Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

WHO releases guidelines to help countries maintain essential health services during the COVID-19 pandemic

Media briefing on COVID-19 with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. March 30, 2020. (WHO Facebook Page Screenshot.)

The COVID-19 pandemic is straining health systems worldwide. The rapidly increasing demand on health facilities and health care workers threatens to leave some health systems overstretched and unable to operate effectively.

Previous outbreaks have demonstrated that when health systems are overwhelmed, mortality from vaccine-preventable and other treatable conditions can also increase dramatically. During the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak, the increased number of deaths caused by measles, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis attributable to health system failures exceeded deaths from Ebola [1,2].

“The best defense against any outbreak is a strong health system,” stressed WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “COVID-19 is revealing how fragile many of the world’s health systems and services are, forcing countries to make difficult choices on how to best meet the needs of their people.”

To help countries navigate through these challenges, the World Health Organization (WHO) has updated operational planning guidelines in balancing the demands of responding directly to COVID-19 while maintaining essential health service delivery, and mitigating the risk of system collapse. This includes a set of targeted immediate actions that countries should consider at national, regional, and local level to reorganize and maintain access to high-quality essential health services for all.

Countries should identify essential services that will be prioritized in their efforts to maintain continuity of service delivery and make strategic shifts to ensure that increasingly limited resources provide maximum benefit for the population. They also need to comply with the highest standard in precautions, especially in hygiene practices, and the provision of adequate supplies including personal protective equipment This requires robust planning and coordinated actions between governments and health facilities and their managers.

Some examples of essential services include: routine vaccination; reproductive health services including care during pregnancy and childbirth; care of young infants and older adults; management of mental health conditions as well as noncommunicable diseases and infectious diseases like HIV, malaria and TB; critical inpatient therapies; management of emergency health conditions; auxiliary services like basic diagnostic imaging, laboratory services, and blood bank services, among others.

Well-organized and prepared health systems can continue to provide equitable access to essential service delivery throughout an emergency, limiting direct mortality and avoiding increased indirect mortality.

The guidelines stress the importance of keeping up-to-date information. This requires frequent transparent communications with the public, and strong community engagements so the public   can maintain trust in the system to safely meet their essential needs and to control infection risk in health facilities. This will help ensure that people continue to seek care when appropriate, and adhere to public health advice.


1. Elston, J. W. T., Cartwright, C., Ndumbi, P., & Wright, J. (2017). The health impact of the 2014–15 Ebola outbreak. Public Health, 143, 60-70.

2. Parpia, A. S., Ndeffo-Mbah, M. L., Wenzel, N. S., & Galvani, A. P. (2016). Effects of response to 2014–2015 Ebola outbreak on deaths from malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis, West Africa. Emerging infectious diseases, 22(3), 433.

Governor Cuomo Announces Statewide Public-private Hospital Plan to Fight COVID-19; Confirms 6,984 additional cases, Statewide total now 66,497

March 30, 2020--New York City--Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, joined by health care professionals gives a press briefing at the Javits Center in New York City Monday March 30, 2020. Earlier in the day, Governor Cuomo welcomed the US Naval Hospital Ship Comfort to New York City. The Comfort's mission will be to treat patients who do not have the COVID-19 virus, freeing up land-based hospitals to focus on the Novel Coronavirus. (Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on  Monday announced a statewide public-private hospital plan to fight COVID-19. As part of the plan, public and private hospitals from across the state have agreed to implement a new balanced approach to fighting the virus where hospitals that are beginning to reach or exceed capacity can transfer patients to other hospitals that are not as full.

The hospital systems across the state have also agreed to share supplies, staff and other resources as needed. The State Department of Health will work with the statewide healthcare system to create a command center to share information between hospitals about the supplies each hospital has in stock and the supplies each hospital is ordering. This central inventory system will help ensure purchasing and distribution of supplies is done strategically and efficiently.

The Governor also announced that the first 1,000-bed temporary hospital at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center is open and accepting patients today. The temporary hospital site was constructed in one week.

"As the numbers continue to increase, the situation is becoming painfully clear that the front line battle of this virus will be fought in our healthcare system," Governor Cuomo said. "We need more healthcare professionals, we need more supplies, we need more capacity and we need it now. The entire country has been playing catch up with this virus since day one, but in New York we have been trying to plan forward and get ahead of the problem. We are continuing to stockpile supplies in preparation for the apex of the curve, and we have reached an agreement with the statewide healthcare system to coordinate and work together as one entity to balance the load of patients and share staff and resources."

Finally, the Governor confirmed 6,984 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 66,497 confirmed cases in New York State.

Monday, March 30, 2020

President Duterte spells out measures to provide relief, shield economy

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte updates the nation on the government's efforts in addressing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on March 30, 2020. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The government is undertaking key measures to overcome and recover from the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Monday, a week after signing a legislation aimed at combating the contagion.

In an address to the nation, President Duterte said the three priority measures include Providing Emergency Assistance to Affected Sectors, Securing Facilities and Resources for the Health Sector, and Performing Fiscal and Monetary Actions for the Economy.

To provide emergency assistance to affected sectors, the government has launched the largest and widest social protection program in the country’s history to make up for the loss of economic opportunities due to the imposition of quarantine measures.

“We have allotted 200 billion pesos for low-income households who are badly affected by the current crisis,” the President said.

“Sila ang nasa informal sector and those who live day-to-day on subsistence wages or “no-work, no-pay” arrangements. Beneficiary-households will receive emergency support for two months based on the regional minimum wage.”

Under the measure, the government will provide a recovery package especially to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to help them deal with the economic effects of the pandemic, President Duterte said, adding his economic team is already crafting the guidelines.

The country’s farmers and fisherfolk will also receive support and the government is now employing quick response measures to help them during the crisis as well as to ensure food productivity, availability, and sufficiency during the period of the pandemic, according to the President.

The government also ensured unhampered flow of cargoes and their workers to maintain the continuous and steady supply of food, goods and other essential supplies and items. And to curtail hoarding and profiteering, the government imposed a price freeze on commodities.

