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Archive for the ‘NYC Bed Bugs’ Category

Bed Bug Complaint NYC311

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

If you report bed bugs in a residential building, hotel, or a Single Room Occupancy (SRO), the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will conduct an inspection. HPD may conduct inspections with a bed bug-sniffing dog. If bed bugs are found, the residential building owner may get a ticket.

You must provide your contact information.

To report bed bugs in a private house or apartment, you must be a tenant in the building. If you are reporting bed bugs in a hotel roomor SRO, the Room # can be entered in the Apartment # field on the form.

Co-Op or Condo Apartments

If you live in a co-op or condo, you should first report apartment maintenance issues to the owner, management company, or board before filing a complaint with HPD.

Bed-Bug Inspection Dogs

HPD trained dogs may be dispatched to assist with the bed bug inspection. When you make a complaint about bed bugs, you will have the opportunity to decline the use of a dog for your inspection.

If you indicate that you will allow a dog to assist with the inspection, that does not guarantee that a dog will be available for your inspections, only that your complaint is eligible for inspection with the dog.

NYC Bed Bug Disclosure Act

Under the NYC Bed Bug Disclosure Act, landlords must notify prospective tenants in writing about any bed bug infestations that have occurred in their building in the past year.

You can get in person assistance from NY State Homes and Community Renewal (NYSHCR) in multiple languages at an HCR Borough Rent Office.

For more information and Borough Rent Office locations, go to theRent Regulated Apartments page.

Local Law 69

Under local Law 69 of 2017, all multiple dwelling property owners must attempt to obtain the bedbug infestation history from the tenant or unit owner, including whether eradication measures were employed for a bedbug infestation.

Learn more about bed bug and building management.

Read the original here:
Bed Bug Complaint NYC311

The Pandemic May Spare Us From Another Plague: Bedbugs – The New York Times

Monday, June 29th, 2020

Although they can bite painlessly at any time of the day, most often they come out of hiding at night to feast on the blood of their sleeping human hosts, sometimes leaving a telltale trail of blood on bedsheets. The bugs neither hop nor jump, but they can crawl fast several feet in under a minute for such a tiny creature.

Bedbugs rarely transmit disease, although excessively scratching their itchy bites can result in secondary infections. (On the positive side, the Australian authors wrote, their scent glands secrete a substance that inhibits microbial growth and that may one day become pharmacologically useful.) Not everyone reacts to bedbug bites, so people sometimes fail to suspect them as the cause of their bites when a bedmate seems not to have been bitten.

Updated June 24, 2020

A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort and requires balancing benefits versus possible adverse events. Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. In my personal experience, he says, heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask. Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who dont typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the countrys largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was very rare, but she later walked back that statement.

Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus whether its surface transmission or close human contact is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nations job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

If youve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

Along with a maddening itch, knowing that bedbugs are present in ones home can drive a person crazy. The French scientists reported that sleep deprivation, insomnia or sleeplessness are commonly associated with infestation. The psychological toll can sometimes be extreme, resulting in nightmares, anxiety and an inability to function, they added.

People infested with bedbugs may become socially isolated, the Australians wrote. With some individuals, even when the problem is solved, the psychological trauma can develop into a delusionary state, whereby the patients feel bites and insects crawling on them even if the bedbugs have been eliminated.

Preventing exposure in the first place is the best approach to bedbug control, although I honestly cant imagine following all the precautionary measures experts suggest in every new place I may sit or sleep. Upon arrival in a hotel room, the advice goes, place your luggage unopened on a rack (not on a bed, floor or upholstered chair). Before unpacking, check the room for telltale bedbug signs like tiny brown spots of their droppings on the sheets and mattress. With your cellphone at the ready, use the room key card or a credit card to run along mattress seams, cracks in the headboard and footboard and folds of upholstered furniture and immediately (act fast, they move quickly) take a picture of any bugs you find to show the manager.

