Table of Contents:

  1. Coronavirus Spread and Prevention
  2. Coronavirus Testing
  3. NYS on PAUSE
  4. Education Updates
  5. Mass Transit
  6. Shopping
  7. Date Adjustments
  8. Free WiFi
  9. Housing
  10. Stigma-Discrimination-Racism
  11. Jobs
  12. Stimulus Bill
  13.  Unemployment
  14. Scams
  15. Undocumented Community Resources

Coronavirus Spread and Prevention

What is the coronavirus?

According to the World Health Organization, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.  Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

How is the virus spread?

The virus spreads from one person to another between people who are in close contact, through respiratory droplets that are produced when one coughs or sneezes within a radius of 6 feet. Another way a person may contract the virus is by touching a surface or object that has the virus and proceed to touch their mouth, nose, or eyes. Scientists now believe that people who have no symptoms can spread the virus. However, people who are experiencing symptoms (for example, coughing or sore throat) are probably more likely to transmit the virus to others

How can I protect myself and my family from the virus?

The easiest and most effective way to prevent the coronavirus is through frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you do not have soap or water, use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol level or higher. Maintain more vigilant hygiene practices — disinfectant your doorknobs, phones, sinks, and handles regularly. 

Who is at higher risk of getting COVID-19 or of having severe illness?

People who are at most risk of severe illness are people 50 years of age or older and people who have other health conditions, including: lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, heart disease, a weakened immune system, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, and cancer. Also, people with regular close contact with someone who has or could have COVID-19 are also at higher risk of getting COVID-19

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

Most people with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms and recover on their own without needing medical attention. Less commonly, COVID-19 may lead to pneumonia and other complications including hospitalization or death. 

Commonly reported symptoms include:  Fever (temperature of 100.4 degrees F or 38.0 degrees C or greater), cough or shortness of breath (trouble breathing), sore throat.

Some patients also report: loss of a sense of taste or smell , feeling achy, headache, and diarrhea

What is the recommendation for using face coverings?

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recommends that ALL New Yorkers wear a face covering when outside of their home to help stop the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). A face covering is any well-secured paper or cloth (like a bandana or scarf) that covers your mouth and nose. 

What type of face covering is better — paper or cloth? 

Either paper or cloth face covering is fine — as long as you are covering your nose and mouth. However, the Department of Healths asks that you do not overstock paper masks, especially medical grade masks, such as N95 masks or surgical masks. These masks are in very short supply and our health care providers need masks to stay healthy and to care for the most critically ill. Health care workers cannot keep distance from others, avoid sick people, or avoid contact with others’ bodily fluid such as saliva, so it is essential that we reserve masks for them. 

Why is the Department of Health recommending this now?

There is a lot the DOH is still learning about COVID-19. However, there is increased evidence that people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus, and that droplets produced when breathing, speaking, or singing may spread COVID-19 from person to person. The DOH continues to think staying home and practicing physical distancing and good hand hygiene are the most important ways to stop the spread of COVID-19. By recommending that New Yorkers use a face covering, they are adding one more thing that may help reduce the spread, especially from people who are sick and do not know it yet.

If it is not an airborne disease, why is the coronavirus so contagious?

According to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the transmission and containment of the coronavirus is modulated by our behavior. The disease is not airborne. It is spread by droplets that are released when coughing or sneezing. Exposure to COVID-19 also occurs when droplets land on a surface and another person touches that contaminated surface and touches their eyes, nose or mouth. Prevention of COVID-19 relies heavily on frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer, and also avoiding touching one’s face. Further, people should stay home as much as possible even if they are healthy. If individuals do go outside, they should maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet from others. Transmission of COVID-19 will be lower if we follow the guidelines provided by the Department of Health. 

I have been told to practice safe “social distancing.” What is it and why is it effective? 

The idea is to maintain a distance between you and other people — in this case, at least six feet. That also means minimizing contact with people. Avoid public transportation whenever possible, limit nonessential travel, work from home, and skip social gatherings. You are not required to remain indoors all day; you may leave your house to get some fresh air, just make sure to avoid being in close contact with people.  

When you do leave your home, wipe down any surfaces you come into contact with, disinfect your hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer and avoid touching your face. Above all, frequently wash your hands — especially whenever you come in from outside, before you eat or before you’re in contact with the very old or very young. 

Can COVID-19 be transmitted through food? 

According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), transmission through food is unlikely and there is no evidence of this occurring with COVID-19 to date; however, investigations into how the virus spreads are continuing.  It is still important that everyone continues to practice good hygiene when preparing and handling food, which helps avoid cross contamination between raw or undercooked foods and cooked or ready to eat foods. As an added precaution, if you have suspected symptoms of respiratory illness you should avoid preparing food for other people. 

Can I get COVID-19 from my pet? 

Despite the news of a tiger testing positive, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, are contributing to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some animals can get infected, such as dogs and cats, but there are no reports of them spreading the virus. Here’s a link with more information COVID-19 and Animals FAQ from our city’s newly-formed Office of Animal Welfare.

CORONAVIRUS TESTING

Where can I get tested for the coronavirus?

Testing can be performed in a number of NYC Health and Hospitals centers and at selected drive-thru testing sites, as listed below. All testing sites require an appointment, which can be made calling 718-918-5700 or the Health Department Coronavirus hotline at 1-888-364-3065. However, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, call your medical provider first. They will help monitor your symptoms and inform you if you need to get tested or stay at home.