“Food packs and essential non-food items are also being distributed to LGUs in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon,” he said.

“Contaminated areas in the Visayas and Mindanao are receiving similar assistance. More will be given to augment the requirements of LGUs in the coming days as we repackage the items in our stockpiles. Gagawin ko lahat para walang magutom.”

To protect frontliners, especially health workers, the government is deploying state resources to provide them with tools and protective equipment. The government is currently procuring medical supplies, devices and personal protective gears.

The President said about one million medical protective items are being acquired, noting the government and the private sector are working together to purchase or produce the necessary quantities.
The country’s capacity to conduct broader tests is also being ramped up to take a fuller and more accurate picture of the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

“We will also build, operate and accredit more medical facilities and laboratories in the coming weeks,” President Duterte said.

The Chief Executive also issued an order through the Executive Secretary laying down the responsibilities of each department in implementing the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which he signed last week.

The President gave LGUs marching orders, emphasizing the need for sufficient authority, so that they do not have to go the Office of the President in carrying out their tasks.

As he confronts the pandemic, President Duterte told the nation that he has reserved two powers in the law that he could exercise depending on necessity.

These powers include the power of the President to direct the operation of private establishments and the power to require businesses to prioritize contracts for materials and services necessary for the crisis.

“I will exercise these powers only when absolutely necessary,” he said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Statement on COVID-19 Apple App

CDC.GOV Photo

On March 27, Friday, Apple Inc. – in partnership with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – released an app and website that guides Americans through a series of questions about their health and exposure to determine if they should seek care for COVID-19 symptoms.  The tool provides CDC recommendations on next steps including guidance on social distancing and self-isolating, how to closely monitor symptoms, recommendations on testing, and when to contact a medical provider.

This launch is a direct response to President Trump’s call for an all-of-America approach and will help Americans heed CDC guidelines and self-isolate to limit COVID-19 transmission.

Users can download the free app from Apple’s App Storeexternal icon or access the tool online at www.apple.com/covid19external icon.  Everyone has a role to play as we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19.  The latest recommendations can be found at www.coronavirus.govexternal icon.

Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces NYS On Pause Functions Extended for the Next Two Weeks

March 29, 2020- Albany, NY- Governor Andrew Cuomo delivering daily press briefing on coronavirus in the Red Room of Capitol (Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday announced all NYS On Pause functions will be extended for the next two weeks. The Governor also directed the state nonessential workforce to continue to work from home for an additional two weeks through April 15th. The state will re-evaluate after this additional two-week period.

In-person workforce restrictions, which have been implemented through various Executive Orders —202.3 (restaurants and bars, gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters and casinos); 202.4 (local government workforces, school districts; village elections); 202.5 (malls, public amusement facilities); 202.6 (all non-essential reduce 50%); 202.7 (barber shops, salons, other personal care); 202.8 (DMV); 202.10 (non-essential gatherings of any size); 202.11 (extension of school district closure until April 15, 2020) — are also extended until April 15, 2020 to enable uniform extension and review of such restrictions, and any such restrictions may be extended by future executive orders.

Governor Cuomo also announced that 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 health care professional. Additionally, health care professionals can self-administer the test without another health care professional present. This new test will help conserve personal protective equipment, or PPE, for healthcare workers, reduce potential exposure of the virus to health care workers and will allow the state to continue to test as many individuals as possible in New York amid the national shortage of the more intrusive nasopharyngeal, or NP, swabs. Self-collection of nasal swabs has been done before for other respiratory viruses such as flu and it has been shown to be effective and safe, and collection of a saliva sample is simple and non-invasive. This new testing will begin within a week.

The Governor also issued an executive order to allow schools to host day care free of charge.

After speaking with the state's major pharmacy chains, the Governor announced that pharmacies have agreed to offer free home delivery to help reduce long lines for prescriptions at their facilities.

"There is no state in the nation that is better prepared or better mobilized to combat this virus than New York," Governor Cuomo said. "The number of cases is still going up towards the apex, and the development of new, faster tests will be critical in flattening this curve, getting people back to work and returning to normalcy. The state's Wadsworth lab has developed a new, less intrusive test that will allow us to increase our testing capacity, as well as save valuable PPE for our healthcare workers. We will get through this because we are New Yorkers - we are strong, we have endurance and we have stability. We have a plan, we're executing that plan and we will manage any obstacle that we come across."

Governor Cuomo also announced, in partnership with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senator Jamaal Bailey, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., that the State is launching a new mobile testing site in Co-Op City, the largest public housing development (Mitchell Lama) in the country. This new mobile testing site located at the Bay Plaza Mall Parking Lot, AMC Cinema entrance in the Bronx will provide tests by appointment only and will prioritize symptomatic individuals who had close exposure to a positive COVID-19 case, health care workers and first responders displaying symptoms, and those working in or having recently visited a nursing home who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. To get an appointment, New Yorkers can call the Coronavirus hotline at 1-888-364-3065.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Governor Cuomo Confirms 2,950 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York - Bringing Statewide Total to 7,102; Signs 'New York State on PAUSE' Executive Order

March 20, 2020- Albany, NY- Governor Andrew Cuomo holds a press briefing on Coronavirus, Announces cancel all non- critical elective surgery, expresses desire to work with manufactures, offer incentive to re-toll and manufacture surgical masks and other necessities to keep health care workers safe, Army Corp of Engineers working on adding additional hospital beds and possible locations, announces 100 percent workforce reduction excluding essential services. (Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced he is signing the "New York State on PAUSE" executive order, a 10-point policy to assure uniform safety for everyone. It includes a new directive that all non-essential businesses statewide must close in-office personnel functions effective at 8PM on Sunday, March 22, and temporarily bans all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason.

Governor Cuomo also announced "Matilda's Law" - named for the Governor's mother - to protect New York's most vulnerable populations, including individuals age 70 and older, those with compromised immune systems and those with underlying illnesses. The measure requires this group of New Yorkers to stay home and limit home visitation to immediate family members or close friends in need of emergency assistance. If it is necessary to visit such individuals, the visitor should get prescreened by taking temperature and seeing if person is exhibiting other flu-like symptoms. Both individuals should wear a mask for the duration of the visit.

