Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Day of the Squirrel


CBS New York 


Today Rego Park, tomorrow the world

Monday, December 28, 2020

Chain stores are vanishing too


Queens Post 

 The number of chain stores in Queens dropped by more than 10 percent over the past year, according to a new report.

In all, 198 chain stores shut their doors in the borough — an 11 percent drop over the past year, according to the Center for an Urban Future’s 13th annual State of the Chains report.

Citywide, more than 1,000 chain stores — nearly one out of every seven — closed in 2020. The report defines a chain store as part of a national or regional chain that has at least two locations in New York City and at least one location outside city limits.

Queens saw the second biggest drop of the five boroughs, behind Manhattan. Twenty retailers experienced a net decline of at least three stores in Queens during 2020, according to the report

Illegal vendor sidewalk serenade


NY Post

 Live crabs. Bras with rhinestones. Old shoes. Frayed electrical cords. Knock-off Louis Vuitton clutches. Disposable face masks. Mets caps.

Illegal street peddlers hawking such items have taken over the outer boroughs, clogging sidewalks with their second-hand wares and pulling customers from pandemic-ravaged mom-and-pop shops.

And everybody is pointing the finger at Mayor de Blasio.

From Brooklyn to the Bronx, Staten Island and Queens, folding tables and mats rolled out on the ground force pedestrians to go single-file or step aside so they don’t get run over.

In the Bronx, 149th Street and Fordham Road are hotspots. So is Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park and Flushing’s Main Street, especially the few blocks from the Post Office at Sanford Avenue to the 7 Train station at Roosevelt Avenue.

 On Main, between Sanford and 41st Avenue, The Post counted 27 street vendors – on just one side of the street. Two pulled out yellow licenses, showing they’re military veterans. Six shook their heads like they didn’t understand English. The others turned away or looked down when asked to show their licenses.

DianSong Yu of the Flushing Business Improvement District estimates 90 percent of the vendors aren’t licensed. Citywide, the number of all kinds of vendors stands at roughly 20,000, according to the Street Vendor Project, an advocacy group. But legit general merchandise license-holders, not including mobile food vendors, total a few thousand.

“It’s a very tough time for everybody, we get it,” Yu told The Post. “But we need to be fair to the local merchant who are paying very high rent and taxes. And they’re hurting.”

Bobby has a yellow license for his spot on Main — and he’s mad about the infiltrators. “They’re robbing the city of taxes. They’re taking money from the veterans. They’re taking jobs,” said Bobby, who wouldn’t give his last name but told The Post he fought in Vietnam.


Sunday, December 27, 2020

He's eighteen and wants to be elected


NY Post

He’s barely old enough to vote, but says he’s ready to be elected. 

Seth Breland, an 18-year-old Democrat from Fresh Meadows, hopes to replace City Councilman Barry Grodenchik in Northeastern Queens when he steps down at the end of next year.

If he is able to get on the ballot in November 2021 and win, Breland would be the youngest elected official in the city’s history. Former Bronx Councilman Joel Rivera, elected in 2001 at age 22, currently holds that title. 

Breland, a graduate of World Journalism Preparatory High School in Flushing, who is now studying political science at Long Island University Post campus, says his age is a benefit on the campaign trail — if not for the publicity alone. 

“I realize the age can be a limitation, but at the same time … it can be an advantage if I play it right,” he said. “My age will give me the sort of attention and enthusiasm to really fight for our district.”

Breland, who turned 18 in May and cast his first legal ballot in November for Joe Biden, said he was inspired to run by another young, progressive Queens politician, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was elected to Congress at age 28.

“AOC is definitely an inspiration in terms of her age. I had been following her campaign for a while at that point, and it was really inspiring to see,” he said.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Cuomo loses another lockdown case




And Biden wants this guy to be the nation's attorney general. Minchia.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Fish Feast


Landlord suspected of starting fire in illegally converted Elmhurst house


 NY Post

An FDNY dog found traces of accelerant on three gloves inside the car of a Queens landlord whose apartment house burned down in a suspicious fire that killed three people, police sources told The Post.

Cops and fire investigators were searching the home and Toyota 4Runner of Eric Chen in Flushing late Tuesday, when the canine made the discovery, the sources said.

Police seized the SUV, as well as digital recording equipment, a computer monitor and a hard drive, the sources said.