In multiple dwellings, bedbugs can climb from one apartment to the others above or below in the row, so let neighbors know if your apartment becomes infested and seek professional help to eradicate the bugs without delay. One thing you dont have to do is throw out your clothing, bedding or even the furniture. Launder whatever can be washed in very hot water (140 degrees Fahrenheit a setting higher than most water heaters) and consult a licensed professional about treating suspect furniture. Avoid pest control products that make exaggerated claims; use only pesticides that have been registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Most important: Avoid bringing the bugs into your home by resisting the temptation to rescue furniture others have discarded. And dont tempt others; seal all bedding and cushioned furnishings in plastic when you throw it out.

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The Pandemic May Spare Us From Another Plague: Bedbugs - The New York Times

Opinion: How To Protect New Haven Tenants – New Haven Independent

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

(Opinion) - On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Fair Housing Act, among the last great legislative victories of the Civil Rights Movement. It took the death of Dr. King a week priorand the massive unrest that followed in cities from Los Angeles to force a reluctant Congress to act.

The Fair Housing Act came 50 years after a highly contagious respiratory virus left its own imprint on American housing.

In New York City, where the 1918 influenza pandemic was especially lethal in the citys overcrowded tenements, a wave of rent strikes and other collective action led to the seminal adoption of the citys rent control system, as well as laws guaranteeing basic housing conditions like access to heat.

New York proved to be a model for the country: In the years that followed, safe conditions were an obsession of housing reformers (albeit often with horrific consequences for the minority neighborhoods bulldozed in the name of public health).

These two diseasesone of the body, the other of the body politichave erupted again. And once again, racism and a pandemic are closely linked to our housing injustice crisis.

The economic fallout of the public health lockdowns threatens a tsunami of evictions and foreclosures when the current moratoria lift. And the virus exacerbates the risks of the resulting displacement; after all, one cannot shelter-in-place without shelter.

Since Black and brown renters are more frequently evicted, the coming eviction crisis will devastate the same communities already reeling from the harshest impacts of the pandemic.

The police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others and the resulting mass protests are also closely tied to housing injustice.

The overpolicing of Black neighborhoods is only possible because of housing segregation that creates identifiably Black neighborhoods.

And the racism of the criminal law has metastasized to housing law: the only kind of evictions exempt from Gov. Ned Lamonts eviction moratorium are those for serious nuisance, a term which in practice often means minor drug infractions.

The link between the racism of American housing and American policing is particularly poignant in New Haven. Racial justice protesters in late May marched over a highway connector, which now stands where thousands of people once lived in the integrated Oak Street neighborhood, razed in one of urban renewals great tragedies.

When asked about the protests of 1968, James Baldwin said that white America ought to put pressure on his landlord, pressure on the local government, pressure wherever he can exert pressure.

It is in that spirit that a group of students and faculty within the Yale Law School Legal Services Organization recently prepared a report on preventing displacement within New Haven.

We dont pretend to have all the answers. We can only offer some suggestions, drawn from our experience with the cold injustices of the status quo.

In addition to other policies, notably rent relief, promoted by tenants advocates and the proposals in our report that address other drivers of displacement (foreclosure and insufficient creation of market rate and affordable housing units), two measures are particularly urgent.

First, New Haven should not wait for the state to act to guarantee a right to counsel in eviction proceedings. The City can and should do so before the courts reopen to an avalanche of eviction filings.

Roughly 90 percent of landlords have lawyers in eviction proceedings. But in Connecticut in 2019, over 93 percent of tenants facing eviction did not.

The few tenants who do have lawyers are far more likely to win their cases or settle on favorable termsthe truth is that the assembly-line nature of our current eviction system depends on there not being very many tenants with lawyers.

This representation crisis is a racial and gender justice issue: as Matthew Desmond has argued, in poor [B]lack neighborhoods, what incarceration is to men, eviction is to women.

New Haven, like New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and others, can help tenantsdisproportionately Black womenfight back by giving them the legal help they need to protect their homes and hold bad-actor landlords accountable.

One might object that an eviction right-to-counsel program would be too expensive. It wouldnt be free, but it would be cost-effective.

For the past two years, the Yale Law School Housing Clinic and the New Haven Legal Assistance Association have piloted a limited-scope, same-day representation program for unrepresented tenants in New Haven Housing Court.

