Mayor’s Briefing: Mental Health, Numbers and Lawsuits

In today’s briefing with Mayor Bill de Blasio, new information about yellow zones, new mental health programs, and a presidential lawsuit were explained. Here’s everything you need to know:

Schools, Businesses And Places Of Worship In Yellow Zones Now Reopen

As of today, Oct. 22, Brooklyn’s orange zones have been downgraded to yellow. Businesses can open back up, houses of worship can continue at 50% capacity, indoor dining can resume with appropriate restrictions, and schools can reopen for blended instruction starting Monday, Oct. 26. You can find what zone you are in with the zone finder.

Of the 135,341 tests reported yesterday across the city, 1,628 or 1.2% were positive. Positivity rates in the micro-cluster areas are at 3.2%, with the statewide positivity rate, excluding micro-areas, at 0.96%.

Updated Mental Health Services In Schools

Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray announced that the city will add two new mental health services to hundreds of schools in the neighborhoods hit hardest by COVID-19 which include Bed-Stuy, Brighton Beach, Brownsville, Bushwick, Canarsie, Coney Island, East Flatbush, East New York and Starrett City and Sunset Park. 

The first program is an extension of the School Mental Health Consultant Program, which launched in 2016. It connects schools with mental-health organizations, provides training, and links students and families to community resources. 

It’s being converted to the School Mental Health Specialist Program, a new model that will turn its current mental health workers into specialists and begin delivering trauma-informed group work to students at 350 schools at the end of October. 

Each specialist will serve up to five schools and will provide mental health education to caregivers and school staff to help them address students’ mental needs. 

The second program will directly connect 26 schools in the neighborhoods hit hardest by COVID-19 to outpatient mental health clinics, where children and adolescents can receive ongoing therapy, psychiatric evaluations, medication management, and other clinical services. 

“COVID-19 has taken a tremendous emotional toll on our city’s students,” Mayor de Blasio said. “Now, our educators, parents, and school communities will not endure the trauma of the pandemic alone. To those who are suffering, your city sees you and we are here to help.”’

Currently staffed by mental health workers, the consultant program has delivered 6,993 trainings to 217,379 Department of Education (DOE) teachers and staff. Both of these services can be utilized onsite and via tele-mental health, a service that allows for people to recieve help through phone or email. 

“Now, more than ever, we want all of our students to know that they are not alone, and there are compassionate, trained professionals ready to help them process anxiety, grief and trauma that may have intensified during the pandemic,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “Parents and educators in our communities hardest hit by COVID-19 have called out for this kind of direct support and we are responding.”

New York, Seattle and Portland Sue Trump Administration Over Directive to Withhold Federal Dollars

The Trump administration wants to strip New York City of federal funding because like Seattle and Portland, it is deemed an “anarchist jurisdiction.” President Trump last month ordered the Justice Department to withhold federal funds from New York, Portland, and Seattle. 

Today the mayor announced that all three cities filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump Administration challenging the President’s move to try and cut off COVID-19 funding, and health care funding. The three cities said in the lawsuit that the Trump Administration is violating the Separation of Powers and the 10th Amendment.

What we’ve seen from President Trump, threatening funding for New York City and other cities, it’s morally wrong,” Mayor de Blasio said. “It’s legally unacceptable. It’s unconstitutional. And we’re going to fight it.”

Seattle and Portland have fought back against President Trump in the past as he attempted to withhold funding in retaliation for policies that support and welcome immigrant and refugee communities. 

New York has also defeated previous attempts by the Trump Administration to divert millions of dollars in federal emergency pandemic relief funds from public K-12 schools, add an illegal citizenship question to the census, among many other attempts to cut assistance.

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Keira Wingate

Keira is a reporter for Bklyner. She has her BA in Journalism and currently goes to The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. When she's not working or writing you can find her cuddling her cat or eating potatoes || keira@bklyner.com

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  1. It is sad that so many people walk around without masks. How many people do not wear their seat belts. It is for everybody’s safety.

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