COVID-19 update: Got antibodies? Program seeks volunteers to pair with patients
Assemblymember Joseph R. Lentol on Friday announced the proposal of the COVID-19 Compassionate Helper Volunteer Program, which aims to pair volunteers with hospitalized COVID-19 patients. This program would identify individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, possess the antibodies, and wish to volunteer with hospitalized COVID-19 patients. “The reality of having a member of your family hospitalized with COVID-19 is horrifying and heartbreaking. This pain is multiplied as families are unable to visit with their hospitalized family member, which is unbearable, especially if the patient is dying. As we progress through the COVID-19 pandemic, we must find ways to ease the suffering of families while their loved ones are hospitalized,” said Assemblymember Lentol.
Since launching on April 8, Artist Relief, a coalition of seven national arts grantmakers, has received over 55,000 applicants for its $5,000 emergency relief grant. It has also received more than 11,000 responses to its new COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, which is being co-presented with Americans for the Arts. Respondents include practicing artists, teaching artists, creative workers, culture bearers, and hobby artists. “These survey results will prove to be a key piece to further our local, state, and federal policy efforts specific to individual creative workers in the next phase of COVID-19 recovery. Americans for the Arts is steadfastly committed to ensuring that creative workers can sustain their practice,” said Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts. Real-time survey results can be viewed at www.americansforthearts.org/covidartistdashboard.
On Sunday, April 26, Brooklyn Community Pride Center is working with CenterLink and GLAAD to present “Together in Pride: You Are Not Alone,” a star-studded livestream event to bring the LGBTQ+ community together during COVID-19. The event will raise important funds for CenterLink and its network of over 250 local community centers in the U.S. and around the world, and will share stories of LGBTQ front-line doctors and essential workers. Kesha and Melissa Etheridge will perform during the event.
On Friday, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer sent a letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steve Banks urging the city to strengthen the federal Cooling Assistance Benefit program in order to provide air conditioners to New Yorkers who cannot afford them but are at risk of a heat-related illness, especially in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. The letter emphasizes that the sweltering summer heat will only be compounded by anticipated shelter-in-place and social distancing measures and will place many seniors and vulnerable New Yorkers at risk for heat stroke at home, particularly if city cooling centers are not viewed as safe and beaches and pools remain closed. “We can’t allow this summer’s heat to put seniors or other vulnerable New Yorkers with respiratory issues at heightened risk just because they are sheltering in their homes to try to stop the spread,” said Stringer.
Brooklyn For Life! is an initiative feeding Brooklyn’s health care workers and first responders, launched on March 25, 2020 by renowned actor and Brooklynite Jeffrey Wright, two of his restaurant-owner friends and a Brooklyn Hospital V.P. The initiative has raised over $213,000 and counting via its GoFundMe page, with 2.2 thousand donors so far, and an additional $172,000 direct donations. All proceeds will to local Brooklyn restaurants — all small businesses — which, during the last month, have delivered over 45,000 meals to eight medical facilities and 10 FDNY EMS stations. Brooklyn for Life! is now working in partnership with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, whose office helped facilitate its borough-wide expansion.
The Met Council on Housing is hosting a general assembly at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 26. The group writes, “We refuse to accept mass evictions and a surge in homelessness as an allowable result of this pandemic. We need as many voices as possible to tell Cuomo and leading national politicians that because we can’t pay, we won’t pay. If the rent is not canceled, millions of Americans and New Yorkers will be at risk of eviction at the end of the eviction moratorium.” More information about the general assembly can be found here.
Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams has called on the state government to amend restrictions which make it difficult for grieving families to claim their deceased loved ones who have died in the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter to New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker on Thursday, Williams requested that Section 4144 of New York State Law, requiring that all bodies be removed by a licensed funeral director, be temporarily exempted or amended to allow any paid employee of a funeral home to perform body removal. This, he argued, would vastly increase funeral homes’ capacity to empty our city’s overcrowded hospitals and morgues. “With this change in place, more families would be granted the dignity of giving their loved ones an individual burial, and strain upon our hospitals and morgues would be reduced,” he wrote. Williams’ full letter can be found here.
In the face of a dangerous uptick of domestic violence incidents, Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced the immediate modernization of the state’s domestic violence hotline with a new text program and confidential online service to aid victims of abuse. Calls to the state’s domestic violence hotline are up 30 percent in April compared to last year and calls increased 18 percent from February to March 2020. New Yorkers seeking help can text 844-997-2121 or chat with a professional on the new confidential website at www.opdv.ny.gov. The text and online services will be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with OPDV staff who are experts in the area of domestic violence.
In a letter to New York City Council members this week, New York Edge — the largest provider of after school and summer programming in Brooklyn and across NYC — is urging the Council to resist funding cuts to summer programs proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. The organization also provided alternatives to traditional summer camps that would ensure students in Brooklyn and throughout the five boroughs have access to enriching programs that will prepare them for the next school year, while helping caregivers as they prepare to return to work. “After this extended period of virtual learning and social distancing, our city’s youth need and deserve enjoyable summer programming. And as we begin to reopen our economy, parents and caregivers will need safe, educational programs for their children,” said Rachael Gazdick, CEO of New York Edge, in the letter.
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