Acute care assessment and testing centers (serves 150 people per day)

  • Bellevue, 462 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016
  • Elmhurst, 79-01 Broadway, Elmhurst, NY 11373
  • Harlem, 506 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY 10037
  • Metropolitan, 1901 First Avenue, New York, NY 10029
  • Kings County, 451 Clarkson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11203
  • Lincoln, 234 East 149th Street, Bronx, NY 10451
  • Woodhull, 760 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11206
  • Queens, 82-68 164th Street, Jamaica, NY 11432
  • Coney Island, 2601 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11235 (operational next week)
  • Jacobi, 1400 Pelham Parkway South, Bronx, NY 10461 (operational next week)
  • Flatbush, 1095 Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11226.

Drive-thru testing sites (serves 100 people per day)

  • Jacobi, 1400 Pelham Parkway South, Bronx, NY 10461
  • Coney Island, 2601 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11235 (operational Friday, March 20)
  • Kings County, 451 Clarkson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11203 (operational next week)
  • Queens, 82-68 164th Street, Jamaica, NY 11432 (operational next week)

Community-based health centers (serves 75 people per day)

  • Gotham Health, Morrisania, 1225 Gerard Avenue, Bronx, NY 10452
  • Gotham Health, Belvis, 545 East 142nd Street, Bronx, NY 10454
  • Gotham Health, Cumberland, 100 North Portland Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11205
  • Gotham Health, East New York, 2094 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11207
  • Gotham Health, Gouverneur, 227 Madison Street, New York, NY 10002
  • Gotham Health, Sydenham, 264 West 118th Street, New York, NY 10026
  • Gotham Health, Vanderbilt, 165 Vanderbilt Avenue, Staten Island, NY, 10304

State-run mobile testing site – Staten Island

The state-run mobile testing site is in a parking lot next to South Beach Psychiatric Center on Seaview Avenue. It is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. by appointment only. Those seeking an appointment with any symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.) should call the Health Department Coronavirus hotline at 1-888-364-3065

Some testing sites are also opening at One Medical, a chain of private doctor’s offices, in each borough prioritizing front line workers and NYC residents who are 65 and older with preexisting conditions. These sites will conduct 3,500 tests per week

When will a healthcare provider refer me to get tested?

Most people with mild symptoms can recover at home. They should stay home for 7 days after symptom onset AND 72 hours after fever disappears. Testing for COVID-19 will be authorized by a health care provider when:

  • An individual comes within close contact (same classroom, office, or gatherings) of another person known to be positive; or 
  • An individual has traveled to a country that the CDC has issued a Level 2 or Level 3 Travel Health Notice, and shows symptoms of illness; or
  • An individual is quarantined (mandatory or precautionary) and has shown symptoms of COVID-19 illness; or
  • An individual is symptomatic and has not tested positive for any other infection; or
  • Other cases where the situation warrants immediate care.

What does a coronavirus test involve?

Testing is 15 minutes and requires a nasal or throat swab. Results are ready in 2-3 days.

Additionally, New York State’s Wadsworth Lab has developed a new, less intrusive test for COVID-19. The new test is done through a saliva sample and a self-administered short nasal swab in the presence of a healthcare professional. Additionally, health care professionals can self-administer the test without another health care professional present. 

What is antibody testing?

Antibody tests — also known as serology tests — aren’t meant to diagnose active coronavirus infections. Rather, they check for proteins in the immune system, known as antibodies, through a blood sample. Their presence means a person was exposed to the virus and developed antibodies against it, which may mean that person has at least some immunity — although experts are not sure how strong the immunity may be or even how long it will last.

How is it different from the coronavirus test?

The coronavirus test is a diagnostic test. These tests can diagnose active infections through a sample — usually from a nose swab — that is then tested for viral genetic material.

Are there any orders regarding antibody testing?

The governor signed an executive order over the weekend that will expand antibody testing. This type of testing is conducted on people who have already had the novel coronavirus and have recovered and could help allow people to return to work sooner and treat those who are suffering from the virus.

What is being done for patients that test positive for COVID-19 and don’t have a place to quarantine at home?

In an effort designed to relieve a health care system on the brink, New York City has signed a $250 million contract to provide hotel rooms for COVID-19 patients who are not sick enough to be hospitalized. The idea is to keep them from taking up valuable space in medical facilities that are struggling to manage the daily influx of coronavirus patients, while not sending them out to infect others.

NYS on PAUSE

What is NYS on PAUSE?

NYS on PAUSE is an executive order announced by Governor Cuomo and it is a 10-point policy to assure uniform safety for everyone.

The 10-point NYS on PAUSE plan is as follows: 

  1. Effective at 8PM on Sunday, March 22, all non-essential businesses statewide will be closed;
  2. Non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g. parties, celebrations or other social events) are canceled or postponed at this time;
  3. Any concentration of individuals outside their home must be limited to workers providing essential services and social distancing should be practiced;
  4. When in public individuals must practice social distancing of at least six feet from others;
  5. Businesses and entities that provide other essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet;
  6. Individuals should limit outdoor recreational activities to non-contact and avoid activities where they come in close contact with other people;
  7. Individuals should limit use of public transportation to when absolutely necessary and should limit potential exposure by spacing out at least six feet from other riders;
  8. Sick individuals should not leave their home unless to receive medical care and only after a telehealth visit to determine if leaving the home is in the best interest of their health;
  9. Young people should also practice social distancing and avoid contact with vulnerable populations; and
  10. Use precautionary sanitizer practices such as using isopropyl alcohol wipes.

What businesses are considered essential?

The full list can be found here: https://esd.ny.gov/guidance-executive-order-2026

How long will New York “ON PAUSE” last?

The governor announced that this executive order will continue and all non-essential business must remain closed until at least May 15th. 

How is the city enforcing social distancing?

The NYPD is now actively enforcing social distancing, meaning that people who do not follow the directions of police to disperse may be subject to a $500-$1000 fine.  

