments, a hotel, retail shops and offices that would generate a projected $28 million annually.

Their plan — the land is on the opposite side from the infamous junkyards near Citi Field — includes privately maintained roads and public access to the waterfront after an environmental cleanup of the area, polluted for decades by industrial waste.
“We believe this is the poster child for future waterfront development, and a legacy project for the owners who live and work in the community,” said their attorney, Ross Moskowitz, who pointed out supporters have turned out in big numbers at the public hearings — alongside the protesters.

“You can disagree with the project, but to say it has been steamrolled is just not right,” he said, adding the owners have followed the city’s statutory timeline for both land use and environmental reviews. “Already, he said, the owners have spent about 18 months on the reviews.

But opponents still think the process has been shady. As evidence of shenanigans, they point to Chuck Apelian, CB7’s first vice chair and land use committee chair, acting as a paid consultant to the developers and to Shulman, who received more time to speak during a Feb. 10 public hearing that turned so nasty cops were called. At times, demonstrators shouted “Shame” and “Let us speak.”

Coronavirus map shows the poorest New Yorkers are getting infected the most


NY Daily News

A city map suggests what many New Yorkers already suspected: Coronavirus is hitting the poorest neighborhoods hardest.

The map shows the biggest share of people testing positive for the deadly virus are in a swathe of the city’s poorer neighborhoods, which stretches in a boomerang shape from central Brooklyn through Queens and out to the Rockaways.

A chunk of the South Bronx is also being slammed with more than half the patients testing positive.
Well-heeled neighborhoods like Riverdale, Bayside, Bay Ridge and most of Manhattan are faring relatively much better, with less than 40% testing positive for COVID-19.

Anti-poverty advocates say that the findings likely reflect the fact that poor and working-class people have been far less able to abide by social-distancing rules.

They are also less likely to have jobs that allow them to work remotely like better-off New Yorkers.

Mayor de Blasio continues his recidivist secrecy of keeping information from the public with coronavirus map

Governor Cuomo calls the Army to build a hospital at Aqueduct

 Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling for a 100,000-square-foot temporary hospital to be built at the site of Queens Aqueduct Racetrack.

The governor is working to increase hospital capacity as the number of cases of coronavirus continues to increase across the state. There are now more than 44,000 cases statewide, Cuomo said today, and 25,573 cases across the five boroughs — as of 8:30 a.m. this morning.

“With COVID-19 spreading quickly, our number one priority is expanding hospital capacity,” Cuomo said on Twitter.

The governor will ask President Donald Trump to authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to build the temporary facility at the Aqueduct today, he said.

The state’s normal hospital capacity is 53,000 beds and needs to get to about 140,000 beds at the apex of the coronavirus pandemic, which is expected to hit in about 21 days.

The Aqueduct, along with an additional hospital site being scouted in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island, would add another 4,000 beds to the state’s capacity.

Cuomo said he wanted each borough to have its own overflow facility. Manhattan was the first borough to get a temporary 1,000-bed hospital inside the Jacob Javits Center, where the governor delivered his daily press briefing today.

 If President Trump gives the go-ahead, construction should take around 10 days, Cuomo said.

Governor Cuomo orders all non-essential construction to stop building


 Gov. Andrew Cuomo will freeze most construction statewide in response to the pandemic virus sweeping New York, after outcry from workers and word of COVID-19 cases on job sites around the city.

On Friday the governor will decree most residential and commercial building temporarily off limits, according to a spokesperson for Cuomo’s office. Infrastructure and transportation projects will be allowed to continue, as well as emergency repairs, hospital building and work on affordable housing.

Until now, construction work has been classified as essential, exempt from a state “pause” that ordered the shutdown of a wide swath of workplaces.

Cuomo’s shift followed a rush of protest from construction workers and their family members. Significant numbers had begun refusing to show up for work, sources said. Word traveled on Facebook among workers about positive cases on job sites and an electrician’s death.

Stephen Jozef, 57, who had been working on Google’s offices at 111 8th Ave., died from the coronavirus Monday, his daughter said. The electrician was last on the site on March 6, leaving because he grew ill.

