NYC removes 2,000 trash cans in preparation for more unrest

City officials have pulled public trash cans out of neighborhoods hit by unrest or that they suspect will be targeted by looters as the Big Apple faces its sixth day of unrest following the tragic killing of George Floyd.

That’s nearly nine percent of the 23,000 Department of Sanitation trash cans that dot street corners across the five boroughs.

They were removed from neighborhoods that have seen protests or where unrest is anticipated, officials said.

“Removing baskets is standard practice during some large events like New Year’s Eve celebrations, parades, and the like,” added Sanitation spokesman Joshua Goodman.

He said the cans will be returned in the coming days.

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Coronavirus-hammered NYC on track to reopen June 8

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City is “on track” to enter phase one of reopening on June 8, New York Governor Cuomo said on Friday as he announced that five upstate regions will now transition to phase two which includes businesses like barber shops and hair salons.

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The most populous U.S. city, which has become the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus pandemic, was on track to meet the metrics for a safe reopening, Cuomo said.

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“We are on track to open on June 8,” Cuomo told a daily briefing but warned that “reopening does not mean we’re going back to the way things were.”

The first phase of reopening would allow non-essential construction and manufacturing to resume, and non-essential retail stores to offer curbside pick-up.

Cuomo said he expected some 400,000 New Yorkers to be able to return to their workplaces starting June 8, and said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) was working on a plan to make the city’s mass transit system safe for commuters.

“I understand why people would be anxious about taking public transit,” Cuomo said. “The public transit system will be safe.”

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New York City is the only one of the state’s 10 regions that has not met the seven health benchmarks for reopening set by state authorities.

The Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier, North Country and Central New York are the five regions cleared to enter phase two and allow services like barber shops and in-store shopping to resume, with restrictions like 50% occupancy and face coverings.

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Cuomo also recommended that professionals in the phase two industries get tested before operations resume.

“That’s not a mandate that’s a recommendation, and we recommend to customers to ask the barber or professional in the hair salon if they had a test before you use their services,” he said.

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NYC landlord says 80% of retail tenants SKIPPED April and May rent as some choose not to pay amid coronavirus lockdown – The Sun

A NEW York City landlord has said that 80 percent of retail tenants skipped their April and May rent payments amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Residents are also leaving their apartments and breaking leases during the crisis – with most young people returning to their parents' houses.

During an earning call with Vornado Realty Trust, one of the city’s biggest commercial landlords, Chief Executive Steven Roth said that roughly 80 percent of its retail tenants did not pay rent at the beginning of April and May, the New York Times reported.

However, among the company's office tenants, roughly 60 percent were able to pay their rent, Roth confirmed.

And by the end of April, 90 percent of its office rent had been paid.

The decisions made by both residents and businesses can cause a knock-on effect for landlords, who will struggle to pay their tax bills on July 1.

This will result in an overall loss of tax revenues for the city and the state.

In April, the Empire State collected $78.5million in tax revenue on the sale of commercial and residential properties.

However, just one month prior the state collected $217.5million, according to a report by the Real Estate Board of New York, or REBNY, a trade group.

"This dramatic loss in tax revenue is alarming," said REBNY president James Whelan in a statement.

"The real estate sector is the city’s economic engine.

"The pandemic has caused that engine to stall and we should expect such alarming trends to carry through May and June in the best-case scenario."

Jay Martin, Executive Director for the Community Housing Improvement Project, told Real Estate Weekly: "There are hundreds of buildings in New York City operating at a loss because of COVID-19, and many of them will not be able to survive another month without help.

"If officials do not immediately target relief to lower-income renters and small owners who have mounting monthly expenses, they will not be able to reverse the damage this crisis will have on our city."

He continued: "Unless the federal government steps in to help renters and owners in a big way, we are going to see a housing disaster the likes of which we have never seen.

"Congress must provide financial aid directly to renters and the state must match that with property tax relief for owners or in weeks, not months, we will see buildings going under."

The Times reported that only 1,660 residential properties were sold in April – which is half of the sales from this time last year.

However, sales are expected to remain stagnant as real estate brokers are not allowed to show homes in person to potential buyers until the coronavirus lockdown is over.

Many New Yorkers have been protesting rent payments during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday, protesters from Housing Justice for All in New York showed up to Governor Andrew Cuomo's Albany mansion and posted a banner on his fence that read "Cancel Rent," Refinery29 reported.

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NYC parents should brace for school system upheaval in September: De Blasio

Exasperated city parents yearning of a return to conventional school-based instruction in the fall should think again.

In separate appearances, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Education Chancellor Richard Carranza confirmed Tuesday that reopening the nation’s largest school system could require a series of drastic and disruptive measures — including the installation of partitions, continued remote-learning, and staggered classes.

“We’re going to look at any and all options, of course something like staggered hours or a hybrid approach will be considered,” de Blasio said at a press conference. “My goal is to return us to the normal school day with a full functioning of schools as quickly as possible.”

