April 2020



From The Commissioner’s Desk

COVID-19 – Coronavirus Presents Unique Challenges to the Disability Community

Commissioner Victor Calise

Hello everyone:
  New York City is amidst a unique and challenging time facing the outbreak and expansion of COVID-19 amongst its constituents. During the month of March, Mayor de Blasio, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and NYC Emergency Management have been working hard to provide information on prevention and treatment of COVID-19. However, we have been hearing from many members of the disability community that there has not been enough mention of people with disabilities.
  The Mayor and I have discussed this at length and he understands that the needs of people with disabilities are especially important during this crisis.

Mayor deBlasio
  During the Mayor’s media availability on March 23rd, he ad- dressed the disability community and said the following, “I want to take one moment before I close to talk directly to New Yorkers with disabilities. I know there’s tremendous concern in our disability community dealing with all the unknowns everyone else is deal- ing with, but needing to make sure that there’ll be sensitivity and concern in our City government and all the institutions of our society – that there’ll be information flowing and messages that will be helpful and necessary information for the community, that everything that we do takes into account all New Yorkers, including so many fellow New Yorkers who have a disability and who need support at this moment.
  “The fact is we are focused on making sure that every New Yorker gets the support they need during this crisis and anyone who has a specific concern and needs help can reach out to our Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD). And I want to thank Commissioner Victor Calise and his whole team in that office who do extraordinary work all the time, but have really risen to the occasion in this crisis.
  “Anyone who needs more information or needs help can call 311 or visit nyc.gov/disability for more information and Deaf New Yorkers specifically can connect through video phone at 646 396-5830.”

Contacting MOPD
  I want to assure every New Yorker with a disability that the City is working with you to address your concerns. As Mayor de Blasio said, if you are a person with a disability and you have a question or concern, please reach out to MOPD.

Call 212 788-2830 Visit nyc.gov/disabilities Deaf New Yorkers can connect via video phone, 646 396-5830
  We are regularly checking in with our disability community partners every week to provide them with the latest information and address any issues that they raise.
  We are meeting weekly with our Disability Service Facilitators (DSFs) who are the disability-specific points of contact in every City agency, to update them on what we are hearing from the disability community and learn what their agencies are doing. To see a list of all of the DSFs with their contact information, please visit NYC. gov/DSF.

  We are ensuring that disability-specific needs are mentioned throughout everything that we are doing. For example, the recent legislation passed by Gov- ernor Cuomo – Executive Order 202.6 – “Essential Businesses” includes Home Health Aides and Personal Care Attendants for people with disabilities. If you are a person with a disability, your needs are essential and will not be hindered by the COVID-19 response that the City or state are taking.
  These are just a handful of the many resources and updates that the City is working on that include people with disabilities.
  To assist in keeping track of it all, MOPD has launched a disability-specific page for COVID-19 that’s available on our website nyc.gov/disabilities.
  On the page you will find:
• Resources on programs that de- liver food and supplies;
• Information on Home Health Care providers;
• Updates on City resources that impact people with disabilities;
• Multiple ways to contact our office.
  Ourgoalisforthispageto be a growing resource that pro- vides answers to major questions for people with disabilities during this crisis.
  We invite everyone to check it out and let us know where we need more information.
  There is much more that still needs to be done.
New Yorkers: Check in (with social distancing in mind) on your friends, family and neighbors that have disabilities. You may not realize it but a simple trip to the grocery store or pharmacy right now could make a world of difference for someone with a disability.
Store Owners: We’ve been seeing some major brands like ALDI, Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Stop & Shop open up early to hold exclusive hours for seniors and/or “vulnerable populations.”This is fantastic and really demonstrates your care for your community. I ask you now to please extend the same courtesy to people with disabilities if you have not done so already.
My Fellow Government Officials: Please help New York City expand this conversation and keep people with disabilities included in all of the information and preparedness around COVID-19.
  We must unite and work to benefit everyone, including people with disabilities, in our response to this global crisis.

  One last thing that every per- son with and without disabilities can help with is the Census. The COVID-19 situation provides a resounding confirmation that we need to have the representation and funding that New York City deserves in order to run properly.
  The only way this can happen is for the people at home reading this to fill out the Census. Do it right now if you haven’t already.
  Take out your phone or go to your computer and visit my-2020census.gov.
  For the latest information on the City’s response to COVID-19:
Please visit nyc.gov/Coronavirus Text “COVID” to 692-692 Call 311   We are all in this together. Stay safe, healthy and socially distant!

Commissioner Victor Calise