No arrests have been made in the case and no charges have been brought.

Chen, 29, purchased the home at 90-31 48th Ave. in February, and had since tried evict eight tenants who remained in the house.

Building department records show that as many as 60 people may have lived in the home at one point — one of 26 open violations at the three-family Elmhurst home.

Most of the violations occurred before Chen bought the property, records show.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

And now it's time for the airing of grievances

Happy Festivus, everyone.

As a gift from me to you, here's a downloadable and printable sign for your home or business.

Socially distanced protesting is where it's at!

Cuomo the Tyrant by queenscrapper on Scribd

Eviction hotline ad found on Rockaway Rail Line

Impunity City 


Bad RAD exonerates NYCHA from filing repairs



 One by one, the nation’s biggest public housing authority is turning over management of tens of thousands of its 175,000 apartments to the private sector.

And with every apartment that goes into private hands, long-awaited repairs are deemed “closed” — even though the fixes haven’t taken place, a housing advocacy group charged in court papers filed this week.

Instead, tenants are instructed to tell the development’s new management team about what work needs to be done. NYCHA officials — who have struggled for years to reduce a massive repair request backlog that recently hit a record 475,000 — then get to take those jobs off the books.

This bureaucratic sleight of hand is taking place under an Obama-era program called Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) in which NYCHA turns building management over to a private company while retaining ownership of the property. To date, 9,500 units have been converted, with another 12,000 to follow in the next few months.

 All told, NYCHA plans to transfer 62,000 apartments into RAD and a local version of the program called Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) by the time the transformation is complete.

This set-up allows NYCHA to raise money via up-front fees from developers, who are charged with upgrading and maintaining the complexes. The developers pocket the tenants’ rent going forward and must ensure living conditions are safe.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Rep. Maloney proposes bill for more LLC transparency




Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is pitching a bill on Capitol Hill that will put an end to shell companies across the United States, and possibly alleviate some of the issues facing everyday New Yorkers in an inflated housing market.

The main objective of the bill, however, is national security exemplified in the history of 650 Fifth Ave., once owned by the Iranian government and used to launder money for the benefit of terrorism groups.

“It’s not owned by the government of Iran anymore. It’s owned by a private U.S. company, but for many years, Iran was able to circumvent U.S. sanctions and launder their money, right here, in the US financial system,” Maloney said. “Now, people ask how did they do this? They used two anonymous shell companies, both formed here in the United States that hid their ownership. Fortunately the era of anonymous shell companies is almost about to end.”

Arson suspected in illegally converted house fire in Elmhurst



NY Daily News 

 Investigators are narrowing in on arson as the likely cause of a blaze that killed three people in Queens, law enforcement sources said Monday.

 Investigators found traces of an accelerant inside the gutted three-story home on 48th Ave. near 91st St. in Elmhurst, suggesting the deadly fire may have been intentionally set. Other possible causes are still being probed, the sources said.

Security video shows someone leaving the building right before the fire started, the sources said. No suspect has been identified.



Monday, December 21, 2020

The replacements for District 31 council seat


Queens Eagle 

Thirteen candidates filed petitions before a Wednesday night deadline to run in the February special election to replace former Councilmember Donovan Richards.

Richards vacated his seat in Southeast Queens’ Council District 31 when he took office as Queens Borough President earlier this month, triggering the special contest on Feb. 23. The election will be the second test of New York City’s new ranked-choice voting system following another special in Council District 24 Feb. 2. 

Veteran government strategist and communications professional Selvena Brooks-Powers was the first candidate to submit her petition signatures, followed by attorney Bradley Jared Berfas.

Berfas lists an address in Cedarhurst, a Long Island town that is not in the district, not in Queens and not in New York City. He did not respond to requests for comment.

The other candidates include Richards’ chief of staff Manny Silva, home healthcare training school founder Nancy Martinez and Jewish community leader Pesach Osina, who lost to Richards by 70 votes in a 2013 special election.

LaToya Benjamin, the economic director for James Sanders and assistant school superintendent Shawn Rux are also running.

As are Democratic District Leader Rev. Sherwyn James, filmmaker Perri Pierre and special needs advocate Nicole Lee.

Also in the mix: Republican Joseph Kasper, a perennial candidate for judgeships in Queens who temporarily ran for Council in District 30 as placeholder before giving up the GOP ballot line to Robert Holden in 2017.