What is the requirement for essential workers regarding masks?

The state has ordered that all essential workers need to wear face coverings and requires that employers provide face coverings to workers. The city is also distributing masks to anyone who needs one.

Earlier this month there was a lot of talk about the coronavirus reaching its peak in April; is the worst over? Are there plans to reopen businesses and transition back to normalcy?

Governor Cuomo said that “the worst is over” in the coronavirus pandemic, and he announced an alliance with six other Northeastern governors to come up with a regional plan for addressing the crisis and how to safely manage the eventual transition back to normal. 

While the task force is at work preparing plans for a coordinated recovery, everyone must keep in mind that this is a long-term project. Mayor de Blasio said he does not believe we will fully ease off social distancing until at least June, July, or August.

Additionally, COVID-19 isn’t the flu and there is reason to doubt that it will go away as temperatures warm and summer approaches, so we must continue to act as though we are in for a long, long haul even as the first glimmers of hope emerge.

What is the city doing to address the disproportionality of COVID-19 effects on minority populations?

There is a four-part plan, which will involve:

  1. A paid media campaign involving $8.5M in TV, radio, and digital ads in 15 languages; subway ads in English, Spanish, Chinese; print ads in 15 languages sent to 88 high-impact zip codes; and $1.5M of ads in Community & Ethnic Media. 
  2. Outreach conducted on WhatsApp, WeChat, and KaKao Talk. Community members in target areas may receive robocalls, live calls, and texts.
  3. An Advisory Committee with 80 community-based organizations. 
  4. Outreach flyers made accessible at essential businesses, community-based health clinics, and with Grab-And-Go meals.

Education Updates (Schools/Libraries)

Remote Learning

How long will schools remain closed?

Mayor de Blasio announced that the city plans to keep schools closed for the remainder of the school year, though the Governor quickly challenged the decision. The two leaders disagree on who has the final say, but for now, it is recommended that parents prepare for the shutdown to continue through the school year.

What role does attendance play in students’ grades?

Schools have a system for monitoring student attendance. If your student’s school includes attendance in grade calculations, they will not include absences due to COVID-19 in their grade calculations. Schools will not include attendance in any grade calculations for the rest of the year.  Schools must base students’ grades primarily on their academic performance. Students cannot fail their courses because of absence

Can I still apply for an electronic device for remote learning?

Yes, the NYC Department of Education is lending 300,000 internet-ready Apple iPads to students in need of electronic devices to access remote learning.  Families that want to request a device should fill out the Remote Learning Device Request form at coronavirus.schools.nyc/RemoteLearningDevices. iPads are being delivered to students starting with those living in shelters, temporary housing, emergency shelters, youth shelters, and foster care; and followed by high school students with a focus on multilingual learner students, students with disabilities, and students who live in public housing. iPads will be distributed on a rolling basis as new shipments arrive each week. Students who have requested an iPad, but are not in the above groups, may be eligible to receive iPads after deliveries have been made to the groups listed above.

What platform is being used for remote learning?

Each school has its own online platform, with many schools using Google Classroom. Educators have contacted school communities to let you know what remote learning tool your child’s school will be using. You can find instructions on DOE student accounts and getting started in Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams at schools.nyc.gov/learnathome. If you are having additional problems connecting, contact your school directly via email. Find a School tool can help you find contact information for your school as well, if you do not already have it: schools.nyc.gov/find-a-school.

What devices can be used for remote learning?

Families can access remote learning from any internet-enabled electronic device including laptops, Chromebooks, iPads, X-box, Playstation, cellphones, etc.  If families need an electronic device, Parent Coordinators can help them fill out the request form.

How many devices should each family receive? 

Each school-aged child should receive their own device. If your school has only provided one device for multiple children, you should fill out the survey to request additional devices. 

Will digital assistance be provided to families in other languages? 

The DOE is working directly with Google to create tutorials and guidance in all the top 9 languages, and will also work to get more languages available. The call line 718-935-5100, option 5, should also have translation services available. 

How can families contact schools? 

 You may contact schools via phone, however, they have suggested the best way to reach out is by email. Emails for principals, parent coordinators, and teachers are available on the school websites that are publicly available. Please contact Deputy Director for Community Affairs, Michele Martinez Gugerli, (MMartinezgugerli@schools.nyc.gov) if a school does not have email contacts on their website. The DOE will continue to work on developing ways for families to connect with their schools.

How can newly arrived immigrants enroll in school?

Family Welcome Center (FWC) staff are available remotely to assist with enrollment and placement of new admissions, questions around admissions, information about offers, and waitlists. To receive direct support e-mail your questions to (and/or call 311):

Have there been changes to Statewide tests?

Per the State Department of Education, the Regents exams in June have been cancelled.

Library Closings

Are library branches available?

No, all New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library locations are closed until further notice.

Is tutoring available for students?

Through the New York Public Library, students can receive one-on-one free online homework help from one-on-one tutors, daily from 2 to 11PM. Tutors are available in English and Spanish, from early elementary through high school grades, in core subject areas. Video content and other resources are also available 24 hours a day. Families will need a New York Library card to access this service, and can apply for a card on the New York Public Library website.

Free Meals

Are schools offering free meals?

The New York City Department of Education makes three free meals available daily for any New Yorker, Monday through Friday (from 7:30 – 11:30 AM for families and children, and 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM for adults) at more than 400 meal hubs across NYC. To find a location, use the website lookup tool at schools.nyc.gov/freemeals or text “NYCFOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877.

What do I need to pick up free meals?