Teachers union chief Michael Mulgrew has previously said that he expects some form of remote learning and staggered classes in September to enable social distancing in crowded city schools.

“It’s way too early to know which it will be,” de Blasio said. “We’ll have scenarios and planning for multiple eventualities.”

Carranza was more direct at a simultaneous City Council hearing Tuesday.

“We know that in September we will probably have to be doing social distancing,” he said. “In the very compact environment that are the schools in New York City,  what is that going to look like? So do we need to do additional partitions, do we need to install certain things, what will that look like to be able to meet health guidelines? We don’t know yet.”

Carranza later expanded on what parents, students, teachers and administrators might want to brace for in a few short months.

“I’m not saying this is going to happen but I want to give you a taste of what it might look like,” he said. “Do we then bring all students back at the same time or do we have a phased approach?”

Carranza broached a possible “cohort” model that would have part of a given class stay home and learn remotely while their classmates learn in school. The groups would then alternate in order to lower daily class size to enable social distancing.

The chancellor said the DOE was also exploring a “shift” model that would split classes up into morning and afternoon segments.

“All of them have real and serious benefits and serious serious downsides,” he said. “But we are trying to be prepared in all of the models that we’re putting forward based on what the medical advice would eventually look like.”

Add to these sobering scenarios the possibility that kids will be subjected to regular temperature and COVID-19 tests before being allowed to regularly attend class.

The UFT, which has been hit hard with coronavirus deaths and illnesses, has demanded numerous safety guarantees before members would return to school buildings.

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NYC mapping coronavirus genome to help track future outbreaks

NEW YORK – Scientists at New York City’s health department have begun to analyze the novel coronavirus’s genetic material to allow them to trace the origins of any future outbreaks in the coming months as they cautiously look to reopen the largely shuttered city.

Their work joins similar efforts at scores of institutions around the world, which have been sequencing the genomes of virus samples and pooling their findings in an online global database, allowing researchers to observe subtle differences between samples to track the outbreak’s spread.

Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city’s health commissioner, told Reuters during a tour this week of the Public Health Laboratory in Manhattan that genome sequencing could help blunt any second wave of infections later in the year.

“We can use that fingerprint information to understand if those additional infections are due to infections that were still here in the city or if they’ve been imported from someplace else,” she said in an interview, wearing a floral-patterned cloth mask over her nose and mouth.

On the laboratory’s ninth floor, scientists in blue protective gear and face shields are working on the sequencing in cramped rooms, the doors to which are plastered with hazard warnings and rules on safety precautions.

Colleagues on other floors run diagnostic tests for COVID-19, the potentially lethal respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, on samples sent over from city hospitals without their own testing facilities.

Showerheads are embedded in the ceilings of the building’s drab corridors and can be activated with the yank of a cord if a worker fears they have been contaminated by whatever they are studying.

The genome of the novel coronavirus consists of a single, short strand of ribonucleic acid, or RNA, a distinctive sequence of genetic base molecules, sometimes described by letters, that the virus uses to hijack its host’s cellular machinery and make copies of itself.

Only four different kinds of letters make up a string of RNA, referred to by geneticists as c, u, a and g. The novel coronavirus genome is about 30,000 letters long, tiny compared with the 3 billion letters that make up the DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, of the human genome.

As the virus replicates itself inside its host, it can make tiny transcription errors, altering its genetic signature. These mutations, which can be passed along in subsequent infections, can be detected in samples taken from patients to create a sort of genetic family tree.

Across First Avenue from the Public Health Laboratory, scientists at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine who sequenced samples of the virus deduced that the variant of the virus dominating in New York City – the heart of one the deadliest outbreaks in the world – arrived via Europe.

“It’s sort of like doing detective work,” Adriana Heguy, one of the New York University researchers, said in an interview.

She has been sharing her results with colleagues around the world via the Germany-based GISAID database, which was created to track the ebb and flow of influenza viruses. “You can find your chain of transmission by doing this,” she said.

Health officials can use this knowledge to determine which measures are more effective than others and where their points of vulnerability may lie.

While most mutations are trivial and do not affect the virus’s behavior, Heguy and other researchers are also working to amass enough samples to see if there are any clinical differences seen in different variants of the virus and their work may help design a vaccine that offers the broadest possible protection.

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NYC coronavirus cases reach nearly 130,000, death toll at 8,811

Nearly 130,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus have now been documented in the five boroughs of New York, city statistics revealed on Sunday.

An additional 3,420 diagnoses were made between 2 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, raising the total number to 129,788 — up from 126,368.

The tally of confirmed coronavirus fatalities, meanwhile, rose to 8,811, while the number of “probable” deaths attributed to the disease hit 4,429, with respective increases of 363 and 165.

Combined, the two figures now stand at a staggering 13,240 New Yorkers.

The total number of patients hospitalized in the five boroughs is now approximately 34,602, according to City Hall.

The Big Apple stats suggest a trend similar to that revealed by state figures released earlier Sunday, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that New York is “past the high point” — but risks a relapse without diligence.

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