“We understand the need for essential electrical work but there are many jobs that aren’t,” his three daughters, Valerie, Amanda and Rachel Jozef, said in a statement.
Construction worker Stephen Jozef died on March 23 from the coronavirus. Photo: Courtesy of the Jozef Family

The carpenters’ union local released a statement Thursday asking elected officials to limit jobs to “truly essential” construction. “Our members’ lives are at stake,” it said.

Cuomo’s move came as some construction sites around the city temporarily closed for cleaning after workers tested positive for COVID-19 — including prized Cuomo public works projects at Moynihan Station and LaGuardia Airport. Both projects will continue under the new guidance.
Some in the industry feared that their coworkers have not yet fully appreciated the threat of the virus as work was allowed to continue.

“They’re being led to believe it’s no big deal,” one steamfitter said.

Excess NYPD Enforcement at Grab-and-Go

NYC’s Department of Education’s Grab-and-Go is an excellent program during this COVID-19 crisis.   I’ve passed by several schools where it has been implemented.   To insure the safety of the parents and children picking up these meals, NYPD has assigned crossing guards at the schools.  My observation – why so many?  I’ve seen between 6 and 8 posted at the corners (at the school and the next block), sometimes one on each of the 4 corners.   I don’t think that the traffic to the Grab-and-Go program justifies the numbers, especially since it takes place between 7:30 and 1:30.   During a normal school day, there’s only 1, maybe 2 guards assisting the entire school’s traffic (pedestrian and cars) during the peak morning and afternoon rush.

Recommendation : re-assign the excess to other much needed and important NYPD areas, such as monitoring the social distancing in our NYC parks, playgrounds and other public areas.  I’m sure the NYC hospitals also need crowd monitoring (social distancing).

Friday, March 27, 2020

The five borough map of COVID-19 positive patients is out, and it's still hazardously vague


 Residents of United Hospital Fund Neighborhood zone 408 who tested positive for COVID-19 make up between 51.26 and 65.41 percent of the region's population to receive tests.
Get it? Yeah, neither do we.

The Health Department released Friday a difficult-to-interpret map of novel coronavirus cases in New York City, one day after a Wall Street Journal reporter called out Mayor Bill de Blasio for a lack of transparency.

"You have to release more detailed data on cases and deaths," Katie Honan told de Blasio. "It's negligent that you're not ... please, everyone has to get this data."

De Blasio lashed back at Honan, "If you believe it's your role to editorialize in the middle of your question, that's your right as an American."

"I don't believe that not only is it not negligent," he said. "I would say to you it's the exact opposite."

Yet less than 24 hours later, a new map appeared on the Department of Health's COVID-19 that tracks the percentage of patients testing positive by neighborhood.

Neighborhoods are designated by numbers instead of name — 408 is Jamaica, Queens, by the way — and the percentages are not connected to population data but to those tested.

The number of people tested per zone? Not included.

The population for zone? Not included.

Some New Yorkers were baffled.

"Anyone from NYC area who can parse this heat map of Covid-19?" asked Twitter user @_mzishi_.
Others were not.

"Map is pretty clear," tweeted Devin Balkind. "It's showing that the administration has no interest in transparency."

Since my role is also to editorialize, as an American I would like to say again that Bill de Blasio is a bastard. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Mayor de Blasio is refusing to release information about what exact areas in the five boroughs have the most COVID-19 cases

Residents of Los Angeles can go to a county website to look up how many confirmed coronavirus cases there are in Beverlywood, or Koreatown, or Echo Park. Officials in Charlotte, North Carolina, have released figures at the ZIP code level. The South Korean government is sending geotargeted texts to alert citizens to positive cases near them.

In New York, now at the center of the outbreak, Mayor Bill de Blasio has resisted releasing what the city knows about a basic question: Where, precisely, is the virus?

Answers could take the form of a number of data points — tests, confirmed infections, hospitalizations or deaths — each of which shed light on a different part of the crisis.

Instead New York, along with several other state and county governments around the country, has released daily data only on the county, or borough, level. That means there is just one figure for COVID-19 cases in all of Kings County — Brooklyn — which has a population larger than 15 states. 

The roughly 4,600 confirmed COVID-19 cases among Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents account for 8% of the confirmed cases in the entire country. There is also just one coronavirus case figure for the 2.2 million residents of Queens, where there are just over 5,000 confirmed cases.