With just a handful of lawyers and law students, we have already seen anecdotally the difference that even this modest representation can make for low-income tenants.

The costs to the City of enacting a similar, broader program could be reduced through in-kind logistical support from the Judicial Branch, the occasional award of attorneys fees when tenants lawyers identify erroneously filed or meritless cases, and other measures identified in our report.

The budgetary objection obscures the real issue: we can either pay a little to help tenants fight for their rights, or we can force the most vulnerable New Haveners to bear the catastrophic costs of mass displacement on their own. Our City pays either way. This isnt about what we can afford to doits about what we cant afford not to.

Second, the City (and the state) should ban tenant blacklisting.

New Haven has broad authority to regulate landlords and to promote fair housingauthority that other cities, like Portland, Oregon and Minneapolis, Minn. have used to address blacklisting.

Those cities have done so because when evictions are wrongfully filed or tenants win their cases, tenant-screening services mark those tenants with a Scarlet E that can make it almost impossible for them to find housing in the future.

Landlords routinely deny or upcharge apartment applicants who have been in housing court, regardless of the underlying facts or outcome. This is especially true in New Haven, where our extremely low vacancy rate and the increasing consolidation in the landlord market have slammed the door on many tenantsdisproportionately Black womenwho have previously been in housing court.

Covid-19 and the governments response to the pandemic have made blacklisting even more salient. Tenants are about to face a tsunami of eviction actions for nonpayment of rent because they lost their jobs when Connecticut and the City put the economy in deep-freeze.

The fact that someone was caught up in a once-in-a-generation economic crisis says nothing about whether they are a risky tenant, and it would be deeply unfair for the government to order working peoples workplaces closed and then fail to protect them from the long-term consequences of those orders.

Thats why the City should follow New Yorks lead and make it unlawful for a landlord to deny or upcharge an applicant because of their previous involvement in a civil housing case.

One could make the argument that this is all just now-more-than-ever-ism. Theres something to that. These changes were needed six months ago, theyre needed now, and theyll be needed until theyre enacted.

These changes alone will not be enough. It would be irresponsible to claim that the only thing we need to do to address police violence and the coronavirus is to address housing.

But it would also be irresponsible to pretend they arent connected. These crises have opened a window, just like 1918 and 1968. The greater failure, in our view, would be to let this moment pass without addressing our long-running housing injustice epidemics role in forcing our society to this breaking point.

This is the first in a series of columns addressing displacement, all based on a report by the Housing and Community and Economic Development Clinics at Yale Law School. Future entries will address the Citys role in preventing foreclosure and addressing the Citys shortage of affordable and market-rate units.

Nathan Leys is a recent graduate of Yale Law School and since 2018 has been the Student Director of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organizations Housing ClinicEvictions Track. This op-ed does not necessarily represent the positions of Yale University or Yale Law School.

Agree with LookOut. Never met a landlord who LIKED evicting people. Generally many other measures are tried first.

As a small-scale landlord for over 25 years in New Haven, I experienced serious nuisance tenants a few times in my 1st years as a landlady, before Id learned to RIGOROUSLY screen tenants. Yes, some were minor drug infractions. Others damaged property. One brought in a vicious dog (in violation of his lease) that bit another familys child in my premises (I narrowly escaped being sued for THAT, and I did voluntarily pay medical expenses). Another got drunk enough to vomit regularly in the stairs & hallways & refused to clean up after himself. Another beat his wife & daughter so badly that police and an ambulance were called. I could give more examples. Would Atty Leys like to live down the hall from that behavior? Didnt think so - neither did my more reliable and pleasant tenants who were seeking to scrap their leases unless I got rid of the nuisances.

As it happens, Ive never had to go through a full eviction; I got all the nuisances to leave more-or-less voluntarily. But being able to START a legal eviction proceeding was KEY to easing the nuisances out. Since instituting extremely rigorous screenings, Ive never had serious nuisance tenants. What I do have is a lovely, eclectic collection of tenants of every race, creed, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc. under the sun - who seem to appreciate that my rigorous screenings mean they wont have to deal with difficult neighbors.