Public school teacher Latanya Collins and Kevin Carter round out the field.

Only three candidates filed their campaigns before the July 15 financial disclosure deadline. Silva led the early fundraising with $7,425, followed by Benjamin with $3,421 and Brooks-Powers with $100.

The district is separated into two geographic areas: the Southeast Queens communities of Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens, and the eastern Rockaway Peninsula neighborhoods of Arverne, Edgemere and Far Rockaway. 

More than two-thirds of the residents are Black, 16 percent are Hispanic, and 11 percent are white, according to U.S. Census data. There is also a large Orthodox Jewish community in Far Rockaway that voted as a bloc for Osina in 2013.

Frosty the Deity

At the foot of the meadow in Astoria Park, just beyond a crop of trees and not far from the century-old Hellgate Bridge, a towering bust carved in snow and ice appeared Thursday evening. 

Rising more than six feet in height, his face was encircled with an icy mane of curls. A carrot dangled from the right side of his lips, reminiscent of an expensive cigar. His deep set eyes gazed southward, as if to halt the winds that a day earlier had brought an estimated nine inches of snow to western Queens. Thou shalt not pass, the wizened snowman seemed to say. 

But who was this mystery snowman? Who carefully chiseled his furrowed brow? What earthly beings wrought Old Man Winter of Astoria?

An Eagle investigation initially led only to dead ends. Photos showed several unidentifiable figures bundled up in coats and hats near the sculpture from a distance. 

Most of the responses to the Eagle’s inquiry on the neighborhood Facebook page simply marveled at the artistry and craftsmanship. One person joked it had been made by aliens. 

But then there was a break in the cold case. 

A woman noted that she had met the snow sculptors on Thursday. The mystery has been solved.

Meet artists Marios Tzavellas and Melissa Vadakara.

“I had been sitting on the bench waiting for him, and I said let’s build a snowman,” said Vadakara, 27. He and Vadakara simply picked a patch of untouched snow.

“We just started going,” Vadakara said.

The Astoria residents initially envisioned a Christmas tree, then switched to a portrait, then Santa Claus, and finally a Greek god. “Maybe it’s all of them,” Tzavellas said. 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

City gives permits to squeeze another affordable luxury housing building in L.I.C.


LIC Post

 Building permits have been filed for a 12-story mixed-use building in the Queens Plaza section of Long Island City.

The plans call for a 125-foot-tall structure at 42-62 Hunter St., according to documents filed with the Dept. of Buildings on Dec.10.

The building will contain 27 apartments and will take up more than 30,000 square feet. There will be three units on each floor from 2 through 9, with one unit on each of the upper floors.

The plans call for retail space on the first floor and in the cellar. There will also be 15 bicycle spaces and a compactor room in the cellar. The plans do not include space for parking.

Rep. Meeks gets appointed to lead foreign affairs committee


Queens County Politics

 Queens County Democratic Party Chairman U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, The Rockaways, JFK Airport) took a historic step onto the world stage earlier this month when he was elected as Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. 

Meeks fulfilled a dream that he aspired to for years when he was elected as the first Black Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. A product of the Civil Rights Movement and a congressman in Queens for more than 20 years, he said he hopes to bring a fresh point of view to the committee and to the country’s foreign policy priorities.  

“I’ve come from a different background, and different life experiences than many of the –– than all of the other chairs have had,” he said. 

 He plans on drawing on his nearly 30 years of experience working and legislating for Queens, first in the State Assembly then in Congress. In those three decades, he learned a lot about the world, and he’s ready to take those lessons to the international stage. Coming of political age in the crucible of Queens has exposed him to a variety of worldviews, he said. 

“The voice that I bring, I think is the voice of a person who represents Southeastern Queens and represents Queens, that is a mini U.N. in and of itself,” he said. “What I think makes the United States the greatest country in the world, we’re not monolithic –– a little bit of this a little bit of that.”

 Can't think of a more perfect pick than the most corrupt member of the House.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

City Council law turns streets into commercial performance venues


Greenpoint Post

The City Council passed a bill last week that will allow performers to host ticketed events on city streets.

The bill — sponsored by Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer — will establish an “Open Culture” program, modeled after the city’s “Open Restaurants” outdoor dining program.

The program aims to help artists who have struggled to find work since March — when theaters, playhouses and other performance venues were closed due to COVID-19.