The lack of detailed information makes it difficult for medical workers, journalists and the public to establish whether particular communities in the city are being harder hit and to get beyond anecdotal accounts of which of the city’s roughly 60 hospitals are already overwhelmed.

Dr. Michael Augenbraun, director of the infectious diseases division at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in central Brooklyn, said that while he knows the city has its hands full, the data could be useful for doctors. “Everyone is struggling to make sense of this evolving picture,” he said. “I think it would be useful to us in the hospitals to get a detailed situational appraisal, to know how much of the burden we are confronting.”

Augenbraun noted that more precise data could reveal important trends in how the disease is affecting different New Yorkers. “There are many things that may correlate with the spread of infectious diseases,” he said. “Race might be one, poverty might be another.”

But some of those same factors, particularly ethnicity and race, may account for the city’s reluctance to make public more localized data that could point to clusters in particular neighborhoods, among certain communities. Around the country, there have been disturbing reports of bias attacks against Asian Americans by assailants blaming Chinese communities for the spread of the virus.

“The risk is that certain communities would be unfairly stigmatized, especially if communities with many COVID-19 cases already shoulder poverty or high crime,” said Dr. Jessica Justman, associate professor of medicine in epidemiology at Columbia University. “On the other hand, communication and information are always important and especially important in a pandemic setting.”

Some experts argue that the city should be releasing more granular information, perhaps even down to the block level.

“More detailed information will allow everyone to target their efforts much more effectively than only county-level information,” said John Mollenkopf, director of the Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center.
In Newark, the largest city in neighboring New Jersey, Mayor Ras Baraka has disclosed that there were three coronavirus hot spots where residents should take extra precautions. On March 21, the city released detailed maps of the areas, which cover between 50 and 100 square blocks; it did not release the specific number of cases for each area.

New York has held fast on the policy the mayor laid out during a March 12 press conference when he was asked by a reporter if the city could go beyond borough-level numbers and break down cases by neighborhoods. The mayor declined, saying only that the city would release figures in the case of what he called a “cluster.”

“When we say ‘community spread,’ the assumption should be that this is something that is going to reach every corner of the city, whether we like it or not,” he said at the press conference. “And I don’t think it’s particularly productive. I don’t know what you do with that information. I don’t know how you change your life. Unless there is an indication of a cluster, that’s something we absolutely will talk about.”


The city is sending homeless shelter residents and public hospital patients with coronavirus to hotels — but won’t say where.

And officials aren’t providing hotel staff or the city employees monitoring the infected guests with masks or any other form of protective equipment — instead instructing them to maintain social distance.

“Going into a hotel room with an infected patient is the same as going into a room of a hospital with an infected patient,” said City Councilmember Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn), who called for protection for the workers.

The news came as officials confirmed the first death of a homeless New Yorker who succumbed to COVID-19.

The city’s Department of Homeless Services and the Health + Hospitals Corporation said the shelter residents and patients sent to the hotels are all experiencing low-level symptoms and do not require intensive medical care.

As of Wednesday, DHS had placed 65 individuals from shelters into hotel rooms.

Among them: residents who are infected, people who came in close contact with those who tested positive and shelter clients with potential coronavirus symptoms who haven’t been tested, officials said.

Overall, the city has lined up 500 rooms in four hotels, though only two facilities were being used as of Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
Isaac McGinn, a DHS spokesperson, declined to reveal the locations of the hotels, citing shelter residents’ privacy.

HHC wouldn’t say how many patients it had sent to the hotels so far. At least one HHC patient with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, had no known address and was routed to a hotel, via DHS.

 The number of shelter residents infected with the virus jumped from 17 to 39 between Sunday night and Tuesday night, with the illness spreading from 12 to 27 separate shelters across the city during that time, DHS officials said. Twelve people have been hospitalized — including the unidentified person who died Tuesday.

Queens has the most COVID-19 cases in the city with 6,420 and had the biggest gain in the last 3 days at last count on THE CITY's website.

Followed by Brooklyn with 5,232, Manhattan with 3,616, Bronx with 3,532 (second biggest gain) and Staten Island with 1,166. 