Yes, everybody needs a place to live. But people who are out of control of their own behavior should IMHO be guided toward group homes & other forms of supervised housing that are set up & staffed to deal with trauma exposure. THAT is where funds should go, not willy-nilly legal defense of any tenant who is being evicted, regardless of why.

Thank you, Nathan Leys, for this important, urgent op-ed piece. The scale of the crisis we are entering cannot be overstated: hundreds of thousands of new unemployment claims have been filed in CT in the last three months, a very high percentage of tenants were rent-burdened BEFORE the crisis, both the COVID and housing crises disproportionately impact Black and brown individuals & communities, and the eviction moratorium is set to end on July 1.

We need urgent, sweeping action to keep people in their homes for the duration of this pandemic. The single best way to do this is to CANCEL RENT, and use relief funds to aid small-scale & residential landlords. Those who balk at the cost of such action need to think systemically about the lives & wellbeing of ALL of our people in the state, the economic & social cost of mass evictions kicking people into the streets during a pandemic, & the reality of police forcibly removing predominantly Black & brown families from their homes.

But we need to fight on all fronts, and both arguments for legal action Leys proposes here ought to be immediately put in place. We need only look at the efficacy of Right to Counsel for our neighbors in New York City, and follow their lead here in New Haven & statewide: In 2017 New York City enacted a landmark, first-in-the-nation law establishing right to counsel for low-income tenants facing eviction. The law is being phased in zip code-by-zip code over five years, but has already dramatically increased the portion of tenants citywide with representation, from less than 5% to now approximately 30%. Its proven to be spectacularly successful: 84% of tenants receiving legal representation have been able to remain in their homes. No surprise that cities around the nation are enacting policies based on New York Citys example.

I agree with Rebecca, and Lookout. Smaller landlords can not afford the expense of tenants who dont pay their rent. The landlords still have to pay taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance, repairs, lawncare and snow removal, etc, etc. After all those expenses, there is very little money left to save for more long term repairs and maintenance like re-roofing, painting, appliance and utility replacements, repaving, etc. I know someone who lost their 3 unit house because drug dealing tenants moved in and then all the good tenants moved out, and the eviction proceedings took so long, with appeals, that the owner couldnt pay for the taxes and the tenants trashed the house in the meanwhile, and the city foreclosed on the property for back taxes and fines for the condition that the house fell into because of the tenants actions. I know someone else who had tenants who infested their unit in a 2 family house with mice, bedbugs and roaches that had to be deep cleaned and pest control treatments multiple times before it was inhabitable again, meanwhile the other tenants moved out and the landlord couldnt hold onto new tenants due to the filthy tenants who left their unit in disgusting condition when they finally moved out and had to have all the units appliances replaced. The financial losses and money the landlord had to pay out of their personal savings separate of any income from tenants rents was not recouped when they finally sold the property. If youre on a retirement income, or youre a middle or working class property owner, you dont have the deep pockets needed to cover the losses of a bad tenant or no rent for more than a month or two. Pretty soon, only larger landlords/corporations are going to be able to afford to own residential property in New Haven and Hamden in the city, due to the rise in taxes and other expenses involved with owning property there, and only higher income tenants will be able to afford the rents needed to cover those costs.

Here is the original post:
Opinion: How To Protect New Haven Tenants - New Haven Independent

Understanding New York State Bed Bug Laws

Saturday, June 20th, 2020

Bed bugs bite! New York ranks at number 6 for the most bed bug infested cities.

But, these critters wreak havoc far and wide. An infestation can happen anywhere in the state, so you should know the New York State bed bug laws if you live here. These laws can affect you as a landlord and help you understand your rights as a resident.

Knowing the bed bug laws for your state will help you understand where you legally stand when an infestation occurs. Keep reading to learn the bed bug laws for NYC and the rest of the state.

The New York City Housing and Maintenance Code, Subchapter 2, Article 4, states that all New York tenants reserve the right to live in an environment free of bed bugs. This means that the landlord may not rent out a property with a current infestation.

NYC bed bug law also makes taking care of an infestation the responsibility of the property owner. New York law allows the landlord up to 30 days to correct the problem, as these critters create a health hazard and the state considers this a class B violation.