The Governor also announced a 90-day moratorium on any residential or commercial evictions.

Additionally, amid a shortage of personal protective equipment — or PPE — products in the state, including gloves, masks and gowns, the Governor is asking all PPE product providers to sell to the state any products that are not essential or not currently being used. Businesses interested in selling products to the state should contactSimonida Subotic at 646-522-8477 or covid19supplies@exec.ny.gov.

The Governor is also encouraging any company with the proper equipment or personnel to begin to manufacture PPE products if possible. The state is willing to provide funding to any company to obtain the proper equipment and personnel. Businesses interested in receiving state funding to manufacture PPE products should contact EricGertler at 212-803-3100 or COVID19supplies@esd.ny.gov.


Photo by Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

The Governor's 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 theycome 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.

"Matilda's Law" includes the following rules for vulnerable populations:

Remain indoors;

Can go outside for solitary exercise;

Pre-screen all visitors and aides by taking their temperature and seeing if person is exhibiting other flu-like symptoms;

Do not visit households with multiple people;

Wear a mask when in the company of others;

To the greatest extent possible, everyone in the presence of vulnerable people should wear a mask;

Always stay at least six feet away from individuals; and

Do not take public transportation unless urgent and absolutely necessary.

Photo by Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Finally, the Governor confirmed 2,950 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 7,102 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 7,102 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

County : Total Positive/ New Positive

Albany Count: 61/ 18

Allegany County: 2/ 0

Broome County: 2/ 0

Chenango County: 2/ 0

Clinton County: 2/ 0

Columbia County: 1/ 1

Delaware County: 1/ 0

Dutchess County: 36/ 5

Erie County: 31/ 3

Essex County: 1/ 0

Fulton County: 1/ 0

Genesee County: 1/ 0

Greene County: 2/ 0

Hamilton County: 2/ 0

Herkimer County: 2/ 1

Jefferson County: 1/ 0

Livingston County: 1/ 1

Monroe County: 32/ 5

Montgomery County: 2/ 0

Nassau County: 754/ 382

Niagara County: 3/ 2

New York City: 4408/ 1939

Oneida County: 2/ 0

Onondaga County: 8/ 3

Ontario County: 3/ 2

Orange County: 84/ 33

Putnam County: 7/ 2

Rensselaer County: 8/ 2

Rockland County: 101/ 48

Saratoga County: 24/ 6

Schenectady County: 21/ 3

Schoharie County: 1/ 0

Suffolk County: 371/ 193

Sullivan County: 8/ 5

Tioga County: 1/ 0

Tompkins County: 7/ 1

Ulster County: 12/ 2

Warren County: 1/ 0

Washington County: 1/ 0

Wayne County: 1/ 0

Westchester County: 1091/ 293

Wyoming County: 2/ 0

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Governor Murphy Announces Changes to Upcoming New Jersey Elections in Response to COVID-19

Gov Murphy Facebook Page Screenshot

TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today signed Executive Order No. 105, implementing changes to upcoming elections to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that voters can exercise their right to vote without risking their health and safety. The executive order temporarily changes certain election procedures and changes the date of upcoming elections in an effort to protect voters and ensure fairness to candidates during this unprecedented crisis.

“As the coronavirus outbreak continues to unfold, we must take aggressive and swift action to help mitigate further spread and flatten the curve,” said Governor Murphy. “My top priority is to keep New Jerseyans healthy and safe during this pandemic, and these new measures will ensure that all New Jersey voters are able to safely exercise their right to vote and be engaged in our democracy.”

“Governor Murphy and I fully respect that elections are the foundation of our democracy, but we will not allow our citizens to be put in harm's way as the COVID-19 pandemic escalates,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “The well-being of our constituents is our number one priority and I support the decision to hold elections currently scheduled for March 21st, March 31st, and April 21st in May.”

"The actions we are taking today protect our voters, election workers, and election security,” said Secretary of State Tahesha Way. “Postponing these upcoming local elections and rescheduling them on May 12th, when they will be conducted exclusively using vote by mail, will reduce the potential risk to health and safety while ensuring that every New Jersey voter has fair and free access to the ballot box. As we continue to face this public health crisis, our team at the Division of Elections is working every day with our local, county, state, and federal partners to protect New Jersey voters and our democracy."

The Order specifically requires the following, effective immediately:

Candidates filing petitions for the March 30th deadline shall be able to submit their petitions online, in addition to in person, and the Secretary of State shall create an online form that allows voters to submit their signatures on petitions electronically.

The March 21, 2020 special election in Fire District 1 for the Township of Old Bridge and the March 31, 2020 special elections in the Township of West Amwell and Atlantic City shall be postponed until May 12, 2020, to be held concurrently with the municipal non-partisan elections currently scheduled for that date.

The school board elections scheduled for April 21, 2020 shall also be postponed until May 12, 2020, to be held concurrently with the municipal non-partisan elections currently scheduled for that date.

All elections scheduled for May 12, 2020, both before and after this Order takes effect, shall be conducted solely via vote-by-mail ballots.

Election rules have been modified during prior emergencies, including by Governor Kean in 1982 during a severe winter storm and by the Christie Administration in 2012 in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

Mayor de Blasio and NYC Health + Hospitals Expand Appointment-Only Covid-19 Testing Capacity

Mayor de Blasio Facebookpage Screenshot 

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio and NYC Health + Hospitals today announced expanded, appointment-only COVID-19 testing capacity across 10 acute-care hospitals, seven Gotham Health community-based health centers, and 4 drive-thru test sites.

Citywide, there are 3,615 positive cases of COVID-19 and 22 fatalities. Currently, there are 980 cases in Queens, 976 in Manhattan, 1030 in Brooklyn, 436 in the Bronx, and 165 in Staten Island.

As of 5PM on March 18th, there were 554 people hospitalized with 169 of those people in the ICU.

