Governor Cuomo Announces New Record Number of COVID-19 Tests Reported Yesterday

Governor Cuomo Announces New Record Number of COVID-19 Tests Reported Yesterday

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August 12, 2020

Albany, NY

87,776 COVID-19 Tests Reported Yesterday; 0.79 Percent of Tests were Positive

 

7 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

 

Confirms 700 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State – Bringing Statewide Total to 422,703; New Cases in 36 Counties

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 87,776 COVID-19 tests were reported to New York State yesterday—a new record high for tests in a single day. The governor also updated New Yorkers on the state’s progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.

 

“We’re continuing to move forward protecting New Yorkers, slowing the spread and saving lives as the COVID-19 pandemic rages throughout much of the country and threatens the reduction in the numbers we’ve achieved here at home,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York is reaching new heights in its ability to track and trace the virus, and that’s evidenced by the record number of tests—nearly 88,000—that were reported yesterday. As we prepare for the fall, I urge everyone to wear masks, socially distance and wash their hands, and I urge local governments to enforce state guidance on reopening.”

 

Today’s data is summarized briefly below:

 

  • Patient Hospitalization – 558 (+18)
  • Patients Newly Admitted – 89
  • Hospital Counties – 30
  • Number ICU – 123 (+3)
  • Number ICU with Intubation – 62 (+2)
  • Total Discharges – 73,842 (+63)
  • Deaths – 7
  • Total Deaths – 25,218

 

Of the 87,776 test results reported to New York State yesterday, 700, or 0.79 percent, were positive. Each region’s percentage of positive test results reported over the last three days is as follows:

 

REGION

SUNDAY

MONDAY

TUESDAY

Capital Region

0.8%

1.2%

0.7%

Central New York

0.6%

0.4%

0.8%

Finger Lakes

0.7%

0.6%

0.7%

Long Island

1.2%

0.8%

0.9%

Mid-Hudson

0.9%

0.7%

1.0%

Mohawk Valley

0.5%

1.3%

0.5%

New York City

0.9%

0.9%

0.8%

North Country

0.2%

0.4%

0.1%

Southern Tier

0.4%

0.6%

0.3%

Western New York

0.8%

1.3%

0.5%

 

 

The Governor also confirmed 700 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 422,703 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 422,703 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

 

County

Total Positive

New Positive

Albany

2,624

10

Allegany

80

0

Broome

1,150

7

Cattaraugus

168

0

Cayuga

161

4

Chautauqua

258

0

Chemung

177

1

Chenango

218

0

Clinton

129

0

Columbia

548

2

Cortland

96

1

Delaware

106

0

Dutchess

4,631

12

Erie

9,013

26

Essex

56

0

Franklin

54

0

Fulton

299

2

Genesee

280

1

Greene

295

1

Hamilton

8

0

Herkimer

277

0

Jefferson

142

0

Lewis

46

1

Livingston

176

0

Madison

414

1

Monroe

5,035

33

Montgomery

177

0

Nassau

43,761

37

Niagara

1,514

2

NYC

228,729

386

Oneida

2,180

5

Onondaga

3,613

11

Ontario

363

1

Orange

11,191

11

Orleans

298

0

Oswego

257

2

Otsego

118

0

Putnam

1,450

1

Rensselaer

780

10

Rockland

13,966

12

Saratoga

768

1

Schenectady

1,079

4

Schoharie

69

0

Schuyler

22

0

Seneca

91

0

St. Lawrence

263

0

Steuben

300

0

Suffolk

43,948

55

Sullivan

1,491

1

Tioga

194

0

Tompkins

234

0

Ulster

2,077

1

Warren

312

0

Washington

260

0

Wayne

258

6

Westchester

36,324

52

Wyoming

118

0

Yates

57

0

 

Yesterday, there were 7 deaths due to COVID-19 in New York State, bringing the total to 25,218. A geographic breakdown is as follows, by county of residence:

 

Deaths by County of Residence

County

New Deaths

Bronx

1

Erie

2

Kings

1

Manhattan

1

Queens

2

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

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Governor Cuomo Announces Individuals Traveling to New York from Two Additional States, Virgin Islands Will Be Required to Quarantine for 14 Days

Governor Cuomo Announces Individuals Traveling to New York from Two Additional States, Virgin Islands Will Be Required to Quarantine for 14 Days

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August 11, 2020

Albany, NY

Announces Hawaii, South Dakota and Virgin Islands Meet Metrics to Qualify for Travel Advisory; Alaska, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island Removed from List

 

ICU Patients Drop to 120 — New Low Since March 15

 

Lowest Number of Intubations – 60 – Since Mid-March

 

0.86 Percent of Yesterday’s COVID-19 Tests were Positive

 

6 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

  

Confirms 667 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State – Bringing Statewide Total to 422,003; New Cases in 43 Counties 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that two additional states and Virgin Islands meet the metrics to qualify for the travel advisory requiring individuals who have traveled to New York from those areas, all of which have significant community spread, to quarantine for 14 days. The newly-added states are Hawaii and South Dakota. Alaska, New Mexico, Ohio and Rhode Island have been removed. The quarantine applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or an area with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.

“New York went from one of the worst situations in the country, to an example for the rest of the nation to follow,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our numbers continue to remain low and steady, which shows this virus will respond to an approach based on science, not politics. In order to protect this progress, we must keep up our efforts – we cannot go back to the hell we experienced a few months ago, which is why we are adding Hawaii, South Dakota and Virgin Islands to the travel advisory.”

The full, updated travel advisory list is below:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • Oklahoma
  • Puerto Rico
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Virgin Islands
  • Wisconsin

Alaska, New Mexico, Ohio and Rhode Island have been removed from the travel advisory. Individuals in quarantine after traveling from a state that has been removed from the advisory should continue to quarantine for the full 14 days.

 

Today’s data is summarized briefly below:

  • Patient Hospitalization – 540 (+5)
  • Patients Newly Admitted – 56
  • Hospital Counties – 29
  • Number ICU – 120 (-7)
  • Number ICU with Intubation – 60 (-2)
  • Total Discharges – 73,779 (+43)
  • Deaths – 6
  • Total Deaths – 25,211

 

Of the 77,059 test results reported to New York State yesterday, 667, or 0.86 percent, were positive. Each region’s percentage of positive test results reported over the last three days is as follows:

 

REGION

SATURDAY

SUNDAY

MONDAY

Capital Region

0.8%

0.8%

1.2%

Central New York

0.7%

0.6%

0.4%

Finger Lakes

0.9%

0.7%

0.6%

Long Island

0.6%

1.2%

0.8%

Mid-Hudson

0.6%

0.9%

0.7%

Mohawk Valley

0.5%

0.5%

1.3%

New York City

0.9%

0.9%

0.9%

North Country

0.2%

0.2%

0.4%

Southern Tier

0.3%

0.4%

0.6%

Western New York

1.6%

0.8%

1.3%

 

The Governor also confirmed 667 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 422,003 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 422,003 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

 

County

Total Positive

New Positive

Albany

2,614

14

Allegany

80

0

Broome

1,143

12

Cattaraugus

168

2

Cayuga

157

5

Chautauqua

258

1

Chemung

176

4

Chenango

218

2

Clinton

129

1

Columbia

546

5

Cortland

95

0

Delaware

106

1

Dutchess

4,619

6

Erie

8,987

69

Essex

56

1

Franklin

54

0

Fulton

297

0

Genesee

279

2

Greene

294

1

Hamilton

8

0

Herkimer

277

3

Jefferson

142

0

Lewis

45

4

Livingston

176

0

Madison

413

1

Monroe

5,002

26

Montgomery

177

0

Nassau

43,724

34

Niagara

1,512

12

NYC

228,343

274

Oneida

2,175

25

Onondaga

3,602

17

Ontario

362

1

Orange

11,180

12

Orleans

298

0

Oswego

255

2

Otsego

118

2

Putnam

1,449

0

Rensselaer

770

4

Rockland

13,954

5

Saratoga

767

7

Schenectady

1,075

15

Schoharie

69

0

Schuyler

22

0

Seneca

91

1

St. Lawrence

263

0

Steuben

300

2

Suffolk

43,893

49

Sullivan

1,490

1

Tioga

194

1

Tompkins

234

0

Ulster

2,076

4

Warren

312

0

Washington

260

0

Wayne

252

0

Westchester

36,272

39

Wyoming

118

0

Yates

57

0

     

Yesterday, there were 6 deaths due to COVID-19 in New York State, bringing the total to 25,211. A geographic breakdown is as follows, by county of residence:

 

Deaths by County of Residence

County

New Deaths

Albany

1

Bronx

1

Erie

1

Kings

1

Monroe

1

Wayne

1

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

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Governor Cuomo Launches New PSA as Latest in Series of “Mask Up, America” Campaign

Governor Cuomo Launches New PSA as Latest in Series of “Mask Up, America” Campaign

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Governor Cuomo Launches New PSA as Latest in Series of “Mask Up, America” Campaign | Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
































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August 10, 2020

Albany, NY

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Niven Patel, a Miami Chef, Is Not Giving Up on 2020

Niven Patel, a Miami Chef, Is Not Giving Up on 2020

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. — The last week in July was an especially stressful one for Niven Patel, and for Floridians in general.

It began with Mr. Patel’s decision to permanently close one of two locations of Ghee Indian Kitchen, the Miami-area restaurant that brought the chef national acclaim. The week ended with South Florida bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Isaias, just as the state recorded its fourth straight day of record reported deaths from Covid-19.

In the midst of all of this — while still adjusting to having become a father to twin daughters in June — Mr. Patel was busy with final preparations for the opening of a new restaurant called Mamey. Doing so in a pandemic, he conceded, is “pretty insane.”

Mr. Patel, 36, is one of Miami’s best-known and promising young chefs — in May, Food & Wine magazine anointed him one of the country’s 10 Best New Chefs. At a time when many high-end restaurateurs are putting their careers and businesses on pause in the face of spiraling health and economic crises, Mr. Patel is forging ahead — in his quiet, cautious way — with Mamey, in an attempt to salvage what was shaping up to be a banner year.

The new restaurant, which opened last Wednesday in Coral Gables, serves food and drinks only for takeout, delivery and limited outdoor dining, in keeping with Miami-Dade County’s ban on indoor service. But even with those restrictions, Mr. Patel was eager to act.

“It’s honestly been very mentally refreshing, to get into the kitchen and start creating new dishes that we’ve envisioned now for a year and a half,” he said. “Where at Ghee it’s been about survival, this is new.”

Mr. Patel has had big plans. Mamey, which takes its name from a fruit popular in Latin America and South Florida, was originally scheduled to open in the spring, along with another restaurant, Orno, both of them in Paseo de la Riviera, a new development in Coral Gables that includes apartments and the THesis Hotel.

The openings were put on hold in March, when city and county officials shut down Miami-area restaurants; so was that of a permanent location for Erba, a pasta restaurant owned by Mr. Patel that had a popular run as a pop-up in 2019. The photo shoot for a Food & Wine article on the top chefs was also in March — a day after Mr. Patel laid off all 64 of his employees. “It’s why I’m not smiling,” he said.

Two of those workers were farmers who tended to Rancho Patel, the two-acre farm that surrounds his family’s house in Homestead, about 30 miles south of Coral Gables. Weeds have since taken over the swath of tilled land in the backyard where he grew produce and herbs for Ghee Indian Kitchen.

“We can do some serious damage with this plot,” Mr. Patel said as he kicked at rocks in the soil one evening. He recently hired Roberto Grossman, a farmer in Homestead, to revive Rancho Patel. “We just need to put some love back into it.”

A bright spot at Rancho Patel has been the tropical fruit that flourishes in the blazing-hot Florida summer and that Mr. Patel harvests, with the help of his father in-law. Much of it — including mangoes, lychees and guanábana — will show up in the food and cocktails at Mamey, whose opening is the first step in providing the chef a larger canvas to showcase the full range of his talent.

The cuisine at Ghee, which opened its first location in 2017, reflects the chef’s Indian roots; both his and his wife’s families hail from the Indian state of Gujarat.

But Mr. Patel was born in Valdosta, Ga., and raised in Jacksonville, Fla. He made a name for himself locally while cooking New American food as chef de cuisine at Michael’s Genuine, the flagship restaurant of Michael Schwartz, a star Miami chef, after working in a restaurant on Grand Cayman, in the Caribbean.

“My whole background doesn’t have anything to do with Indian food,” Mr. Patel said. “I get most excited about exploring all this other kind of food.”

Mamey’s menu combines ideas from the cuisines of island nations — “We don’t want boundaries,” Mr. Patel said — but with an emphasis on the Caribbean.

At a menu tasting for his corporate partners in Mamey’s dining room a week before the opening, the chef introduced a dish of plantains as a personal favorite. Brown and custardy, they had been roasted in ghee, and finished with pickled onions and fresh cilantro. The chef noted how the flavors of Jamaican jerk were subtly expressed in the spiced yogurt beneath the fruit.

Mohamed Alkassar, director of operations for Nolan Reynolds International, the company that developed Paseo de la Riviera, sat at the end of a long table in a room behind Mamey’s bar. “What I like about Chef’s food the most, it’s the simplest dish on the menu that ends up surprising me the most,” he said.

Mr. Alkassar, 33, had his laptop open to renderings of what the restaurant will look like by next week, after all of the design elements are in place: Foliage covers the ceiling above low-hanging light shades in the two dining rooms, and potted palm trees appear where boxes of takeout containers were stacked chest-high.

“It was a big investment — a couple hundred thousand dollars — when we were making the last finishing touches on Mamey,” Mr. Alkassar said. “One of the conversations we had to have is, do we make that final investment? When we’re not even going to open for inside dining?”

He said the company’s decision to proceed with Mamey and Orno, which is now scheduled to open early next year with a menu focused on local ingredients cooked in a wood-burning oven, was a vote of confidence in Mr. Patel, as well as in the hotel. The development is across the street from the University of Miami, which begins in-person classes on Monday.

The school’s students and faculty, Mr. Alkassar said, “are a big part of our revenue model, for both the hotel and the restaurants.”

Mr. Patel runs the hotel’s food and beverage programs in partnership with Nolan Reynolds. The team developed multiple business plans for Mamey over the spring and summer, as Miami-area restaurants struggled to navigate changing government restrictions.

The menu was rewritten with takeout in mind. Mr. Patel and his staff tested how dishes would perform by putting them in cardboard to-go boxes and waiting 15 minutes.

“Has it lost temperature? Has it lost taste? Does it travel well?” said Mr. Patel. “There are all of these factors you have to consider that before we wouldn’t have even thought of.”

The test included a coconut-lime ceviche of Florida wahoo, summer rolls filled with pickled shiitakes and fresh avocado, and a jerk chicken sandwich with jackfruit barbecue sauce.

Tim Piazza, the executive chef for Mr. Patel’s restaurant company, Aya Hospitality, still worried that some dishes were less suited to takeout than others.

“You want to be eating ceviche five minutes after you made it, not 45 minutes,” he said.

Mamey’s playful, bright-flavored food is reminiscent of the culturally omnivorous, fruit-forward cuisine championed in Miami by chefs like Norman Van Aken, Cindy Hutson and Douglas Rodriguez in the 1990s and early 2000s. That often busy, Latin-Caribbean-inspired cooking was a dominant style in local fine dining in the 2010s, when chefs like Mr. Schwartz and Michelle Bernstein grabbed attention with simpler dishes at more modest, bistrolike restaurants.

With Mamey, Mr. Patel joins a new generation of chefs — Michael Beltran, the 34-year-old chef-owner of Ariete, is another prominent example — who are reorienting Miami fine dining around cuisines brought to South Florida over the years by immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean. They’re doing so at a moment when others are looking at the cooking of Miami’s recent past with fresh eyes.

“When I started, I said, ‘I’m not going to put fruit on anything,’” said Ms. Bernstein, 51, a Miami native whose restaurant in Little Havana, Café La Trova, is temporarily closed because of the coronavirus. “I’m old enough where I’ve come around. Now I can’t wait to brown butter and put mango in it.”

Mr. Patel describes Mamey’s menu in practical terms. “The food fits in with the demographics of the area,” he said. “Plus, I spent two-and-a-half years in the Cayman Islands. I really love that cuisine.”

His colleagues invariably bring up his calm demeanor and lack of ego as defining characteristics. Mr. Patel speaks quietly. His taste for brightly colored socks — one afternoon at Racho Patel, he wore a green, avocado-themed pair — may be the loudest thing about him.

“He’s very collected,” Mr. Schwartz said. “That struck me the first time I met him. A lot of young chefs are kind of frenetic and chaotic.”

Mr. Patel’s even temper has certainly been tested during the pandemic. In June, after seven years of trying to start a family, he and his wife, Shivani, welcomed twin daughters into their home. Ms. Patel, a co-owner of Aya Hospitality, stepped away from the restaurants to care for the newborns, who were carried by a surrogate.

The babies’ arrival also raised the level of concern that Mr. Patel could be exposed to the coronavirus through work — and could bring it into the house he shares with his in-laws.

“We’re trying to create a culture of being safe,” Mr. Patel said. “One person not being safe outside of work could affect the entire enterprise.”

Brenda Perez took a job as a server at Mamey in part, she said, because of the cautious way Mr. Patel has managed the original Ghee. The chef ended indoor dining at the restaurant in early July, just before the county mandated it.

“The way they responded to the virus this entire time has been very responsible,” said Mr. Perez, 37, whose boyfriend works at Ghee. “They care about their employees and how they feel.”

In June, as the coronavirus outbreak in Florida grew more worrisome, Mr. Patel and Mr. Alkassar asked Mr. Piazza, the restaurant group’s executive chef, to quarantine at home. Mr. Piazza’s wife had just tested positive for the coronavirus, as had their nanny and the nanny’s husband.

“When this happened, Niven was like, ‘Stay home,’” Mr. Piazza said.

Even after tests for his wife came back negative, though, the team insisted that Mr. Piazza remain home, to guarantee a healthy chef in case others fell sick.