The landlord should not attempt to take care of the infestation on their own. They shouldonly hirepest control professionals that carry licensing by the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to specifically treat apartments for bedbugs.

But it does not end there.If any bed bug infestation occurred within the past year, the landlord must report it to the tenant. They must give a full report including all bed bug history for the past year.

Though landlords must provide bed bug-free homes to their tenants, this does not mean that the tenant holds no responsibility. Tenants should know their responsibility with bed bugs in NYC and how to handle the situation.

Just as the landlord should provide a suitable space for living, the law requires tenants to keep up a sanitary environment that does not invite critters. If the tenant fails to do so, the landlord can sue or deduct the cost of pest removal from the tenants security deposit.

If a tenant does suspect a bedbug infestation in NYC,The ABCs of Housing, states that a tenant should promptly call 311 to report it. This means that you should know what to look for. The signs of a bed bug infestation include:

Waiting to report the problem can result in a larger infestation that can destroy your belongings, which you are typically responsible for as a tenant. If the landlord fails to take care of the infestation within the 30 days, tenants should call 1-866-275-3427 to file a complaint.

Bed bugs pose a serious problem around the country. New York is not exempt.

Learning the New York State bed bug laws will help understand both your responsibilities and your rights. If you need an attorney to help you after a bed bug infestation, contact us!

More here:
Understanding New York State Bed Bug Laws

The Pandemic Accelerates the Riseand Criminalizationof Tent Cities – Filter

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

Just before we went into lockdown, I visited Sanctuary, a homelessness organization in Toronto, to interview people with experience of living in encampments or tent cities and of being evicted. In Toronto, an eviction notice is followed within days or even hours by bulldozers, trashing of painstakingly set-up shelters, and possessions being thrown out.

Like other cities across North America, Toronto has been dealing for years with a growing crisis in affordable housing, resulting in deep housing insecurity, increasingly visible poverty, and overstuffed homeless shelters that are notoriously unpleasant to stay in. Tent cities and encampments in parks, ravines, abandoned lots and other places have become more and more common. As soon as one tent appears, then two, it becomes what comfortably housed neighbors describe as an eyesore, and then as a danger to public safety.

By-laws and other regulations are used to enforce evictions. Greg Cook, an outreach worker at Sanctuary, told me that the citys putting together this infrastructure of displacement, with parks workers and police officers both involved in getting people out of the homes they have set up for themselves and moving them along.

At Sanctuary I met Scotty Dont (his nickname, which he asked me to use). At 27, he has lived on or close to the streets since he was about 15. Other things I learned about Scotty: He started smoking cigarettes at around age eight, hes a talented artist who loves to play with colours, and he learned CPR as a young cadet in the Canadian militaryknowledge he recently used, he told me, to save a friends life. Scotty uses crystal meth for the energy boost and to feel warm during Toronto winters outside. He relies on fentanyl to bring him down when crystal is too stimulating, and on cannabis to balance it all out.

Scotty has lived in tent cities, briefly had his own apartment, and spent this past winter in the doorway of a budget shoe storebefore new management asked him to leave. At the time we spoke, he was sleeping in front of the local McDonalds.

Theyre too high up in the condo. Lack of oxygen is getting to their brains. Thats what me and my friends say, anyway.

Across Scottys knuckles, tattooed letters spell out LIVE FREE. A friend made it, using a home-made gun and piano wire for the needle. Its a telling motto. Scotty feels anxious in sheltersnoisy places with rules and curfews, violence and theft and, most importantly, too many people packed into a small space. He was waiting for a call from his housing worker, from a program called Streets to Homes. Affordable apartments are unbelievably rare in Toronto right now and hed been waiting for that call for a long time. Tent cities or encampments are the next best thing. Yes, he likes the freedom. But he also likes the community.

Its more stability, like an apartment, he said. Sometimes, through various programs, people achieve their goal of housing but in doing so are forced to move away from the downtown. Still desperately poor, they still need the services, transportation, panhandling opportunities and social networks found in the inner city. Like others, Scotty has at times left shelterslike one winter respite space set up with mats and cots, in the ironically named Better Living Centrein order to return to the city center, where his friends are.

