Coronavirus Update 05/20: Better Understanding Risk in the Era of COVID-19, Helping Reach Out to Our Seniors; and Recent Updates

The past two months of sheltering at home have not been easy. But it has delivered incredible results for our city, as we continue to make progress in slowing the spread of coronavirus.

And now quarantine fatigue is setting in.

Because the risk of a rebound still looms, we need to continue extraordinary measures to ensure physical distancing for the foreseeable future.  

But given the long road ahead, it’s not enough--and not realistic--to tell people they can simply have no social contact.

We need to give people the tools to understand the spectrum of risk when it comes to Covid-19 --for interacting with friends, family, and partners outside of those in your household.

We have learned a lot about how coronavirus spreads, and we now understand that when it comes to social interactions:

* Outdoors is less risky than indoors.

* Small groups are less risky than large groups.

* Simply passing by someone is less risky than sustained contact  

Epidemiologists Dr. Julia Marcus and Dr. Ellie Murray have suggested conveying a spectrum of risk with a color-coded system like graphic. 

So what does all this mean if you are considering, say, visiting an elderly family member over Memorial Day weekend?  

There is for sure a risk in visiting anyone who is vulnerable, because of age or underlying medical condition. But it’s also true that visiting with them outside is less risky than inside, and that the risk is reduced by wearing face coverings, maintaining distance, and avoiding touching common surfaces or objects (including shared food, drink, or utensils).

Public health leaders need to do much more work to offer guidance like this on a range of activities.  We need to get beyond the all-or-nothing advice the public has been receiving until now.

And I am thrilled that one of the smartest thinkers on this topic--Dr. Julia Marcus--will be joining us for an online Q & A this coming Tuesday. (see below for more details)

Coronavirus is not going away any time soon. So everyone needs to continue taking extraordinary measures to protect themselves and others--physical distancing, face coverings, hand washing, staying home when possible. But it’s time to update our advice for the long haul. 

Stay safe,



REGISTER NOW - Understanding Risk in the Era of COVID-19

Understanding Risk & Covid-19

Community Q&A with Dr. Julia Marcus 

Moderated by Council Member Mark Levine

Tuesday, May 26th

5:00 pm - 6:00 pm 

Pre-Registration Required HERE

or visit:

Coronavirus is not going away any time soon. As New York City begins to open back up in the coming weeks and months, it’s time to update the all-or-nothing messaging on Covid-19 risk and give people clear guidance on how to reduce risk during social activities.  

I will be joined by Dr. Julia Marcus, a Harvard Infectious Disease Epidemiologist, for a community Q&A on the spectrum of risk associated with social interaction in the era of COVID-19. 

Pre-registration is required to join the Q&A. Once you register you will receive an email with information on how to video-connect to the meeting or phone dial-in information.

If you have any questions or need help with registration please reach out to my staff at (212) 928-6814 or via email at [email protected].

COVID-19 Antibody Testing FAQ

Antibody tests and plasma donation have been in the news lately and there is a lot to understand about this new tool in our fight to beat COVID-19. What is an antibody test? Do you need to get one? Will plasma donations help other New Yorkers survive COVID-19? 

In an effort to help you better understand this important issue, I have created this FAQ guide on antibody testing. For more in-depth information, you can watch my recent Q&A with antibody advocate and Survivor Corp founder Diana Berrent on antibody testing and plasma donations HERE

Antibody tests are increasingly available, including at many urgent care centers. NYC is now providing tests for free, at one location in each borough. To see if you qualify & to make an appointment, go to

Helping Our Seniors - Council Member Levine’s Senior Corps 

Our community is experiencing a crisis unlike anything we've ever seen before. As always, our community is pulling together to help each other. 

This week my team and a group of fantastic volunteers began reaching out to our senior neighbors to make sure that they have what they need to weather this pandemic and to provide them with important information on meal deliveries and other necessary services.

It was a fantastic start but we still need your help! 

Sign up here and our team will be in touch with the training schedule and phone bank opportunities!

Food and Masks Distribution for our Neighbors 

This past Thursday, my office teamed-up with ICNA Relief and Foodtown grocers to distribute over 1000 meals and food gift cards to Upper Manhattan residents experiencing food distress from the COVID-19 outbreak. We were also able to distribute hundreds of face masks at the event.

With the closure of many businesses, the number of families who need access to healthy food and supportive services has increased exponentially. I am so grateful that ICNA and Foodtownreally stepped up to help bring this much-needed support to those struggling to access food. 

We are working hard to connect people who need it most to the resources that are available to make sure no one faces a shortage of food during this crisis. If you or someone you know are in need please reach out to my office at 212-928-6814 or email us at [email protected]

You can also check our COVID-19 Food Resource page for more information on how you can access food assistance during the outbreak. Also, the city has released a new map tool to help New Yorkers find their nearest food pantry or community kitchen.

Additional Updates:

  • The DOE announced the City’s summer learning plan, which will provide support to around 177,700 students for remote summer learning. Learn more here.


  • CUNY’s  Citizenship Now! provides free, high quality, and confidential immigration law services to help individuals and families. They have recently increased capacity due to the COVID-19 outbreak and attorneys are available for consultations on all immigration matters and completing immigration applications. For a free consultation please call 646-664-9400, text 929-334-3784 or email [email protected].


  • The Health Department released an updated COVID-19 data page detailing additional demographic information about how the outbreak is affecting New York City. Find the new page HERE.


  • New Yorkers who are experiencing mental health issues due to the COVID-19 outbreak can call 1-844-863-9314 to speak with a mental health professional.


  • The City is still hiring contact tracers to reach out to the contacts of those diagnosed with COVID-19 to track the spread. Learn more, and apply here.


  • SOMOS Community Care is opening pop-up COVID-19 testing sites across Manhattan. The sites are available by appointment only as screening questions are required, and each will only be open for six days at a time. Each site will run both diagnostic (swab) and serology (antibody) testing. To make an appointment, call (833) SOMOSNY.


  • The City Human Resources Administration has released the application for the Cooling Assistance benefit, which helps eligible households buy and install an air conditioner or fan up to a cost of $800.


  • Senior NYCHA residents are eligible to receive free internet-enabled tablets to stay connected with their friends and family during isolation. Eligible seniors (62 and older, living alone or with another senior only) can email [email protected] or call (929) 505-6208 and (929) 237-3069 (M-F 9:30 am to 4:30 pm) to register.


If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact our office at (212) 928-6814 or [email protected].

Council Member Mark Levine


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