Mr. Piazza, whom Mr. Patel refers to as “my right hand,” has spent the time testing recipes and writing (and rewriting) menus for Mamey.

“‘The hotel is a big deal for a lot of people,’” Mr. Piazza said Mr. Patel told him. “‘You’re the only guy who I would trust here if something happened to me.’”

Mr. Patel’s team was still making adjustments on opening night. Salsa verde was added to the piri piri roast chicken. At the last minute, Mr. Patel decided to tuck a gerbera daisy into every branded takeout bag. With the THesis Hotel booked to over 60 percent capacity in its first week of business, there was even talk of growing Mamey’s staff of 34 employees.

Mr. Alkassar stood near the outdoor pool bar on the hotel’s third floor, where diners ate protected from the rain. He has opened more than 20 restaurants, he said, and despite all the challenges, he can’t remember another opening that went as smoothly as Mamey’s.

To prove his point, he pulled up a string of texts between Mr. Patel and himself on his smartphone. One from Mr. Patel read, “Thanks for letting me always just be who I am.”

Mamey, in the THesis Hotel, 1350 South Dixie Highway, Coral Gables, Fla.; 888-304-5055; thesishotelmiami.com/taste/mamey.

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Governor Cuomo Announces Friday Deadline for School Districts That Have Not Submitted Plans for In-Person Learning

Governor Cuomo Announces Friday Deadline for School Districts That Have Not Submitted Plans for In-Person Learning

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Governor Cuomo Announces Friday Deadline for School Districts That Have Not Submitted Plans for In-Person Learning | Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
































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August 10, 2020

Albany, NY

107 School Districts Have Not Submitted a Plan for In-Person Learning

Districts That Fail to Meet Friday Deadline Will Be Unable to Provide In-Person Learning This Year

Department of Health Will Notify Districts of the Status of Their Reopening Plans Today

Districts Must Complete the Three to Five Public Sessions with Parents and Teachers and Post Plans for Remote Learning, Testing, Tracing on Their Website by August 21 to Be In Compliance

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a Friday deadline for school districts that have not submitted plans for in-person learning. Currently, 107 school districts have not submitted a plan for in-person learning. Districts that fail to meet the Friday deadline will be unable to provide in-person learning this year.

The State continues to review plans based on set criteria. Districts that are found to be out of compliance will get a letter from the State Department of Health today and a follow-up call naming the sections of their plans that are deficient, in which case they will have until Friday to amend their plan. 

“There are 107 school districts that have not submitted their plan – for those 107 school districts, how they didn’t submit a plan is beyond me. If they don’t submit a plan by this Friday, they can’t open,” Governor Cuomo said. “The main arbiter here of whether a school district has an intelligent plan to reopen and whether people have confidence in that district’s plan: It’s going to be the parents and it’s going to be the teachers, and that requires discussion, and that’s going to be a dialogue. Parents don’t have to send their child. The parents are responsible for the health and safety of the child, and they’re not going to send the child if they don’t believe the plan makes sense. A teacher is not going to come back into the classroom if they think the classroom is not safe, and that’s right. The school district has to have that dialogue by the 21st to fully comply with our rules.”

The Governor also reminded districts they must complete the three to five public sessions with parents and teachers and post their plans for remote learning, testing and tracing on their website by August 21st to be in compliance with standards established by the State.

The list of school districts that have not submitted a plan is below:

 

Franklinville

Portville

Salamanca

West Valley

Broadalbin-Perth

Mayfield

Kendall

Argyle

Fort Ann

Hendrick Hudson

Bedford

Garrison

Carle Place

Elmont

Garden City

Lawrence

Locust Valley

Malverne

Manhasset

Mineola

New Hyde Park

Plainedge

Plainview

Syosset

Uniondale

Middletown

Valley-Montgmry

Camden

Oriskany

Utica

Waterville

Lake Pleasant

C-V At Ilion-Mohawk Csd

Van Hornsville

Carthage

Lyme

Newark Valley

Spencer Van Etten

George Jr Republic

Brentwood

Brookhaven-Comsewogue Ufsd

Deer Park

Longwood

Middle Country

Mount Sinai

North Babylon

Oysterponds

Remsenburg

Rocky Point

Sachem

Tuckahoe Common

Wainscott

Western Suffolk Boces

Arkport

Bradford

Corning

Hammondsport

Cooperstown

Richfield Springs Csd

Worcester

Odessa Montour

Peru

Johnsburg

Webster

Nyack

Sloan

Williamsville

Catskill

Windham Ashland

Edinburg Common Sd

Shenendehowa

Sagaponack

Cortland

Andes

Margaretville

Beacon

Poughkeepsie

Elmira

Victor

East Bloomfield

Geneva

Lewiston Porter

Pine Valley

Altmar-Parish

Oswego

Fayettvlle-Manlius

Berkshire

Germantown

Kinderhook

Brunswick Central

East Greenbush

Troy

Seneca Falls

Eldred

Jeff Youngsville

Canton

Hammond

Heuvelton

Lisbon

Massena

Potsdam

Palmyra-Macedon

Red Creek

Wyoming

Amsterdam

Canajoharie

Fort Plain

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

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On the Shores of Cape Cod, Where the Oyster Is Their World

On the Shores of Cape Cod, Where the Oyster Is Their World

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At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with travel restrictions in place worldwide, we launched a series — The World Through a Lens — in which photojournalists help transport you, virtually, to some of our planet’s most beautiful and intriguing places. This week, Randy Harris shares a collection of images from the shores of Cape Cod.


When I first met Chris Crobar, he was a half mile from the shore, on the tidal flats that stretch far out into Cape Cod Bay. It was 5 a.m., and I was out for a walk at low tide. From a distance, I saw what looked like little black sails in the water.

Chris was a spectacle: alone with his boat and table in the middle of the bay — like an artist with his easel, painting a fiery sunrise. He stood there fastidiously scraping the barnacles off his oysters, then tossing them back into the cages where they’ll sit for a couple of years on the floor of the bay.

Before the arrival of the Europeans, the native people of Cape Cod, the Nauset tribe, had an abundant supply of oysters. Crassostrea virginica, known as the American oyster (or the eastern, Wellfleet, Atlantic or Virginia oyster), was naturally flush in coastal areas and estuaries, where the rivers meet the sea. Oyster reefs were America’s coral reefs; oysters filtered the water — some adult oysters can filter 50 gallons a day — and fed a range of other sea life.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, new technologies — including developments in dredging, canning and transportation — began to transform America’s oyster industry. By the 1870s, a single schooner in Wellfleet Harbor could harvest 1.5 million oysters a day. Companies, including Sealshipt Oyster System, were commercially shucking, sealing and shipping oysters in vast quantities all over the country. The intensity of the industrial harvesting was unprecedented — and unsustainable.

Today, because of pollution, development, overharvesting and disease, America’s natural oyster habitat is greatly diminished. Estimates in the last decade have placed the wild oyster population at some places in the country at just one percent of historical levels.

Modern-day aquaculture has changed the game. A company called Aquacultural Research Corporation, founded around 1960, produces shellfish seed — tiny juvenile oysters, also called “spat” — and sells it to local shellfish farmers. Chris Crobar is one of those farmers. A native of Eastham, Mass., he grew up working on his father’s clam boat. Today, he sets his hours not by the clock, but by the tide. He has been raising oysters for five years on his two-acre farm in the Cape Cod Bay — just beyond First Encounter Beach, the location of the first meeting between the Nauset people and the Pilgrims.

Cape Cod is as unique as its oysters. Depending on the location, the high tidal waters flush the oysters with a varying mix of freshwater and saltwater. This helps create nuanced flavors.

Wellfleet, which juts farther out into the bay, is famous throughout the world for its briny oyster. In Barnstable, Chatham and Orleans, the fresh tidal water and sweet marsh algae combine to create a sweet and earthy flavor profile. Eastham oysters are known for being both mildly briny and earthy.

Paul Wittenstein, the general manager of A.R.C., explained how the hatchery produces its seed: In midwinter, the hatchery places adult shellfish in warm water that’s rich with algae, which causes the shellfish to spawn. The hatchery then catches the eggs, hatches them and grows them in their tanks until spring, when they’re moved into the A.R.C.’s nursery system. From there, they continue to grow before being measured, counted and sold to farmers.

After obtaining his oyster seeds from A.R.C., Chris initially grows them in mesh bags, using the French rack-and-bag system. Later, the oysters are transferred into metal grow-out cages, where they sit on the bottom of the bay from one-and-a-half to two years — until they reach 2.5 to 3 inches, to be marketed as “petite” or “cocktail” oysters, or 3 inches or more to be marketed as “select” oysters. (He also digs for wild razor clams and quahogs.)

Lately there has been a surge in aquaculture farming, especially with oysters. But yields can vary significantly from year to year. This past winter was mild, with little to no ice. Seed did well. Many farmers were expecting a good year. But with water temperatures increasing to over 80 degrees at high tide, both algae blooms and crashes can result, leaving the oysters with nothing to eat.

Oyster farming, in other words, has always been an unpredictable business. And the coronavirus pandemic has hit the industry hard: With fewer people dining out, farmers are sitting on their inventory. Some have feared a collapse of the market.

But Chris is more hopeful. “It’s important to me to be optimistic about the future,” he said. “For now we have to keep planting and raising shellfish, hoping that things will eventually get back to normal.”

“Fisherman adapt,” he added, “and always find a way to keep moving forward.”


Randy Harris is a photographer based in New York. You can follow his work on Instagram.



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Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers on State’s Progress During COVID-19 Pandemic

Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers on State’s Progress During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the state’s progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.

 

“Our daily numbers remain low and steady, despite increasing infection rates across the country, and even in our region – and we had the lowest one-day positive rate since we started. That’s an incredible achievement, all thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York’s progress shows that a data-driven, phased reopening works. We have followed the data since day one, and now we are an example for the rest of the country to follow. But we must not become complacent: Everyone should continue to wear their masks and socially distance.”

   

On Friday and Saturday, the State Liquor Authority and State Police Task Force visited 2,294 establishments in New York City and Long Island and observed 60 establishments that were not in compliance with state requirements. A county breakdown for yesterday and Friday’s observed violations is below:

 

  • Bronx – 2
  • Brooklyn – 2
  • Manhattan – 22
  • Queens – 26
  • Staten Island – 4
  • Nassau – 3
  • Suffolk – 1

 

Today’s data is summarized briefly below:

 

  • Patient Hospitalization – 548 (-25)
  • Patients Newly Admitted – 66
  • Hospital Counties – 30
  • Number ICU – 131 (-2)
  • Number ICU with Intubation – 66 (+2)
  • Total Discharges – 73,689 (+80)
  • Deaths – 7
  • Total Deaths – 25,202

 

Of the 65,812 test results reported to New York State yesterday, 515, or 0.78 percent, were positive. Each region’s percentage of positive test results reported over the last three days is as follows:

 

REGION

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

SATURDAY

Capital Region

0.7%

0.9%

0.8%

Central New York

0.8%

0.8%

0.7%

Finger Lakes

0.8%

0.8%

0.9%

Long Island

0.9%

0.9%

0.6%

Mid-Hudson

0.7%

0.7%

0.6%

Mohawk Valley

0.9%

0.9%

0.5%

New York City

1.1%

1.1%

0.9%

North Country

0.2%

0.2%

0.2%

Southern Tier

1.2%

1.2%

0.3%

Western New York

1.7%

1.7%

1.6%

 

The Governor also confirmed 515 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 420,860 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 420,860 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

 

County

Total Positive

New Positive

Albany

2,595

14

Allegany

79

0

Broome

1,126

6

Cattaraugus

165

0

Cayuga

152

1

Chautauqua

253

0

Chemung

171

0

Chenango

216

1

Clinton

127

0

Columbia

540

1

Cortland

95

0

Delaware

105

0

Dutchess

4,607

7

Erie

8,904

54

Essex

55

0

Franklin

54

0

Fulton

296

1

Genesee

277

0

Greene

292

1

Hamilton

8

0

Herkimer

274

1

Jefferson

142

2

Lewis

41

0

Livingston

176

0

Madison

412

0

Monroe

4,956

34

Montgomery

176

4

Nassau

43,655

27

Niagara

1,498

4

NYC

227,832

248

Oneida

2,146

4

Onondaga

3,576

11

Ontario

360

3

Orange

11,159

3

Orleans

298

0

Oswego

253

0

Otsego

116

0

Putnam

1,449

2

Rensselaer

765

4

Rockland

13,942

6

Saratoga

757

2

Schenectady

1,058

0

Schoharie

69

0

Schuyler

22

0

Seneca

89

0

St. Lawrence

263

0

Steuben

298

0

Suffolk

43,786

37

Sullivan

1,489

1

Tioga

193

0

Tompkins

234

0

Ulster

2,062

5

Warren

308

0

Washington

259

2

Wayne

250

1

Westchester

36,205

25

Wyoming

118

2

Yates

57

1

    

Yesterday, there were 7 deaths due to COVID-19 in New York State, bringing the total to 25,202. A geographic breakdown is as follows, by county of residence:

 

Deaths by County of Residence

County

New Deaths

Bronx

2

Erie

1

Herkimer

1

Nassau

1

Queens

1

Rensselaer

1

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Governor Cuomo Announces That, Based on Each Region’s Infection Rate, Schools Across New York State are Permitted to Open This Fall

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Governor Cuomo Announces That, Based on Each Region’s Infection Rate, Schools Across New York State are Permitted to Open This Fall | Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
































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August 7, 2020

Albany, NY

Every Region’s Infection Rate Is Below the Threshold Necessary By The State’s Standards To All Schools To Reopen Based on Strict Department of Health Guidelines 

 

In-Person vs Partial Reopening to Be Determined Locally By Each Individual School District 

 

Department of Health Will Review Submitted Reopening Plans From School Districts And Notify Districts of Their Status on Monday

 

School Districts Must Have Three-Five Public Meetings with Parents Prior to August 21

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that based on each region’s infection rate, schools across the state are permitted to open this fall. Every region’s infection rate is below the threshold necessary by the State’s standards to open schools. The Department of Health will review submitted reopening plans from school districts and notify districts of their status on Monday. Out of 749 school districts across the state, 127 have not yet submitted plans to the Department of Health, and another 50 are incomplete or deficient.  The determination of how individual districts reopen – in-person vs a hybrid model – will be made by local school districts under strict Department of Health guidelines. The Department of Health’s guidance is available here.

 

The Governor also announced that school districts must post their remote learning plan online as well as their plan for testing and tracing students and teachers. Schools must also have three to five public meetings prior to August 21 with parents – who will be allowed to participate remotely – as well as one meeting with teachers to go through their reopening plan. 

 

“Based on our infection rate, New York State is in the best possible situation right now. If anybody can open schools, we can open schools. We do masks, we do social distancing, we’ve kept that infection rate down, and we can bring the same level of intelligence to the school reopening that we brought to the economic reopening,” Governor Cuomo said. ” Our school guidance has been touted as the smartest as the country. Our economic reopening guidance was the smartest in the country. So, if anyone can do it, we can do it. But we have been successful because we’ve been smart and we have to continue to be smart.  Parents and teachers must feel safe and secure in each school district’s plan to return to school, and those plans must adhere to the Department of Health’s guidance.  To ensure that is the case, New York’s family’s must be fully informed and part of the conversation.  And so, over the next several weeks, school districts must engage: Talking to parents and teachers and getting all parties on board.”

 

Of the 70,170 test results reported to New York State yesterday, 714, or 1.0 percent, were positive. Each region’s percentage of positive test results reported over the last three days is as follows:

 

REGION

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

Capital Region

0.9%

0.8%

0.7%

Central New York

0.5%

0.6%

0.8%

Finger Lakes

0.5%

0.7%

0.8%

Long Island

1.2%

1.0%

0.9%

Mid-Hudson

0.8%

1.0%

0.7%

Mohawk Valley

1.0%

1.5%

0.9%

New York City

1.0%

1.1%

1.1%

North Country

0.2%

0.4%

0.2%

Southern Tier

0.5%

0.5%

1.2%

Western New York

0.5%

0.9%

1.7%

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

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Distilleries Raced to Make Hand Sanitizer for the Pandemic. No Longer.

Distilleries Raced to Make Hand Sanitizer for the Pandemic. No Longer.

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As the coronavirus pandemic shuttered bars and restaurants in March, Phil McDaniel’s craft distillery in St. Augustine, Fla., stopped producing bourbon. Then he realized there was one alcohol-based product he could make that people would still clamor for: hand sanitizer.

His St. Augustine Distillery soon churned out the first of what became 10,000 gallons of the disinfectant. With sanitizer in short supply nationwide, he quickly sold and donated most of the supplies to hospitals and emergency responders along Florida’s northeastern coast.

“In the beginning, it was just unbelievable, the sort of frenetic demand that was out there,” said Mr. McDaniel, 62. “It was so gratifying to us to be able to come in and help.”

But as virus cases have spiked again in Florida and other states, Mr. McDaniel said he had no plans to make more sanitizer. That’s because the early demand he experienced tailed off in June when large brands like Purell were able to pump out more product. The price for sanitizer, which had hovered at $50 a gallon, plunged to around $15 a gallon. Today, he still has about 1,000 gallons of it, spread between 250-gallon square totes of finished product and 50-gallon drums of ingredients, sitting in a warehouse.

Mr. McDaniel is one of more than 800 craft distillers across the United States who leapt into action to help in the first wave of the pandemic, urged on by federal agencies, but who are now hesitant to invest more time and money into those efforts. With demand for sanitizer fluctuating, distillers have faced unforeseen costs and excess supplies that they could not get rid of.

At the same time, the economics of the $3.2 billion craft beverage industry have deteriorated. Craft distilleries are often fragile, mom-and-pop operations with fewer than a dozen employees and their owners’ life savings invested in the business. Now battered by months of lost liquor sales, many cannot afford to spend more on making sanitizer when all they really want to do is get back to making whiskey to survive.