Meal distribution hubs will serve anybody, including adults, and have been directed to not turn anyone away. Parents and guardians may pick up meals for themselves and their children without the child present, and should simply tell the staff at the location how many people they need to feed‎. No registration, ID, or documentation required. All three meals may (and should) be picked up at the same time to minimize contact. No dining space is available, so meals must be eaten off premises.

RECs

What are Regional Enrichment Centers? 

Starting March 23rd, the Department of Education opened “Regional Enrichment Centers” across every borough, with sites in almost every school district and near transit and healthcare hubs. These sites are places where the children of front-line workers can be cared for while their parents continue to serve the city in this time of need. They are staffed by DOE employees and community-based organization partners. The centers provide children with three daily hot meals, remote learning time with their teachers, activities like art, music, and physical education, and social and emotional support.

What is the eligibility for Regional Enrichment Centers? 

Regional Enrichment Centers are open only to children who are New York City residents and whose parents/guardians work in certain fields. As enrollment progresses, they will assess capacity and demand and will work to expand eligibility to additional essential personnel and children most in need of this support.

The frontline workers who can enroll their children into RECs include: Utility Workers, Essential Healthcare Staff, Transit Workers, Pharmacy Workers, NYPD, FDNY, Grocery Store Workers, and more. For the full list see here

If you think you might be eligible to send your child to a center near you, complete this survey

MASS TRANSIT

Is the MTA still running normally?

MTA Essential Service is still operating during the COVID-19 pandemic so the MTA can get health-care workers, first responders, and other essential personnel where they need to go. They are running as much service as they can with the crews who are healthy and available to work, but service on many lines is limited.

How are metrocard transactions and refunds functioning?

In order to limit person-to-person contact for station agents and riders, the MTA is no longer making any cash transactions at station booths. You can only make MetroCard transactions at MetroCard Vending machines. They also do not provide refunds for MetroCards while the transit system continues to operate. 

Additional updates are provided on the MTA website

SHOPPING

Can I use my EBT card to pay for groceries that I buy online?

Participating online stores now accept SNAP benefits for online orders and will deliver to you. Use your EBT card to shop securely for fresh produce and groceries at these participating stores in the New York City area: Amazon, ShopRite and Walmart. Visit these online retailers to order your groceries online. However, SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay delivery fees. Be sure to confirm an online store delivers to your home address. Click here for more information. 

Are businesses allowed to overcharge for any good or service needed to limit the spread of COVID-19? What should I do if a store is overcharging?

  • It is ILLEGAL for stores to overcharge you. On March 16, the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) announced an emergency rule that makes price gouging illegal for any personal or household good or any service that is needed to prevent or limit the spread of or treat the new coronavirus (COVID-19). Examples include: cleaning products, diagnostic products and services, disinfectants (wipes, liquids, sprays), face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, medicines, paper towels, rubbing alcohol, soap and tissues.
  • Businesses are issued fines up to $500 per item or service if they’re found to be overcharging customers 10% or more for any personal or household goods or services needed to combat the spread or treat coronavirus under the emergency rule issued this month. Businesses can only increase the price if they have proof they needed to pay more to obtain the items and charge customers a comparable amount. This means if a store spent $2 more per item, they cannot charge customers $50 more.
  • New Yorkers can file price gouging complaints on the DCWP website or by calling 311 and saying “overcharge.”

How are seniors receiving their meals?

As of March 30, 2020,  all senior centers are now providing meals through direct delivery. Call 311 for more information.

DATE ADJUSTMENTS

What is the new deadline for filing taxes and how do I file now?

The deadline for filing taxes has been extended from April 15 to is July 15, 2020. If you have not filed your taxes yet, you can do so for free using Free File Now. If you were not required and did not file a 2018 or 2019 federal income tax return because you had no income or your gross income was under $12,200 ($24,400 for married couples), you can now use the IRS Non-Filers: Enter Your Info Here tool to report your income for the Economic Impact Payment stimulus check. 

Have there been changes to alternate side parking?

Alternate Side Parking has been suspended for an additional two weeks. The suspension is in effect through April 28.

What is the deadline to apply for health insurance through the NYS Marketplace?

The health insurance application deadline for New York State of Health has been extended till May 15th.

How has voting been affected by COVID-19?

The New York State Board of Elections announced that it would cancel the upcoming Presidential Primary as well as special elections in New York, which had been set for June 23. All eligible voters in active or inactive status will be mailed an absentee ballot application. The early voting period will be from June 13, 2020 – June 21, 2020.

How long will the eviction moratorium last?

Tenants with or without lease are protected under the eviction moratorium until at least June 20, 2020. For additional aid, you can contact

  • Housing Court Answers Hotline: (212) 962-4795, Tuesday – Thursday, 9 am – 5 pm
  • Metropolitan Council on Housing Hotline: (212) 979-0611, English/Spanish, Mondays and Wednesdays 1:30-8 pm, Tuesdays 5:30-8:30 Fridays 1:30-5 pm

Have there been changes to Census deadlines?

  • The Census Bureau is anticipated to begin door-knocking on June 1, lasting until Oct. 31, 2020 — the deadline for data collection.. If Congress agrees, the Bureau will have until April 30, 2021 to deliver that data to the President, meaning state legislatures won’t have population data to draw new maps until July 31, 2021..
  • Census will begin hiring enumerators in June 2020 and will begin training sessions for them in June and July.
  • Be on the lookout for Census documentation that will be shared door-to-door by workers from the Census Bureau beginning in June, all while following social distancing precautions.

