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COVID-19 update: Many singers, one song: Brooklyn College student’s virtual project brings voices together

May 4, 2020 Editorial Staff
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On the front lines of the war on COVID-19, there are many civilian heroes going out of their way, as volunteers and contributors. Also, many who are elected to serve are going the extra mile. In this column the Eagle hopes to give our readers an ongoing update on those fighting in the front lines.

On Friday, Brooklyn College student Harrison Sheckler released a virtual rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Rodgers and Hammerstein with the help of 300 musicians and singers from 15 countries. The video can be found here. Scheckler is currently taking six classes while studying remotely from his parents’ home in Iowa. “I left New York City on March 14, anticipating a short absence,” said Sheckler, who turned 24 in April. “The Brooklyn College Choir had been preparing for performances with the New York Philharmonic, and then that was gone. Arriving home in Iowa, I found comfort in playing this beautiful song from the musical ‘Carousel,’ which coincidentally is celebrating its 75th anniversary.”

Rodgers & Hammerstein Movie Night will return on Friday, May 8th with a live viewing party of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” at 8:00 p.m. EST. The production will be available for free viewing on BroadwayHD, and can be streamed in North America by visiting this link. The viewing party is hosted by The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, Playbill and BroadwayHD, in association with Trafalgar Entertainment. The Production will star Tony Award-winner Kelli O’Hara (Anna Leonowens), Ken Watanabe (The King),Tony Award-winner Ruthie Ann Miles (Lady Thiang), Dean John-Wilson (Lun Tha) and Na-Young Jeon (Tuptim), and will be available to view for free for 48 hours after its broadcast.

A grassroots coalition of 12 women shop owners in Brooklyn have joined forces to launch, a shopping website that will function like “a miniature version of Amazon,” according to co-founder Tara Silberberg. Through the website, people can buy locally online with one-stop virtual shopping. The site is the brainchild of three Park Slope women business owners, Tara Silberberg of The Clay Pot, Swati Argade of Bhoomki, and Jennifer DeLuca of BodyTonic Pilates. “In our women’s small business group, we realized early on that we had a local audience hungry to support us,” Silberberg said. “It’s a radical rethinking of retail. Usually we are all in competition with each other, now we are supporting each other.”

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Assemblymember Joe Lentol on Friday called for immediate action to support and provide relief to renters. Lentol is advocating for a substantial infusion of federal funds for rent subsidies; passage of the Emergency Coronavirus Affordable Housing Preservation Act; legislation to provide no default in the payment of rent due throughout the crisis and for six months after the emergency ends; legislation to create an emergency rental assistance program; and deferred payment of rent and a halt on evictions for commercial renters. “Renters and small business owners across New York State are facing unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and they need immediate assistance from the state and federal governments to weather this crisis,” said Lentol.

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Friday led a bipartisan coalition of 26 attorneys general in calling on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to take immediate action to protect senior citizens from homelessness as a result of the coronavirus crisis. In a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, the coalition recommends specific actions that can help ensure senior citizens with reverse mortgages do not lose their homes to foreclosure as result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This pandemic is harming all Americans, but our senior citizens are especially at risk,” said James. “This is about ensuring seniors have access to permanent housing and don’t have to stare down the barrel of homelessness in the future.”

With the ongoing concern about the spread of COVID-19 and with the State of New York still on pause and continuing social distancing precautions, SUNY Downstate celebrated the early graduation of 37 College of Medicine students with a virtual commencement ceremony that was live-streamed on Friday. On April 4, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an executive order allowing medical students who had completed their requirements to graduate early in order to bolster the state’s physician workforce. Along with their families, graduates from all five schools have been invited to return to participate in SUNY Downstate’s in-person commencement ceremonies in May 2021.

New Yorkers who have had to miss work because they were sick because of COVID-19 can now use the city’s call center to obtain the necessary medical documentation to claim paid sick leave. “If you have COVID-19 or have symptoms of the virus, use the sick leave you are entitled to and protect your fellow New Yorkers by staying home,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “If you need the necessary medical documentation to claim paid sick leave, just call 855-491-2667 and get connected to our call center.” Last week, Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot issued a Commissioner’s Order detailing the process for New Yorkers who missed work because they tested positive for COVID-19 or were sick with COVID-19 to claim paid sick leave. FAQs can be found here.

Brooklyn Community Foundation has announced its #BrooklynGives for COVID-19 Relief campaign to raise $1 million on #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity set to take place on May 5, 2020. Giving Tuesday has created #GivingTuesdayNow as an international emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. Donors can give to the Foundation’s Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund or to over 100 local nonprofits with profiles at “In the weeks since the crisis began, we have seen incredible generosity and courage in the face of devastating loss, fear, and uncertainty,” said Brooklyn Community Foundation President and CEO Cecilia Clarke. “Thank you to everyone who is standing beside us to support and sustain essential nonprofit lifelines serving our communities.”

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