Their conundrum shows how life has become more complicated as the pandemic has persisted. What had been a no-brainer good Samaritan decision to help local communities and nurture a new business has instead devolved into a messy financial calculus as the hardships of the crisis continue piling up.

“It feels a little bit like no good deed is going unpunished right now,” said Spencer Whelan, the director of the Texas Whiskey Association, a trade group representing some of the state’s distillers.

The hand sanitizer industry has long been dominated by large companies like Clorox and Gojo Industries, the maker of Purell. As registered drug manufacturers, they are subject to rigorous Food and Drug Administration inspections and reviews that allow them to produce the disinfectant.

But the market was shaken up in March when hand sanitizer became scarce after being snapped up by hospitals, emergency medical workers and profiteers. That month, the F.D.A. and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau issued temporary guidance allowing businesses to start making sanitizer without needing to undergo the typical inspections and oversight.

For distillers, it turned out that making hand sanitizer was fairly straightforward. They already had the distilled spirits permits needed to handle ethanol, the type of alcohol used both for liquor and as a sanitizer ingredient. They also had the tanks, blending and bottling equipment necessary for production.

The prospect of replacing liquor revenue with sanitizer sales piqued the interest of Jonathan Eagan, a co-owner of the Arizona Distilling Company in Tempe, Ariz. He spent $50,000 on alcohol to produce the disinfectant in the spring, and said he quickly sold enough of it to make up for two months in lost liquor sales.

That money was crucial, given that bars, restaurants and tours — the distillers’ main sources of income — were hobbled. In an April survey of 118 distilleries in 35 states by the Distilled Spirits Council, an advocacy organization, respondents said 43 percent of their employees had been laid off and sales had plummeted 64 percent. Two-thirds said they didn’t expect to be able to stay open in another six months.

But even as distillers ramped up sanitizer production, that lifeline also started petering out. As panic-buying of the disinfectant leveled off and production among larger companies stabilized, “the business just kind of dried up” in the last few weeks, said Mr. Eagan.

Now as Arizona deals with new virus cases, much of his remaining 1,000 gallons of sanitizer has sat idle. He blamed the changing demand on the “vacillating” by officials over the pandemic’s severity and their “flip-flopping” over which businesses could reopen — and stay open.

“The bigger frustrating issue is the fits and starts,” he said. “A lot of these bars and restaurants don’t know if they’re open today, if they’re open tomorrow.”

To help distillers, advocacy groups like the Distilled Spirits Council have lobbied Congress to provide economic relief. They also want the F.D.A. to specify how long it will allow sanitizer production by distillers to continue, to give the businesses some certainty.

Some states, like California and many of those in New England, have also temporarily suspended laws that prohibit distilleries from directly shipping alcohol to consumers. In states where those rules haven’t been changed, some distillers said their willingness to make and donate hand sanitizer during a crisis merited a reprieve from the shipping restrictions.

Distillers “have absolutely done their civic duty,” said Mr. McDaniel, who is also president of the Florida Distillers’ Guild, an advocacy group. Now “they’re all on life support.”

For some distilleries weighing whether to continue sanitizer production, the decision was easy: no way.

Barry Butler, the owner of Tarpon Springs Distillery in Tarpon Springs, Fla., had teamed up with a nearby rum distillery to give away about 15,000 gallons of sanitizer and had made $40,000 by selling 10,000 gallons more. But when demand plummeted in June, he returned to producing moonshine and ouzo, a Greek liquor.

“It kept the lights on, it kept the guys working and employed when we were shut down for tours and tasting,” Mr. Butler said of making sanitizer. But “as a long-term economic solution for a distillery, it’s not a way to make money.”

Mr. Butler said he dealt with equipment problems, too. The F.D.A.’s sanitizer guidelines require distillers to add a bittering agent like the compound Bitrex to ensure people don’t try to drink the finished product.

Bitrex is so strong, Mr. Butler said, that any distillery equipment used to make sanitizer was ruined. “Anything you use for that is now dead forever,” he said, adding that he threw away stainless steel bottling hoses that had been contaminated.

Not all distillers have given up on sanitizer. Matt Allen, co-owner of Dark Door Spirits in Tampa, said he also began making sanitizer in the spring and has sold and given away at least 20,000 gallons to eight cities, 16 counties, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Postal Service.

When demand declined, he began working to lock in contracts with local hospitals to buy a guaranteed amount of product going forward.

“We just need some sort of gauge of long-term commitment,” Mr. Allen said.

Mr. McDaniel’s St. Augustine Distillery, which opened in 2014, is known for its Florida cane vodka, rum made from Florida molasses and a variety of bourbons, which are aged for three or more years. One of the state’s larger craft distilleries, it has attracted tens of thousands of tourists every year to its headquarters, which once housed an ice manufacturing plant.

The business, which initially lost money, has been profitable since the bourbon finished aging nearly four years ago, Mr. McDaniel said. But when the pandemic hit, the packed tasting room and tours became just a memory. In April, Mr. McDaniel slashed advertising and furloughed about 15 of his more than 45 employees.

“It’s terrifying,” he said.

Mr. McDaniel said his sanitizer made enough to cover the cost of what he donated and a little more. In June, when demand dropped off, he stopped making it.

St. Augustine Distillery is now producing bourbon again — but it is seeing only half its normal amount of liquor sales.

“At the end of the day, our core business is making really great alcohol,” Mr. McDaniel said. “To be able to get back to business and have demand for that and to sell it profitably is what we’re all looking for right now.”

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The End of Chefs: Moving Beyond Toxic Kitchen Culture

The End of Chefs: Moving Beyond Toxic Kitchen Culture

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White male chefs who already fit neatly into the stereotype of the auteur are overrepresented, praised for a highly specific approach to fine dining, then rewarded with more investment and opportunities to replicate that same approach.

So many alternative kinds of food businesses are never considered for awards or investments. They don’t fit into the chef-auteur framework, and in some cases have no desire to do so — community farms with food stalls, roving trucks, collaborative projects, temporary projects, or family restaurants where three different cooks take turns in the kitchen, depending on their child care schedules.

But for so many, it’s already too late. They’ve been excluded from the narrative, over and over again, to serve the idea of the auteur. They’ve been subject to abuse. They’ve been paid unfairly. Many have dropped out of the business altogether.

The pandemic has exposed the fragility and inequity of the restaurant industry, disproportionately affecting Black people, people of color, restaurant workers and those who keep the food chain running in the nation’s factories and farms. Bolstered by the power of the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, workers are speaking up. The model for the industry, as it exists now, has to change.

In a recent newsletter, Alicia Kennedy, a writer based in Puerto Rico, declared that the chef, as an ego, had become irrelevant. “What’s next?” she asked. And as reports of moldy food and allegations of poor conditions for cooks at Sqirl surfaced this summer, the Los Angeles writer Tien Nguyen asked another urgent question: What would food journalism look like if it centered on rank-and-file workers instead of chefs?

It’s hard but necessary to imagine these answers. And as workers unionize at places like Tartine in San Francisco and Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Ore., they’re claiming power, demanding better conditions and pushing toward newer, fairer models.

Other workers are pointing to the gap between how restaurants are perceived and how they’re run, as in Chicago, where more than 20 employees of Fat Rice challenged their employer’s social-media claim that it supported racial justice.



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Governor Cuomo Unanimously Voted to Serve As National Governors Association Chair

Governor Cuomo Unanimously Voted to Serve As National Governors Association Chair

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A copy of the Governor’s remarks as prepared are below: 

Let’s give another big thank you to Governor Hogan. We give you a virtual round of applause. Governor Hogan has been a friend to all of us over this impossible past year and I look forward to relying on him for his continued counsel as I take the gavel. I also look forward to working with our Vice Chairman Governor Asa Hutchinson. We all thank you Governor Hutchinson for agreeing to serve.  

What should the NGA agenda be for the next year?  It should adopt the agenda most relevant to the Governors, and I think we all know what that is. Frankly my friends I don’t think we have that many options. Next year’s agenda is not really a question of discretion, but rather the dictation of reality. Our agenda is: America’s Recovery and Revival.

First, we must manage the COVID virus until a vaccine is developed and we need the Federal Government to work with us in that effort. 

Second, we will need to deal with the undeniable consequences and effects of COVID.  The economic damage it has done as well as the critical public health care needs that it exposed and highlighted.

 

And third, all this in the context of a new chapter in the Federal/State relationship. While I’m sure none of us wanted to be in this position of dealing with COVID, the last six months have highlighted the importance and capacity of state governments and the need for a reformulated, redefined Federal partnership especially in this coming year where not only do we need historic pandemic related relief funding but we also have several critical legislative reauthorizations expiring.

 

As we gather today, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that COVID is a problem that affects every state in this nation. This is a battle for all of us.  And we know that we must resolve this virus together. 

 

That unless COVID is defeated everywhere, it won’t be defeated anywhere. 

COVID will ricochet across this country, bouncing from state to state, and the only course forward – in both our state’s self-interest and our collective interest – is to lock arms and to leave this virus no place to spread.

 

We all know the weapons needed for the war we must wage. 

 

We need unprecedented testing capacity and the supply chain to support it. 

 

We need contact tracing, we need stockpiles of PPE, medicines, supplies and we need an emergency surge capacity.  We need financial support for our beleaguered hospital systems. This nation has seen MERS, SARS, Ebola, Swine Flu and now COVID. 

 

No one can tell us the name of the next virus or bacteria to attack us.  But everyone tells us that it’s just a matter of time. Let’s institutionalize what we have learned so we are better prepared for the next invasion and let us design and implement a new public health system for this nation, because we just cannot go through this again. 

 

The COVID challenge goes even further.  As we just heard from our Vice Chairman Governor Asa Hutchinson, our schools are facing unprecedented challenges.  They must now educate our students and keep them safe from this deadly virus.  It is an entirely new undertaking and they need Federal support. None of this is easy, but all of it is achievable.

 

At the same time, we must deal with the secondary effects of COVID.  It has wreaked havoc on this nation’s economy and you can quantify the damage by adding together the jobs lost, and the deficits, of all of our states. 

 

All major economists agree that without providing financial assistance for state and local governments, the economy will not rebound as quickly as it would otherwise. Fed Chairman Powell, former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, economists from all persuasions agree. The NGA is united in telling our Washington colleagues that they must include $500 Billion in unrestricted state funding in the upcoming COVID response legislation.  It is a top NGA priority.

 

This is also the moment to implement the agenda the NGA developed last year under Governor Hogan’s leadership. This is the moment to invest in infrastructure. We need to reinvigorate the economy and we need to replace aging infrastructure. We have all talked about it for decades. This is the moment to do it. The Federal Government should provide the funds and the states will build it.

 

And finally, the Federal/State relationship has always been a dynamic tension since it was first embodied in our Constitution by our founding fathers. There are checks and balances and that is as it should be.  But there has never been a moment where state governments have been more instrumental in the lives of the people of this country. State governments are now in the forefront, and it is a new chapter in the governance of this country. 

 

This coming year, states are not only laboratories of democracy – we will also be the engines of economic renewal and the innovators of a new public health system. 

There is tremendous possibility in the nation’s recognition of the full potential of state governments. And we are committed to achieving progress, that is the essence of our role as Governors.

 

As Governors we all know there is no red and blue.  All our states are both.  We understand that we govern for the red white and blue.

 

This next year will be challenging for sure, but all battles are hard and ours could not have a more noble or righteous purpose. I’m honored to be standing beside all of you as we lead this nation forward. With that, I conclude the 112th NGA Annual Meeting.

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Governor Cuomo Announces Department of Financial Services Takes Action to Protect Patients from PPE Fees

Governor Cuomo Announces Department of Financial Services Takes Action to Protect Patients from PPE Fees

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the New York State Department of Financial Services has issued new guidance to New York health insurers to ensure that patients are not charged personal protective equipment fees by healthcare providers that participate in their insurer’s network. 

 

“In these uncertain times, as many New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet, healthcare providers should not be creating additional financial burdens on their patients,” Governor Cuomo said. “This action will ensure that New Yorkers are protected against excessive fees associated with the necessary and at times live-saving care they need.” 

 

DFS has received consumer complaints that participating healthcare providers, particularly dental providers, are improperly charging their patients fees for PPE or other charges related to increased costs due to COVID-19, which fees are being passed to their insurers and go beyond the insured patient’s applicable cost-sharing.  

 

A participating provider should not charge a patient fees or other charges in addition to the patient’s financial responsibility for covered services and insurers should not cover these charges. In addition, DFS does not approve policy or contract provisions that hold the insured patient responsible for the cost of a participating provider’s PPE.   

 

Superintendent of Financial Services Linda A. Lacewell said, “DFS’ circular letter reminds insurers in New York State that they should ensure that consumers are not charged PPE fees. Consumers are not liable for fees that go beyond their financial responsibility in the insurance policies or contracts. It is essential that healthcare providers and insurers collaborate so that consumers receive the care they need during this uncertain time, without extra fees.” 

 

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “Healthcare providers should not be charging patients for PPE under any circumstances. Providers have an obligation to ensure the safety of their patients and employees during all medical visits, from routine check-ups to surgical procedures.”

 

DFS’ circular letter advises insurers to: 

  • Immediately notify their participating providers not to charge PPE fees and that insureds should be held harmless for these charges;  
  • Instruct providers to refund PPE fees to insureds; 
  • Notify insureds that they should not be charged for PPE fees and provide insureds with insurers’ contact information to submit related complaints;  
  • Work with their providers to resolve issues relating to increased costs due to COVID-19, including PPE fees, so insureds are held harmless for these fees, which may require that insurers request information from providers about whether insureds were charged improper fees; and 
  • Work with their providers to ensure that refunds are provided to insureds; and 
  • Within 90 days of the circular letter, report to DFS the amount of PPE fees charged to insureds, the number of insureds impacted, and a description of how refunds will be provided. 

 

Read a copy of the insurance circular letter on the DFS website.

 

New Yorkers with complaints about an insurance policy should contact DFS at  www.dfs.ny.gov/complaint or through the DFS Consumer Hotline at (212) 480-6400 or (518) 474-6600 (Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM).  

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Which Press-On Nails Are Best for Manicures At Home?

Which Press-On Nails Are Best for Manicures At Home?

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Yewande Moore used to get an acrylic overlay with a gel-polish manicure every couple of weeks before coronavirus hit. But when Ohio, where she lives in Kent, shut down salons, she went to Walmart to get tools to take her nails off, not knowing when she could get them done again.

There, taking a look at the press-on nails in the beauty aisle, Ms. Moore, 32, who works with student leaders at a nearby university, had an idea.

“I love doing my nails so much,” she said. “I’m going to offer it to other people.”

Ms. Moore took her stimulus check and invested in supplies to start a press-on nail business. After painting some sets and building a website, she introduced Nail Candy to the world on June 2 and said she has sold about 125 nail sets. While some customers seem to be pros at putting on press-ons, she gets plenty of questions about how to put them on correctly.

“There are a lot of people trying it for the first time who probably never would have tried it before,” she said.

Along with other nonessential businesses, nail salons closed across the country when the first stay-at-home orders came down in March. It left nail salon workers out of work and people that are used to having their nails done without access to a cherished grooming ritual.

Press-on nails last had a big moment in the clickety-clack-typewriter 1980s, with ads from a brand called Lee (“easy on, easy off”).

Now, more salons, independent creators and customers are selling press-on nails as a way to still have nice-looking manicures in the era of social distancing. The nails can cost as little as $8 from a retailer to at least $160 for a customized set with Frida Kahlo-inspired art.

It’s usually cheaper than a salon, where a set of acrylics, as they’re known there, can cost from $60 to more than $200 for custom art, and that doesn’t include a tip. Press-ons may fall off more than acrylics put on in a salon, but kits usually send enough glue to reattach any errant nail.

Even as states open back up, safety is still a concern for some costumers. Charlotte Brubeck, a laid-off restaurant worker in Boynton Beach, Fla., was getting her nails done regularly in a salon, with press-ons something she’d do for specific outfits on occasions like Halloween.

Ms. Brubeck, 26, turned to press-ons while the salons were closed but doesn’t plan to go back, even though her local spot has been open for a few weeks. Despite the fact that press-ons aren’t as durable as her normal style, she said it’s worth it.

“I spend about $7 to $8 on a box of press-ons versus $35-plus on a fresh manicure, and I don’t have to leave my house,” Ms. Brubeck said. “During a health pandemic when most people are out of work and need to stay home, that to me is all the info you need to see how much better press-ons are than a salon manicure.”

Vanity Projects, which has salons in New York and Miami, hadn’t sold press-ons before the pandemic until its owner Rita Pinto started paying her workers to paint sets in May. The salons advertised them on Instagram and has sold 200 sets, also called tips, which Ms. Pinto, 45, said has helped keep the company in business.

“The tips have been a saving grace,” she said.

During previous periods of economic uncertainty, the beauty sector has historically seen an increase in sales of small luxury purchases in what was named by Leonard Lauder the “lipstick effect.” These little indulgences can make people feel better without blowing a budget.

This crisis is different than past recessions, however, with people quarantining and with fewer occasions to dress up. It has left salons scrambling for ideas.

“We aren’t pandemic-proof, but we are recession-proof,” Ms. Pinto said.

Fortunately, press-on nails have gotten nicer in the last decade, with most sets lasting two to three weeks and coming in different shapes and lengths. Before the pandemic, Jennifer Lopez and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had worn press-ons, with Ariana Grande and Chrissy Teigen joining them over the last few months. Influencers are also getting attached, with Whitney Simmons, a YouTube fitness influencer, singing press-ons’ praises.

“I am a full-blown convert to press-on nails, I never saw this day coming,” Ms. Simmons says in a YouTube video posted in June. “My nail salon opened back up on May 1, and I have not gone back.”

But customers new to doing their nails need to be wary and listen to what professionals say when it comes to putting fake nails on and taking them off, according to Morgan Dixon, who owns the M.A.D. nail salon in New Orleans. Ms. Dixon is also the lead manicurist for the television show “Claws,” a TNT comedy-drama series set in a nail salon.