“If we’re going to curb this epidemic, we need fast and expansive testing for those most at risk for serious illness,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Now we can get more New Yorkers the care they need at the right time—helping save lives, one test at a time.”

The expanded testing capacity—available by appointment only—will help keep people seeking testing out of emergency departments and ensure testing access for New Yorkers with moderate-to-severe symptoms. Those with mild illness, who are not above the age of 50 or have underlying health conditions, should continue to stay home, practice social distancing, and consult their health care provider if their symptoms do not subside in 3-4 days.

Eight of the ten acute care "assessment and testing” centers at NYC Health + Hospitals are now open on an appointment-only basis, including H+H/Bellevue, H+H/Elmhurst, H+H/Harlem, H+H/Metropolitan, H+H/Kings County, H+H/Lincoln, H+H/Woodhull, and H+H/Queens. Assessment and testing centers at H+H/Coney Island and H+H/Jacobi will be live early next week. These tents are similar to those utilized during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. One drive thru testing site, H+H/Jacobi, is currently operational; H+H/Coney Island becomes operational this Friday. Two remaining sites – H+H/Jacobi and H+H/Kings County – will be coming online next week.

Patients with appointments will receive an expedited consultation with a primary care physician to capture their medical history before their sample is collected for testing. This will ensure that the appropriate medical treatment is provided should a test come back positive. Samples collected by NYC Health + Hospitals will be sent to BioReference Laboratory for testing.

With this expansion of assessment and testing centers, H+H anticipates serving 150 people per day at each of its 10 centers and between 50-75 people per day at each of their 7 Gotham clinics by appointment only. The four drive thru sites will be able to accommodate 100 people per day by appointment only at their respective locations in addition to the State-operated mobile drive-thru facility on Staten Island.

New Yorkers who have high priority because of age, pre-existing conditions and symptoms, call 1-844-NYC-4NYC for more information. New Yorkers can continue to call 311 to be assessed for risk for COVID.

On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio announced a private-public partnership between the City’s public health system and BioReference that would increase testing capacity to 5,000 per day, with a one-to-two day turnaround for results. All COVID-19 testing is being provided at no cost. These efforts expand on earlier activation of the public health system’s surge management plan to build capacity.

New Guidance for Workers
The City will continue to urge private sector companies to adopt telecommuting practices.
To prevent further spread of COVID-19 the City will enforce State restrictions mandating that no business have more than 25 percent of their workforce report into the office.

Older New Yorkers with preexisting conditions should stay home as they see necessary. If your employer does not permit telecommuting, please call 311 for assistance.

Keeping Businesses Closed
NYPD, FDNY, DOB, and the Sheriff’s Office will enforce the City’s closure of entertainment venues, including movie theatres, museums, cinemas, clubs, and concert venues, and commercial gyms. The same enforcement actions will apply to the limitations placed on restaurants, bars, cafes, and catering halls to pick up and delivery food service only.

So far, the City has inspected 8,150 businesses and religious institutions and has observed overwhelming compliance. Six violations have been issues.

Update on Healthcare Worker Recruitment
After the announcement of nyc.gov/helpnownyc, over 1,500 medical providers have signed up to aid the City’s response efforts to COVID-19.

Assistance for Section 8 Recipients
In order to ensure New Yorkers who use Section 8 rental assistance vouchers have undisrupted access to housing, we are taking the following steps to strengthen housing stability:

The City will automatically extend any Section 8 voucher set to expire. Voucher holders do not need to reach out to the City for an extension.

All subsidy terminations that are in process are suspended until further notice.

Any HPD Section 8 voucher holders facing rent hardships due to decreases in income should contact HPD.

NYCHA encourages households experiencing a loss of income to visit the NYCHA Self-Service Portal.

The HPD Section 8 Customer Service Office at 100 Gold Street is closed until at least March 30th, but the HPD Section 8 team is still available to the public. New Yorkers should email DTRAI@hpd.nyc.gov or fax at 212-863-5299 for assistance.

Over 680,000 New Yorkers have signed up for the City’s COVID text notification system to get regular updates on the latest developments with coronavirus in New York City text COVID to 692-692.  New Yorkers can text COVIDESP to 692-692 for updates in Spanish. You will receive regular SMS texts with the latest news and developments. If you have any questions on finding medical care call 311.


Governor Cuomo Signs Bill to Guarantee Paid Leave for New Yorkers Under Mandatory or Precautionary Quarantine Due to COVID-19

Gov Cuomo Facebook Page Photo

Governor Cuomo's Statement
18 March 2020

"I just signed into law legislation to provide immediate relief to working New Yorkers whose lives are being turned upside down by COVID-19.

"No one should have to make the impossible choice between losing their job or providing for their family and going to work, especially during this pandemic. We seek to build upon this effort with guaranteed sick leave for all in this year's budget.

"In New York we stand with our workers in sickness and in health."


Pennsylvania Joins New York, New Jersey and Connecticut's Regional Coalition to Combat COVID-19

Gov Cuomo Facebook Page Screenshot

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont on Wednesday announced Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is joining their coalition to implement a regional approach to combatting COVID-19.

The four governors announced indoor portions of retail shopping malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys in the four states will close by 8 PM Thursday - an expansion of the guidance that the three governors from the tri-state area issued Monday.

The guidance issued Monday - which Pennsylvania also adopted - limits crowd capacity for social and recreational gatherings to 50 people. The governors also announced restaurants and bars would close for on premise service and move to take-out and delivery services only. The governors also temporarily closed movie theaters, gyms and casinos.

"We are doing everything we can as states to reduce density and contain the spread of the virus," Governor Cuomo said. "It is critical that we remain on the same page as our neighboring states, and so far we are the only region in the country partnering to create uniform, regional density reduction policies that prevent 'state shopping.' We will continue working together to update our regulations and guidance as the situation evolves while keeping a consistent standard across the region."

Governor Murphy said, "Given the population density of the Northeast, a coordinated response effort to encourage social distancing benefits all of our residents and strengthens our greater regional preparedness. By working together to identify and enact these measures, we can potentially slow the spread of coronavirus and save thousands of lives."

