MBP Harlem/Uptown News: Gale Brewer’s Weekly Newsletter

October 23, 2021

Here’s this week’s curated MBP Harlem/Uptown News: Gale Brewer’s Weekly Newsletter she sends every week.

New York City’s COVID positivity rate is now 1.66%, down from 1.97% last week. Those interested in diving more deeply into local COVID statistics can check the NYC Dept. of Health website or thecity.nyc’s COVID tracker. If you’re not yet vaccinated, find a vaccine site– including for boosters– here.

Mayor de Blasio has (finally) issued an order to require vaccinations of all municipal workers (beyond the school employees and health care workers already mandated). This will apply to about 160,000 people, including NYPD and FDNY employees, who will need to submit their vaccine card by Friday (10/29) at 5 pm. The fine print includes paying $500 to those who get vaccinated at City-run clinics; the municipal unions have called for this mandate to be negotiated under labor contracts.

UPDATE: Booster shots are newly available for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients– Pfizer boosters have been available since September; find a vaccine site here. Thursday night (10/21), CDC Director Rochelle Walensky gave the final sign-off for both boosters. Moderna recipients can get a Moderna booster six months after their second shot (see eligibility based on age, immunocompromised status, and occupation here). J&J boosters are allowed for anyone 18+ two months after their first J&J shot. Walensky also gave the go-ahead for “mix and match” for the boosters, saying that it’s acceptable to get boosted with a different brand of vaccine than their initial shot(s).

NEXT week (10/26) that FDA committee will meet to consider policy on approving vaccines for emergency use for children ages 5–11; they’ll then send a recommendation to the CDC. The White House is preparing for CDC approval of child vaccines in November. The government has already bought enough child vaccines to inoculate the 28 million children in that age group (the vaccine comes in smaller vials and uses smaller needles) and will rely on pediatricians, pharmacies, and school and rural health clinics to distribute and administer them.

Did you know that one measurable barrier to vaccine acceptance is fear of needles? I didn’t until I read Zeynep Tufekci’s column this week. (I guess this means every time TV news shows a video of someone getting a shot, some people cringe.)

New Info

The FDA has proposed a rule that will, hopefully, lead to more affordable hearing aids for millions with mild-to-moderate hearing loss, an estimated 38 million Americans, by creating a new category of over-the-counter hearing aids.

This is a common-sense reform of current regulations that are over 40 years old (long before the days of headphones and earbuds), which grant only licensed providers permission to sell hearing aids, which require a prescription, audiologist tests, and fittings that increase the cost to several thousand dollars. (That’s probably why hearing aids are not typically covered by Medicare)

This new regulation could improve a lot of lives by reducing what are called “barriers to entry” that include cost, easy availability, and the shame that some people of a certain age have when it comes to hearing loss. And opening up a large consumer market like this means manufacturers will compete and reduce even the current several-hundred-dollar cost.

Congress authorized over-the-counter hearing aids in 2017, after a scientific advisory committee in the Obama administration recommended the change in 2015. Here we are in the last quarter of 2021, and the FDA is now addressing this long overdue reform.

Learn more here, and follow the links on that page to comment on the FDA’s proposed rule change by 1/18/2022.

The Grand Central NYPL branch (135 E. 46th St.) has reopened for browsing and computer use, Monday from 11 am – 6 pm and Tuesday–Friday from 10 am – 5 pm.

East Harlem residents have until this Monday (10/25) to fill out the Center for Comprehensive Health Practice’s stakeholder survey so that CCHP can better meet the community’s needs. Complete the survey here.


This is the final weekend to check out free NYC Artist Corps events, performances, and programs (it ends Sunday, 10/24). See the schedule here.

Today (10/23) at 10 am, plant daffodil bulbs at and help clean the south end of the mall at 138th St. with the Broadway Mall Association, part of New Yorkers for Parks’ Daffodil Project. Register here.

Monday (10/25) from 10 am – 2 pm is a resource fair about infant safe sleep practices in the Union Settlement Community Garden (237 E. 104th St.), hosted by East Harlem Community Partnership and the NYC Administration for Children’s Services.

Wednesday (10/27) is Assemblymember Robert Rodriguez’s annual senior summit. From 9 am – 1 pm, visit the Union Settlement Community Garden (237 E. 104th St.) for a resource fair. Then from 2–4:30 pm, the summit goes virtual with online workshops about COVID, vaccines, elder abuse, safety, and mental health. Join the Zoom here.

Thursday (10/28) from 4:30–7 pm is a superhero-themed costume parade starting at 119th St. (btwn Park–Lexington Ave.), hosted by the NYPD 25th Community Precinct Council.

Thursday (10/28) at 6 pm, NYPD PSA 5 hosts a community discussion about public safety, quality-of-life concerns, and community-police relations at the PSA 5 precinct (221 E. 123rd St.). PSA 5 covers NYCHA developments in East Harlem and South Central Harlem.

As always, get in touch if you have a problem or concern we can help address: 212-669-8300 or info@manhattanbp.nyc.gov.

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