A natural nail can be damaged if a press-on is put on top of a gel manicure, or if ripped off without the right process.

“Just like any other beauty product,” Ms. Dixon, 29, said. “You want to make sure you aren’t doing anything harmful to yourself.”

She predicted that the at-home press-on passion will likely continue after the pandemic now that people have seen the possibilities and lower prices. Still, she doesn’t see the in-person experience going away forever.

“I honestly love that I can sit down with someone where you can feel like you’re getting a therapy session too,” Ms. Dixon said. “You’re paying for more than just throwing nails on.”

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Governor Cuomo Announces More Than $2.3 Million Awarded Through New York Forward Loan Fund

Governor Cuomo Announces More Than $2.3 Million Awarded Through New York Forward Loan Fund

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that more than $2.3 million has been awarded to support 61 businesses and residential landlords with COVID-19 related costs and expenses through the New York Forward Loan Fund. Of the 61 loans, 54 were provided to minority- and women-owned businesses; ten loans were provided to residential landlords; two loans were awarded to veteran-owned businesses; and one loan supported a non-profit organization. Applications are still being accepted and businesses from qualifying industries, including agriculture, construction, food services, retail, education services, manufacturing and transportation, are encouraged to apply. 
 
“The pandemic’s impact on small businesses was especially damaging and we’re not going to leave them behind – they are the backbone of New York’s economy and central to our recovery.” Governor Cuomo said. “The New York Forward Loan Fund is providing critical assistance to alleviate lost revenue and offset reopening-related expenses, getting these businesses back on their feet and contributing to New Yorkers’ efforts to build back our state and local economies even stronger than before.” 

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President and CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses and industries across New York State – especially our small businesses and particularly minority- and women-owned companies. Through the New York Forward Loan Fund, we are proud to support those who were otherwise unable to receive federal assistance while creating stronger relationships between small business owners and the state’s network of Community Development Financial Institutions. I would encourage any eligible small business or residential landlord in need of assistance to apply for this low-interest funding.”  
 
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, ” Like their tenants, many small landlords have been dealt a severe financial blow by the pandemic. HCR committed $10 million to the New York Forward Loan Fund for small landlords to support those who were deeply impacted by the COVID crisis and who are devoted to serving their tenants by keeping their buildings in decent, safe and sanitary condition. It is especially critical that we provide help to those who serve low- to moderate-income tenants so that we can help to stabilize the small rental housing stock across New York State.  This program will provide much-needed financial assistance in our communities at a time when it is most needed.”

The New York Forward Loan Fund was created to provide working capital loans to small businesses—focusing on MWBEs—small residential landlords and non-profit organizations that did not receive funding from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. The fund continues to accept and process applications; to date, more than 9,300 eligible applications have been received – over 60% of which were from MWBEs.  
   
One of the small businesses that accessed funds is A Bead Just So, a full-service bead store Ballston Spa, Saratoga County. Founded in 2013, the store sells a variety of beads for jewelry-making, provides jewelry repair services, and regularly hosts classes and events. Through the New York Forward Loan Fund, the business accessed a $27,577 working capital loan from Pursuit Lending that helped retain five jobs and support the business’s reopening.  
  
A Bead Just So Owner Kate Fryer said, “I’ve poured my heart and soul into my specialty craft shop and having to close – while understandable — was devastating. I missed seeing my customers and providing each one with the personal touch that makes my business distinct and my work so rewarding. The New York Forward Loan Fund was both my last resort and the perfect fit. No other program offered the freedom, flexibility and small business-friendly terms I needed to pay the rent, order inventory and finally reopen my store.”  
  
Eligible small businesses and small residential landlords can apply for a 60-month, no-fee loan with a 3% fixed interest rate; while eligible non-profits can apply for a 60-month, no-fee loan at 2% fixed interest. The maximum loan amount is $100,000. Loan funds can be used for working capital including payroll, operating and emergency maintenance, property taxes, utilities and costs associated with refitting physical space to follow social distancing guidelines. More information is available online at nyloanfund.com.  
  
Seven banks have pledged support for the New York Forward Loan Fund: Apple Bank, BNB Bank, Evans Bank, HSBC, M&T Bank, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. Additionally, the fund has received philanthropic commitments from the BlackRock Charitable Fund, Citi Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. The New York Forward Loan Fund was established with support from Calvert Impact Capital. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is administering the fund, and Connect2Capital is hosting applications.

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Governor Cuomo Announces Individuals Traveling to New York from Two Additional States, Virgin Islands Will Be Required to Quarantine for 14 Days

Governor Cuomo Announces Individuals Traveling to New York from an Additional State Will Be Required to Quarantine for 14 Days

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Governor Cuomo Announces Individuals Traveling to New York from an Additional State Will Be Required to Quarantine for 14 Days | Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
































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August 4, 2020

Albany, NY

Announces Rhode Island Meets the Metrics to Qualify for Travel Advisory; Delaware and Washington, D.C. Removed from List

1.05 Percent of Yesterday’s COVID-19 Tests were Positive

3 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday; No Deaths Reported in NYC for Third Straight Day

 

Confirms 746 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State – Bringing Statewide Total to 417,589; New Cases in 43 Counties 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that an additional state meets the metrics to qualify for the travel advisory requiring individuals who have traveled to New York from those states, all of which have significant community spread, to quarantine for 14 days. The newly-added state is Rhode Island. Delaware and Washington, D.C. have been removed. The quarantine applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or an area with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average. 

“Our progress in New York is even better than we expected, thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers. Our numbers continue to decline steadily, and for the third straight day in a row, there were no reported deaths in New York City,” Governor Cuomo said. “But we must protect that progress, which is why today we are adding another state to our travel advisory. We cannot go back to the hell we experienced just a few months ago – and surging infection rates across the country threaten to bring us back there – so we must all remain vigilant.”

The full, updated travel advisory list is below: 

  • Alaska
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico 
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

 

Delaware and Washington, D.C. have been removed from the travel advisory. Individuals in quarantine after traveling from a state that has been removed from the advisory should continue to quarantine for the full 14 days.

 

Today’s data is summarized briefly below:

  • Patient Hospitalization – 568 (+32)
  • Patients Newly Admitted – 85
  • Hospital Counties – 30
  • Number ICU – 139 (+3)
  • Number ICU with Intubation – 69 (+7)
  • Total Discharges – 73,326 (+47)
  • Deaths – 3
  • Total Deaths – 25,175

 

Of the 70,993 test results reported to New York State yesterday, 746, or 1.05 percent, were positive. Each region’s percentage of positive test results reported over the last three days is as follows:

 

REGION

SATURDAY

SUNDAY

MONDAY

Capital Region

1.0%

0.9%

1.1%

Central New York

0.8%

0.7%

0.7%

Finger Lakes

0.7%

0.8%

1.1%

Long Island

1.0%

1.3%

1.3%

Mid-Hudson

0.8%

0.9%

1.0%

Mohawk Valley

0.7%

1.0%

1.7%

New York City

1.0%

1.0%

1.0%

North Country

0.4%

0.0%

0.6%

Southern Tier

0.5%

0.9%

0.9%

Western New York

0.7%

2.2%

1.1%

 

The Governor also confirmed 746 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 417,589 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 417,589 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

 

County

Total Positive

New Positive

Albany

2,543

12

Allegany

75

0

Broome

1,078

14

Cattaraugus

164

2

Cayuga

150

2

Chautauqua

241

7

Chemung

163

0

Chenango

212

1

Clinton

127

0

Columbia

529

6

Cortland

93

1

Delaware

104

0

Dutchess

4,557

14

Erie

8,667

41

Essex

55

0

Franklin

50

0

Fulton

285

0

Genesee

273

0

Greene

289

0

Hamilton

7

0

Herkimer

262

16

Jefferson

139

5

Lewis

37

2

Livingston

170

3

Madison

405

4

Monroe

4,821

31

Montgomery

160

0

Nassau

43,436

56

Niagara

1,458

9

NYC

226,280

316

Oneida

2,103

13

Onondaga

3,515

25

Ontario

352

1

Orange

11,105

9

Orleans

295

0

Oswego

249

1

Otsego

115

1

Putnam

1,437

4

Rensselaer

748

8

Rockland

13,893

8

Saratoga

739

6

Schenectady

1,041

4

Schoharie

68

0

Schuyler

22

0

Seneca

86

0

St. Lawrence

262

0

Steuben

294

2

Suffolk

43,468

73

Sullivan

1,484

1

Tioga

191

1

Tompkins

230

0

Ulster

2,039

8

Warren

302

2

Washington

255

0

Wayne

248

1

Westchester

36,049

35

Wyoming

113

0

Yates

56

1

 

Yesterday, there were 3 deaths due to COVID-19 in New York State, bringing the total to 25,175. A geographic breakdown is as follows, by county of residence:

 

Deaths by County of Residence

County

New Deaths

Erie

1

Herkimer

1

Monroe

1

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Chinatown Is Coming Back, One Noodle at a Time

Chinatown Is Coming Back, One Noodle at a Time

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With an amber chip of roast duck skin on one street and a tangle of lo mein on another, Chinatown took a few steps out of its long hibernation last week.

Before New York City had its first confirmed case of Covid-19 on March 1, the disease had already hurt the neighborhood indirectly, as baseless fears of Chinese-owned businesses kept some visitors away.

Like other Chinese neighborhoods in the city, Manhattan’s Chinatown has been slow to recover. When the city began allowing restaurants to place tables on sidewalks and in parking lanes, and patio umbrellas and potted palms began to sprout north of Canal Street and west of the Tombs, the streets of Chinatown remained largely, eerily, deserted.

Then on Wednesday, on the south end of Mott Street, seating for 120 people opened at a string of communal dining platforms designed to sit on the pavement by the Rockwell Group architecture firm. The installation, done in bright primary colors and then painted by local artists and students from the nearby Transfiguration School, is essentially a socially distanced food court.

Anyone who finds an empty table can sit down with food bought at one of the dozen or so businesses that face the new tables. These include two restaurants, Hop Kee and Wo Hop, where generations of New Yorkers and tourists got their first taste of Chinatown.

The project, a nonprofit effort by Rockwell Group and other donors, had an immediate ripple effect. After seeing the construction earlier last week, the owner of Peking Duck House began to build a dining platform on Mott Street for his restaurant, which is just north of the Rockwell Group cluster. Some businesses on the block had already built dining areas in the street; once the red, yellow and blue pavilions arrived, they no longer needed their ad hoc street furniture, and sold it at a discount to other local restaurants, including Golden Unicorn and Hwa Yuan Szechuan.

On Tuesday night, Hwa Yuan served its first meals since March that were not packed in takeout containers. True, customers sat at three tables next to the curb on East Broadway rather than in one of the newly decorated dining rooms on the restaurant’s three floors. (Indoor dining is still prohibited in the city.)

But Hwa Yuan had set the tables as grandly as the circumstances would permit, nesting delicate white porcelain appetizer plates into porcelain chargers, and supplying each place setting with two pairs of lacquered chopsticks propped against a ceramic chopstick rest.

The city had shaken off most of the day’s heat by the time I arrived for dinner. Still, the first thing I ordered was a bowl of chilled sesame noodles.

These are, of course, the noodles that Hwa Yuan began serving when it was founded by the Sichuan-born chef Shorty Tang in 1967. They are the noodles that restaurants across the city have tried to copy, often without the run of dark vinegar or orange splash of chile oil that made Mr. Tang’s recipe so thrilling. One day these noodles will be commemorated by a bronze plaque on the building. For now, the best way to honor them is to eat them.

For the sake of comparison, you might also get the shredded bean-curd salad, for which cold, pressed tofu is sliced into square strands, like spaghetti alla chitarra. Outfitted with Chinese celery and dressed with sesame oil, it is at least as refreshing on a hot day as the sesame noodles.

Some people always look as if they should be in a suit, even at the beach. Hwa Yuan is like that. In its attempt to transfer its elegant style to the new asphalt-and-concrete ambience, it may have pioneered the concept of curbside Peking duck carving. A waiter set up a small table on the sidewalk and, holding a cleaver in one hand and a roast duck in the other, proceeded to whittle off tiles of skin and flesh under the LED beam of the streetlights.

Chien Lieh Tang, Shorty Tang’s son and the current chef, said in a phone interview that he had resisted outdoor dining. Instead, he had lobbied the city to allow indoor service.

“A Chinese restaurant is different because we have a lot of plate service,” he said. “You have appetizer, soup, rice, a lot of things, a lot of sauce, so it’s not easy for Chinese restaurants to put it outside.”

There are other challenges in Chinatown. The tourists are gone, and while jury duty has resumed at some downtown courts, many office buildings are empty. A handful of sidewalk tables would make little difference to banquet and dim sum restaurants with space for hundreds of people at a time, including Jing Fong and 88 Palace, which have not embraced outdoor dining.

Mr. Tang held out for a month before giving in. “We don’t have a choice,” he said. “We have to survive.”

Dinner on Mott Street the next night was a less formal affair. A waiter handed me a paper menu pulled off a ring hanging by the front door. Then he gestured toward an empty patio table and chairs — donated by the companies that made them — inside a three-sided plywood pen painted daisy yellow and separated by plexiglass partitions from the two nearest tables.

The steamed dumplings, scallops in black-bean sauce and pork chow fun showed up in plastic takeout containers. The lids were snapped on tight. Knives, forks and napkins were sealed in plastic. Disposable chopsticks were handed out if you asked.

It wasn’t until after I’d sat down that I realized my menu wasn’t from Wo Hop, where I’d meant to eat, but Wo Hop Next Door, the younger spinoff run by another branch of the family. Walking down the red-tiled passageway to Wo Hop has always felt like entering a noir film. Part of it is the period décor and the rest is the period cuisine — midcentury chow mein. There’s nothing cinematic about Wo Hop Next Door.

But I’ve never been one of those people who think the cooking at the two Wo Hops is different enough to be worth arguing about. And the cooking registered differently outside, under the forest of fire escapes and bilingual signage. It is less a step back in time and more a stop along a guided tour of local history.

At your outdoor table, you could start with lobster enrobed in a glossy, harmless sauce at Wo Hop, founded in 1938; move on to crab fried rice and an entire steamed fish under scallion threads from Ping’s Seafood, open since 1998; then take on a bowl of the trusty soup dumplings from Shanghai 21, also known as 21 Shanghai House, which has been there less than a decade.

You could bring your tour up to this year with dessert from Pinklady Cheese Tart. Jean Lim, a young entrepreneur who moved to New York from Malaysia, signed the lease on her narrow bakery in February.

She moved ahead with her plan, even when there was almost nobody on Mott Street to buy her crisp, twice-baked pastry shells filled with whipped, sweetened fresh cheese. She makes some plain and flavors others with, for instance, matcha or chocolate. A single palm-size tart is $2.75, and will disappear in a minute or less.

Chinatown’s geologic layering of successive generations of immigrants, cuisines and sensibilities is one source of its enduring allure to hungry, curious visitors. Tradition anchors the neighborhood, but also makes it vulnerable. Although restaurants there have long offered takeout, online ordering is unheard of at many of them, or was until the pandemic forced some owners to adapt.

Narrow sidewalks and streets that seem to have more than their share of restricted parking spaces made it hard for some Chinatown restaurants to take advantage of the new outdoor dining rules. And the frugality that helps businesses there come through lean times also made them reluctant to spend money on outdoor seating that may end up in the trash in a few months, according to Wellington Chen, the executive director of the Chinatown Business Improvement District.

His group has lent restaurants its canopies, outdoor lights, tables, chairs and umbrellas, along with sandbags to weigh them down. It trucked in 6,400 pounds of rich soil to fill the planter boxes that restaurants use as a buffer between traffic lanes and in-street seating, and moved the boxes from restaurants that no longer need them to ones that did, like Golden Unicorn. (That restaurant and Peking Duck House did not return calls about their reopenings, but Mr. Chen believes that both will begin serving outdoors within the next week.)

The new seating on Mott Street is Rockwell Group’s sixth outdoor-dining installation, and the first one shared by several restaurants.

Another communal dining cluster is scheduled for later this month. It will radiate from the intersection of 37th Road and 74th Street in Jackson Heights, in the part of Queens that had the highest concentration of illness from Covid-19. Like the businesses of Chinatown, the Nepalese, Bangladeshi and Indian restaurants on those blocks have been slow to exploit the new outdoor dining rules.

Working with the city Department of Transportation, the firm looked in the five boroughs to identify “locations where the operators weren’t capable of rallying resources to help themselves,” in the words of David Rockwell, the firm’s founder.

“It’s been so terrifying to look at the empty city and see it just as hardware,” Mr. Rockwell said. “In theater, when there’s not a performance, the art form doesn’t exist. In some ways, cities are like that. Walking around the city you see these big gaping wounds. And you see these pockets where people have started to dine out.”

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‘Closing Isn’t Even an Option’: With No Events, Caterers Rush to Adjust

‘Closing Isn’t Even an Option’: With No Events, Caterers Rush to Adjust

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On a recent Saturday, petite lobster rolls on toasted brioche and coconut shrimp with mango aioli were to be passed among the guests at a 210-person wedding. A bar mitzvah party for 180 was going to conclude with torched s’mores and a chocolate fountain.

For David Cingari of David’s Soundview Catering in Stamford, Conn., the events, along with food for an anniversary party, should have brought in roughly $6,600 in profits.

Instead, he was dashing about, serving lobster rolls, blackened mahi-mahi tacos and smashburgers alongside cocktails like the Painkiller to socially distanced diners at a pop-up restaurant he opened in mid-June.

His take? About $600.

The restaurant, David’s at the Landing, is the third iteration of Mr. Cingari’s catering business since the coronavirus pandemic struck, bringing his $7 million-a-year company to a sudden stop.

“We were going to do $300,000 in graduation parties this spring,” he said. “That’s just gone.”