Under the “Open Culture” program, eligible artists will be able to perform ticketed concerts, plays, comedy and other events on city streets and at various public spaces, beginning on March 1, 2021.

The Department of Transportation is required to come up with a list of open streets and spaces where eligible artists will be permitted to perform by Feb 1.

The program will be open to artists and groups that have received funding from the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs, or funding from one of the five borough-based arts councils in the past two years. Artists who are not part of these groups can partner with an organization that meets the eligibility requirement.

The legislation passed the Council unanimously last Thursday and is expected to be signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“After an unanimous vote in the Council the new Open Culture program will bring song, dance, comedy, & performances to our streets – starting March 1st,” Van Bramer tweeted. “A big win for our artists and cultural venues, bringing joy & jobs to thousands!”

Artists who perform on streets will be able to charge patrons for tickets to watch their acts.

 Will these patrons include the curious passerby?



Squatters die in Elmhurst inferno

From the NY Post:

The Fire Department said it received a 5:37 a.m. call for the blaze Saturday at 90-31 48th Ave. It went to a third-alarm at 6:16 a.m.

A neighbor said the three-story house was vacant and that the men who died were squatters.

There were more than 60 people living in the house in early 2020, according to a complaint received by the city Department of Buildings in January 2020 from someone who wanted to rent a room there and “witnessed people using drugs and the whole house smell of marijuana.”

The DOB had issued a partial vacate order in February 2018 because the basement was illegally converted into six living units.

Update: Another person was found dead in the house

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The evolution of New York dining

Voters 1, Tweeders 0

From NY1: A Manhattan State Supreme Court judge on Wednesday refused to halt the rollout of ranked-choice voting in New York City, a major victory for advocates of the new system of voting that is set to be part of city elections next year. With military and overseas ballots set to go out on Friday for a Feb. 2 City Council special election, Justice Carol Edmead declined to issue a temporary restraining order or to set an expedited hearing schedule in the case which was brought by six City Council members and several organizations. “This Court is disinclined to take any action that may result in the disenfranchisement of even one voter or take any action that may result in even one voter’s ballot being nullified,” Edmead wrote in her decision.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Manhattan BP Candidate accuses Cuomo of sexual harassment


The Hill

A former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Sunday that he sexually harassed her for several years while she worked in his office.

Lindsay Boylan, the former deputy secretary for economic development and a special adviser to Cuomo from 2015 to 2018, said the governor frequently harassed her and that numerous people saw it take place.

"I could never anticipate what to expect: would I be grilled on my work (which was very good) or harassed about my looks. Or would it be both in the same conversation?” Boylan said in a tweet.

"I’m angry to be put in this situation at all. That because I am a woman, I can work hard my whole life to better myself and help others and yet still fall victim as countless women over generations have. Mostly silently," Boylan tweeted. "I hate that some men, like @NYGovCuomo abuse their power."
 Boylan, who is currently a candidate for Manhattan borough president, challenged House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) in the 2020 Democratic primaries. She alluded to her allegations earlier this month, tweeting that the governor’s office was the “most toxic team environment” she had ever worked in.
Lindsey might have a character witness:

More on Impunity City

Monday, December 14, 2020

David Weprin's cash for mustache campaign


Pig on the lam

 Looney Tunes Porky Pig GIF - LooneyTunes PorkyPig Running - Discover &  Share GIFs 

NY Daily News

 This little piggy should have stayed home.

An abandoned piglet was rescued from a Queens park but cops and animal control officials are on the lookout for another one that slipped away, officials said Monday.

After receiving a call about a loose pig near Baisley Pond Park creative cops cornered the panicked porker under a car and managed to get her into a crate. The neighbor who discovered the pig had managed to keep her in the area by feeding her potato chips.

From there, it was on to the animal rescue folks at Long Island Orchestrating for Nature, who gave the pig a new home and a new name — Babe — while nursing her back to good health.

But before little Babe could cry wee wee wee, cops learned there was another pig in a poke.

“Unfortunately, a few hours later after we got this piglet from the NYPD they called us back and told us someone reported another piglet running loose,” said anthrozoologist John Di Leonardo, president of Long Island Orchestrating for Nature.

“We are currently working under the assumption that someone abandoned them in the park there. The first one was found a few blocks from the park. This other one has been spotted inside the park hours later.”