When I want to get away from everybody, Ive got a couple of places where everyone gets kicked out but security likes me because Im respectful, he said. I know a lot of the construction workers around here. A lot of them help me every payday. In contrast, The condo people are pretty ignorant. Theyre just stuck up. Theyre too high up in the condo. Lack of oxygen is getting to their brains. Thats what me and my friends say, anyway.

The class divide Scotty described applies equally to San Francisco, New York, Vancouver, Philadelphia or any city where housing costs have long ceased to track working-class or middle-class incomes. A wealthy population, serviced by low-wage workers who commute from far outside the gentrified downtown, is surrounded by the extremely poor. Increasingly, people without housing are setting up encampments, or tent cities, in all of these places.

San Franciscos roughly 8,000 homeless people, representing a rate of 821 homeless people per 100,000 residents. Seattle has 1,274 homeless people per 100,000; Washington, D.C. 1,134 per 100,000; and Boston 933. Rates of homeless people who are not sheltered (in shelters or transitional housing, say) vary: Most of Bostons unhoused people, for example, do have a place to stay, however inadequate. But more than 58 percent of San Franciscos homeless population actually live on the streets; and a staggering 74 percent of homeless people in Los Angeles were unsheltered on the night of the US Department of Housing and Urban Developments January 2019 count. Unsurprisingly, tents line whole blocks of LAs Skid Row.

These numbers demonstrate the extent of the crisis before the pandemicbut not the acceleration of that crisis, amid large-scale loss of jobs and services, in recent months.

Torontos gentrification, commodification of housing, facilitation of evictions and criminalization of the resulting public misery are echoed across the continent.

People have no privacy. They are packed like sardines, shoulder-to-shoulder. Their things go missing and they are coughing and sneezing on each other, Joyce Rankin, the clinical manager at Toronto homeless-serving organization Street Health, told Canadian outlet PressProgress of her citys shelters in January 2019, a year before the coronavirus hit. People get respiratory illnesses, tuberculosis, bed bugs and more. They are packed in and forced together and it is dehumanizing.

Even that was nothing new. As far back as the early 2000s, secretly filmed footage showing four people packed into space that the United Nations shelter standards for refugee camps would have allotted to a single person shocked Toronto city council into passing a regulation that shelters shouldnt exceed 90 percent capacity. Its impact? A similar video was released last winter, and for the past several years, shelters have been consistently at or near 100 percent capacity, with the affordable housing crisis consistently outstripping new beds.

Torontos gentrification, commodification of housing, facilitation of evictionsOntario just pushed through a law to that effect, Bill 184, while tens of thousands are out of work due to the pandemicand criminalization of the resulting public misery are echoed across the continent, as people are forced to live out their worst moments on the street or in unsanitary, often-dangerous shelter spaces.

With the advent of COVID-19 and policies of social isolation, North Americas homeless population is experiencing the criminalization of poverty in accelerated time. The many homeless people who ride New Yorks subways at night are being pushed out, with the help of NYPD officers, to allow for nightly sanitizing of trains, despite hundreds of cases of COVID-19 in city shelters.

A threatened eviction of homeless people in Philadelphia from the tunnels beneath the citys Convention Center was sped up, even as alternatives on offer are far more dangerous than before. The city decided to evict individuals who stay in one of the safest parts of the city, said Philadelphia homelessness and drug user rights activist Sterling Johnson, stating that they are helping.

They are not. That particular eviction took place on March 23the day after the Centers for Disease Control released guidance advising that encampments should not be cleared unless housing is available, due to the risk of exacerbating the spread of COVID-19. They do not have apartment units for them with private bathrooms and space to maintain a specific distance like has been asked of all of us, confirmed Johnson.

Not just housing, but adequate housing is a right that has been violated by almost all governments at all levels all along.

The CDC is not the only body that has spoken out against dismantling of encampments. Overseas, well before COVID-19, UN Special Rapporteur Leilani Farha toured migrant camps, urban squats and Roma settlements across France and called for an end to evictions that violated international law ensuring the right to adequate housing, as Reuters reported. Not just housing, but adequate housing is a right that has been violated by almost all governments at all levels all along.