The pandemic has the nation’s caterers — roughly 12,000 individuals or companies with annual revenues of more than $60 billion — reeling. Many caterers say they expect their business to be down between 80 and 90 percent this year. Corporate cafeterias that they provide food and staff to remain closed. Events like graduation and anniversary parties, bar mitzvahs, charity dinners and weddings have been canceled or pushed into next year.

And the ones that took place were on a decidedly smaller scale.

“We did one 50-person wedding,” Mr. Cingari said. “It was a clambake in the backyard. That was supposed to be a 250-person wedding.”

The collapse of the catering industry this year directly affects bartenders, wait staff and others who typically work these events as part-time employees.

The industry — a collection of large corporations like Aramark and Compass Group and thousands of smaller companies owned by individuals — is not tracking how many caterers have permanently closed because of the pandemic, but they say it will happen.

“If I look locally at South Jersey, I know of a few caterers and some venues that are severely struggling,” said Doug Quattrini, the president of the National Association for Catering and Events and an event producer at Sensational Host in Maple Shade, N.J.

While caterers say they are taking a financial beating, many feel better situated than those in the restaurant business. (Not surprisingly, many caterers worked in restaurants before switching jobs.) Instead of paying often expensive rent in desirable locations like most restaurants, caterers typically pay less for large kitchens that can be off the beaten track.

Moreover, caterers tend to be a nimble group of entrepreneurs, adept at providing finicky couples with their every heart’s whim and overcoming the oddest of logistical challenges. Those traits have helped them during the pandemic.

“We have huge logistical expertise,” said Peter Callahan of Peter Callahan Catering, whose clients include some of New York’s wealthiest financiers and whose specialty is mini food like one-bite cheeseburgers and tiny grilled cheese sandwiches. “When you’re an off-premise caterer, you might be doing an event that requires barges to get to a private island with no vehicles.

“We’re creative thinkers, and right now people are thinking about how to shape their businesses for the need at hand,” he added.

As the traditional bar-mitzvah-and-wedding circuit collapsed, caterers began to think about different ways to make money.

“It’s the year of the pivot,” said Holly Sheppard, who spent years working as a line cook at New York City restaurants before starting her Brooklyn catering business, Fig & Pig, in 2011.

Ms. Sheppard was in the middle of preparing a meal for 600 people in mid-March when the client called, canceling the event. The food, which had already been paid for, was donated.

After that, Ms. Sheppard said, the cancellations and postponements rolled in. Of the 47 weddings she had scheduled for this year, 40 have been pushed into next year. The others were canceled outright.

With her calendar now largely empty through the fall, Ms. Sheppard gave up the lease on her apartment in Brooklyn, worked out a deal with the landlord for her kitchen to pay what she can now and make it up next year, and moved to her house in Tillson, N.Y.

There, she bought a smoker and is honing her skills, planning to add barbecue to her catering options.

“I’m going to be a female pitmaster on the roadside in upstate New York until the weddings come back,” Ms. Sheppard said. “I’m going to make it through all of this. Closing isn’t even an option. I’m a scrapper.”

Mr. Cingari has been hustling in the food industry for four decades and has no intention of letting the coronavirus end his business.

After working as a hotel chef at the Grand Hyatt in New York, Mr. Cingari opened a restaurant, David’s American Food and Drink, in Stamford in 1987.

But after a decade of long hours, constant staff turnover and long nights worrying about paying his $13,000-a-month lease, Mr. Cingari, whose family owns ShopRite grocery stores in the area, decided to close the restaurant in 1997 and focus solely on his catering operation.

The business took off, and by the end of the year, David’s Soundview Catering had 85 employees preparing food out of a 6,000-square-foot commissary kitchen.

About 80 percent of the business came from delivering breakfast and lunches for corporate meetings and from preparing food for and staffing more than a dozen corporate cafeterias in the area. On weekends, Mr. Cingari’s calendar was filled with weddings, anniversary parties and bar mitzvahs.

The first inkling Mr. Cingari received that this year was going to be anything but normal came in late February when he was notified that the employees of a Japanese-based company in one of the buildings where he managed the cafeteria would be working from home as part of an emergency response trial. A week later, a large international bank said it would be doing the same thing.

“It was like wildfire,” he said. “Within three weeks, every one of the cafeterias were closed and any event we had on the books was canceled.”

Mr. Cingari said he had received money from the federal Paycheck Protection Program to cover around 80 of his employees.

As companies shut down and people began staying at home in mid-March, Mr. Cingari shifted his business. He had noticed how people were raising money on social media to provide meals to hospitals and emergency medical workers, so he did the same. The money donated through the social media outreach paid for the cost of food and supplies.

“Since we had this large commissary kitchen, we could do huge numbers of meals,” he said, though he made no profit from it. “So we started making a few thousand meals a day for several weeks to feed hospital workers and others.”

That effort began to dry up as coronavirus cases declined in Connecticut in the late spring.

So Mr. Cingari shifted again, this time providing groceries, hard-to-find household items like toilet paper and Clorox disinfecting wipes, and take-home meals for $50 that could feed a family of four. In early June he would sell close to 60 meals on a Saturday night, he said.

“It didn’t even come close to what we were making before,” he said, “but it was something.”

But that business petered out when the state allowed outdoor dining. On the final weekend of that iteration of his business, Mr. Cingari sold five take-home meals.

So in early July, he shifted again. Through one of the buildings in a corporate office park where he manages the cafeteria, he had access to an indoor dining area and outdoor patio space overlooking the harbor in Stamford. He had used the space in the past for weekend events like birthday parties and bar mitzvahs.

Now, on that outdoor patio, Mr. Cingari has started a pop-up restaurant, David’s at the Landing. The restaurant is open Thursday through Saturday nights and serves a limited menu of appetizers, five entrees, cocktails, wines and beers. On a recent Saturday evening, the wait time for a table at the restaurant, which seats 65 with social distancing, was nearly two hours, he said.

“I can’t believe I’m back in the restaurant business,” Mr. Cingari said. “Shoot me. Still, the business is covering costs and making a little bit of money for the eight people who are working there.”

This latest incarnation will also be short-lived, likely to close in mid-September as the weather in Connecticut turns cooler.

Mr. Cingari had hoped the corporate cafeteria side of his business would come back at least a little bit by the fall. But with coronavirus cases spiking in different parts of the country, he now has his doubts about that.

“It’s all I think about all day and all night,” he said. “I just hope that another pivot comes to mind by mid-September that will hold us until January. There has to be some way. I have too many good people and too much wisdom under my belt to not be able to figure this out.”

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Governor Cuomo Announces Start of Construction on St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York City

Governor Cuomo Announces Start of Construction on St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York City

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Governor Cuomo Announces Start of Construction on St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York City | Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
































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August 3, 2020

Albany, NY

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the start of construction on the new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York City. The original Church, located in Lower Manhattan, was destroyed on 9/11. The project resumes under the leadership of the Friends of St. Nicholas board in partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“The start of construction on the new St. Nicholas Church echoes the overarching message of these challenging times: We are going to build back the way we built back from 9/11, and it will be better and stronger with more solidarity and more faith and more spirit of community than ever before,” Governor Cuomo said. “This St. Nicholas is going to be more splendid and more inviting than the St. Nicholas that was here before. We have gone through difficult times together, but we rise from the ashes and we rise stronger than ever before. That’s what this St. Nicholas will stand for. It is a powerful message to all New Yorkers and all Americans.” 

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His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America said, “Nearly twenty years ago, our Saint Nicholas fell with thousands of our fellow human beings lost in the ashes of 9/11, and countless others wounded in body, heart, and soul by a savage act of hatred and terror. We cannot, we must not, and we shall not let this stand. We are going to open the Saint Nicholas Church and National Shrine as a sign of love, not hate; a sign of reconciliation, not of prejudice; and a sign of the ideals that exist in this great American Nation, where one’s religious liberty and freedom of conscience never excludes, but only embraces.”

Kevin J. O’Toole, Chairman of the Port Authority said, “In a world filled with so much uncertainty, this restart brings hope that we are closer to restoring St. Nicholas as a solemn place for parishioners and visitors to worship, reflect, and honor the innumerable sacrifices made after the September 11th attacks. The church is a symbol of the continued resilience that has helped bring a rebirth to the World Trade Center campus, and today is a day to recognize those hard-fought achievements.”

We have gone through difficult times together, but we rise from the ashes and we rise stronger than ever before. That’s what this St. Nicholas will stand for. It is a powerful message to all New Yorkers and all Americans.

Rick Cotton, Executive Director of the Port Authority said, “Today marks a new chapter in the historic rebuild of Lower Manhattan. The new St. Nicholas Church and National Shrine will be a source of inspiration and peace, while also helping to share the historical contributions of the Greek-Orthodox community to all who visit and worship. The Port Authority is proud to have worked alongside Governor Cuomo to bring us to this important milestone and today, we are pleased to see construction resume. I commend the work of the Archdiocese and Friends of St. Nicholas as they have worked hard to ensure that this project honors the strength and resolve of our World Trade Center Campus.”

Governor Cuomo Announces Start of Construction on St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York City

The original St. Nicholas Church at 155 Cedar Street was the only place of worship that was completely destroyed in the September 11th attacks. Upon taking office, Governor Cuomo made the restoration of St. Nicholas Church a top priority, working with the Archdiocese and the Port Authority to reach agreement on a larger, more accessible site for the rebuilding of the Church and National Shrine and personally raising donations for the privately funded complex. When completed, the new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at 130 Liberty Street just south of the 9/11 Memorial Plaza will serve as a place of prayer and silent reflection and also house a nondenominational bereavement center for anyone seeking solace and strength at a time of loss. The complex, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and modeled after Byzantine churches of Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Holy Savior in Istanbul, was designed to glow in the evening hours, an ever-present beacon of hope on the World Trade Center campus. 

This progress on St. Nicholas Church builds on the Port Authority’s commitment to completing major projects at the World Trade Center campus. Construction continues to the north of Memorial Plaza on the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center following an agreement strongly supported by Governor Cuomo in 2018. The Performing Arts Center will include up to 200,000-square-feet of space, three halls and rehearsal space, a restaurant, and a gift shop. The center will serve as a global hub for the creation and exchange of art, ideas and culture that will present outstanding theater, dance, music and film from the United States and around the world.

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Governor Cuomo Announces New York State Has Completed 6 Million Diagnostic COVID-19 Tests

Governor Cuomo Announces New York State Has Completed 6 Million Diagnostic COVID-19 Tests

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State has completed 6 million diagnostic COVID-19 tests. Yesterday, the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 dropped to 556, the lowest number since March 17, there were three deaths and the three-day rolling average for deaths dropped to four, the lowest number since mid-March. No deaths were reported in New York City yesterday. The governor also updated New Yorkers on the state’s progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.

 

“We’ve now conducted over 6 million tests, and the numbers are just about where we want them to be, which is all very good news and says that our plan is working,” Governor Cuomo said. “However, context is important, and there are storm clouds on the horizon in the form of new cases throughout the country and a lack of compliance here in the state, and I urge New Yorkers to stay New York Smart and local governments to properly enforce state guidance.”

 

Yesterday, the State Liquor Authority and State Police Task Force visited 1,070 establishments in New York City and Long Island and observed 36 establishments that were not in compliance with state requirements. The Task Force has observed a total of 13,684 establishments. A county breakdown of observed violations is below:

 

  • Bronx – 5
  • Brooklyn – 0
  • Manhattan – 10
  • Queens – 18
  • Staten Island – 1
  • Nassau – 0
  • Suffolk – 2

 

Today’s data is summarized briefly below:

 

  • Patient Hospitalization – 556 (-25)
  • Patients Newly Admitted – 74
  • Hospital Counties – 30
  • Number ICU – 143 (-4)
  • Number ICU with Intubation – 71 (-1)
  • Total Discharges – 73,222 (+88)
  • Deaths – 3
  • Total Deaths – 25,170

 

Of the 58,961 tests conducted in New York State yesterday, 531, or 0.9 percent, were positive. Each region’s percentage of positive tests over the last three days is as follows:

 

REGION

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

SATURDAY

Capital Region

1.1%

1.1%

1.0%

Central New York

0.5%

0.7%

0.8%

Finger Lakes

0.7%

0.9%

0.7%

Long Island

0.9%

1.1%

1.0%

Mid-Hudson

0.9%

1.0%

0.8%

Mohawk Valley

1.0%

1.1%

0.7%

New York City

0.9%

0.8%

1.0%

North Country

0.5%

0.2%

0.4%

Southern Tier

0.6%

0.8%

0.5%

Western New York

1.6%

1.1%

0.7%

 

The Governor also confirmed 531 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 416,298 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 416,298 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

 

County

Total Positive

New Positive

Albany

2,521

6

Allegany

74

0

Broome

1,054

6

Cattaraugus

159

1

Cayuga

148

4

Chautauqua

232

1

Chemung

163

0

Chenango

211

2

Clinton

127

0

Columbia

522

3

Cortland

92

1

Delaware

103

0

Dutchess

4,520

16

Erie

8,572

24

Essex

55

0

Franklin

50

0

Fulton

283

1

Genesee

272

0

Greene

289

0

Hamilton

7

0

Herkimer

241

1

Jefferson

134

4

Lewis

35

1

Livingston

167

1

Madison

400

1

Monroe

4,768

26

Montgomery

157

2

Nassau

43,322

51

Niagara

1,446

2

NYC

225,723

263

Oneida

2,087

6

Onondaga

3,485

8

Ontario

349

0

Orange

11,093

5

Orleans

295

0

Oswego

246

2

Otsego

112

0

Putnam

1,428

3

Rensselaer

736

2

Rockland

13,882

2

Saratoga

732

6

Schenectady

1,035

3

Schoharie

68

0

Schuyler

22

0

Seneca

86

1

St. Lawrence

262

1

Steuben

292

2

Suffolk

43,345

45

Sullivan

1,483

0

Tioga

189

1

Tompkins

230

0

Ulster

2,028

2

Warren

300

0

Washington

255

0

Wayne

246

1

Westchester

35,998

24

Wyoming

112

0

Yates

55

0

 

Yesterday, there were 3 deaths due to COVID-19 in New York State, bringing the total to 25,170. A geographic breakdown is as follows, by county of residence:

 

Deaths by County of Residence

County

New Deaths

Broome

1

Monroe

1

Westchester

1

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How to Open a Top-Tier Restaurant in a Pandemic? Rethink Everything

How to Open a Top-Tier Restaurant in a Pandemic? Rethink Everything

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Illinois has experienced nearly a week with more than 1,200 new coronavirus cases a day, and case numbers are surging in most of the United States. Hours after Mr. Muser’s speech, Gov. Gavin Newsom shut down indoor dining rooms and bars across California. New York City had already postponed its return to indoor dining, and last week Mayor Lightfoot announced that Chicago bars that didn’t serve food could not sell alcohol indoors.

“I don’t read the news anymore,” Mr. Duffy said. “I deleted it from my phone.”

Mr. Muser can’t wrap his head around the possibility of a future shutdown of indoor dining. “It just removes all the joy from my profession,” he said. “There’s no such thing as three-Michelin-star to-go anything.”

He checks the virus numbers every morning, then plows ahead, because there can be no hesitation when you’re in the final stretch of opening a restaurant. Most of Ever’s reservations through the end of September have been sold.

Last Tuesday, the kitchen plated the menu for him and the sommeliers Jessica Dennis and Ryan Rickelman so they could decide which wines to pair with, say, caviar and king crab nestled into a cucumber gel in which the Ever logo has been embedded with roasted coconut pudding.

Late Thursday afternoon, Mr. Selk and Chris Sullivan, a line cook, were hanging dehydrated foods — among them slices of dragonfruit, a maitake mushroom, a Fresno pepper and herbs in rice paper — in the hallway corner as the team prepared for the first of three nights of friends-and-family diners.

Mr. Muser was putting the finishing touches on his elegant solution to the P.P.E. question. He had hired the same craftsman who designed the walls to create a matching sculpturelike table that would sit inside the entryway to hold masks and hand sanitizer.

“It’s a $6,000 problem solver,” Mr. Muser said with a rueful smile. He called it “the Covid table.”

The automatic sanitizer dispenser wound up spewing so much goop onto the first guests’ hands that it dripped onto the floor. Mr. Muser made a note. One more problem to solve.

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Comic-Con Is Online, and So Is the Artist Alley

Comic-Con Is Online, and So Is the Artist Alley

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Like most large events, fan conventions including San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon and Dragon Con, have shifted gears this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Some have been postponed or canceled; others have moved their programming online.

While the panels and screenings that take place at these conventions can easily be streamed from one’s home, the meet-and-greets and spontaneous connections made at the events have been harder to translate to a virtual environment. That includes interactions between attendees and retailers.

The artist alley is a hallmark of fan conventions, populated by people selling illustrations, paintings, patches, pins, figurines, comics and other goods that reference popular franchises. Most of those indie artists make the majority of their yearly sales at these events. And this year, all of them are feeling the crunch.

“It’s been tough! From a business perspective, conventions represent a significant portion of our income stream, so it has made me feel less secure generally,” Karen Hallion, 47, wrote in an email this week. She is a freelance illustrator and has produced work for entertainment clients including Marvel and Disney. She started a Patreon in 2015 to support her personal work, which includes character mash-ups (“Doctor Who” meets “Finding Nemo,” for example) and a forthcoming children’s book.

Now that these artists no longer have a captive audience of convention attendees, promoting and selling their work online is a must. Faina Lorah, a painter and illustrator who lives in Cincinnati, said that a few months ago, as it became clear that the conventions would not be taking place as usual, she began “overhauling my storefront and Etsy shop and redesigning my approach with print on-demand services,” such as Merch by Amazon.

Ms. Lorah, 30, began her career as a fine artist but shifted to folklore- and fairytale-inspired work after a few successful convention runs. She also makes fan art, some of it inspired by characters from the Super Mario franchise and Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away.” In a normal year, Ms. Lorah estimated that 70 percent of her income comes from convention sales.