FREE WIFI

  • Spectrum offers free access to internet and WiFi for 60-days for new Pre-K to 12, college student and teacher households who don’t currently have internet or WiFi service  and at any service level up to 100 Mbps. This discount will be applied as a credit for your first two months of internet services. They will waive any installation or pre-payment fees to help get you started. You can qualify for this offer if you have a student of qualifying age at your service address with remote education needs and have 
  • Low-income families who live in a Comcast (Xifinity) service area will receive two free months of Internet Essentials service as a new customer, if you apply by May 13, 2020. After the promotion, regular rates apply. The company has also increased internet speeds for the Internet Essentials service to 25/3 Mbps for all new and existing customers indefinitely. To enroll your household in this offer, you can do so online by visiting  www.internetessentials.com, or you may call 1-855-846-8376.
  • AT&T is keeping their public Wi-Fi hotspots open.
  • Verizon, AT&T, Spectrum, and Comcast will not charge late fees or disconnect accounts for an indefinite amount of time.
  • T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and Comcast are all lifting their unlimited data caps for cell phone subscribers for at least 60 days.

HOUSING

Is there protection for tenants against evictions?

Effective March 16, the Governor announced that all residential and commercial evictions are suspended for 90 days. 

Is there a rent freeze, and if not, what will happen after the eviction moratorium ends?

At the moment there is no rent freeze in place. Mayor DeBlasio called on the State to allow tenants to use their security deposits to pay rent in addition to rent deferral and repayment plans for the next 12 months if they provide documentation that they are no longer unemployed. He is also pushing to extend the eviction moratorium for 60 days after the crisis to ensure a grace period and prevent a wave of evictions. He also asked the Rent Guidelines Board to issue a rent freeze for rent-regulated tenants.However, we are still waiting for a decision.

Is there any mortgage relief for homeowners?

Effective March 24, the Governor announced state-regulated financial institutions to waive mortgage payments for 90 days. Learn more from NY State Department of Finance.

STIGMA-DISCRIMINATION-RACISM

What is stigma?

Public health emergencies, such as the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), are stressful times for people and communities. Fear and anxiety about a disease can lead to social stigma toward people, places, or things. For example, stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate a disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease. Stigma can also exist after a person has been released from COVID-19 quarantine even though they are not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others.

Who is most at risk to experience stigma during this COVID-19 crisis?

Some groups of people who may be experiencing stigma because of COVID-19 include:

  • Persons of Asian descent
  • People who have traveled
  • Emergency responders or healthcare professionals

How does stigma affect people?

Stigma hurts everyone by creating fear or anger towards other people. Stigma affects the emotional or mental health of stigmatized groups and the communities they live in. Stigmatized groups may be subjected to:

  • Social avoidance or rejection
  • Denials of healthcare, education, housing or employment
  • Physical violence.

What can I do to help stop stigma?

It is important to separate facts from fear and guard against stigma. A lot of information circulating about coronavirus on social media and in some news reporting is not based in the facts. Obtain information from trusted resources like the NYC Health Department. 

Stopping stigma is important to making communities and community members resilient. Everyone can help stop stigma related to COVID-19 by knowing the facts and sharing them with others in your community. It is import ant to remember that people – including those of Asian descent – who do not live in or have not recently been in an area of ongoing spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, or have not been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 are not at greater risk of spreading COVID-19 than other Americans.

What is discriminatory harassment?

Discriminatory harassment is threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion or violence that interferes with a person’s civil or constitutional rights and is motivated in part by that person’s actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, or alienage or citizenship status or other protected status.

What is a biased incident/hate crime?

  • A bias incident is any offense or unlawful act that is motivated in whole or substantial part by a person’s, a group’s or a place’s identification with a particular race, color, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, ancestry, national origin, or sexual orientation 
  • Hate crimes can be perpetrated against an individual, a group, or against public or private property. For example, hanging a noose or painting a swastika could be deemed hate crimes.
  • Hate crime statutes are typically “penalty enhancement” statutes, which means that they increase the penalty for an offense if the victim or target is intentionally selected for violence because of his/her personal characteristics. 
  • Hate crimes are more serious than other misdemeanors and usually result in a longer sentence if convicted.

What should I do if I am being harassed?

  • Call 311 and say “human rights” to report discrimination or harrassment in housing, at work, or in public places based on your race, national origin, immigration status, disability or other protected classes under the NYC Human Rights law.
    • You can also call 718-722-3131 to report discrimination to the NYC Commission on Human Rights directly, or complete a Discrimination Report
  • Call 911 if you are a victim of a hate crime or you witness what you believe to be a hate crime. NYPD officers will not ask about immigration status of anyone seeking help and language assistance is available.
  • NY Residents can report any discriminatory actions to New York State Attorney General Leticia James and team via call at (800) 771-7755 or email at civil.rights@ag.ny.gov
  • If you are unsure of where to call, call any of the mentioned numbers and you will be directed to the appropriate office. But, it is important that you call to report these incidents.
  • If you are experiencing stress or feeling anxious, contact NYC Well at 888-NYC-WELL (888-692-9355) or text “WELL” to 65173. NYC Well is a confidential helpline that is staffed 24/7 by trained counselors who can provide brief supportive therapy, crisis counseling, and connections to behavioral health treatment, in more than 200 languages.

What should I do if I face discrimination from a taxi driver?

The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission does not tolerate discrimination and encourages you to file a formal complaint via 311 if a driver has illegally refused to give you a ride. Drivers who illegally refuse service to riders are subject to a $300 fine for the first offense, while a second offense can cost them $500 plus a suspension of their license. A third offense can lead to a license revocation and a three-year ban.

Why should I report discriminatory acts to the NYC Commission on Human Rights? 

The Commission can work with you and with community members in your area to prevent acts like this from happening again. You can even make an anonymous report. The Commission will also consider requests for U-visa certifications and declarations in support of T-visas for individuals who have information that will be helpful in investigating a claim of discriminatory harassment. 