Governor Lamont said, "This is a fast moving and quickly evolving public health emergency, and making these kinds of important decisions as a region makes more sense than a patchwork approach. We will combat this virus by working together and remaining consistent across our borders and I'm proud to work with my fellow governors in this effort."

Governor Wolf said, "Pennsylvania is working aggressively to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. A regional approach to this threat is smart, and I am grateful for all of the work by my colleagues in neighboring states. Joining these leaders will help Pennsylvania mitigate the spread of COVID-19 with a coordinated approach."

Businesses and individuals in Pennsylvania should continue to refer to the Wolf administration's existing guidance for detailed closure information and other recommendations.

Philippines Under State of Calamity Due to Coronavirus

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Malacañan Palace on March 16, 2020. KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has placed the entire Philippines under state of calamity for six months in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), which at present, has infected more than 200 people.

Under Proclamation No. 929 signed by President Duterte Monday, the Chief Executive mandated all government agencies and local government units (LGUs) to render full assistance and cooperation with each other and to mobilize the necessary resources to eliminate the threat posed by COVID-19.

All law enforcement agencies, with the support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), are directed to implement measures to ensure peace and order in affected areas.

The President also directed the executive and health secretaries and all other department heads to issue guidelines governing the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine throughout Luzon that he announced on Monday.

President Duterte imposed the enhanced community quarantine throughout Luzon to contain COVID-19 after a similar measure imposed in Metro Manila last week failed to limit public activities and encourage people to stay home.

The President’s proclamation enables LGUs to utilize their quick response fund (QRF) for disaster preparedness to halt the contagion and provide basic services to affected population.

The government has raised the Code Alert System for COVID-19 to Code Red Sublevel 2 based on the recommendation of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

World Health Organization | COVID-19 advice for the public: Myth busters | Is wearing rubber gloves while out in the public effective in preventing the new coronavirus infection?


Is wearing rubber gloves while out in the public effective in preventing the new coronavirus infection?

No. Regularly washing your bare hands offers more protection against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.

You can still pick up COVID-19 contamination on rubber gloves. If you then touch your face, the contamination goes from your glove to your face and can infect you.



Mayor De Blasio, NYC Health + Hospitals And Bioreference Laboratories Announce Expanded Capacity To Allow 5,000 Daily COVID-19 Tests

Mayor de Blasio Facebook Page Screenshot

NEW YORK – Mayor de Blasio announced today that beginning Thursday, March 19th, NYC Health + Hospitals will expand their COVID-19 testing capacity by 5,000 tests per day through a partnership with OPKO Health's BioReference Laboratories. Under the agreement reached last night, NYC Health + Hospitals will begin sending tests to BioReference by Thursday. Results will be produced within 1-2 days, halving the current pace of turnaround from private reference labs.

"This expanded testing for H+H is critical to protecting the New Yorkers most at risk in this epidemic, especially people with chronic health conditions," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "The new partnership between H+H and BioReference will get us the increased testing and faster results helping save lives."

"In support of the public health system as they provide healthcare to vulnerable and at-risk populations, BioReference is committed to prioritizing hospital patients suspected of COVID-19 infections and aid front-line physicians and healthcare providers to quickly and efficiently diagnose patients," said Jon R. Cohen, M.D., Executive Chairman of BioReference Laboratories. "In addition to the drive-through facilities, this collaboration is yet another example of how the private sector can assist with government agencies to help combat this epidemic."

Testing will be prioritized for those with serious illness at hospitals and health care facilities across NYC Health + Hospitals, frontline health care personnel and first responders. Those with mild illness should continue to stay home, practice social distancing, and consult their health care provider if their symptoms do not subside in 3-4 days.

Today, NYC Emergency Management sent Wireless Emergency Alerts to every cell phone in New York City in English and Spanish, asking every New Yorker to text COVID or COVIDESP (for Spanish alerts) to 692-692 to receive the latest developments around COVID-19 and City services and resources.

The City is also making robocalls to vulnerable New Yorkers who may not have cell phones, including seniors, NYCHA residents and others.

Ban on Pool Rides in For-Hire Vehicles
To protect the safety of drivers and passengers, the Mayor signed an Executive Order temporarily banning pooled rides in TLC-licensed high volume (Uber, Lyft, and Via) for-hire vehicles. This ban will not apply to paratransit vehicles.

Alternate Side Parking
Effective tomorrow, Alternate Side Parking (ASP) citywide will be suspended for one week, which may be extended based on street cleanliness and workforce availability. Any New Yorker under isolation who has received a ticket can appeal to the Department of Finance and should provide medical documentation or testimony, which will be taken into consideration when their case is reviewed. For additional questions call 311.

Medical Reserve Corps
The City will mobilize the NYC Medical Reserve Corps, a group of over 9,000 healthcare workers who volunteer to support NYC in emergency response. This includes physicians, nurses, mental health professionals, social workers, and many others, both retired and currently working in the health care system.

Emergency Services
Under the current State of Emergency, Agency Commissioners can ask nonprofit vendors with health and human service contracts to perform services in response to COVID-19. The City will also designate its health and service nonprofit workforce – an estimated 40,000 employees – as essential workers.

Tax Updates for Business Owners
Businesses should pay their taxes on time.

For any businesses, experiencing hardships directly related to COVID-19, the Mayor has directed the Commissioner of Finance to waive penalties.

Emergency Executive Order
Yesterday, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an Emergency Executive Order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep New Yorkers safe. The Order will require all hospitals and ambulatory service centers, at their discretion, to cancel elective surgeries. Combined with discharging patients early and creating additional capacity, the City will increase available hospital beds by 7,000 citywide.

The Mayor's Executive Order, signed yesterday, will:

Suspend all elective surgeries at all hospitals and ambulatory service centers across the city within 96 hours. Hospitals will retain the discretion to determine what is elective/ non-elective based on patient risk.

Suspend local procurement laws to make it easier for the City to obtain emergency goods and services.

Postpone the Queens Borough president election to a date later this year. Any vote cast early or by absentee ballot will not count and voting will start over.