Her husband, Simon Tam, 39, a musician who is a frequent presenter and panelist at conventions including San Diego Comic-Con, Dragon Con, South by Southwest and Sakura-Con, has been hosting virtual events during the pandemic. He has also shifted some of his focus to philanthropy. Through the Slants Foundation, a nonprofit he formed with his bandmates in 2018, he is “providing grants to artists who are using their work to counter hate during the pandemic.”

Jenny Park, an illustrator in Cypress, Calif., whose work references video games like Overwatch and Fire Emblem, has been hosting virtual mini-conventions from her living room alongside other creators. She said she has seen her fellow indie artists band together during this time.

“I think there’s this greater sense of community and wanting to help each other succeed, because Covid has affected everyone across the board,” Ms. Park, 29, said.

In recent years, fan artists have faced challenges from entertainment companies about intellectual property violations, as many of them use well-known, copyrighted and trademarked characters and iconography in their work. The artist alley is an area where their use of protected imagery can be especially visible, as artists booths appear near corporate vendors hawking their wares. But many of the artists who rent tables at conventions also make original art, using characters and images of their own invention.

Some artists have also made use of social media hashtags like #virtualartistalley and convention-specific tags such as #ECCCOnline (standing for “Emerald City Comic Con online”) to make their work more discoverable online.

In addition to the lost revenue, Ms. Hallion, who lives in Swampscott, Mass., said that she missed the feeling of gathering with other artists.

“I have a little ‘con family’ of fellow artist friends scattered all over the country, and these shows are the only time we get to see each other in real life and spend time together,” she said. “It can feel isolating working in my studio all the time, so conventions always were a welcome break from all of the alone time.”

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The Art of the Cookie Drop

The Art of the Cookie Drop

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Juan Morel, a 38-year-old professional bodybuilder, has several nicknames. One is “Diesel,” for his resemblance to the similarly smooth-headed and muscled actor Vin. Another, “King of New York,” he earned for winning his second New York Pro competition last May.

“And now,” Mr. Morel said recently over FaceTime from his Long Island home, “the ‘Cookie Monster.’”

Since June 2019, he and his wife, Karen, have been running My Cookie Dealer, an online-only bakery that operates primarily via Instagram. While many food purveyors have struggled in recent months to make their businesses comply with a socially distanced reality, My Cookie Dealer has always been a delivery-only business. That model has now proved itself crisis-proof.

One recent shipment included some 3,000 orders for more than 35,000 cookies, and weighed nearly nine tons, Mrs. Morel said. All of the cookies were ordered within a 14-minute window.

My Cookie Dealer’s cookies are huge. Each mound of dough is weighed by hand to ensure its half-pound size and then cooked and packaged at the Morels’ 2,400-square-foot bakery in Nesconset, N.Y. The flavors change so regularly that the Morels are not sure exactly how many types of cookies they have sold.

Their cookies are available for purchase only twice each week, typically at noon local time on Wednesday and Saturday, in “drops” reminiscent of the limited-edition sneaker releases that have become popular in recent years. (There are also occasional, smaller “secret stash” sales.)

Each cookie costs $5 to $6; orders must be made in quantities of 10 or 20. Tens of thousands of cookies usually sell out within nine to 15 minutes, the Morels said.

“People that get the cookies love it,” Mrs. Morel, 40, said. “The people that didn’t get the cookies will swear at you, send you hate mail, send you hate-DMs, use profanity.” She added: “You’re being so nasty and using swear words over the fact that you couldn’t get a cookie?”

In 2018 Mrs. Morel, who had worked in retail management before the birth of their daughter, decided to get back into a dormant hobby: baking. Mr. Morel started bringing his wife’s cookies to a gym near their home in Deer Park to share with his workout buddies.

He also began posting photos of Mrs. Morel’s confections on his Instagram account, where he regularly chronicles his quest to ingest the 20,000 daily calories needed to build and maintain his 5-foot-10-and-a-half, 270-pound physique. (On his cheat days, Mr. Morel will often forgo all other food in favor of some two-dozen half-pound cookies.)

Those posts prompted hundreds of messages from followers looking to buy the goodies themselves. Mr. Morel suggested his wife begin selling her wares. She was unsure.

“She was like, ‘Oh, nobody wants them,’” Mr. Morel said. “I was like, ‘They’re asking! What do you mean?’ I just knew she was doing something special.”

The couple soon sold the cookies in the parking lot after bodybuilding competitions, from the trunk of their S.U.V. Each cookie came in a small plastic baggy. A winking air of illicitness took hold and helped inspire the company’s name.

“It was just a catchy thing,” Mrs. Morel said. The couple now refers to My Cookie Dealer’s drops as “moving weight.” They call their delivery drivers “pushers.”

The company’s first online sales were made in the frenzied comments section below Instagram posts, where the first to post were the first served and money was exchanged over Venmo.

Mrs. Morel was working out of a friend’s commercial bakery in Westbury during off-hours, squeezing in her baking around frequent travel for her husband’s national and international competitions. Her irregular availability begot the “drop” method of sales, because Mrs. Morel could promise customers only the limited quantity she had the time and means to make.

“It’s not marketing,” Mrs. Morel said. “Literally, I had to do it this way.”

Now Mrs. Morel leads a staff of nearly 30 out of their work space in Nesconset, which the Morels bought and renovated last December. (Mr. Morel helps with packaging and handles various logistics.)

The bakery closed briefly in March as New York shut down in response to the coronavirus outbreak, at which point the company’s typical drop contained around a thousand orders. When it reopened two weeks later, scarcity had once again helped fuel an even greater demand.

“People think that we’re scheming,” Mrs. Morel said. “We were just trying to flatten the curve.”

The Morels said they have also had to contend with copycat sellers who have begun aping their methods and, in some cases, even My Cookie Dealer’s distinctive names. Mrs. Morel blocks impostor accounts when alerted to them.

Competition does not appear to be slowing the company’s growth. The Morels recently bought a second 2,400-square-foot space in the same industrial strip as their bakery, to better accommodate their shipping operations. In June they bought a four-car fleet of Mercedes GLEs for their pushers to use when making local deliveries on Long Island. Mrs. Morel said they also have started an apparel line.

And sales of their cookies continue to grow.

“Every time we’ve made bigger batches or bigger drops, we always sell out,” said Mr. Morel, who is hoping to return to competitive bodybuilding in December, at the Mr. Olympia event in Las Vegas. “I guess we still don’t know the potential.”

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A Brooklyn Restaurant’s Answer to Cabin Fever: Summer Camp

A Brooklyn Restaurant’s Answer to Cabin Fever: Summer Camp

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The other night a watermelon was brought to my table in the backyard of Olmsted, in Brooklyn. The first thing I noticed was its unusually compact size, slightly smaller than my teenage son’s head. The more unusual thing, though, was the copper spigot sticking out of its midsection. When I turned the spigot, out trickled a stream of cold, pink watermelon punch.

Even before the alcohol — both aquavit and clairin, the clear, small-batch rum from Haiti, swam around in watermelon juice seasoned by lemongrass and a subliminal amount of fish sauce — had a chance to work its way to my chafed nerves, I was already glad I’d left the house.

Yes, it’s impossible to eat outdoors at a restaurant — and outdoors is the only way we can eat at New York City restaurants at the moment — without some degree of worry. Many people won’t do it, whether or not the governor and mayor say it’s safe. But for those who risk it, there’s a decent chance you’ll encounter a watermelon samovar, or something like it.

Since getting clearance to begin serving at outdoor tables in late June, the city’s restaurants have been in a manic phase. They are almost as desperate to prove that life is one big alfresco party as New Yorkers are to believe it.

Summer is typically a slow season in the city. With a return to indoor dining nowhere in sight, though, owners have concluded that the summer may well be the only season they’re going to get. So they’ve tried to make eating out seem like a combination of a tropical vacation and a family picnic at which a few members of the family have been drinking steadily since breakfast.

Olmsted, in the Prospect Heights neighborhood, has gone so far as to name its backyard incarnation Olmsted Summer Camp. A few picnic tables have joined the regular outdoor furniture, which is widely spaced around a container garden where tomatoes and peppers are starting to ripen. (Raised planter beds turn out to be ideal for social distancing.)

To keep the campers entertained, the restaurant has been programming music nights, movie nights, trivia nights, magic nights and comedy nights. There was nothing going on when I was there, which is a good thing, because nothing would send me back to self-quarantine faster than having to eat during a stand-up comic’s routine.

The host had seated me near several shelves of games. She must have guessed, correctly, that I was one of those campers who stayed in the tent when everybody else was out running the obstacle course. According to an email Olmsted sent July 1, the night before Summer Camp began, all the checkers, Jenga pieces, playing cards and Connect 4 sets are “sanitized after use!”

This is reassuring, but only up to a point. From what we know about the coronavirus, it is more likely to float through the air than cling to surfaces when it jumps from person to person. And the longer you stay in one place, the higher your risk of infection. While scientists believe that mingling with other people is safer outdoors than inside, the prevailing wisdom is that you should still try to keep your mingling brief. If you choose to go out for a meal, it’s probably wise not to settle in for a match of canasta after dessert.

Not that anyone was playing games when I was there. They did all the things people used to do at restaurants, taking selfies and arguing about subjects you can’t believe people really argue about. I was unhappy to see that almost nobody except the staff wore masks. My own protocol was to tie mine on any time I didn’t have food in front of me.

That was the plan, at least. I got a bit absent-minded about it once the watermelon punch had me in its clutches. This is not very surprising, but it does make me skeptical about restaurants’ finding a safe way to serve indoors before Covid-19 is brought to heel.

Greg Baxtrom, the chef and one of Olmsted’s owners, stopped by the table to talk for a few minutes. His mouth was hidden behind a stretchy Spiderman fabric.

“I’m a huge Marvel Comics guy,” he said. He had wanted to get Marvel versions of all the games, he said, but balked when he saw how much more they cost.

Mr. Baxtrom had ditched his regular menu except for the frozen yogurt with lavender honey, a dessert that dares to ask the question: What if the Dairy Queen made a state visit to Greece?

Before the pandemic, a typical Olmsted plate had at least half a dozen different but complementary things going on. The summer camp dishes are vastly simpler. Each is similar enough to the American summer-foods canon to make you glad you’re eating it, but dissimilar enough to keep you from asking why you are eating it at a restaurant.

My meal started with a salad, sort of: sliced watermelon, on the rind, under ribbons of kombu and purple shiso. I could eat it every night until the end of September without complaining. There was fried chicken, which the skeleton crew in the kitchen endows with a resounding crunch, and a kebab of pineapple, spring onions and New York strip that had a neo-tiki swivel in its hips.

I liked both, but they were kicked to the back seat when the smoked spareribs arrived, gorgeous bands of meat under a barbecue sauce inspired by the fruity, salty, savory paste that comes with tonkatsu in Japanese restaurants.

Like many restaurateurs, Mr. Baxtrom has kept afloat since March by trying a little of this and a little of that. With a grant from the Lee Initiative, he and a small crew cooked and gave away meals and groceries to out-of-work restaurant employees and others. They also sell groceries at Olmsted Trading Post, which used to be Olmsted’s private dining room. There are fresh pretzel rolls, vegetables from Mr. Baxtrom’s preferred farms and condiments made on site, including a ranch so good it made me understand why the first bottled salad dressings had been such a big deal.

Across Vanderbilt Avenue, Mr. Baxtrom has a second restaurant, Maison Yaki, that is too small to operate safely now. He has turned it into a showcase where Black food entrepreneurs will set up shop for two weeks at a time until the end of the year or longer. This is how I joined the very large fan base for the salt-flecked vegan miso-chocolate chip cookies baked by Lani Halliday, whose business is called Brutus Bakeshop.

I enjoyed my night among the tomato plants and watermelon samovars. It may be an accident of timing, but there’s something joyful about returning to restaurants while summer is beating down around us — it demands a relaxed style of cooking and eating that happens to be the only style that seems to make any sense right now. Will it make sense for the restaurant business in the long run?

In a phone conversation the next day, Mr. Baxtrom said reservation and walk-in traffic for summer camp had been strong. Olmsted now has more seats outside than it did inside.

But tables go empty each time a thunderstorm rolls in. Because the food is more casual and apt to be shared, the average check is lower than it was last year. Still, Mr. Baxtrom plans to keep feeding backyard campers until the fall.

“We’re just trying to make it through this year,” he said.

The chefs he knows talk to each other about a coronavirus vaccine, and about how that would allow them to run their businesses the way they used to. They are fixated on surviving until April, when they seem to believe a vaccine will become available.

“Spring 2021,” Mr. Baxtrom said. “Just get there without losing everything. That’s the mind-set that I and a lot of others have now. Just get to the vaccine.”

Olmsted Summer Camp, Wednesdays through Sundays at 659 Vanderbilt Avenue (Park Place), Prospect Heights, Brooklyn; 718-552-2610; olmstednyc.com.

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Getting Your Hair, Nails and Tattoos Done at Home

Getting Your Hair, Nails and Tattoos Done at Home

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In the middle of May, Ashley Barton sipped a mimosa in her best friend’s apartment in Whitestone, Queens, while she enjoyed her first professional manicure and pedicure since New York enacted stay-at-home orders.

The in-house experience, with candles burning and soft music playing, was a game changer. Before the pandemic, Ms. Barton, a 33-year-old publicist, would drive from her apartment in Long Island City to a salon near her parents’ house on Long Island to get a mani-pedi. But not anymore.

“There is something about the comfort of doing this in your own home, to have someone holding your foot like it is the most amazing thing,” Ms. Barton said. “I won’t forget when I heard the clippers come out. It sounded like someone was popping bottles of Dom Pérignon.”

Though New York City hair and nail salons reopened on July 6, Ms. Barton doubts she’ll return to them anytime soon. She has since become a regular client of Green Spa on the Go, a manicurist from Forest Hills that offers in-home manicures and pedicures that range from $140 to $300, depending on location. Ms. Barton now gets them done with her parents at their home every two weeks.

“I’m not ready to sit in a nail salon, even with this protective gear. I’d rather just be in my parents’ backyard doing my nails and toes,” she said. “I can control the environment.”

As the country undergoes a Sisyphean-seeming reopening with infection rates rising in many regions, many Americans are still wary of venturing out. To accommodate skittish clients who have neglected their basic grooming for months, a cadre of service providers — personal trainers, hair stylists, tattoo artists, pet groomers and spiritual advisers — have been making house calls, or plan to start doing so soon. They have been fielding calls from clients eager to receive services in their living rooms, backyards and balconies.

For providers who always had an in-home component to their business, this period of seclusion has proved to be a boon, giving them an edge at an anxious time. They’ve attracted new clients who never considered house calls before, but have since discovered that they like private pampering.

“We believe this is a long term shift in consumer behavior,” said Amy Shecter, the chief executive of Glamsquad, an in-home beauty company headquartered in New York City that offers services including blowouts, manicures, pedicures and makeup application.

Glamsquad has resumed its usual services and introduced haircuts in New York, Florida, Boston and Washington, D.C. In Los Angeles, the company moved services outdoors after the state rolled back its reopening plans. (Its San Francisco market remains closed.) Workers undergo safety training to reduce the chance of coronavirus transmission and wear personal protective gear during visits.

“This is our moment,” said Ms. Schecter. “People are going to shift to doing this service in-home and they’re going to shift to providers like us.”

Marianella Aguirre, the founder of Green Spa on the Go, which specializes in house calls in New York, Connecticut and the Hamptons, also sees her business model as one that could thrive in the current environment, with anxious clients worried about squeezing into crowded nail salons.

“It’s incredible,” she said. “It’s like we were set up for this.”

Before the pandemic, Ms. Aguirre received about five calls a week from new clients. Now she receives as many a day. Nearly all of them request that the service be provided in a backyard. “They are desperate and they don’t want to wait anymore,” she said.

At-home services have always been a niche offering, and there is no data to track if the industry has grown during state-mandated stay-at-home orders, since such services that occurred during that time would have likely been clandestine.

But interest does not appear to be limited to the beauty industry. At Groomit, which provides in-house pet grooming services in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, business is up 30 percent since the company started offering services again according to a founder, Sohel Kapadia. “Even though half of New York City is empty,” said Mr. Kapadia, referring to the residents who fled the city as it shut down, “the new customers are making up for the losses of the old customers.”

After months spent huddling at home, many Americans feel safer on their sofa than they do almost anywhere else. But a living room is not necessarily a safer location for a blowout than a salon. With good ventilation, adequate physical distancing and enough personal protective equipment, a salon may actually be less risky than a small, cramped apartment, even if more people pass through the salon. Grooming services may not be safe in any setting in areas where cases are rising, like South Florida.

“We still don’t know that much about transmission even though we’re bombarded with information about what we do know,” said Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “Is it safer to have more people in a space, but in a space that is bigger and has better ventilation and has better masking? We can’t really quantify what the differences are.”

Joey Chavez, a tattoo artist in Corona, Calif., was able to reopen his tattoo parlor Trusted Tattoo in mid-June, but had been offering services to clients out of a mobile tattoo bus, the Body Art Bus, which he would drive to clients’ homes in the weeks before the shop reopened. He sanitized the vehicle between clients, used disposable equipment and limited the number of people in the space to only himself and client.

“It is a lot safer for us to come to their homes,” said Mr. Chavez, who charges a $250 fee for the service on top of the $150-per-hour fee for a tattoo. “We bring a fully disinfectable mobile tattoo parlor.”

Before the pandemic, the Body Art Bus was primarily used for social occasions like bachelorette and birthday parties, and once the tattoo parlor reopened, he began bringing the bus to smaller house parties again. The bus, which he has operated for 10 years, has attracted celebrity clients too, including Katy Perry, who rented it for an event, and Tech N9ne, who brought the bus along on a tour. But now, Mr. Chavez sees the bus as a way to showcase how safe body art can be during a pandemic. “There are a lot of people who are afraid” to go back to a parlor, he said.

