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COVID-19 update: Funding for virus tests: Schumer and Gillibrand announce federal boost for testing capacity

May 15, 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.

U.S. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday announced $22,875,973 in federal funding to help health centers in New York City respond to and contain the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. Specifically, this funding will help health centers purchase, administer, and expand the use of COVID-19 testing. The funding was allocated by the Department of Health and Human Services through the Expanding Capacity for Coronavirus Testing program. “Testing is imperative to our COVID-19 response and to the safe and successful reopening of New York’s businesses, schools, sporting events, and so much more,” said Schumer. “This federal funding increases testing capacity in our state, will help beat back COVID-19, and contain a possible resurgence of the virus.”

Through their food pantry — entitled The Tablestaff and volunteers at the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone are working to bring food packages to all patients discharged  from both the ER and in-patient services. Any person who is in need of food can receive food packages, with a three-day supply and suggested recipes. Additional food resources are available at The Table, located in Sunset Park, including fresh food items, as well as information about SNAP food stamps and other services offered by Family Health Centers at NYU Langone.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced the State Department of Health will host a statewide webinar on May 14 for all healthcare providers to discuss the symptoms, testing and care of reported inflammatory disease in children related to COVID-19. The State is currently investigating approximately 102 reported cases in New York where children are experiencing these symptoms, possibly due to COVID-19. The illness has taken the lives of three young New Yorkers. “We must stay alert with this virus because we’re still learning, and what we thought we knew doesn’t always turn out to be true,” Cuomo said.

Van Alen Institute on Wednesday announced two programs presented in conjunction with the design competition Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge. The free, virtual programs include an Instagram Live tour of the Brooklyn Bridge and a panel discussion on transportation infrastructure as public space. When Van Alen first announced the project, the bridge’s iconic promenade was a daily battle for space between pedestrians, cyclists, and vendors. Today, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the promenade is all but empty — a startling reminder of the different world in which we now live. With these programs, Van Alen will use the competition as a starting point to discuss and debate how to shape our urban spaces in a post-pandemic time.

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has announced that a record 77 percent of New York City families received an offer to their top choice free, full-day, high-quality pre-K program, up from 75 percent in 2019. A record 90 percent of families received an offer to one of their top three choices, up from 88 percent in 2019. All 61,789 families who applied by the March 29 deadline started to receive Pre-K for All offers for their child on Wednesday.  “At this difficult time in our City’s history, I want to take a moment to congratulate almost 62,000 families who are receiving their pre-K offer letters today,” said Carranza. “Pre-K for All is a transformative opportunity for tens of thousands of families across the City.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that the City will open 12 more miles of streets and an additional nine new miles of temporary protected bike lanes to pedestrians and cyclists starting on Thursday. The new Open Streets and bike lanes will bring New York City’s total to 30 miles of streets since the program was announced on April 27th. “Now that warmer weather has arrived, New Yorkers will need more options to enjoy the outdoors at a safe, social distance,” said de Blasio. “We’re grateful to all our local partners, and we believe new bike lanes will lay the groundwork for a cycling surge in the months and years to come.”

Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday called on the NYPD to better address the department’s apparent unequal enforcement of social distancing rules throughout the city. The request follows recent reports and videos of aggressive enforcement tactics by the NYPD in black and Hispanic neighborhoods, which provides a stark contrast to reports of police response to social distancing rules in predominantly white neighborhoods. Attorney General James is looking into the matter, and has requested enforcement data from the NYPD. “The NYPD must better ensure that a New Yorker’s race, color, and neighborhood does not determine how they are patrolled,” said James.

The MTA has announced that it will have distributed a total of 1.9 million masks and over 4 million pairs of gloves by next week across New York City Transit, the MTA Bus Company, the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, MTA Bridges and Tunnels and the MTA Police Department. Totals include 1.1 million N95 and KN95 masks and 800,000 surgical masks. “The distribution of personal protective equipment is part of a continuous commitment to protect our heroic frontline employees during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said MTA Chief Safety Officer Patrick Warren. “Our heroic employees deserve to have the PPE they need in order to be safe.”


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  1. NYCView

    RE: Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday called on the NYPD to better address the department’s apparent unequal enforcement of social distancing rules throughout the city.

    It would be a an enormously productive contribution to the welfare of all of NYC’s society if the public servants from political left would, at long last, desist from diverting matters of social responsibility to opportunities to engage in race card playing, racial flame fanning and identity politics. The obligation of social distancing is not a racial issue. It is an obligation on the part of all of New York. Equally. Reading back into violations of that obligation to seize an opportunity to convert social obligations, of all, into a race-based political talking point is counterproductive to the interests of society and the antithesis of the duty of a public servant. In the end, to the extent one can discern a “productive” factor of such politics, it is that it reciprocally provides the mayor, attorney general and other such elected officials with a justification for creating “tasks forces,” studies and other press-garnering measures addressed to the issue of virus disparities resulting in large measure from the unequal adherence to social distancing rules — all to their own political advantage, and all to the burden of New York’s taxpayers.