The day I visited Sanctuary, as someone with a medical condition that placed me at high risk, I was already worried about the possibility of COVID-19. I was equally nervous about the possibility of offending one of the people I was going to interview by refusing to shake hands. I didnt want them to think I thought they were diseased. Thats a common assumption, after all.

In 2014, the city of Marseille, France, issued an ID card to the citys homeless people, meant to be worn visibly. It was distinctly similar to Nazi-era badges, bearing a yellow triangles, ID information and a list of the bearers health issues. The scheme was abandoned after public outcry, but the impulse behind it survives worldwide.

Stigma against unhoused people and community opposition to services for them overlap with stigma and fear around HV/AIDS and AIDS and tuberculosis, as well as racism, the stigmatization of drug use, and other prejudices. In Gallup, New Mexico, hard-hit by COVID-19, some homeless patients have been provided with certification cards attesting that theyve been cleared for the disease, which are to be used to ensure access to shelter services.

People who live on or near the streets or who are otherwise visibly poor have always been treated like infection risks by others. But given the risks of COVID infection in crowded settings, the frequency with which homeless people are moved around against their will, and their often at-risk health status to begin with, it is the precariously housed or unhousednot the wealthier people whose fears manifest as stigmawho have most to fear from the virus.

The coronavirus was brought to North America by people wealthy enough to travel, and took some time to reach the street-involved population. But like advocates for incarcerated people, unhoused people and their allies knew it would hitand that when it did, it would hit hard. In early March, when there were still no confirmed cases in Toronto shelters, street nurse Cathy Crowe wrote that Shelters are like a petri dish waiting for COVID-19 to arrive.

Within less than two months, there were 451 confirmed COVID infections in Torontos shelter system, and by June 14 several outbreaks in shelters brought the City of Torontos tally to 600 casesan infection rate 35 per cent higher than the provinces overall rate, according to the Toronto Drop-in Network. With no universal testing of shelter residents, the actual rate is likely much higher.

And so, in Toronto as elsewhere, people are rationally trying to escape the petri dish. Encampments and tent citiesand the criminalization with which society respondsare more in evidence than ever before.

Historical forerunners of current events, those that should be studied so they are never repeated, feel instead like harbingers. Among the earliest inhabitants of Nazi concentration camps were members of a disparate group of people considered asocial, including sex workers, beggars and homeless people. Slightly later, they were joined by people with substance use disorders. The clean-up of city streets in advance of Berlins hosting of the Olympic Games in 1936 rounded up such people and took them away to the camps.

Less murderous sweepsones that have nevertheless resulted in deaths due to increased misery, decreased services and overdosehave continued through the decades. Even if we limit our lens to the Olympics, we find clearances of visible homeless people preceding the games in Los Angeles (1984), Vancouver (2010) and Rio (2016).

As the first part of this series examined, there are many reasons why people tip over from being precariously housedliving paycheck-to-paycheck, in bedsits, or too many people to a small apartment, or on a succession of friends couchesinto the literal homelessness that gets you pushed from park bench to alley, sidewalk to street, until there is literally nowhere you are allowed to be. Its a continuation of the process by which poor populations, mostly of color, are steadily pushed out of gentrifying neighborhoods and into food and transportation deserts in neighborhoods where law enforcement is at its harshest and services of all kinds are scarce.

People who are homeless often move from being barely housed to on the streets and back againeveryone I spoke with for this series had done so. And unhoused people cluster in certain areas for reasons, including services, community, the sharing of vital information about things such as drug supplies, less heavy-handed local law enforcement or private security, and safety in numbers.

But nothing brings out a particularly unpleasant sort of community spirit more than the visible presence of homeless people in an up-and-coming areaeven if those targeted are doing things like enjoying a public park or using a public bathroom or hanging out on the sidewalk, activities that are legal for most people.

Racialized poverty is a realityjust one that officials and wealthy white communities would rather not face.