Suspend the requirement that the Council meet twice per month and extend the Council's requirement to publish preliminary budget findings past the current deadline of March 25th.

Suspend the timeline for public hearings, application submissions, and City Council approvals and voting for the duration of the emergency.

Limit restaurants, bars, cafes, and catering halls to pick up and delivery food service only, effective Monday, March 16 at 8 PM.

Enforce the closure of all entertainment venues, including movie theatres, museums, cinemas, clubs, and concert venues, effective Monday, March 16th at 8:00 PM.

Close commercial gyms, effective Monday, March 16th at 8:00 PM.

Close all publicly and privately owned senior centers. Centers will continue to operate to the extent necessary to prepare and distribute meals to older New Yorkers.

The Department of Correction will suspend in-person visitation beginning Wednesday, March 18th. For the first time, the City is also working to implement a televisit initiative that will allow people contacting detainees the convenience of using their own personal PC or mobile device to complete the teleconference.

Hospital Capacity
The City will create approximately 1,300 hospital beds through the conversion of four buildings into temporary hospital space. These include the NYC Health + Hospitals/ Coler on Roosevelt Island, which will bring an additional 350 beds online by the end of the week. Additional facilities include a nursing home facility in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn (600) beds, and Westchester Square Hospital in the Bronx (150), and North Central Bronx Hospital (120).

The City will also take over space in five small hotels, freeing up 250 hotel rooms to be converted into hospital facilities. Eleven tents have also been purchased to be converted into temporary facilities, and the City has placed an order for an additional 10-20 tents, as well.

Drive-Thru Testing Sites.
Through a partnership with FEMA, the City will establish five drive-thru testing sites across all five boroughs.

Price Gouging
The Emergency Rule, effective yesterday, bans any price increase of 10 percent or more on personal and household goods and services that aid in diagnosing or monitoring disease symptoms, preventing the spread of disease, or treating disease. These goods include:

Thermometers

Sanitizing or baby wipes

Paper towels

Latex gloves

Face masks

Fever reducers

Cough suppressants

Aloe Vera

Zinc oxide supplements

Facial tissue

Toilet Paper

Rubbing Alcohol

This follows DCWP's previous declaration that facemasks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes are in short supply and expands the Agency's ability to protect New Yorkers from price gouging.

The Rule lasts 60 days, and can be renewed once for an additional 60 days. After 60 days, DCA must start the normal rulemaking process for the rule to remain in effect. Businesses caught violating the rule can incur a fine.

Deferring Non-Emergency Water Repairs
To ensure uninterrupted water service during the City's State of Emergency, DEP is suspending water service shut-offs, water main shutdowns, and water meter replacements until further notice. Emergency repairs will continue as needed.

Update from the Department of Education
The deadline to submit pre-K applications has been extended to March 29th. Families can apply both online, 24 hours a day, via MySchools or via phone at 718-935-2009 between the hours of 8:00 AM-6:00 PM Monday-Friday. Additional questions about applications should be directed to the above phone line or to ESEnrollment@schools.nyc.gov.

Update on the City's Evictions Moratorium
The City remains focused on preventing the displacement of New Yorkers facing sudden financial hardship due to COVID-19. With State Courts now closed for business, tenants do not have to worry about attending in-person appointments or appearances related to evictions at this time. The temporary moratorium on evictions in New York City will continue indefinitely, suspending the issuance of new eviction warrants.

Update from the Department of Buildings
Over the weekend, the Department of Buildings sent an industry-wide notification to contractors and construction professionals in New York City, advising them to take all necessary precautions on construction sites to protect their workers and the public, and special care in following DOHMH guidance to limit the spread of COVID-19.

In the event a construction site is closed down by contractors for a prolonged period of time due to illness, cleaning, or merely as a precaution, contractors should first inform the Department by sending an email to COVID-19@buildings.nyc.gov, and take appropriate measures to properly secure the site. Construction sites closed for a prolonged period of time can themselves pose a hazard if proper maintenance is ignored.

Nearly 400,000 New Yorkers have signed up for the City's COVID text notification system to get regular updates on the latest developments with coronavirus in New York City text COVID to 692-692. New Yorkers can text COVIDESP to 692-692 for updates in Spanish. You will receive regular SMS texts with the latest news and developments. If you have any questions on finding medical care call 311.


Monday, March 16, 2020

White House: Coronavirus Guidelines for America; 15 Days to Slow the Spread

whitehouse.gov photo

This afternoon, President Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force issued new guidelines to help protect Americans during the global Coronavirus outbreak.

The new recommendations are simple to follow but will have a resounding impact on public health. While the President leads a nationwide response, bringing together government resources and private-sector ingenuity, every American can help slow the virus’ spread and keep our most high-risk populations safe:

Listen to and follow the directions of your state and local authorities.

If you feel sick, stay home. Do not go to work. Contact your medical provider.

If your children are sick, keep them at home. Contact your medical provider.

If someone in your household has tested positive for the Coronavirus, keep the entire household at home.

If you are an older American, stay home and away from other people.

If you are a person with a serious underlying health condition—such as a significant heart or lung problem—stay home and away from other people.


Today’s guidelines build on the CDC’s general recommendations to help prevent spread of the virus. Americans should continue practicing strict personal hygiene, including washing hands regularly for at least 20 seconds at a time and wiping down surfaces in the home often.

Even if you are young and otherwise healthy, you are at risk—and your activities can increase the risk of contracting the Coronavirus for others. Everyone can do their part.

There’s no better way to protect your family and your community than by arming yourself with accurate, up-to-date information.



Download Coronavirus Guidelines for America

World Health Organization | COVID-19 advice for the public: Myth busters | COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates


COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates

From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19.

The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

BREAKING: Statement from Mayor Bill de Blasio on restaurants, bars and entertainment venues


Statement from Mayor Bill de Blasio on restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.

"Our lives are all changing in ways that were unimaginable just a week ago. We are taking a series of actions that we never would have taken otherwise in an effort to save the lives of loved ones and our neighbors. Now it is time to take yet another drastic step. The virus can spread rapidly through the close interactions New Yorkers have in restaurants, bars and places where we sit close together. We have to break that cycle.