What type of measures can the NYC Commission on Human Rights take against a perpetrator? 

When you bring a claim against a perpetrator, if the claim is successful, the Commission can get an order demanding that the discriminatory harassment stop. The Commission can order the harasser to pay compensation for emotional harm and civil penalties and for out-of-pocket expenses.

JOBS

I am in need of a job, are there any jobs I can apply for during this crisis?

  • The City of New York is hiring licensed TLC drivers to deliver food to New Yorkers in need during the COVID-19 crisis. This work will be paid $15/hour plus reimbursement for gas and tolls. Drivers will be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis. The initial need for drivers will be small, but we expect it to increase as we expand our programs. Drivers who register to participate in the NYC Food Delivery program must: be licensed TLC Drivers, be at least 18 years or older, be eligible to work in the United States, have a valid Social Security number, and be able to perform heavy physical labor. For more information, click here.
  • The city’s Workforce1 Career Center launched a Virtual Center (or call 718-960-2458) to help New Yorkers prepare for, and connect to, jobs across New York City’s five boroughs and in every sector of the economy. Through the Virtual Workforce1 Career Center system, candidates can be connected via web or phone to one-on-one help from professionals who can help them with job opportunities, individual career advisement, resume & interview preparation and training. Current employment opportunities include Stop & Shop, Fresh Direct & PBM Guardian Industry Services.

STIMULUS BILL 

How large will the payments be?

  • It depends on your income. Single adults with Social Security numbers who have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less will get the full amount ($1,200). For every qualifying child age 16 or under, the payment will be an additional $500. Married couples with no children earning $150,000 or less will receive a total of $2,400. And taxpayers filing as head of household will get the full payment if they earned $112,500 or less.
  • Above those income figures, the payment decreases until it stops altogether for single people earning $99,000 or married people who have no children and earn $198,000. According to the Senate Finance Committee, a family with two children will no longer be eligible for any payments if its income surpassed $218,000.
  • You can’t get a payment if someone claims you as a dependent, even if you’re an adult. In any given family and in most instances, everyone must have a valid Social Security number in order to be eligible. There is an exception for members of the military.
  • You can find your adjusted gross income on Line 8b of the 2019 1040 federal tax return.

What year’s income will the government be looking at?

2019. If you haven’t prepared a tax return yet, you can use your 2018 return. If you haven’t filed that yet, you can use a 2019 Social Security statement showing your income to see what an employer reported to the I.R.S.

I am not typically required to file a tax return. Can I still receive my payment?

Yes. People who typically do not file a tax return will need to file a simple tax return to receive an economic impact payment. Low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities who are otherwise not required to file a tax return will not owe tax.

How many payments will there be?

Just one. Future bills could order up additional payments, though.

Will I have to apply to receive a payment?

No. If the Internal Revenue Service already has your bank account information from your 2019 or 2018 returns, it will transfer the money to you via direct deposit based on the recent income-tax figures it already has.

The IRS does not have my direct deposit information. What can I do?

A web-based portal was created for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online, so that individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail. You can visit their website here.

When will the payment arrive?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he expected most people to get their payments by April 17. Presumably those people using the new portal would not get money until a few weeks after they are first able to provide their information. The I.R.S. has not said when those receiving paper checks would get them.

If my payment doesn’t come soon, how can I be sure that it wasn’t misdirected?

According to the bill, you will get a paper notice in the mail no later than a few weeks after your payment has been disbursed. That notice will contain information about where the payment ended up and in what form it was made. If you couldn’t locate the payment at that point, it would be time to contact the IRS using the information on the notice.

Where can I get more information?

The IRS will post all key information on IRS.gov/coronavirus as soon as it becomes available.

The IRS has a reduced staff in many of its offices but remains committed to helping eligible individuals receive their payments expeditiously. Check for updated information on IRS.gov/coronavirus rather than calling IRS representatives who are helping process 2019 returns.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS (under the Stimulus Bill)

Who will be covered by the expanded program?

The plan wraps in far more workers than are usually eligible for unemployment benefits, including self-employed people and part-time workers.

The bottom line: Those who are unemployed, are partly unemployed or cannot work for a wide variety of coronavirus-related reasons will be more likely to receive benefits.

How much will I receive?

It depends on your state. Under the plan, eligible workers will get an extra $600 per week on top of their state benefit. But some states are more generous than others. States have the option of providing the entire amount in one payment, or sending the extra portion separately. But it must all be done on the same weekly basis.

Whom does the bill leave out?

Workers who are able to work from home, and those receiving paid sick leave or paid family leave are not covered. New entrants to the workforce who cannot find jobs are also ineligible.

How long will the payments last?

Many states already provide 26 weeks of benefits, though some states have trimmed that back while others provide a sliding scale tied to unemployment levels.

The bill provides all eligible workers with an additional 13 weeks. The extra $600 payment will last for up to four months, covering weeks of unemployment ending July 31.

For additional questions about the Stimulus Bill, please visit this article from the New York Times

UNEMPLOYMENT (in general)

What is the new system for filing unemployment claims?

The Department of Labor urges New Yorkers to use the new online system (labor.ny.gov), which can handle most applications from start to finish, and reduce the number of New Yorkers who must speak to a claims specialist on the phone. 

Here is some guidance on using the system:

  •  IF YOU HAVE BEGUN BUT NOT YET COMPLETED FILING a claim, DOL advises that their claims specialists will call applicants to complete their claims; applicants should stay close to their phones, expect a call from any number/ blocked number, and be ready to answer calls.
  •  IF YOU HAVE NOT YET FILED a claim, labor.ny.gov will direct you to the new, streamlined system. These instructions apply to all workers who may be eligible for unemployment benefits, including those not traditionally covered by these benefits. When workers’ claims are approved they will receive benefits backdated to their first day of unemployment.

