Weekly Update: Hallets Point, East River Esplanade, & Paid Family and Medical Leave
I hope you and your friends and family continue to be safe and healthy.
It was another busy week here in NYC and in Washington, DC as I introduced The Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act, marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and learned of the City’s responses to my calls to prioritize East River Esplanade repairs and to study coastal resiliency at Hallets Point, Queens. You can read more about these and other updates below.
I also encourage you to check out the “NY-12 COVID Updates” section at the end of this newsletter, which includes important information about NYC’s vaccine roll out plan.
Paid Family and Medical Leave for Federal Employees
On Thursday, I introduced The Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act to grant all federal employees 12 weeks of paid leave relating to personal illness, illness of a family member, or military deployment. Our frontline heroes risking their lives during this pandemic shouldn’t be forced to choose between caring for themselves or sick family members and putting food on the table.
I’ve fought for two decades to ensure that our federal workers have the resources they need to take care of themselves and their families while serving our country and am thrilled that we were finally able to pass my legislation to provide paid parental leave in 2019. This legislation builds on that success to provide the full paid family and medical leave workers need and deserve. Protecting federal workers should be a bipartisan issue, and I urge all my colleagues to stand with federal workers and support this legislation.
I am hopeful that by providing paid family and medical leave, the federal government can be a model employer and that the private sector will follow suit. I continue to support Congresswoman DeLauro’s FAMILY Act to provide paid family and medical leave to all American workers.
Read more about The Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act here.
East River Esplanade Repairs
On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mitchell Silver committed $284 million to repair East River Esplanade sinkholes and other areas north of 94th Street that are in disrepair.
The sinkholes have prevented New Yorkers from accessing this precious green space and have forced cyclists and pedestrians to share narrow patches of pavement — creating a dangerous bottleneck. NYC Parks are integral to the well-being of our city, and we must ensure that they continue to be safe and accessible for all New Yorkers.
As the Founder and Co-Chair of the East River Esplanade Task Force with Councilmember Ben Kallos, I remain committed to improving the esplanade and will be monitoring the progress of these much-needed repairs.
Studying Erosion Issues at Hallets Point, Queens
Following requests from the community, the New York City Mayor’s Office of Resiliency sent a letter requesting the assistance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to begin scoping a study on erosion and flooding issues at Hallets Point, Queens. I first requested that the Mayor seek USACE’s expertise in flood and erosion management when I surveyed the damage to the promenade and seawall railing with Astoria Houses residents.
Addressing Hallets Point coastal resiliency is critical to thousands of New Yorkers’ wellbeing. The poor structural integrity of the seawall poses a dire threat to the area’s human and aquatic life. Additionally, it has resulted in large portions of the promenade being closed to Astoria Houses residents. The loss of this open, public space has been felt acutely during the COVID-19 crisis.
You can read more about this effort here.
Ensuring Federal Buildings Adopt Energy Efficiency Measures
On Tuesday, I joined with Chair Kathy Castor of the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Chairman Bobby L. Rush of the Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Energy in sending a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an investigation into widespread noncompliance with energy efficiency measures at federal facilities.
As the largest building manager in the country, the federal government should provide leadership by increasing energy efficiency and reducing associated emissions from the federal building stock, and Congress has acknowledged this role in statute. You can read our full letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro here.
Halt to OCC Fair Access Rule
This week, it was announced that publication of the recently finalized Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) “Fair Access to Financial Services” rule was paused. This rule would have forced financial institutions to lend to and support gun manufacturers.
In recent years, I, and other gun safety advocates, have welcomed news of financial institutions making the responsible decisions to stop financing bloodshed and death by limiting or cutting ties with gun manufacturers. But this Trump-era rule, the so-called “Fair Access to Financial Services” rule, would negate these actions by effectively requiring financial institutions to lend to and support gun manufacturers. This is why I wrote to then-President-elect Biden urging him to block this rule.
The OCC should not be forcing anyone to lend to industries that present real risks and dangers to our society, especially gun manufacturers.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Wednesday, January 27, 2021 marked 76 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. As we remember all those murdered, we must also take action. We must renew and strengthen our promise of “Never Again.”
In recent years we have seen an alarming increase in antisemitic attacks here in New York, across the country, and around the world. The Anti-Defamation League reported an all-time high of antisemitic incidents in 2019 since the group starting tracking incidents in 1979. They recorded 2,100 acts of antisemitism which led to five deaths with a 56% increase in assaults from 2018. The statistics from 2020 have not yet been released but I can tell you, from personal experience in New York City, that these incidents are still happening.
Just a few weeks ago – on January 6 – we saw insurrectionists take over our nation’s Capitol building in shirts that read “6 million was not enough” and “Camp Auschwitz.”
Antisemitism is not a thing of a past – it is not relegated to the history books and the 1940s, it did not disappear with the defeat of Hitler and his Nazis.
It is not enough to condemn these attacks and disgusting behaviors. We need to get to the root of the hate, denial, and intolerance that allow and incite these behaviors. We do this through education. Our children – our students – are not born with hate. Prejudice and discrimination are learned behaviors. And it is up to us to make sure our children never learn them.
I am proud to have passed the Never Again Education Act into law last Congress, in the most divided of Congresses I have seen in my lifetime, with such overwhelming bipartisan support. Now, we get to work. With the program now in the capable hands of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, I look forward to working with their team to help in any way I can.
