Queens To Hold Virtual Interfaith Vigil
Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee, in partnership with faith leaders and elected officials today, will hold a Queens Virtual Interfaith Vigil for the thousands of lives lost in the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for the frontline and essential workers upon whom the borough relies.
The event will be held in conjunction with U.S. Representatives Gregory Meeks and Grace Meng, and co-hosted by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz; New York State Senators Joseph Addabo Jr., Leroy Comrie, Michael Gianaris, John Liu, Jessica Ramos and Toby Ann Stavisky; New York State Assemblymembers Jeffrion Aubry, Edward Braunstein, Michael DenDekker, Andrew Hevesi, Alicia Hyndman, Michael Miller, Catherine Nolan, Stacey Pheffer Amato, Nily Rozic, Aravella Simotas, Clyde Vanel and David Weprin; and New York City Councilmembers Adrienne Adams, Costa Constantinides, Daniel Dromm, Barry Grodenchik, Robert Holden, Karen Koslowitz, Rory Lancman, I. Daneek Miller, Francisco Moya, Donovan Richards, Paul Vallone and Jimmy Van Bramer.
Confirmed faith leaders scheduled to speak include:
- Imam Shamsi Ali of the Jamaica Muslim Center
- Reverend Dr. John H. Boyd, II of New Greater Bethel Ministries
- Father Joseph Fonti of The Church of St. Mel
- Pastor Ben Hur of Promise Church
- Dr. Neeta Jain of International Ahimsa Foundation, Inc.
- Rabbi Mark Kaiserman of The Reform Temple of Forest Hills
- Gurdev Singh Kang of the Sikh Cultural Society
- Father Mike Lopez of All Saints Church
- Rabbi Yossi Mendelsohn of Congregation Machane Chodosh
- Dr. Uma Mysorekar of the Hindu Temple Society of North America
- Venerable Youwang Shih of the International Buddhist Progress Society
Aging, Education, SBS to Brief Queens Borough Cabinet
Acting Borough President Sharon Lee and the Queens Borough Cabinet, today, will hear presentations from the City’s Department for the Aging (DFTA), the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) on the City’s response and priorities for Queens, the epicenter of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
This meeting will be conducted virtually, with Borough Cabinet members participating via videoconference.
The meeting will also stream live at 9:30 a.m., today April 21 to the public on the Borough President’s website at www.queensbp.org/community-boards.
DA Katz Announces Three Arrests for Price Gouging
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, along with the New York City Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations and the United States Postal Inspections Service, announced yesterday the arrest of three individuals who allegedly sold 1,000 3M medical masks for 10 times the regular price.
“We are in the midst of a global pandemic. Thousands of people have died and medical workers do not have enough personal protection equipment to do their jobs safely. The governor and mayor have mandated that all people wear masks in public. Sadly, these three men allegedly thought about pocketing a profit as a result of the coronavirus outbreak by price gouging. This is unconscionable and will not stand in Queens County,” said Katz.
The District Attorney identified the defendants as Yuriy Borukhov, 33, Maisey Khovasov, 23, and Michael Borukhov, 23, all residents of Queens County. The 3 defendants were issued desk appearance tickets and ordered to appear in court on August 15.
“According to the charges, an undercover detective with the NYPD Financial Crimes Task Force posing as a buyer responded to an online advertisement offering face masks 1,000 masks for $10 each. After about 2 weeks of trading text messages, a meet was set up for the morning of Friday, April 17.
The buyer met Yuriy Borukhov and Khavasov at a designated spot in Queens County shortly after 10 a.m. One of the men asked the undercover detective if he was there to buy masks. And when the buyer confirmed, a third man, Michael Borukhov approached and they all walked toward a waiting Chrysler automobile.
Continuing, according to the charges, defendant Michael Borokhov allegedly opened the cars trunk and produced 2 boxes containing 240 R95 face masks made by 3M. Moments later, the undercover detective gave the 3 men $10,000 in cash. The 3 men were promptly arrested for price gouging. Law enforcement allegedly recovered another 820 R95 masks in the same Chrysler. Face masks of this kind normally sell for up to $1 each.
Meng Helps Introduce Bill to Cancel Rent and Mortgage Payments
U. S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) announced yesterday that she helped to introduce the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act, a bill that seeks to provide a nationwide cancellation of rents and home mortgage payments through the duration of the coronavirus pandemic emergency declaration.
The legislation would:
- Constitute a full payment forgiveness, with no accumulation of debt for renters or homeowners and no negative impact on their credit rating or rental history;
- Create a relief fund for landlords and mortgage holders to cover losses from the cancelled payments provided certain fair housing and rent requirements are met; and
- Establish an optional fund to fully finance the purchase of private rental properties by non-profits, public housing authorities, cooperatives, community land trusts, and states or local governments—in order to increase the availability of affordable housing during this downturn.
“Over 22 million Americans—including approximately 1.2 million New Yorkers—have filed for unemployment benefits and that number will increase as we continue our efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” said Meng. “These numbers are sobering and reflect a hard truth that many Americans, including my neighbors and community members in Queens, are struggling. We don’t know when things will return to normal; but we do know people are under immense pressure and hardship to pay their rent and mortgage. That is why we need a two-fold solution to provide immediate rent and mortgage relief for both renters and landlords.”
The cancellation measure would be retroactive to cover April 2020 payments, and would extend one calendar month after the national emergency is lifted.
Velázquez, NY Lawmakers Seek Pandemic Help for Nursing Homes
U.S. Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-Queens, Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn) is leading the New York Congressional Delegation in calling for additional help for nursing homes as funds from the recently enacted “CARES Act” are distributed.
In a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the lawmakers argue that given the enormous toll COVID-19 is taking on nursing home residents, the facilities need additional funding to protect seniors and reduce transmission and mortality rates.
“Throughout New York City and state, we’re hearing heartbreaking stories of the virus spreading rapidly in nursing facilities and taking lives of those living there,” Velázquez said. “These are our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. We need to steer resources to where they can be most effective and boosting resources for our nursing homes and their dedicated staff, now, will save lives.”
According to New York State Department of Health Data, 2,000 people across the state have died in nursing homes from the pandemic. The CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, provided $100 billion to hospitals and other healthcare providers to help cope with the strain brought on by treating COVID-19 patients. While an initial $30 billion of that funding has been allocated, the Administration is currently formulating policies for distribution of the remaining resources.
Trump Administration Requires Nursing Homes to Report Coronavirus Cases to Families of Residents
The President Donald Trump Administration yesterday ordered that nursing homes immediately report coronavirus infections and deaths to the families of residents.
The order came following, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng’s (D-Queens) sending of a letter to the President calling for family members of nursing home residents to be swiftly notified of any COVID-19 cases. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it will put the requirement into place.
Under the new order from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, nursing homes must inform the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), residents, and their loved ones-representatives within 12 hours.
The President also said yesterday he would use the Defense Production Act (DPA) to boost the manufacturing of swabs that are needed to increase COVID-19 testing. Meng has consistently urged the President to use the DPA to ramp up testing, including in the letter she sent to the President on Saturday.
“These developments with nursing homes and the Defense Production Act are vital,” said Meng. “Telling nursing homes that they must make families aware of COVID-19 cases is something that has been urgently needed, and I’m pleased that the Trump administration will be moving forward with its new rule following my request to the President. Family members of nursing home residents have a right to know this information. It will help ensure that they can do everything possible to protect their loved ones, and it will go a long way towards controlling and preventing the spread of the illness. We must do all we can to safeguard the health and safety of our elderly population.”