Queens nurse gets the first vaccine shot


The Independent

 New York City has vaccinated the first person in the United States to publicly receive the vaccine, with a nurse receiving her injection in a live-streamed process.

Sandra Lindsay, a critical care director, was given the injection in Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Queens, to applause from those watching. 

Queens was the hardest-hit borough of the hardest-hit city in the nation; the medical center where Ms Lindsay works has seen well over 100,000 Covid patients, and in April they had over 3,500 patients in their hospitals.

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, described it as “the final chapter”.

“But a vaccine doesn’t work if it’s in the vial,” he said.

“I hope this gives you and your colleagues a little more of a sense of safety and confidence, when you get the second shot.”

Ms Lindsey said that the injection felt the same as any other.

“I’m feeling well. I would like to thank all the frontline workers, all my colleagues, who have been doing a yeoman’s job to fight this pandemic all over the world,” she said.

"I feel hopeful today. I am relieved. I feel like healing is coming, I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history.

"I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe. We are in a pandemic so we all need to do our part to put an end to the pandemic and not give up so soon.

Jamaica Avenue's million dollar pit of despair and graffiti


 On the day after the six-alarm fire that destroyed the homes above storefronts in Richmond Hill and taking pics of the charred windows on the buildings, strolling about 8 blocks east by Lefferts Blvd. there exists this unsightly gated wall protruding on the sidewalk next to a barber shop and a ministry. I call it a gated wall because it’s secured with a lock and chain.

 Unfortunately the wall itself wasn’t as resilient. As evident by this unsightly and hazardous profusion. Which is easily accessible to passerby, especially children.


Sunday, December 13, 2020

Shadow smothering Steinway

Strolling through Astoria, thought I get a glimpse at the Steinway Mansion that I have read about all these years on Queens Crap by George the Atheist.





Truly a sight to behold.


Cuomo is holding virtue vanity birthday party fundraiser with celebrity cameos






















 It's pretty warped and brazenly unethical to be raising money for yourself as small businesses and their employees will lose money because of a lockdown mandate based on very dubious indicators.

What is the tyrant's I mean Governor's idea of a "Young Professional Slash Activist" and what makes him think this individual has fifty dollars to spare?

Sit on it, Andrew.


D.A. Katz is trying to convict a woman for fake gun running


 Queens Eagle

NYPD officers acting on a tip last December raided the home of Elizaveta Zlatkis and found a cache of guns scattered around her Forest Hills apartment. The next day, cops from the 112th Precinct arranged the 22 seized weapons on a table and posed for a Twitter photo commemorating the bust.

Queens prosecutors charged Zlatkis, 31, with first-degree criminal possession of a weapon — a charge that carries a possible 25-year prison sentence — and a few local news outlets covered the case.

There was just one problem with the narrative and the charges: 21 of the 22 supposed firearms were airsoft rifles, toy replicas or starter pistols — the kind used at track meets — incapable of firing ammunition, according to the NYPD’s own laboratory reports. 

The one actual firearm was rendered “inoperable” because the trigger, hand grip and internal components were all missing, according to the NYPD’s firearms analysis. 

But a year after her Dec. 27, 2019 arrest, Zlatkis is still facing the first-degree weapons charge, which is based on possession of ten or more firearms. Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz has declined to drop the case against Zlatkis, who has refused to take a plea deal.

The case has made her life hell, she said. A quick Google search of her uncommon name reveals why. The first six results are news articles about her arrest.

Friends from high school have posted those articles on Facebook and she decided to turn down an initial job offer after she learned about the company’s intensive background checks, Zlatkis said.

“I look completely crazy,” Zltakis told the Eagle. “It’s humiliating.”

She and her husband Elvis Selimi loan the guns to rappers and producers to use in music videos, she said. Zltakis even appears in the background of at least one of the videos for a song by the artist Tay Spades.

“We do videos with them as props,” said Rosedale rapper Crucial, who has become friends with Zlatkis and Selimi. “I didn’t know you could actually get in trouble with all that. That’s wild. They’re fake.”

Astoria Houses residents can cook hot meals again after 3 month outage


 Queens Eagle

Cooking gas was finally restored for residents of the Astoria Houses Thursday, after a nearly three-month outage left them unable to use their stoves or ovens. 

Nearly 50 units in the NYCHA apartment complex were left without gas beginning September 23, forcing them to rely on hot plates, takeout or support from the local community.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris introduced legislation in October to reduce the rent for public housing tenants who lose their utilities, including gas. 