A total of 285 citywide have died by the virus. 

I'm going to take a break for a few days.

NYPD is not being transparent enough to cops about the growing cases sickened by the virus in the department

Officers are furious that the NYPD isn’t even telling its own members about who has tested positive for coronavirus.
NY Post

Officers are furious that the NYPD isn’t even telling its own members about who has tested positive for coronavirus — with cops in one precinct only finding out their bosses were out sick when they read it in The Post.

“You shouldn’t have to find out through the news,” one police source said, complaining about officers in Lower Manhattan’s 1st Precinct not being told about the positive case and sick cops last week.

“Their bosses went out sick and they didn’t even tell them. If there are 31 cops out sick in a precinct with 500 cops, there’s a lot more who are infected. They all have contact with their supervisors.”

More than 3,200 cops were home ill Wednesday — more than three times the average number for this time of year — according to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, who said the number of confirmed cases also ticked up but did not provide a number. Shea said Tuesday evening that 211 members of the NYPD had contracted COVID-19.

As the virus spreads through the force, police sources told The Post the only way cops are finding out about positive cases is when sick cops personally reach out.

But even then, sources said, they aren’t getting tested — despite working in close quarters and continued public interactions, which could cause further spread as health officials have ordered social distancing.

“Guys have pregnant wives and older parents at home. You can test a basketball team … you should be able to test the NYPD and the FDNY,” one source said.

Governor Cuomo ejects students from CUNY and SUNY dorm rooms to be triaged for COVD-19 patients

CUNY students booted from dorms to make room for coronavirus hospitals

NY Post

Students who reside at CUNY and SUNY colleges have been kicked out of their dorms as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and health authorities eye the campuses as sites for make-shift emergency medical centers to help treat a wave of coronavirus patients, officials said.

“New York State is sending its CUNY and SUNY students out into pandemic through dorm closures,” fumed Petra Gregory, a student government representative at the College of Staten Island.

Dorm students at CUNY’s Hunter and City College campuses were also ordered to vacate as were resident-students at several SUNY campuses — including Stony Brook, which the Army Corps. of 
 Engineers has chosen as one of Long Island’s emergency medical sites.

Stony Brook already has a hospital on campus and already serves as a Suffolk County COVID-19 drive-thru testing center.

Gregory said dorms residents at CUNY’s Staten Island campus were abruptly told that they were getting the boot Monday night when a resident assistant knocked on their doors.

“I am currently being unfairly evicted out of my dorms, and I have a mother who is immunocompromised and a 6-month-old baby sister. My family is unable to pick me up, and I have to travel with my support animal and pack for him on this short notice as well,” one of the college’s resident-students, Jasmine Shaikh, said.

A CSI official sent an email to students on Tuesday confirming the state ordered the students booted to make room.

“Governor Cuomo has asked private and public universities across New York State to be ready for the possibility that dormitories might need to be converted into temporary emergency medical centers,” said Jennifer Borrero, CSI’s vice president of student affairs.

Wonder if there has been any discussion about triaging empty condos that haven't been sold or that are being used as pie-e-terre's in all those luxury towers and empty "affordable" apartments in mixed use buildings that the state and city gave tax breaks to.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Elmhurst Hospital is at overcapacity and under supplied to handle the COVID-19 pandemic

New York Times

Sad Steinway saga continues

   We drove by a few days ago and found warehouse construction at the lot just south of the Mansion proceeding as planned.  A few more months and the view of the Mansion will most probably no longer be visible due to the height of the planned warehouses.  (Our previous blog coverage HERE and HERE.)

School teachers collectively outraged at Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor "Carranzavirus"

NY Post

One after another, sick Brooklyn Technical High School teachers called union chapter leader Nate Bonheimer last week, to tell him they’d tested positive for COVID-19.
By Friday, five of them had shared the devastating news. But after being notified about each one, the city Department of Education still ordered the 6,000-student school’s 350 staffers to show up for work last week, saying the building had been cleaned.

“The DOE did not close the school for any of the cases,” said Bonheimer, who worries that inaction exposed others to the dreaded infection.