Tomorrow, I will sign an Executive Order limiting restaurants, bars and cafes to food take-out and delivery. Nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses, and concert venues must all close. The order will go into effect Tuesday, March 17 at 9:00 AM.

This is not a decision I make lightly. These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker. But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality.

We will come through this, but until we do, we must make whatever sacrifices
necessary to help our fellow New Yorkers."

NYC Public Schools will close Monday, March 16 thru April 20

Mayor de Blasio Facebook Page Screenshot

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza today announced the City will move towards a new Remote Learning Model for all school days until Spring Recess. Students will not report to school buildings for instruction during this time. School buildings are scheduled to reopen to students following Spring Recess on Monday, April 20, 2020.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Tomorrow, March 16, there will be a one-day full system closure, however breakfast and lunch will be available at every building through grab-and-go meals.

For the remainder of this week, teachers and administrators will participate in professional development on remote learning, and students will begin picking up materials for continued instruction.

The schedule, as we move to remote learning, is as follows:

Monday, March 16: Citywide closure. Students, teachers, and principals do not report. 

Tuesday, March 17: Thursday, March 19: All staff reports. Teachers and principals participate in professional development on remote learning.

Thursday, March 19-Friday, March 20: Students who need it will be able to begin process of picking up the technology necessary for remote learning. More guidance to families will be sent this week.

Monday, March 23: Remote learning launches, with additional guidance provided throughout the week of the 23.

Monday, March 23

Effective Monday, March 23, Regional Enrichment Centers will be available for the children of first responders, healthcare workers, and our most vulnerable populations, with more details to follow.

Additionally, remote learning will go into effect for grades K-12. DOE will support schools at all levels of readiness to deliver remote learning, and more information will be provided to families about online platforms.

Learn at Home

Get DOE-specific Learn at Home  instructional resources in English for students in grades Pre-K through 12, including for diverse learning and students with disabilities (coming Monday, March 16, 2020). 


World Health Organization | COVID-19 advice for the public: Myth busters | Are hand dryers effective in killing the new coronavirus?


Are hand dryers effective in killing the new coronavirus?

No. Hand dryers are not effective in killing COVID-19. To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.

Met to launch “Nightly Met Opera Streams,” a free series of encore Live in HD presentations streamed on the company website during the coronavirus closure

Photo by Jonathan Tichler/ Met Opera

New York — After canceling upcoming performances due to concerns around the coronavirus, the Metropolitan Opera announced that it would stream encore presentations from the award-winning Live in HD series of cinema transmissions on the company website for the duration of the closure. The new offering will begin on Monday, March 16 with the 2010 HD performance of Bizet’s Carmen, conducted by Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and starring Elīna Garanča in the title role and Roberto Alagna as Don José.

       All “Nightly Met Opera Streams” will begin at 7:30pm and will remain available via the homepage of metopera.org for 20 hours. The homepage link will open the performance on the Met Opera on Demand streaming service. The performance will also  be viewable on all Met Opera on Demand apps.

       “We’d like to provide some grand opera solace to opera lovers in these extraordinarily difficult times,” said Met General Manager Peter Gelb. “Every night, we’ll be offering a different complete operatic gem from our collection of HD presentations from the past 14 years.”

       Here is the schedule for the first week of streams:

Monday, March 16 – Bizet’s Carmen

Conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, starring Elīna Garanča and Roberto Alagna. Transmitted live on January 16, 2010.

Tuesday, March 17 – Puccini’s La Bohème

Conducted by Nicola Luisotti, starring Angela Gheorghiu and Ramón Vargas. Transmitted live on April 5, 2008.

Wednesday, March 18 – Verdi’s Il Trovatore

Conducted by Marco Armiliato, starring Anna Netrebko, Dolora Zajick, Yonghoon Lee, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Transmitted live on October 3, 2015.

Thursday, March 19 – Verdi’s La Traviata

Conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, starring Diana Damrau, Juan Diego Flórez, and Quinn Kelsey. Transmitted live on December 15, 2018.

Friday, March 20 – Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment

Conducted by Marco Armiliato, starring Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez. Transmitted live on April 26, 2008.

Saturday, March 21 – Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor

Conducted by Marco Armiliato, starring Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczała, and Mariusz Kwiecien. Transmitted live on February 7, 2009.

Sunday, March 22 – Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin

Conducted by Valery Gergiev, starring Renée Fleming, Ramón Vargas, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Transmitted live on February 24, 2007.

Bishop DiMarzio Cancels all public Catholic masses in Brooklyn and Queens amid Covid-19 concerns

Diocese of Brooklyn Facebook Page Photo

New York - Given the continuing and growing concern about the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Bishop DiMarzio has determined that all public masses be canceled in the Diocese of Brooklyn beginning Monday, March 16th, until further notice. This includes weekday masses as well as Sunday.

Funerals and Weddings will be permitted but should be limited to family members only. Confirmations should be celebrated with the Rite of Confirmation without Mass if need be, and in consultation with the Bishop scheduled to celebrate the Confirmation.

The faithful of the diocese are reminded that the Bishop has already issued a dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday. The obligation to keep the Lord’s Day holy can be fulfilled by maintaining a prayerful attitude and through personal and family prayer.

The faithful are urged to watch the celebration of the Eucharist on TV, as well.

The celebrations are scheduled as follows:

Saturday at 6 pm: Vigil pre-recorded from Immaculate Conception in Jamaica (English)

Sunday at 11 am: Live from St. James Cathedral in Downtown Brooklyn (English)

Sunday at 1:30 pm: Pre-recorded from Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights (Spanish)

NET-TV can be seen in the New York City area on Spectrum (Channel 97), Optimum (Channel 30) and FIOS (Channel 48). Viewers can also tune in online at www.netny.tv.

In light of the continuing crisis, the situation is being monitored carefully and updates will follow. Let us continue to pray, especially through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, for those who are sick, for medical personnel and for all people who confront this challenge.