What if I already submitted my application and haven’t been able to reach a DOL specialist?

People who have already applied online and were told to call to finish their application also will receive a call back in 72 hours. You may get an automated call from DOL informing you that a representative will call you within 72 hours (if you miss the call from DOL reps, they will call you back).

Will I still receive my unemployment benefits even if I apply past the first day that I became unemployed?

Yes, your benefits will be backdated to the day you were first unemployed. 

I keep getting bumped from the UI call center. Will my claim be processed?

You will receive all benefits to which you are entitled. Your claim will start on the day you were separated from your employer. There is unprecedented call volume and web traffic. Please be patient and keep trying. It is best to apply online. Also, DOL will backdate any claims that are not timely processed due to any issues with the DOL website or UI call center.

What are the hours to contact the DOL?

DOL had already expanded their call center hours and days of operation. Their call hours are now from Monday through Friday: 8am to 7:30pm; Saturday and Sunday: 7:30am to 8:00pm. 

SCAMS

Information from Con-Edison:

  •  Beware of anyone visiting, emailing, or calling about outstanding bills or disconnecting service. You are not going to lose your power even if you can’t pay your bill now.
  • If anyone asks you for money for “new meters because of coronavirus,” that’s bogus. ConEd does not charge for meters. And, have put smart meter installation on hold.
  • If someone comes to your door, verify they are who they say they are. ConEd will only enter your home or business for emergencies, safety reasons and upon your request for critical issues, including turning on service. If someone claims to be from Con Edison, call 1‑800‑75‑CONED (1‑800‑752‑6633) and check the employee’s name and ID#.
  • If you are making a payment, do it safely. ConEd never accepts payment by cash apps such as Venmo, or bitcoin. They only accept online payments through conEd.com and conEd.com/GuestPayment.
  • If you are suspicious about an email from Con Edison, do not click on any links that you’re unsure about.

Other Scams:

  • Robocalls: Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
  • Treatment Scams: Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus. Visit the FDA to learn more.
  • Treasury Scams: If you receive calls, emails, or other communications claiming to be from the Treasury Department and offering COVID-19 related grants or stimulus payments in exchange for personal financial information, or an advance fee, or charge of any kind, including the purchase of gift cards, please do not respond.  These are scams.  Please contact the FBI at www.ic3.gov so that the scammers can be tracked and stopped.
  • Supply scams: Scammers are creating fake shops, websites, social media accounts, and email addresses claiming to sell medical supplies currently in high demand, such as surgical masks. When consumers attempt to purchase supplies through these channels, fraudsters pocket the money and never provide the promised supplies.
  • Charity scams:  Scammers are soliciting donations for individuals, groups, and areas affected by COVID-19.  
  • Phishing scams:  Scammers posing as national and global health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are sending phishing emails designed to trick recipients into downloading malware or providing personal identifying and financial information.
  • App scams:  Scammers are also creating and manipulating mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and personal information. 
  • Investment scams:  Scammers are offering online promotions on various platforms, including social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result. These promotions are often styled as “research reports,” make predictions of a specific “target price,” and relate to microcap stocks, or low-priced stocks issued by the smallest of companies with limited publicly available information.

If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you can report it without leaving your home through a number of platforms. Go to:

UNDOCUMENTED COMMUNITY RESOURCES

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

I don’t qualify for the checks being provided under the Stimulus Package. Is there any financial assistance available to me that I can qualify for?

Yes! Here are a few resources available to you:

General Funding: 

  • The Betancourt Macias Family Scholarship Foundation is raising funds to support undocumented families and individuals during these times of crisis. The amount that they can provide each person is based on the donations they receive and the amount of requests they receive. Click here to fill out the request form. You can also call (360) 524-3664 and a representative will help you apply in English and Spanish.
  • Humanity Forward is delivering one-time, and recurring, basic income payments to individuals and families who stand to be most impacted by the coronavirus crisis. The initial target populations will primarily consist of Americans in lower income brackets who depend on wage work to support them and their families. Their first program will be launched in the Bronx, NY, and they aim to roll out similar initiatives in the coming weeks. Click here for the application.
  • The Lambda Theta Alpha Foundation Disaster Relief Fund will provide relief to those affected by a natural disaster. For details and application click here.
  • AMPHS is supporting impacted families who do not qualify for government assistance, including stimulus bill funding.

For Restaurant Workers: 

For students:

  • At Baruch College: The Immigrant Student Emergency Fund helps students with various immigration needs stemming from immigration status and/or undocumented status, and improve their quality of life following a financial emergency. Click here for more details. 
  • At John Jay College: To qualify for emergency funding, review the different funding options here and submit the application. If you have questions, you can email emergencyfunding@jjay.cuny.edu.
  • At Brooklyn College: The Carroll and Milton Petrie Student Emergency Grant Fund provides eligible students facing short-term, nonrecurring emergencies with a one-time grant to alleviate their situation. For more information click here

FOOD ASSISTANCE

What food assistance programs am I eligible for?

