NY-12 COVID Update 5/19/2021
As our city, state, and country continue to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, I write today to update you and your loved ones with the most important information during this ever-changing pandemic landscape. I hope you find it helpful. If you have friends or family who would like to receive this update, they can sign up here.
By the Numbers
Confirmed Cases: 32,997,331
People Fully Vaccinated: 125,453,423
% Fully Vaccinated: 38.22%
New York State
Confirmed Cases: 2,088,361
People Fully Vaccinated: 7,751,777
% Fully Vaccinated: 39.61%
New York City
Total Cases (Daily average of last 7 days): 614
Hospitalizations – At least (Daily average of last 7 days): 40
Confirmed Deaths – At least (Daily average of last 7 days): 15
People Fully Vaccinated: 3,280,092
% Fully Vaccinated: 39%
President Biden and his administration continue to take steps to combat the health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, that included announcing the the United States will send 80 million doses of the COVID vaccines overseas over the next six weeks, adopting the CDC's recommendation expanding eligibility to 12 through 15 years olds for the Pfizer vaccine, and investing $7.4 billion from the American Rescue Plan to recruit and hire public health workers to respond to the pandemic and prepare for future public health challenges.
Updated CDC Mask/Social Distancing Guidance
Americans who have been fully vaccinated can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations -- including local business and workplace guidance.
Full guidance from the CDC here.
New York State Updates
Vaccination Walk-Up Appointments
All New York State mass vaccination sites are open to New Yorkers 16 and older for walk-in vaccination on a first come first serve basis. The walk-in appointments are reserved for first doses only with second doses to be scheduled automatically after administration of the initial shot. Vaccine providers are also encouraged to allow walk-in appointments.
People who would prefer to schedule an appointment at a state-run mass vaccination site can do so on the Am I Eligible App or by calling 1-833-NYS-4-VAX. People may also contact their local health department, pharmacy, doctor, or hospital to schedule appointments where vaccines are available, or visit vaccinefinder.org to find information on vaccine appointments near them.
Pop-Up Vaccination Sites: MTA
Three new pop-up vaccination sites were announced this week in collaboration with the MTA to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to MTA stations in New York City, on Long Island, and in the Mid-Hudson region. The new pop-up sites will be located at the following stations: 125th Street in Manhattan, Sutphin Boulevard-Archer Avenue-JFK Airport in Queens, and the LIRR's Hicksville train station.
More information here.
Opening New York
New CDC Mask Guidance
Effective today, New York will adopt the CDC’s updated mask and social distancing guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. Pre-K to 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and healthcare settings will continue to follow the State's existing COVID-19 health guidelines until more New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.
Full guidance from the CDC here.
Child Care, Day Camp, and Overnight Camp Programs
Effective today, New York announced new protocols for COVID testing, physical distancing, sanitation, and other requirements to help prevent COVID-19 cases. The Department of Health will continue to monitor and evaluate health metrics for childcare facilities and camp programs and, if necessary, will issue further guidance.
More information here.
County Fairs and Local Festivals
Local governments must permit county fairs and local festivals to operate while considering COVID-19 health guidelines this year. State Department of Health approval will be required for events with more than 5,000 expected attendees, consistent with the existing review process. County fairs and local festivals must ensure that the total number of attendees is limited so that six feet of distance can be maintained between individuals who are not members of the same party, unless all attendees present proof of full vaccination status. Fairs and festivals may require masks for all attendees, and per CDC guidance masks are required for unvaccinated attendees in certain settings, and indoors where vaccination status is unknown.
New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets
Starting May 22, the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets will have fully vaccinated fan sections which will increase capacity at their 2021 NBA home playoff games at Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center. Over 50% of each arena will be used for fully vaccinated fan sections. Individuals seated in the vaccinated sections will have to show proof of full COVID-19 immunization status, which can be provided through paper form, digital application or the State's Excelsior Pass.
Protecting New Yorkers' COVID-19 Stimulus Payments from Debt Collectors
This week, legislation protecting New Yorkers' COVID-19 stimulus payments from being garnished by debt collectors was signed into law. All relief payments to New Yorkers under federal law, including stimulus payments, tax refunds, rebates, and tax credits to support individuals and children will be protected. This legislation also creates a carve-out for claims brought by individuals who have an interest in the relief payments to ensure that these funds can be collected to pay child and spousal support and to collect payments in situations involving fraud. Any person who is subject to a money judgment being enforced against their bank account will receive a notice that COVID-19 stimulus funds are protected and if they have been inadvertently frozen by a creditor, they should promptly return a form included with the notice to get those funds released.
More information here.
Extended Open Enrollment
The Open Enrollment Period for uninsured New Yorkers has been extended through December 31, 2021. New Yorkers can apply for coverage through NY State of Health, New York's Official Health Plan Marketplace, or directly through insurers.
Individuals who are eligible for other NY State of Health programs - Medicaid, Essential Plan and Child Health Plus - can continue to enroll year-round.
New Yorkers can apply for coverage through NY State of Health online at nystateofhealth.ny.gov, by phone at 1-855-355-5777, or by connecting with a free enrollment assister.
COVID Alert NY
As a reminder, New York State has launched COVID Alert NY, an app to provide COVID-19 exposure alerts to help protect your community while maintaining your privacy. More information here.
The State is strongly encouraging eligible and healthy New Yorkers to donate blood. During this crisis, we have seen severe blood shortages across NYS. Your donation could save a life. More information here.
As I make this request, I am aware of and working to reverse the antiquated three-month deferral policy for MSM who wish to donate blood. Last year, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and I were successful in getting the FDA to decrease the 12-month deferral period to three months. And at the beginning of April, I introduced a resolution highlighting the urgent need for nondiscriminatory and equitable blood and blood product donation policies in the United States. Policies governing blood and blood product donation should be grounded in science and based on individual risk factors that do not unfairly single out any group of individuals, particularly LGBTQIA+ Americans. We need to completely get rid of this policy that is not based on current science, stigmatizes the LGBTQIA+ community, and undermines crucial efforts to increase the nation’s blood supply as we grapple with the coronavirus crisis.
New York City Updates
To find the testing site closest to you, click here, text “COVID TEST” to 855-48, or call 212-COVID19 (212-268-4319).
Signing Up To Get Your Vaccine
If you are aged 16 or older, you can use the NYC Vaccine Finder to find a vaccination location near you and make an appointment.
Additional COVID-19 vaccine sites will be added as they are available. You can also make an appointment by phone by calling 1-877-VAX-4NYC (1-877-829-4692).
Hotel Industry Relief
This week New York City eliminated the 5.875% hotel room occupancy tax rate for a three-month period, from June 1, 2021 to August 31, 2021. The relief provided by the tax rate reduction is designed to help accelerate the recovery of the hotel industry, which has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. This executive action will help hotels keep their doors open, retain jobs, and gain a more stable footing as the city continues its path toward a full recovery.
While the vaccination process is underway, every New Yorker should continue to wear a mask, social distance and avoid small and large gatherings. Please continue to follow NYC’s prevention guidance and do your part to stop the spread.
I hope you’ll join me on Friday, May 21 for this month’s Coffee with Carolyn.
As always, your concerns still and always remain my top priority. Please do not hesitate to email me through my website.