World Health Organization | COVID-19 advice for the public: Myth busters | Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronavirus


Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronavirus.

There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases. The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather.

The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.


Governor Cuomo Confirms 69 Additional Covid-19 Cases in New York, Statewide Total to 729; Calls on President Trump to Take Comprehensive Federal Action Now

Gov Cuomo Facebook Page Screenshot

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today called on President Trump to take comprehensive federal action to combat the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, including developing an aggressive national strategy for testing, school closures and hospital surge capacity.

In an open letter to President Trump, the Governor urged Trump to deploy the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to leverage its expertise, equipment and people power to retrofit and equip existing facilities - such as military bases or college dormitories - to serve as temporary medical centers. The Governor called on the President, through the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to authorize states to certify a wider array of testing labs and methods in an effort to maximize testing capacity to identify and isolate positive cases faster. The Governor also called for a uniform federal standard for when cities and states should shut down commerce and schools, or cancel events.

The Governor directed nonessential State employees in Rockland, Westchester, NYC, Suffolk, Nassau - current hotspot areas - to work from home for two weeks. The Governor also directed DMV to move to appointment only to limit person to person contact and revert to regular hours rather than the extended hours the state implemented in recent weeks to help reduce lines.

Gov Cuomo Facebook Page Screenshot

Governor Cuomo asked Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to develop a plan to reduce density in the court system, including limiting nonessential proceedings, without disrupting criminal justice system. The Governor also tasked SUNY Empire State College President Jim Malatras with working with counties to develop contingency plans in preparation for school closings, including how to provide meals to food insecure children and ensuring families have adequate access to childcare.

"Our goal is to slow the spread of the virus to a rate that the healthcare system can manage, and we're doing that through aggressive testing and strong social distancing protocols. But the anticipated wave of new cases threatens to crash our healthcare system, and we need national action from the federal government to address the quickly-evolving situation now," Governor Cuomo said. "In short, the Trump administration needs to localize testing, federalize shutdowns and task the Army Corps of Engineers to expand hospital capacity. While again I want to remind people that the facts do not warrant the level of anxiety that is out there, we will continue working closely with every level of government to mitigate the impact of this virus and protect the public health."

Gov Cuomo Facebook Page Screenshot

Finally, the Governor also confirmed 69 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 729 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 729 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

Albany County: 8 (3 new)                   

Broome County: 1

Delaware County: 1

Dutchess County: 7 (3 new)

Erie County: 3

Greene County: 2 (2 new)

Herkimer County: 1

Monroe County: 2

Montgomery County: 1 (1 new)

Nassau County: 98 (5 new)

New York City: 329 (29 new)

Orange County: 6

Putnam County: 2 (2 new)

Rockland County: 13

Saratoga County: 3

Schenectady County: 2

Suffolk County: 47 (6 new)

Tioga County: 1

Tompkins County: 1

Ulster County: 5

Westchester County: 196 (18 new)

World Health Organization | COVID-19 advice for the public: Myth busters | The new coronavirus CANNOT be transmitted through mosquito bites


The new coronavirus CANNOT be transmitted through mosquito bites.

To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.

To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.

DFA to Bring Home Filipinos Aboard the MV Grand Princess

DFA Facebook Page Photo

PASAY CITY – A total of 444 Filipinos (438 crew members and 6 passengers) of the MV Grand Princess docked in the Port of Oakland in California, USA are set to be repatriated by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on 15 March 2020 (14 March 2020 Pacific Time).

The Filipinos to be brought home are expected to arrive at the Haribon Hangar in Clark Airbase, Pampanga.

The repatriates underwent health screening upon disembarkation facilitated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


DFA Facebook Page Photo

Upon arrival, the group shall be immediately transported on chartered buses and shall be subjected to 14-day quarantine period at the Athletes' Village in New Clark City under the full medical attention of health professionals from the Department of Health (DOH).

Meanwhile, the 91 Filipino crew members volunteered to remain onboard the ship to comprise the Minimum Safe Manning and Minimum Operational Manning teams.

The DFA through the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco is finalizing details regarding the repatriation of the 444 Filipinos onboard the ship.

DFA Facebook Page Photo

The repatriation preparations undertaken by the DFA include securing clearances and permits for disembarkation, as well as land transfer to the chartered plane.

The DFA ensured that the repatriates will be well taken care of from disembarkation until their safe arrival in the Philippines.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Ma-Yi Theater Company Suspends Performances of Haruna Lee’s 'Suicide Forest'

Photo by Richard Termine

New York - Following yesterday’s March 12 performance, Ma-Yi Theater Company has suspended performances of Haruna Lee’s Suicide Forest. This proactive measurement has been taken in response to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in the Tri-State area. Ma-Yi values the health and wellbeing of its audiences, artists, and staff, and believes this suspension of performances is the best course of action for their community and stakeholders. Ma-Yi is following the lead of city, state, and federal elected officials as well as the recommendations of the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Ma-Yi is deeply committed to its core values, especially during difficult periods. Therefore all individuals involved with the production will continue to be paid through the previously announced closing of March 21.

While ticket refunds are available, Ma-Yi is hopeful that audiences will donate the cost of their ticket to help support its artists and staff. Tickets to Suicide Forest may also be exchanged for a future performance this season or in the 2020-2021 season. More information can be found at ma-yitheatre.org

Directed by Aya Ogawa, Suicide Forest is a bilingual nightmare play excavating the Japanese-American consciousness and its intimate relationship with sex, suicide, and identity. Declared a “Best of 2019” production by New York Magazine and a critic’s pick by The New York Times and Time Out New York, the encore engagement of Suicide Forest opened on March 3 following a limited run at The Bushwick Starr in 2019.

Founded in 1989 and now celebrating its 30th season, Ma-Yi Theater Company is a Drama Desk, Lortel, and Obie Award-winning, Off-Broadway not-for-profit organization whose primary mission is to develop and produce new and innovative plays by Asian American writers. Since its founding, Ma-Yi has distinguished itself as one of the country’s leading incubators of new work shaping the national discourse about what it means to be Asian American today.