  • SNAP: Under the Families First Act, states are allowed to provide emergency supplemental SNAP benefits up to the maximum monthly benefit amount to many participating SNAP households to address temporary food needs. Only US citizens and certain non-citizens are eligible for SNAP, such as asylees, refugees, and some green card holders. Individuals who are not eligible for SNAP can apply for their eligible household members, such as U.S. citizen children.
  • School Meals: The Family First Act establishes a new program – called Pandemic EBT or “P-EBT” – that allows states to provide meal-replacement benefits for households with children who attend a school that has closed and who would otherwise receive free or reduced-price meals. Monthly benefits of up to $125 per child will be loaded onto an EBT card. P-EBT is available regardless of immigration status. Households do not have to be enrolled in SNAP in order to be eligible.
  • The New York City Department of Education makes three free meals available daily for any New Yorker, Monday through Friday (from 7:30 – 11:30 AM for families and children, and 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM for adults) at more than 400 meal hubs across NYC. To find a location, use the website lookup tool at schools.nyc.gov/freemeals or text “NYCFOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877.
  • If you can’t leave your home and you don’t have anybody to bring food to you, your city can help deliver meals to you. Visit: NYC Get Food – COVID-19 Food Assistance Resources
  • Invisible Hands is a group of engaged volunteers from communities at the least risk for severe COVID-19 reactions working to bring groceries and supplies to those in high-risk demographics. To request a delivery click here.
  • Food Bank NYC is an organization that provides many options for food distribution. You can use their interactive map to find a food distribution center near you.
  • HungerFree NYC publishes “Neighborhood Guides to Food and Assistance”. These guides cover all neighborhoods in NYC by zip code and are available in multiple languages.
  • NYU Langone’s Family Support Center (6025 6th Avenue) is now offering an emergency food pantry every Friday from 10AM-2PM, by appointment only. You must call them at (718) 630-7186. No proof of address is required

COVID-19 TESTING

Will there be a cost for COVID-19 testing if I am undocumented?

No, everyone who receives a COVID-19 test will not be charged for the test, regardless of immigration status. Additionally, the State Department of Health announced the inclusion of COVID-19 testing, evaluation, and treatment covered by Emergency Medicaid for low-income individuals (less than or equal to 138% federal poverty level) who are ineligible for Medicaid.

Will testing and treatment for COVID-19 be considered under Public Charge?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently posted an alert clarifying that it will not consider testing, treatment, or preventive care (including vaccines if a vaccine becomes available) related to COVID-19 in a public charge inadmissibility determination, even if the health care services are covered by Medicaid. 

If I have a question about my symptoms, what should I do?

New Yorkers who believe they have symptoms for coronavirus or have questions about COVID-19, can call 1-844-NYC-4NYC. You will be connected to a medical provider from the Health+Hospitals system. If you are sick, stay home. If you don’t feel better after three or four day, consult with your health care provider. If you need help getting connected to a healthcare provider, call 311. You can receive medical attention despite your immigration status or ability to pay.

IMMIGRATION

Have there been any changes to…

  1. The immigration courts during this COVID-19 pandemic?

The New York on Pause Executive Order leaves legal services off the list of “essential” businesses; functions that are taking place in the courthouse are now limited. The types of cases that some court systems are taking are limited only to essential proceedings. You can see a list of essential cases here

Until April 16, 2020:

  • NYC non-detained Immigration Courts (Broadway and Federal Plaza) are CLOSED until further notice. 
  • Buffalo non-detained hearings are cancelled
  • Courts at Varick Street and Elizabeth, NJ are closed until further notice. 
  • ALL immigration court hearings in NY for people who are NOT detained are canceled. People with canceled hearings should receive a new hearing notice in the mail, but should also be in contact with their attorney and/or check 1-800-898-7180 to make sure they receive prompt information about the new date.
  1.  USCIS appointments during this COVID-19 pandemic?

As of March 18th, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has temporarily suspended routine in-person services through at least May 3 to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS staff will continue to perform mission critical duties that do not involve contact with the public. However, USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations. To schedule an emergency appointment, contact the USCIS Contact Center.

  1. ICE activity during this COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Contact your local office to find out if you need to appear for a check-in. 
  • ICE has cancelled all visitation for those in ICE detention.
  • Immigration enforcement in communities will continue. 
  1. Federal Court during this COVID-19 pandemic?

 Citizenship Oath Ceremonies are cancelled.

LEGAL ASSISTANCE

Who is available to provide me legal assistance during this COVID-19 pandemic?

  • ActionNYC is for every immigrant New Yorker. It offers free, safe immigration legal help in a network of trusted community organizations and schools. You must make an appointment to receive services. To make an appointment, call 1-800-354-0365 between 9AM-6PM, Monday – Friday or call 311 and say “ActionNYC”. 
  • The Immigrant Defense Program offers criminal-immigration advice and support to immigrants and their loved ones. This resource is especially useful for people or families facing detention and/or deportation. You can reach their helpline at 212-725-6422 Tuesday and Thursday between 2PM-4:30PM. For more information, you may visit their page
  • Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT) offers virtual and telephone assistance related to family justice, such as divorce, custody, paternity and domestic violence. Call 212-343-1122, Monday through Friday between 9AM-5PM. 
  • The Legal Aid Society continues its services remotely for clients in need of assistance. You can call their main number 212-577-3300. Indicate you need Legal Assistance and your call will be forwarded to an Operator. You can visit their page for additional info
  • The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault provides free counseling or advocacy. You can email them at survivorsupport@svfreenyc.org or by phone at 212-514-SAFE (7233).
  • Family Justice Centers (FJC) provide guidance on immediate safety planning, shelter assistance, and community resources, including FJC updates. Although their centers are closed for in-person visits, you can call the closest FJC near you Monday-Friday, 9AM-5PM  at the following numbers :
    • NYC Family Justice Center, Bronx: 718-508-1220
    • NYC Family Justice Center, Brooklyn: 718-250-5113
    • NYC Family Justice Center, Manhattan: 212-602-2800
    • NYC Family Justice Center, Queens:718-575-4545
    • NYC Family Justice Center, Staten Island: 718-697-4300