The city failed to follow a March 9 directive by the state Education Department that “requires an initial 24-hour closure, in order to begin an investigation to determine the contacts that the individual may have had within the school environment.”

DOE did not attempt to identify close contacts, Bonheimer said. “They did not alert the people who needed to know the most to protect themselves, their families and everyone else they came into contact with.”

One infected teacher was so torn by the secrecy he took it upon himself to personally let all his students know his condition.

Around the city, teachers and administrators are outraged that Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza resisted a drum beat to close the public schools in the name of safety.
Some renamed the coronavirus  “Carranzavirus.”

“You say equity and excellence, but every other school district closed before you did. You had these kids like petri dishes spreading this to their families,” an administrator fumed.

Some DOE employees believe de Blasio and Carranza deliberately kept the lid on the COVID-19 cases popping up, putting kids and families at risk.

“The blood is on their hands,” one said

NY Post
A Brooklyn principal has died due to complications from the coronavirus — the first known death of a city public school staffer tied to the pandemic, officials said Monday.

Dezann Romain, 36, led the Brooklyn Democracy Academy in Brownsville, a transfer school that serves students who have dropped out or fallen behind in credits in traditional high school settings.

“It is with profound sadness and overwhelming grief that we announce the passing of our sister, CSA member Dezann Romain, Principal of Brooklyn Democracy Academy, due to complications from Coronavirus,” the union said in a statement.

“Our prayers are with her family and school community as we mourn alongside them. Please keep Principal Romain in your thoughts and continue to do everything possible to keep yourselves and your loved ones safe during this health crisis.”
Romain was promoted from assistant principal between 2016 and 2017, public records show.

“This is painful for all of us, and I extend my deepest condolences to the Brooklyn Democracy Academy community, and the family of Principal Romain,” Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said in a statement.


2T stimulus package to aid the nation during COVID-19 pandemic is approved.

The Hill

 The White House and Senate leaders reached a deal early Wednesday morning on a massive stimulus package they hope will keep the nation from falling into a deep recession because of the coronavirus crisis.

The revamped Senate proposal will inject approximately $2 trillion into the economy, providing tax rebates, four months expanded unemployment benefits and a slew of business tax-relief provisions aimed at shoring up individual, family and business finances.

The deal includes $500 billion for a major corporate liquidity program through the Federal Reserve, $367 billion for a small business loan program, $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for state and local governments.

It will also give a one-time check of $1,200 to Americans who make up to $75,000. Individuals with no or little tax liability would receive the same amount, unlike the initial GOP proposal that would have given them a minimum of $600.

The agreement caps five days of intense negotiations that started Friday morning when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) convened Republican and Democratic colleagues, with talks stretching late into the evening each of the following four days.

“At last we have a deal. ... the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement," McConnell said during a speech on the Senate floor after 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, pledging that the Senate would pass the package later in the day.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) hailed the legislation as "the largest rescue package in American history." 

“This bill is far from perfect, but we believe the legislation has been improved significantly to warrant its quick consideration and passage,” he said.

The final talks were conducted among McConnell, Schumer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland and incoming White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Schumer kept in close touch throughout the process with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who introduced her own $2.5 trillion bill Monday.

"Ladies and gentleman, we're done. We have a deal," Ueland told reporters, breaking the news after one of the final meetings in McConnell's office after midnight Tuesday night.

Ueland noted that staffers would work into Wednesday morning to finish the text of the bill, but that when it came to some of the negotiation's largest sticking points they already have language agreed to "or we know exactly where we're going to land."  

Mnuchin said early Wednesday morning that President Trump was "pleased" with the deal and urged Pelosi to take up the Senate bill and pass it without changes.

"This is a very important bipartisan legislation that is going to be very important to help American workers, American business. ... We couldn't be more pleased. Spoken to the president many times today, he's very pleased with this legislation and the impact this is going to have," he told reporters.
Pressed if that meant Trump would sign it if it reaches his desk in its current form, he added: "Absolutely."

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


New York has tried to slow the spread of the coronavirus by closing its schools, shutting down its nonessential businesses and urging its residents to stay home almost around the clock. But it faces a distinct obstacle in trying to stem new cases: its cheek-by-jowl density.