“While I am pleased these residents now have service restored, this whole episode represents an unacceptable failure from NYCHA. Rent-paying tenants deserve better,” Gianaris said.

NYCHA said workers cut the main gas valve due to a leak. The repair process took weeks to complete because it required multiple steps further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, a NYCHA spokesperson told the Eagle in October. 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Queens Is Burning

Impunity City

NY Daily News

A massive fire tore through six Queens homes early Thursday, displacing 36 residents and injuring three firefighters battling the blaze, officials said.

The flames erupted inside a closed beauty salon on Jamaica Ave. near 110th St. in Richmond Hill around 1 a.m., the FDNY said.


The fire quickly climbed up the two-story building into an attic space, then spread to adjoining buildings.


















Trump's childhood home can't raise cash


 Queens Post

A fundraiser launched last month with the goal to raise $3 million to purchase the childhood home of President Donald Trump appears at this point to be a flop.

The GoFundMe — launched by the real estate company representing the anonymous seller —urges Trump supporters to donate to the fund so the Jamaica Estates house where the president grew up can be gifted to him when he leaves office.

“Love Trump? Thank President Trump by contributing to this campaign to buy his childhood home in his honor!” Paramount Realty USA wrote on the fundraiser page. The $3 million raised would go to the seller.

However, it seems that not even Trump fans want to buy the house.

Only $1,217 — by the time of publication — has been raised by 75 donors in the nearly three weeks since the GoFundMe was launched on Nov. 23.

Paramount Realty USA launched the GoFundMe after struggling to find a buyer.

The five-bedroom Tudor home, located at 85-15 Wareham Pl., was put up for auction in fall 2019, but failed to meet the undisclosed reserve price, the New York Times reported.

Duck and recover

Eyewitness News


Friday, December 11, 2020

Cuomo keeps moving the COVID goalposts


The Daily Poster 

 With cases surging in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that he was canceling all further in-person press conferences. 

“Since the beginning, we’ve talked about the important role the media has played in educating the public about this pandemic,” said senior Cuomo advisor Rich Azzopardi in a statement. “But given the new stricter [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines released Friday and the reality of rising cases in New York, going remote is now the most prudent action.”

While the press pool may be breathing a collective sigh of relief, workers across the state are still being compelled to head into offices, schools, and restaurants. 

New York has continued to allow indoor dining as cases increased — though on Friday, Cuomo announced that he will be suspending indoor dining in New York City starting on Monday. 

At the same time, the state has not been providing up-to-date information on the spread — instead, its maps tracking the coronavirus are often not updated or even showing decreases as the pandemic worsens. And as the virus surges, Cuomo suddenly changed the method for evaluating whether areas should be locked down — and the shift would allow more businesses to continue forcing employees back to their workplaces.

New York is experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases similar to the wave it recorded in the spring when Cuomo’s late shutdown saw hospitals and morgues overwhelmed. Unsurprisingly, much of that surge is represented in New York City where less than 20 percent of hospital beds are vacant compared to 23 percent statewide.

Despite the surge, employers across the state have been calling workers back into offices, schools, and restaurants. Some remote-capable employees have also been compelled back. These workers face a difficult choice between their health and their financial security at a time when more than 19 million Americans are receiving unemployment aid.

Cuomo's requiem for restaurants


 NY Times


Indoor dining will once again be barred in New York City restaurants starting on Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Friday, a significant reversal of the city’s reopening that comes as officials try to halt the escalation of a second wave of the coronavirus.

The decision, which Mr. Cuomo earlier this week suggested was all but certain, is a crushing blow to the city’s restaurant industry, a vital economic pillar that has been struggling all year in the face of pandemic restrictions and a national recession.

As he announced the new restrictions, the governor called on federal lawmakers to provide relief to the hospitality industry. Congressional leaders have struggled to reach an agreement on a new economic stimulus package.


“The federal government must provide relief to these bars and restaurants in this next package,” Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference.

For months, New York City’s restaurant owners have warned that their businesses, many of which operate on tight margins in the best of times, are on the edge of financial collapse. Thousands of employees, many of them low-wage workers, have been laid off since March, and their jobs have yet to fully return.