Samuel Sanchez is one of them. Mr. Sanchez, 49, a substitute teacher who’s studying speech pathology at California State University San Marcos, had a March appointment at Mr. Chavez’s studio to restore a 25-year-old dragon tattoo etched across his back. But as news of coronavirus percolated through California, Mr. Sanchez’s wife told him to cancel. “I felt like the universe was saying maybe you shouldn’t do this,” he said.

Mr. Sanchez, who lives in Menifee, Calif., was devastated. Two years earlier, he had been in a serious car accident, with injuries and subsequent surgeries that left deep scarring across his back, severing his tattoo. He saw his window to get the tattoo restored closing.

But after Mr. Chavez showed him the bus and the equipment, Mr. Sanchez was convinced that it was the safest way to get inked. “The whole thing is pampered. You’re sitting on killer chairs. He sterilized everything. You sign a waiver. You walk into the bus and only the tattoo artist and you,” Mr. Sanchez said. “I felt like the bus was the most sterile thing I could do.”

In mid-June, Mr. Sanchez had the first of four sessions to restore the tattoo. During that appointment, which took about four hours, he discovered another upside to a bus: He could avoid the prying eyes of other customers at a crowded tattoo parlor. “It takes all the machismo out of it,” he said. “You don’t got all these bystanders and people watching to see if you’re squirming or not. It’s you and your guy.”

Reopening a business that makes house calls during a pandemic is not without its risks. On June 27, Mr. Chavez had to shut down Trusted Tattoo and the bus for two weeks after a client tested positive for coronavirus soon after a Body Art Bus tattoo session. Mr. Chavez and another tattoo artist who had also been on the bus quarantined for two weeks. Mr. Chavez reopened his businesses on July 13, only for local health department officials to shut them down almost immediately, as the state tightened its quarantine restrictions.

“It’s impossible to plan. I had to cancel 14 days of clients,” Mr. Chavez said. “It makes it hard to do anything.”

But for those who can receive them, house calls can be a salve for people isolated in a difficult time. In May, clients started calling Nini Grace, a spiritual life coach and medium in Avon-by-the-Sea, N.J., requesting house calls. By June, she had begun visiting clients in their homes again, holding sessions mostly in people’s backyards and charging $90 per person for the visits. Ms. Grace said her business has tripled, and she’s now booked through October for home visits.

Ms. Grace wears a mask when she greets the clients, but once everyone is settled outdoors and at a safe distance, she usually removes it to start the session.

“This is such a desperate time with so many unknowns for folks,” she said. “They just needed some comfort.”



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When the Bake Sale Goes Global, Millions Are Raised to Fight Injustice

When the Bake Sale Goes Global, Millions Are Raised to Fight Injustice

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Mallory Cayon, who helped create the cult-favorite brunch recipes at Sunday in Brooklyn, in Williamsburg, has remained head pastry chef as the Sunday Hospitality group grew to four restaurants: two in Brooklyn and two in Los Angeles. She said that for the first time since she entered the profession, she is in a workplace where the pastry operation (mostly staffed by women) is on equal footing with the “savory” side of the kitchen (mostly men).

“It starts in culinary school, because you look around and all the bakers are girls,” said Ms. Cayon, 30, who said she was surprised at the time that gender imbalance in the field remained so persistent, long after most workplaces had become more inclusive. “The men who do it are deemed less masculine.”

Dianna Daohueng, the culinary director at Black Seed Bagels in New York City, said that working your way up in the restaurant business as a woman, as a person of color or as a first-generation American — or, in her case, all three — means confronting prejudice every day.

“Just being a minority in the kitchen and in life turns you into a natural activist,” said Ms. Daohueng, 38, whose parents immigrated from Thailand before she was born.

Ms. Day, of Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, took a different path to protest baking. She was raised in Los Angeles, but spent summers in Tuscaloosa, Ala., learning to bake from her grandmother. “That was my culinary school,” she said.

She also came to see how baking skills have defined Black women’s lives, especially in the South. “My great-grandmother was both enslaved and a pastry cook who was famous for her biscuits and cakes,” she said. “There is power in that.” (Ms. Day, 59, has just completed a cookbook based on her Southern lineage, to be published by Artisan next year.)



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Danny Meyer’s Restaurants Will End Their No-Tipping Policy

Danny Meyer’s Restaurants Will End Their No-Tipping Policy

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One of the country’s best-known restaurateurs, Danny Meyer, announced five years ago that his Union Square Hospitality Group would gradually eliminate tipping. The group’s decision began an industrywide examination of the age-old practice, but adopting it proved complicated, especially in New York State, where laws governing tip distribution are strict.

Still, especially in recent months, many Americans have come to agree with Mr. Meyer that tipping contributes to unequal pay, racism, sexual harassment and power disparities in the industry.

But on Monday, the company reversed course. Mr. Meyer told his staff that Union Square Hospitality would abandon what it calls its “Hospitality Included” policy as its restaurants reopen for outdoor dining, starting on Thursday with the flagship Union Square Cafe in the Flatiron district and extending to the nearby Gramercy Tavern in the coming weeks. (Some of the group’s other businesses are already open for takeout and delivery, and all will shift to tipped wages immediately.)

Mr. Meyer said in an interview that he still believes that tipping contributes to inequitable pay, wage instability and other problems, and that he is collaborating with the national One Fair Wage campaign to eliminate it. But as the restaurants begin rehiring today — about 95 percent of the staff has been laid off since March — he is unwilling to deny any extra compensation that might be available to employees in a time of economic crisis.

“We don’t know how often people will be eating out, we don’t know what they are going to be willing to pay,” he said. “We do know that guests want to tip generously right now.”

Credit…Kathy Willens/Associated Press

The Hospitality Included model, which eliminated tips in favor of a consistent hourly wage, was adopted over several years as New York State’s minimum wage rose to $15 per hour. The extra labor costs for the restaurant were reflected in menu prices, which increased by 15 to 20 percent. In theory at least, the customer’s actual cost per meal would be about the same.

Wilma Cespedes-Rivera, a bartender at Blue Smoke, a Union Square Hospitality restaurant in Lower Manhattan, has worked for the company for five years. She said that for servers, the change from tipping to Hospitality Included was painful, and many talented colleagues left for other jobs.

“People understood that the goal was a healthier balance,” she said, “but it wasn’t what we signed up for financially.”

In New York State, only employees who spend at least 80 percent of their time interacting with customers — so-called front-of house-workers like bartenders, bussers and servers — can legally receive tips; cooks and kitchen workers (back-of-house employees) cannot.

Especially on weekends, when tabs and tips run higher, the difference in earnings can be stark, and often generates conflict between the two groups.

Now that employees like Ms. Cespedes-Rivera will likely again earn more than kitchen workers, Mr. Meyer said, his group will institute a revenue-sharing system for back-of-house employees, and their overall compensation will go up 20 to 25 percent.

After Mr. Meyer announced the move to end tipping in 2015, some other industry leaders, including David Chang and Tom Colicchio, tried to follow suit at their restaurants. But for most New York restaurateurs, the experiment did not last; many customers, as well as servers, remain attached to tipping.

Fair pay, like virtually every aspect of the hospitality business, is currently being scrutinized by chefs and owners as they contemplate reopening with reduced capacity, added risks and high costs.

Amanda Cohen, who has maintained a no-tipping policy at her Lower East Side restaurant Dirt Candy since 2015, said the national movement away from tipping is gaining momentum during the pandemic.

“It’s really changing the way people think about work,” she said. Especially in states where tip sharing and surcharges are allowed, like California, restaurants are coming up with new ways to compensate employees that don’t privilege one group over another. “Every little breakdown in the system helps,” she said.

Although a new law in New York State will end the tipped minimum wage for most workers on Jan. 1, the measure excludes restaurant servers, who can continue to collect tips and be paid a lower hourly wage.

In December, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office described the new law as “the end of the sub-minimum wage,” and announced that the decision was based on findings from the state Department of Labor that tipping is disproportionately harmful to “the lowest-paid workers in our state: women, minorities and immigrants.”

Although the law applies to nail salon workers, dog groomers and many others, restaurant workers — the largest group of tipped employees in the state — are exempt.

“Until the law allows all of our workers be paid a fair wage, tips are the only way to make the system work,” Mr. Meyer said.

But for small-scale restaurateurs facing existential challenges, tipping policy is “not high on the list” of priorities, said David Helbraun, a lawyer in Manhattan whose firm represents more than 1,000 restaurants.

He said his clients have one concern these days: cash flow. With restaurants barely operating for the foreseeable future, rent relief (or money from governments to pay it and other costs) is all that matters.

“None of the rest of it matters if you can’t pay the rent,” he said.

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A New Sticker Aims to Signal Safe Dining in the Pandemic

A New Sticker Aims to Signal Safe Dining in the Pandemic

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You recognize the New York City health department letter grade in the restaurant window, and maybe even the Michelin seal. Now, you might also want to look for a blue-and-white sticker that says “Safe Eats.”

The sticker represents membership in a new nonprofit organization of the same name, introduced Thursday, that has set standards for what it deems to be the safe operation of restaurants for on-site dining, takeout and delivery during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The effort has started with a small collection of restaurants in New York City. The chef Dan Kluger joined Safe Eats for his restaurant Loring Place in Greenwich Village, where he has been selling takeout meals and has tables outdoors. He considers it to be a “response to often confusing directions from government agencies.”

That is the main draw for restaurants: In the absence of consistent, up-to-date government standards for safe restaurant operation during the pandemic, Safe Eats provides a list of safety measures to follow. It is also meant to reassure diners that the member restaurants have made a commitment to follow those rules.

Safe Eats was started by Carlos Suarez, who owns a group of Greenwich Village restaurants, including Rosemary’s and Claudette; and Yann de Rochefort, the founder of the Boqueria chain in New York and other cities. Also among the founders and participants in management is Zero Hour Health, a company that provides health and health-crisis management to restaurants, partly through its app, Zedic.

The organizers of Safe Eats said that they reached out to the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio for input, but that the office showed no interest in getting involved. The health department has its own list of guidelines that restaurants can consult. “As the city continues to reopen, we’re committed to helping our restaurants safely adapt to the changing circumstances,” said Avery Cohen, a spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio.

Roslyn Stone, the chief operating officer of Zero Hour Health, said the rules are changing all the time. “No two days are the same,” she said. “How can you keep up with it?”

Mr. Suarez said that he and Mr. de Rochefort were “spending so much time trying to stay on top of all the latest Covid guidelines,” citing more than a dozen agencies they had to monitor. “What if there was a single source for safety guidelines that we could rely on? How great would that be for us.”

In addition to providing the guidelines culled from government agencies that member restaurants must agree to follow, Safe Eats also relies on the expertise of Zero Hour Health and other restaurant consultants.

Safe Eats gives advice for operating during and after the pandemic, offers training, guidance on monitoring employee health and daily updates on regulations changes — and gives restaurants the window decal.

Restaurants, which pay $69 a month to join, must agree to comply with the protocols. As of now, the organization does not inspect restaurants for such compliance, though Mr. Suarez said that it intends to at some point. Currently, diners just have to trust that participating restaurants are actually complying with the regulations. “We’re keen to start certification, but we don’t know when,” Mr. Suarez said.

Member restaurants also display a poster that lists the rules the restaurant has pledged to follow and includes email contact for consumers to provide feedback. ”The channel for complaints by consumers or staff is there,” Mr. Suarez said. “It’s not perfect, but a great first step.”

For now the rules published by Safe Eats only apply to New York City restaurants; those in other areas can join without knowing the details that apply to their communities. Safe Eats hopes to expand into other cities in the United States and abroad. In addition to the founders’ restaurants and Loring Place, members include Reverence in Harlem and Delicious Hospitality’s Charlie Bird, Legacy Records and Pasquale Jones. Safe Eats has also been endorsed by the New York Hospitality Alliance and the James Beard Foundation.

Other organizations, including trade groups like the National Restaurant Association and the California Restaurant Association, have also published guidance for safely operating during the health crisis, but they do not require compliance or charge restaurants to be certified. (The National Restaurant Association has had a restaurant management certification course with a fee, but that has existed for many years and was not designed for the pandemic.)

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A Black-Owned Distillery in Minneapolis Pushes Forward

A Black-Owned Distillery in Minneapolis Pushes Forward

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When Chris and Shanelle Montana founded Du Nord Craft Spirits in 2013, they chose the Longfellow neighborhood in southern Minneapolis, “in part because it was a little quieter,” Mr. Montana said.

It didn’t work out that way. Over the past four months, Du Nord has been buffeted and transformed by each new trauma to shake the city, and the world.

In mid-March, with the coronavirus converging on the United States, the couple, like many other distillers, ceased making their gin, vodka, whiskey and liqueurs, and began manufacturing much-needed hand sanitizer.

Mr. Montana handed out that sanitizer to protesters outside the nearby Third Precinct police station after the killing of George Floyd on May 25. The distiller was tear-gassed twice for his trouble.

In the early hours of May 29, Du Nord, like many businesses in the neighborhood, was in flames. The fire activated its sprinkler system, which added water damage to the devastation. The night after that, the Montanas’ East Lake Street apartment building was set on fire.

No sooner had Du Nord begun to clean up than Mr. Montana quickly pivoted, converting what was left of the building, where he leases space, into an impromptu food bank to aid the reeling neighborhood.

“I think one of the things that has made it easier personally is there’s just so much to do,” said Mr. Montana, 37. “You don’t really have time to sit down and soak it all in. I might be bummed because some people set fire to my distillery. That saddens me and angered me. But right now, I have food every night. I’m fine. There are people doing so much worse than I am.”

Du Nord’s experience is all the more remarkable in the current cultural context because Mr. Montana is one of the few Black distillery owners in the United States.

During the protests and ensuing unrest that engulfed much of East Lake Street, he had to weigh his instincts as a business owner against the dangers that might await him outside. When he heard at 2 a.m. on May 29 that his distillery was on fire, he did not rush to the site, but waited until daybreak.

“That was very scary,” said Shanelle Montana, 36, “the thought of his going back to a burning distillery when the police walk by. Are they going to think he’s a distillery owner mourning his distillery?”

Though the Montanas, who have three young children, have enough to contend with on their own, their focus has been helping the community. The food bank in the distillery has paused while critical repairs are made to the waterlogged building, but Du Nord is likely to reopen it, based on community need in the coming months.

When friends started GoFundMe accounts for them, the couple’s reaction was to answer those efforts with a fund-raising drive of their own to help other businesses in the area owned by people of color. “I knew a lot of them were uninsured or underinsured,” Mr. Montana said.

The Du Nord Craft Spirits Riot Recovery Fund, administered by the newly created nonprofit Du Nord Foundation, has since raised roughly two-thirds of its $1 million goal. “We’re hoping that within the next two weeks, we’re going to start writing checks,” said Mr. Montana, who hopes to get back to producing spirits by the fall.

This generosity in the face of personal adversity has not surprised the couple’s friends and colleagues. “He’s always making the best of whatever situation is handed to him,” said Jon Kreidler, a co-founder of Tattersall Distilling, a Minneapolis company that teamed up with Du Nord on sanitizer production.

“Chris and Shanelle would never turn down an opportunity to serve the community,” said Jessica Ward-Denison, an organizer of the food bank. “With the scariness and sadness of the days leading up to this, I think there was a great need for something positive.”

Ms. Montana, who is white, took more time getting to that positive place.

”I was very angry for a long time,” she said of the destruction. “A lot that were hit were small mom-and-pop businesses by people of color that had been in business for a long time.

“But as I talked to people, a lot of them said, ‘If this is what it takes to change things, then this is what it takes.’ It really changed my perspective. I got there. It took me longer, but I got there, to see the hope in this and to separate the damage from the change it might bring.”

Mr. Montana benefited from a broader view, informed by his childhood. Soon after his family moved to Minnesota from Indiana, in 1991, he recalled a rally and chants of “No justice, no peace.”

“Then, it was about Rodney King,” he said. “It occurred to me that here we are, almost 30 years on, the chants are the same, the problems are the same.”

This time, though, he senses a shift.

“I don’t condone the property damage, but I do understand it,” Mr. Montana said. “If that means there’s going to be attention paid to this fundamental issue in our country, then it’s worth it. I don’t know if there’s a person of color in this country that, whether they own the business or not, who would not pay that price over and over again.”

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Two Chefs Moved to Rural Minnesota to Expand on Their Mission of Racial Justice

Two Chefs Moved to Rural Minnesota to Expand on Their Mission of Racial Justice

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ST. JOSEPH, Minn. — Krewe, a restaurant in this small central-Minnesota city, is a tribute to Mary Mackbee, a former high school principal who raised four children in a Twin Cities suburb on the cooking of her native New Orleans.

“More than anything, gumbo is the smell I remember,” said Mateo Mackbee, one of those children and the chef and co-owner of Krewe. “That’s one you would get outside the front door.”

Mr. Mackbee was in the dining room of Krewe, a window-lined restaurant in a new low-rise building in downtown St. Joseph, a community of 7,000 about 70 miles northwest of Minneapolis. His mother was there, too, sharing stories about her life and overseeing the jambalaya that Mr. Mackbee’s 21-year-old son, Makel, was cooking for takeout service later that day.

Krewe’s sign reads “est. 1944,” Ms. Mackbee’s birth year, even though it opened in late May, four days after George Floyd was killed while in the custody of the Minneapolis police.

Mr. Mackbee, 47, and Erin Lucas, 27, his girlfriend and business partner, moved to central Minnesota from Minneapolis two years ago. They were driven by a shared desire to bring awareness of racial inequities to rural communities, and to find an alternative to the limited career options available to them in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

“I had grown kind of weary of the restaurant scene in the Twin Cities, where it was hard for someone like myself,” Mr. Mackbee said. “I’m a little bit older and a little bit darker than most of the people on the line.”