New York is far more crowded than any other major city in the United States. It has 28,000 residents per square mile, while San Francisco, the next most jammed city, has 17,000, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

All of those people, in such a small space, appear to have helped the virus spread rapidly through packed subway trains, busy playgrounds and hivelike apartment buildings, forming ever-widening circles of infections and making New York the nation’s epicenter of the outbreak.

“Density is really an enemy in a situation like this,” said Dr. Steven Goodman, an epidemiologist at Stanford University. “With large population centers, where people are interacting with more people all the time, that’s where it’s going to spread the fastest.”

The challenge facing New York and other tightly cramped cities around the United States can be seen by comparing the country’s largest city to its second biggest, Los Angeles.

As of Monday, there were more than 13,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York and about 500 in Los Angeles. New York reported 125 deaths; Los Angeles reported seven.
The population of Los Angeles is about half of New York’s, and it has conducted significantly fewer tests for the coronavirus. But researchers said one of the biggest reasons for the difference may be that in general, California residents live further apart from each other.

“Out here, we’re spread out,” said Dr. Lee Riley, professor of infectious diseases at the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health. “People use cars, the public transportation system is terrible. Whereas in New York City, you have the subways, the buses, Times Square, people living in your small apartment buildings.”

By almost any measure, New York has more bustling humanity living, working and playing side-by-side than anywhere in the country.

 On an average workday, more than 5 million people jostle onto the city’s subway trains — as many trips as Los Angeles sees in half a month. Far more people live in cramped public housing units in New York — 400,000 — than in any other city. And nearly 40 million people visit Times Square every year, making it one of the busiest tourist attractions in the world.

NYCHA continues its reputation for negligence even during a pandemic

Curbed NY

Less than a week after New York City announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19, Melanie Aucello reached out to officials with the New York City Housing Authority asking about precautionary measures the agency was taking to protect tenants in her Kips Bay apartment building.

Another week passed before the housing authority announced its cleaning and outreach efforts. By then, the city had 154 verified cases. Still, Aucello, who is president of the tenants’ association at 344 East 28th Street, says she saw little change in the roach-infested lobby and elsewhere in the building as she nervously watched reports of the city’s cases balloon well into the thousands.

Now, with more than 13,000 cases citywide, Aucello and other frustrated tenants have taken it upon themselves to make up for what they claim is a lack of cleaning in the building by sanitizing commonly-touched surfaces with their own supplies.

“We wipe down our own door handles, elevator buttons, mailboxes,” says Aucello, whose 250-unit development is across the street from Bellevue Hospital. “We check in on each other because if we waited for NYCHA we would all get sick.”

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases climb, NYCHA says it is aggressively cleaning its 2,200 buildings three times a week through a combination of in-house staff and outside cleaning services. 
These daily cleanings are concentrated in high-traffic areas across the agency’s 361 complexes, such as common area doors, mailboxes, and elevator controls. At its 71 seniors-only buildings, NYCHA hired EastCo Building Services to clean five times a week with “a hospital-grade disinfecting spray that kills viruses” called Smart Touch; those same surfaces are then treated with BioProtect, a water-based protective barrier, that remains on surfaces for up to 90 days. This method will be utilized on a 30-day cycle as an extra precaution in addition to basic cleanings, according to the authority.

These measures are crucial to keeping residents healthy at NYCHA developments, where nearly a quarter of the authority’s 400,000 residents are 62 or older—a group that is particularly susceptible to fatal infection by COVID-19—and where the average household income is $25,007, according to city data.

“Since this pandemic hit New York City, NYCHA has been working around the clock to receive guidance and implement measures to ensure our approach and plans are thorough and responsive to a changing environment,” NYCHA CEO Greg Russ said in a statement, stressing that the authority’s “top priority” is the safety of its residents and employees. “We are prouder than ever of NYCHA property staff, who remain central to keeping our developments clean and sanitary.”

Still, Aucello and the residents of the East 28th Street building are not alone in their assertion that the housing authority isn’t doing enough to properly maintain some of its buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic. A tenant leader in an Upper East Side complex says the elevators and their panels are persistently sordid. “It smells like it was cleaned with a mop of urine,” says La Keesha Taylor, a resident of the John Haynes Holmes Towers in the Upper East Side. In December, tenants filed a lawsuit against NYCHA to force repairs at the complex. “It doesn’t look clean, it doesn’t smell clean,” Taylor says. “But everyone touches the buttons because they have no choice. It’s the same old, same old.” She and other residents have been using bleach wipes to clean elevator buttons and doorknobs throughout the complex.