NY-12 COVID-19 UPDATE
By the Numbers
Confirmed Cases: 25,766,681
New York State
Confirmed Cases: 1,382,855
Testing Positivity: 4.38%
New York City
(Last 7 days)
Total Cases: 36,675
Confirmed Deaths: 397
New York City Updates
Vaccinate to Jumpstart the Recovery
New York City’s Vaccine for All campaign has already vaccinated more than half a million New Yorkers and has reached a pace of one New Yorker every three seconds. With 412 vaccination sites spread across the city, from 24/7 mega vaccination sites to dozens of community health clinics, New York City will meet its aggressive goals if we receive enough supply.
New York City is staking out a radical new goal to supercharge that recovery. The City is looking to reach a high level of immunity by reaching a 5 million New Yorkers vaccinated milestone in June.
With multiple workforce sites vaccinating more than 3,000 workers a day, New York City is announcing a new goal to bring back the rest of the City workforce in May. To reach these new heights, New York City will immediately recruit 2,000 new Vaccine for All Corps members.
Recruitment of these new workers will be focused on the communities hit hardest by COVID-19. Working within partnerships already established with local nonprofits, the City will aim to recruit workers to serve their own neighborhoods.
These new Vaccine for All Corps members will join the more than 3,900 current vaccination workers at NYC Department of Health sites across the city. The new Vaccine for All Corps members will serve as vaccinators as well as general staff at vaccination sites. The NYC Vaccine Command Center will oversee staffing needs by sites in real-time, shifting and adjusting staff levels to meet demand.
Where Are We Now?
A safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is now available at no cost in New York City. I am working to ensure that the vaccine is easily available to all New Yorkers.
While there is currently a shortage of vaccines that has resulted in some individuals having vaccination appointments postponed, I am working with the Biden Administration, Governor Cuomo, and Mayor de Blasio to ensure that New York receives an adequate supply. President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to accelerate the manufacture of both FDA-approved vaccines.
Please note that the current shortage should not affect any individuals waiting to receive their second dose of the vaccine.
As of Monday, January 11, certain groups in Phase 1B are eligible to get the free COVID-19 vaccine. This includes people 65 and older, select groups of at-risk New Yorkers, and a range of frontline essential workers (ie. teachers and education workers (including childcare staff), first responders, public safety workers, public transit workers, food and grocery store workers, and New Yorkers experiencing homelessness who reside in congregate settings as well as staff).
Phase 1A priority groups also continue to be eligible for vaccines. This includes healthcare workers and staff with direct patient contact, emergency responders, staff at COVID-19 testing and vaccination locations, home health aides, and long-term care staff and residents, among others.
Once New York City receives more vaccines, you can use the NYC Vaccine Finder to find a location near you and make an appointment, if you are eligible in Phase 1A or 1B. Additional COVID-19 vaccine sites will be added as they are available. You can also make an appointment via phone by calling 1-877-VAX-4NYC (1-877-829-4692).
Who is Up Next?
As more Phase 1B groups are determined eligible by New York State, NYC will make that information available to you. It is expected that additional groups eligible in Phase 1B will likely include other frontline essential workers and additional groups of high-risk New Yorkers, among others. Additionally, Mayor de Blasio has asked New York State officials to declare clergy, jurors, prosecutors, sanitation workers, and taxi drivers eligible to receive the vaccine. Learn more about the planned phases for vaccine distribution.
While the vaccination process is underway, every New Yorker should wear a mask, social distance and avoid small and large gatherings. COVID-19 is now spreading rapidly in New York City and throughout the United States. This is a vital time to follow the recommended prevention guidance and do your part to stop the spread.
Vaccine Command Center
The NYC COVID-19 Vaccine Command Center is a dedicated interagency effort created by Mayor de Blasio’s office to coordinate vaccine distribution throughout the city.
The Center will ensure all New Yorkers have up-to-date information about the vaccine and its benefits. To build trust in a safe and effective vaccine, the Center will deploy outreach teams to provide science-based facts and address misinformation. These teams also will coordinate with elected officials and community leaders on neighborhood vaccination drives.
The Center will provide rapid response for public and private partners, including urgent cares, private pharmacies, hospitals and community vaccination sites.
New York State Updates
New York State's healthcare distribution sites have administered 93% of first doses received from the federal government, and 74% of first and second doses. The Vaccine Dashboard will update daily to provide information on the state’s vaccine program.
You can read the full update from the Governor’s office here.
Statewide Vaccine Shortage
Currently, the Federal Government determines how many vaccine doses are distributed to each state. New York State has thus far been allotted approximately 250,000 vaccines/week for the more 7 million New Yorkers who are eligible. As a result, the supply is very limited.
Vaccines are available at pharmacies, hospitals, and through local health departments statewide – please contact your provider of choice to schedule your vaccine appointment.
Additionally, there is a network of State-run sites distributing vaccines statewide – to determine eligibility and to schedule an appointment through April 16 at New York State-run vaccination sites only, use the Am I Eligible app.
An appointment is required. If you visit a location without an appointment you will not receive a vaccine.
Extended Open Enrollment
As part of New York's ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo announced that the Open Enrollment Period for uninsured New Yorkers will be extended through March 31, 2021. New Yorkers can apply for coverage through NY State of Health, New York's Official Health Plan Marketplace, or directly through insurers.
Extending the Open Enrollment Period to March 31, 2021 helps to align New York with the federal Public Health Emergency which was recently extended to April 20, 2021. This extension allows individuals eligible for Qualified Health Plan insurance additional time to enroll for coverage in 2021 and means that enrollment remains open for all NY State of Health programs, which is especially important during the ongoing public health emergency.
Coverage start dates will vary:
Individuals who are eligible for other NY State of Health programs - Medicaid, Essential Plan and Child Health Plus - can 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, and 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. Earlier this year, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and I were successful in getting the FDA to decrease the 12-month deferral period to three months, but 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.
As always, your concerns still and always remain my top priority. Please do not hesitate to email me through my website.
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