The partners began with a successful pop-up restaurant in New London, a small city in a neighboring county. They sank deeper roots this spring, when they also opened Flour & Flower, a bakery in a cottage-style building behind Krewe. Ms. Lucas is the bakery’s chef.

On a sunny morning in mid-June, the line of customers waiting to buy her croissants, baguettes and pastries ran outside the bakery nearly to Krewe’s back door. Both businesses are a short bicycle ride from the Lake Wobegon Trail.

St. Joseph, though home to the small liberal-arts College of Saint Benedict, is not a cradle of racial diversity. It’s more than 90 percent white. Locals whose families have lived here for generations say Krewe is the city’s first brick-and-mortar business owned by an African-American. And the community is in a part of Minnesota known for its divisive politics around immigration and race.

But St. Joseph offered Mr. Mackbee an opportunity for ownership that he hadn’t received in the cities, despite his culinary degree and nearly a decade of experience in some of the area’s most respected restaurants. He proudly points out that three members of Krewe’s four-person kitchen staff are people of color.

“We’ve flipped the scenario that I’m normally used to,” he said.

Jon C. Petters, who owns the properties where Krewe and Flour & Flower are located, sold the couple hard on the potential of opening their businesses in St. Joseph. Mr. Mackbee and Ms. Lucas were first wooed to central Minnesota by Mark Kopka, whom Mr. Mackbee met in 2015 in a bar in a Twin Cities suburb. Mr. Kopka is the pastor of Nordland Lutheran Church in Paynesville, which, like St. Joseph, is in Stearns County.

The men bonded over Mr. Mackbee’s dream of starting a farm where he could bring students of color who didn’t otherwise have access to nature — a goal the couple plan to realize in September through Model Citizen, the nonprofit group they created.

“We talked about this larger vision to get kids connected to the land and to food,” Mr. Kopka recalled. “I said, ‘Dude, come check out Paynesville.’”

Mr. Kopka introduced Mr. Mackbee and Ms. Lucas to locals who were hungry for an alternative to the chain restaurants that proliferate in this region of farmland, rolling prairie and lakes. But the chefs were welcomed for reasons that went beyond their culinary talent.

“A lot of people who grew up here, they’ve never known a person of color,” said Steve Peterson, 62, a retired General Mills executive from Paynesville who attends Mr. Kopka’s church. “There’s something about these guys being here that helps.”

Stearns County, while still about 85 percent white, is home to some of the largest immigrant communities in Minnesota. Agriculture and food-processing jobs in central Minnesota towns like Willmar (home to Jennie-O Turkey, in neighboring Kandiyohi County), and St. Cloud, the Stearns County seat, have drawn workers, particularly from East Africa and Latin America, for three decades.

The demographic changes have touched off a rise in nativist politics and xenophobia in Stearns and bordering counties. In 2017, a St. Cloud City Council member proposed a moratorium on new immigrants. The motion failed, but it attested to the open white resentment over immigration. The same year, a Willmar man was arrested after placing a pig’s foot on the table of a farmers’ market booth operated by young Somali Muslims.

Growing up in Stearns County, Emma Ditlevson, a 21-year-old Krewe line cook, overheard friends’ parents as they criticized immigrants for failing to assimilate.

“I don’t think people here realize that it’s a beautiful thing to represent a different culture in a community that doesn’t have that much diversity,” said Ms. Ditlevson, who was born in South Korea and adopted by a white couple. “Instead of seeing the culture as something beautiful and something to embrace and something to understand more, they see it as something people should just give up.”

Mr. Mackbee said St. Joseph doesn’t feel far removed from the unrest and anger unleashed by Mr. Floyd’s killing. The St. Cloud police used tear gas to disperse a crowd of protesters three weeks after Mr. Floyd’s death.

He and Ms. Lucas were drawn to the region in part for the opportunity to confront issues of racial injustice with Model Citizen, just on prairie land instead of pavement — an impulse that is as much a tribute to his mother’s influence as Krewe’s menu.

“We’re probably worse here, as far as racial tension,” Mr. Mackbee said. “I feel like my mom prepared me for coming out here and facing whatever comes my way.”

Mr. Mackbee is soft-spoken, though blunt. Two years ago, he ran for City Council in New London. “I came in third,” he said.

Small-town life is not new to him. He attended college in rural Wisconsin on a soccer scholarship. While there, he recalled, he was asked to speak to a white student who had hung a noose over a Black student’s dorm-room door.

“They wanted me to be the one to tell this guy this was a bad thing,” he said. “I’ve been a token my entire life.”

Krewe’s opening would be notable even if it were in New Orleans, a majority-Black city where restaurants owned by African-Americans are still relatively rare. Equally unusual are restaurant chefs of Mr. Mackbee’s training who learned to cook New Orleans cuisine at home — through recipes that descend directly from African-American home cooks of the Jim Crow era.

Mr. Mackbee has never worked in a New Orleans-style restaurant. And the food Ms. Mackbee cooked for her children in the 1980s and ’90s was virtually untouched by the vagaries of contemporary restaurant trends. The first time she ate at a white-owned restaurant, she said, was on a visit to Commander’s Palace, in New Orleans, in the mid-60s. She moved to the Twin Cities a few years later.

“I never had a steak until I came up here,” she said. “I always thought steak was cooked with gravy.”

Mr. Mackbee talks about his mother’s 51-year career as an educator as much as he does about her cooking. Ms. Mackbee served 26 years as principal of Central High School, the state’s oldest high school and the largest in its capital, St. Paul.

She retired in 2019, two years after one of her former students, Melvin Carter III, was elected St. Paul’s first African-American mayor. Ms. Mackbee spoke at his inauguration, which was held at Central High.

“She was one of those principals who never sat in her office,” Mr. Mackbee said. “She’s broken her wrist and all that kind of stuff, breaking up fights at school.”

Ms. Mackbee, 76, leaned into adversity while growing up in segregated New Orleans. Her civil-rights activism occasionally drew her away from Louisiana as a young adult.

She recalled knocking on the door of a Roman Catholic bishop in Mobile, Ala., in 1965. She was there to voice her displeasure with the bishop’s removal of a priest who had provided shelter for her and other Black activists when they traveled to Selma to protest that summer.

Ms. Mackbee ended up taking her grievance to a higher authority. “We wrote a letter to the pope,” she said. “Never heard from him.”

She married Earsell Mackbee, a cornerback for the Minnesota Vikings, after moving to St. Paul in the late ’60s to become the only Black teacher at a nearly all-white public school. After the couple divorced, Ms. Mackbee raised their four children alone in suburban Bloomington.

She cooked her family large pots of the dishes she had grown up eating in New Orleans, except that she used sausage where her mother, struggling to make ends meet, used hot dogs.

“That was the economical way,” Ms. Mackbee said. “But I had a job, so I could afford some real sausage.”

Mr. Mackbee cooked dinner for a group of friends at Krewe in mid-June, when the restaurant was open only for takeout. (It will begin dine-in service on Thursday.)

The gumbo, inspired by Ms. Mackbee’s, is reminiscent of a style found in older, Creole restaurants in New Orleans: The broth is thin, stained by a light brown roux and loaded with shrimp and sausage.

A Midwestern twist came from the andouille sausage made by Johnsonville, a Wisconsin company famous for its bratwurst, and shrimp raised in aboveground pools by Paul Damhof on a former cattle farm outside Willmar. (“Our Willmar water is some of the best water for raising shrimp,” Mr. Damhof said.)

Similar ingredients enriched a spicy jambalaya Mr. Mackbee also learned from his mother. Instead of mixing the ingredients together as in a paella, the traditional method in southern Louisiana, the Mackbees’ jambalaya is a savory sauce spooned over plain rice. “The way I make it, you don’t have to fish out the shrimp,” Ms. Mackbee said of the idiosyncratic technique.

Matt Lindstrom, a friend of the chefs, sampled these dishes, along with red beans, barbecue shrimp and bread pudding, as New Orleans music played in Krewe’s dining room. Mr. Lindstrom, 50, is a political-science professor at Saint John’s University, a small liberal-arts college for men just outside St. Joseph that is closely affiliated with the all-woman College of Saint Benedict.

He struggled to explain his excitement over finding a place like Krewe in St. Joseph.

“When I was a kid, it was a big deal to go to Applebee’s,” said Mr. Lindstrom, who grew up in Willmar. “And you had to drive to St. Cloud for that.”

In September, Mr. Mackbee and Ms. Lucas hope to bring the first group of local students to the one-acre farm they are building with Mr. Kopka and other collaborators in Paynesville. It’s based on a project the chefs tried out in New London.

“One of the things we noticed is that all of these kids are literally surrounded by farmland,” Mr. Mackbee said, “but they literally don’t have the opportunity to step onto it.”

Ms. Lucas remembers how thrilled some young Somali students were by the sight of rhubarb, assuming it was tamarind. “They were like, ‘We haven’t seen this since we were home,’” Ms. Lucas said.

The new farm is near the north fork of the Crow River, on land donated to Model Citizen by the retired executive Mr. Peterson and his wife, Mary, through a partnership with Nordland church. Mr. Peterson spent his later years at General Mills trying to educate farmers on the virtues of regenerative agriculture, a sustainable farming practice that aims to improve the soil.

“We see this farm as a model for the area,” said Mr. Peterson, “to encourage other young people to be entrepreneurs, and to do what’s right for the land.”

By year’s end, Mr. Mackbee and Ms. Lucas plan to have a chicken coop, sheep and a wood-fired oven to cook for outdoor parties on the property. The ingredients will show up on their menus. And, ideally, the farm will enrich the community in other ways.

Standing outdoors on a windy afternoon last month, Mr. Mackbee looked toward a patch of forest at the edge of the still-unplowed farmland. “I need to get the kids out here to see it and to smell it,” he said.

His thoughts drifted toward a future when he can host children of color from the Twin Cities, like those his mother taught for so many years.

“If we can just get them out here for a while, away from the stress,” he said, “maybe we can help give them what they need, to be what they want to be, and not what society says they are.”

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Meet the Gleaners, Combing Farm Fields to Feed the Newly Hungry

Meet the Gleaners, Combing Farm Fields to Feed the Newly Hungry

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In truth, gleaning gathers a very small fraction of what is surely billions of pounds of produce, most of which is simply worked back into the soil. It also yields far less than other surplus-food programs, where donations from supermarkets and distribution hubs are measured not by the garbage bag, but the tractor-trailer.

But gleaning is still important, Mr. Peterson said. “What gleaners do really well is work within the spaces missed by more traditional food recovery and hunger programs,” he said.

They can pick a farm’s fragile greens on 24 hours’ notice, set out a free box of tomatoes still warm from the sun at a rural library, or deliver pints of delicate, just-picked raspberries to a nearby food pantry lacking a refrigerator, on the same day it gives out food.

That’s why Harvest Against Hunger, in Seattle, eventually added gleaning to its larger food-rescue programs, said David Bobanick, 54, its executive director. Today, the 38-year-old organization also runs a national gleaning incubator program through AmeriCorps VISTA that aims to create operations that are tailored to meet the specific needs of their region.

This year, that should also mean financial support for farms that donate the food, most of which aren’t able to participate in the Farmers to Families Food Box program, Mr. Bobanick said. His organization is one of several that have recently won funding to broker arrangements between hunger relief organizations and farmers who can’t sell their crops.

This is also a goal of the sales platform Forager, which will use the rest of its ReFED grant to introduce a new tool that will connect gleaning groups to agencies with funds to buy food. Most of the money will go to the farmer, but a portion will also go to the gleaning group to cover the costs of distribution, said Erica Merritt, 29, who is coordinating the effort.

The idea arose when the obvious became clear, she said: “Gleaners are literally in this unique position between the farms that can’t sell their food, and the people that are hungry.”

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New York Changes Outdoor Dining Rule, Leaving Restaurants Scrambling

New York Changes Outdoor Dining Rule, Leaving Restaurants Scrambling

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For restaurants and the New Yorkers who love them, the outdoor cafes that have sprung up across the city over the past two weeks have been one of the few bright spots in a grim season.

Under an emergency program that began on June 22, about 6,800 establishments have been authorized to serve food and drinks at outdoor tables, turning patches of sidewalks and streets into cheerfully ragtag villages of patio umbrellas, beach canopies, outdoor fans and potted palm trees.

Another 2.6 miles of roadway, including several blocks along some of the city’s best-known restaurant rows, will be available for eating and drinking from Friday afternoons until Sunday nights starting this weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday. Under the plan, an extension of the city’s Open Streets program, portions of 22 commercial strips in every borough will be closed to driving but open for dining.

“Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, Little Italy — Mulberry Street — think about what is possible if we make them into centerpieces of outdoor dining,” Mr. de Blasio said.

Many restaurateurs were quick to build street and sidewalk seating areas as soon as it was allowed. But some of the earliest adapters have almost immediately run afoul of the city Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the temporary outdoor cafes.

The department’s first set of guidelines permitted outdoor seating areas on streets with one or two lanes of traffic, to be set off by “stanchions, barricades or planters, spaced at maximum 5 feet apart.” Late last week, though, some new requirements appeared, including one that has caused problems for many owners: All barriers, on any kind of street, have to be at least 18 inches thick.

Julie Reiner, who owns two bars on Smith Street in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, said that on Monday, an inspector from the department told her that the enclosures she had built around the bars, Leyenda and Clover Club, did not meet city standards.

This surprised her. She had printed the specifications on the department’s website and handed them to her contractor, who followed them to the letter, she said. He fashioned matching barriers for her bars and two other restaurants on the street out of wooden garden trellises anchored by paint buckets filled with cement.

The inspector informed Ms. Reiner that her breezy latticework barriers were too thin; they had to be at least 18 inches thick. She was given 24 hours to change them.

“My contractor needed to fix four places on the block in 24 hours,” Ms. Reiner said. The cost to each restaurant of taking apart the original barriers and building new planters was $1,000, or about three-quarters of its average nightly revenue.

Losing money because the city changed the guidelines “is really infuriating after all this,” she said.

In a statement, the Department of Transportation said: “We’ve worked closely with the industry and city agencies to find processes that put small businesses back to work and kept New Yorkers safe. This program is a brand-new arrangement, enacted at an unprecedented pace, and restaurants have been generous with their patience. Our adjustments to Open Restaurants have been to make sure this program works safely for everyone.”

Interpretations of the department’s guidelines have varied. An informal tour of neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan this week turned up a wide array of materials used to set off seating, from heavy plastic Jersey barriers to colored tape.

Some owners say they lost revenue, too. On Sunday, inspectors handed out cease-and-desist orders to an undisclosed number of restaurants, forcing them to shut down until they brought their seating areas into compliance with the new standards.

In the East Village, the sandwich shop Foxface and the dusty nautical bar that adjoins it, the William Barnacle Tavern, had surrounded their in-street dining zone with metal barricades of the kind used to control crowds. On Sunday, an inspector informed an owner of Foxface, Ori Kushnir, that he would have to close until he came up with new, compliant barricades.

Mr. Kushnir lost two days of business, he said, in addition to the more than $3,000 he had to spend on new, 18-inch-deep planters. “Anybody who tried to do the right thing the first time, and is trying to do the right thing now, is spending thousands of dollars on this,” he said.

Restaurateurs say they have also heard mixed messages about whether they can seat customers in parking spaces that are cut off from the sidewalk by a bike lane, known as floating parking spaces. The answer is yes, according to the Department of Transportation. Some restaurateurs say they were told otherwise by inspectors.

Frank Prisinzano, the chef and owner of three Italian restaurants in the East Village and Lower East Side, said he hopes he misunderstood the inspector who showed up last weekend. “I spent close to $25,000 on all three restaurants,” Mr. Prisinzano said. “I wanted to do it right.”

While he waits to hear from the city, he said he would continue to seat customers in the floating parking spaces outside Lil’ Frankie’s on Second Avenue. “It really is helping,” he said.

Indoor dining, which had been scheduled to return on July 6, was put off indefinitely this week as other cities that had allowed restaurants to reopen began to see alarming surges in new Covid-19 cases. Noting that the delay would hurt the hospitality business, Mr. de Blasio said Thursday that one goal of handing the streets over to diners was to “give maximum options to restaurants and their employees.”

Mr. Prisinzano has little interest in reopening his dining rooms. “I don’t even want the indoors,” he said. “I don’t feel comfortable seating people indoors. As long as we can put people outdoors, we can get through the summer.”

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The Long, Unhappy History of Working From Home

The Long, Unhappy History of Working From Home

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Quora said 60 percent of its workers expressed a preference for remote work, in line with national surveys. In a Morning Consult survey in late May on behalf of Prudential, 54 percent said they wanted to work remotely. In a warning sign for managers, the same percentage of remote workers said they felt less connected to their company.

One very public setback for remote work was at Best Buy, the Minneapolis-based electronics retailer. The original program, which drew national attention, began in 2004. It aimed to judge employees by what they accomplished, not the hours a project took or the location where it was done.

Best Buy killed the program in 2013, saying it gave the employees too much freedom. “Anyone who has led a team knows that delegation is not always the most effective leadership style,” the chief executive, Hubert Joly, said at the time.

Jody Thompson, a co-founder of the program who left Best Buy in 2007 to become a consultant, said the company was doing poorly and panicked. “It went back to a philosophy of ‘If I can see people, that means they must be working,’” she said.

The coronavirus shutdown, which means 95 percent of Best Buy’s corporate campus workers are currently remote, might now be prompting another shift in company philosophy. “We expect to continue on a permanent basis some form of flexible work options,” a spokeswoman said.

Flexible work gives employees more freedom with their schedules but does not fundamentally change how they are managed, which was Ms. Thompson’s goal. “This is a moment when working can change for the better,” she said. “We need to create a different kind of work culture, where everyone is 100 percent accountable and 100 percent autonomous. Just manage the work, not the people.”

But it is also a moment, she acknowledged, when working can change for the worse.

“It’s a crazy time,” Ms. Thompson said. “When you’re a manager, there is a temptation to manage someone harder if you can’t see them. There’s an increase in managers looking at spyware.”

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