The city has implemented a hospital to shelters pipeline for homeless people who tested positive for coronavirus


City hospitals are sending apparently homeless people who test positive for coronavirus but aren’t in need of intensive medical care to the shelter system for isolation, THE CITY has learned.

Meanwhile, the number of homeless people with coronavirus infections living in city shelters more than doubled over the weekend as social services officials grappled with how to handle the growing number of cases affecting some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers.

The Department of Homeless Services confirmed Monday that the number of shelter residents with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, jumped from seven on Friday to 17 by Sunday night. That’s a major increase from 10 days ago when only one shelter resident had registered a positive test.

Homeless people with the virus have now been found in 12 shelters across the city, DHS said.

Now the city-run hospital system is transferring patients who’ve tested positive for the virus into the shelter system if the person has no known address and isn’t deemed to require acute medical care.

As of Sunday, one such patient had been sent to the city homeless shelter system. Isaac McGinn, a DHS spokesperson, said the person only needed isolation.

Four of the 17 shelter residents with COVID-19 remained hospitalized, while the other 13 were “only exhibiting mild illness and do not require intensive hospital care at this time,” McGinn said.

Most of those with the lower-level symptoms were taking up beds in an isolation ward DHS has set up at an unspecified location, he said.

And the band played on; city construction still continues during COVID-19 outbreak and state shutdown order


While most New Yorkers are staying indoors, construction workers are expected to report for work this week — even as some laborers said they fear for their health.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “New York State on PAUSE” executive order designated construction work — from infrastructure projects to repairs to new buildings — as “essential.”

Still, the wide-ranging construction exception has infuriated some in the industry who are alarmed that a laborer’s coronavirus diagnosis isn’t enough to shut down a jobsite.

“Some people thought we weren’t working Monday because we just assumed, when they read nonessential, that we were nonessential,” a worker on a luxury downtown condo high-rise told THE CITY.

To get to work, he takes a packed elevator up 50 floors. The only sink, for hand-washing, is on the ground, he said.

“Just riding the elevator to where you need to work is like an affront to the whole idea of social distancing,” said the worker, who requested anonymity out of concern of possible retaliation by his employers.

He’s holding out hope that the government freezes the industry, but might stop going in if that doesn’t happen. He fears forfeiting unemployment benefits if he walks out.

“Yeah, I’m worried about losing my income, but there’s sacrifices that have to be made to, you know, stop the spread,” said the worker, who commutes via subway. “Money is not worth the health, especially putting other people at risk.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office confirmed that the city is allowing work to go on at sites where employees have logged confirmed coronavirus cases.

“We’re not shutting locations with positive cases,” Julia Arredondo, a de Blasio spokesperson, wrote in an email. “We’ve provided guidance on how to keep people safe and sites should follow that guidance.”

Officials at various city agencies — including the Department of Buildings, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection — did not clarify whether they were tracking coronavirus cases on work sites.

Among those sites with a construction worker who tested positive for coronavirus was Facebook’s office at 770 Broadway in Manhattan. The worker was there last week on a job to build corporate offices and a cafeteria.

“In light of this news, the affected individual will remain out of work and away from the office construction site until cleared to return by their healthcare provider,”  Jamila Reeves, a Facebook spokeswoman, told THE CITY in a statement. “We’ve taken — and will continue to take — all necessary precautionary measures, following the advice of public health officials, as we prioritize everyone’s health and safety.”

As construction has been deemed an essential service by Cuomo, Facebook office construction projects in New York will proceed for the time being, she wrote.

Some construction subcontractors across the city want to pull workers off sites now — but fear general contractors will sue them, industry sources said.

“I tried to shut down field operations last week out of respect for my people, because these are my team members,” said one subcontractor. “And I was told that, no, you cannot do that because you will not only be held liable to meet the schedules of your schedule, but you’ll incur consequential damages.”