The industry’s anxieties are only mounting as winter approaches and frigid temperatures threaten to deter customers from dining outdoors. Industry groups have called repeatedly for federal or state financial assistance, with restaurant and bar owners watching nervously as stimulus talks drag on in Washington.

Just the facts, Sfaccim!

Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that as of Monday, restaurants in NYC will be closed for indoor dining. Why? Because 1.43% of COVID cases in the entire state have been contact traced to them. Countless NYC restaurants are expected to permanently close because of this and unemployment will skyrocket again.
Restaurants in the rest of the state, where numbers per capita are a lot higher and there are fewer hospital beds, may continue indoor dining. This is supposedly because NYC hospitals are being overwhelmed, however, upon checking the NYCDOH data, it appears that at the height of the pandemic, when we folded up tent hospitals and shooed a US Navy ship away, hospitalizations were >12,000. Currently, they are less than 15% of that rate.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

No, you are wrong Cuomo



In New York and beyond, the coronavirus pandemic has ushered in an unusual new conversance with public health metrics, with government officials now using testing and hospitalization data as a gauge for the severity of the virus and important policy decisions.

No metric has drawn more attention—or controversy—than the positivity rate. The number, which measures the percent of tests that turn up positive and serves as a proxy for infection rate, has been used to justify economic reopenings as well as business and school shutdowns.

For example, Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that he would order schools to close should local positivity rate rises above 9 percent, an increasingly likely possibility given the surge of infections.

In spite of the high stakes, New York state officials have been calculating positivity on a flawed basis, according to several experts. The criticism stems from the state's decision to fold in a type of rapid test known as antigen tests, which are less sensitive than polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

"That's not what the professional guidance is," said Dr. Jay Varma, Mayor Bill de Blasio's top health adviser. "It's not what the WHO does or the CDC or the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists does."

The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, which advises the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and other health agencies, has said that a positive antigen test should be considered a probable case of COVID-19, not a confirmed case. In turn, the CDC has defined its positivity rate as based on PCR tests only.

Despite the limitation of antigen tests, their benefits are clear: the tests can provide results within 15 minutes and can cost as little as $5, whereas PCR tests cost around $100 at national labs. Antigen testing has proliferated across the country in nontraditional testing centers, like schools and nursing homes, especially as the demand for testing increases.

In New York City, the tests are now available at pharmacies, CityMDs and doctor's offices. Drawn by their quick turnaround time, many people are unaware of the caveats.

During a recent seven-day period, there were nearly 88,000 antigen tests performed in one week, although city health officials cautioned that not all antigen test results are being reported to the city.

According to Cuomo, the state performs “hundreds of thousands" of antigen tests per week.

Dr. Ian Lipkin, a renowned epidemiologist at Columbia University and testing expert, agreed with Varma that antigen tests should be separated from PCR tests. The latter are currently considered the gold standard in terms of accuracy.

"You need to distinguish those clearly," he said. "It's reasonable to say these are PCR, these are antigen, but I don't think you should mix the two."

Cuomo blames Staten Island, but data says something else

From AMNY:

Not for lack of political willpower, Staten Island has come to represent 25% of all COVID-19 deaths in New York City amid the second wave of the pandemic, even though the borough represents just 5% of the city's population. Governor Andrew Cuomo, during a Wednesday press conference, emphasized the political nature of this reality as a direct result of misdirection from local leaders taking opposition to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which have influenced some of the measures put in place by the state limiting dining and other activities.

Okay, now here's the actual data from NYCDOH's site as of yesterday.
Looks like a total of 20 COVID deaths per day in the entire city.
Bronx has about 3 deaths per day, Brooklyn has 4.
Manhattan has about 2 deaths per day, Queens and Staten Island have 4.

So it's been a while since I had 3rd grade math, but how does Staten Island have 1/4 of the deaths in NYC when 4/20 is not 25%?

Isn't 20 deaths a day relatively small compared to where we were back in April?

Now, let's do hospitalizations.
This doesn't really look all that skewed.

On 12/1, the city had 4088 new cases, while Staten Island had 342. This translates to ~8% of infections. Two other boroughs have roughly the same number of deaths that SI does but a lot more cases. If the death rate on SI is worse than anywhere else, the reasons probably have more to do with the overall health of the population and the quality of the care there than "if only they had worn masks!"

So, why are you reading all of this here rather than in the paid media who investigates nothing Cuomo says?