Business improvement associations and well-heeled residents may mix genuine fear with contempt: fear of break-ins and thefts, of their children encountering ugly scenes or aggression, of fights and open drug use, and people who act in unpredictable ways. They react by using their influence to mobilize law enforcement, in the form of surveillance, tickets, moving people on, petty arrests and brutality.

One impact of this criminalization is to exacerbate structural racism. In Toronto, for example, a 2018 city survey of homeless residents found that more than half of respondents came to Canada as immigrants, refugee or asylum claimants, or temporary residents. Two-thirds of respondents identified as belonging to a demographic of colorwhich applies to just over half of Torontos general population, but 63 percent of its homeless populationwith the largest share identifying as Black. Across Canada, Indigenous people are also highly over-represented among the homeless population, and Indigenous respondents in Toronto reported longer spells of homelessness.

These findings in Toronto, one of the worlds most racially diverse cities, are typical. Cities like Los Angeles, New York City or, say, Dallasreally, most citiesreveal the same patterns of racialization in housing and in homeless populations. Pushing people out of encampments and into ever-less safe living situations in part reflects white fear of the large, visible tented populations of color that would result if municipalities were to provide necessary services and support rather than simply tearing down encampments and scattering the people who have taken refuge in them. Racialized poverty is a realityjust one that officials and wealthy white communities would rather not face.

Municipalities belatedly began a shambling response to COVID-19, attempting to reduce numbers in over-full shelters, to take over hotels or other spaces to offer temporary and occasionally permanent housing spaces, or to authorize alternatives that were previously anathema. San Francisco, which has historically had an adversarial relationship to its abundant tent cities, made history with the decision to open the citys first sanctioned tent city in a public park. Los Angeles County is scrambling to meet a goal of housing 25 per cent of its 60,000 homeless people (as of June 11, its just a quarter of the way there, with just over 3,700 housedtemporarily, in hotel rooms).

But old habits of treating poor people as problems to be moved around by force die hard. Around encampments, even before they are forcibly cleared, policing is constant, said Zoe Dodd, a frontline harm reduction and support worker at Torontos South Riverdale Community Health Centre and a co-organizer of the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society. Even when residents are offered housing, they are often given as little as an hour to decide whether to be moved to another part of town, in conditions rarely explained to them, and to gather up their possessions.

Dodd described constantly changing eviction and moving dates, people being given eviction notices even when they have agreed to leave and allowed three hours to remove their belongings. They use these violent tools to coerce people to do these things, she said. But people actually wanted to go. They could just be kind about it.

Highly vulnerable peoples possessions are all too often scattered or trashed in these interactions. They are often denied any means to check if the new housing on offer is suitable for them in terms of accessibility, safety, harm reduction services, ability to bring pets, location or permanence. And the offer of housing is given in such a way that its more like an offer they cant refuse than one that gives them any agency. People who have chosen to avoid unsafe and unacceptable indoor shelters are, if theyre lucky, being roughly ordered to move into unknown new accommodations that, for all they know, might be just as bad or worse.

It is not poor people living in tents that poses an infection risk, but packing them into crowded shelters, dismantling encampments, or mishandling the delicate task of offering housing.

As pointed out by physicians and public health researchers during protests in the wake of George Floyds murder by police (and, in Canada, the still-under-investigation death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year old Black woman whose wellness check by police ended in her falling 24 stories from the balcony of her familys apartment), the greatest public health risk from mass protests havent come from protesters, who have often, though not always, been masked and distanced. Rather, its from police who use tear gas to stimulate coughing and force removal of masks, from arrests and manhandling of protesters, and, most of all, from packing dozens of detainees into paddy wagons and crowded cells.

Likewise, it is not poor people living in tents that poses an infection risk, but packing them into crowded shelters, dismantling encampments, or mishandling the delicate task of offering housing, often temporary or unsuitable, to physically and emotionally vulnerable people.

Just taking people and putting them on a bus and taking them somewhere, its really traumatic, said Dodd.

Culturally sensitive COVID-19 testing of encampment sites in Toronto, offered by a coalition of health and social service organizations at Sanctuary and the Church of the Holy Trinity, found at total of just two positive cases (one staff member, one community member): a start at demonstrating in hard numbers that encampments work as an alternative to shelters for self-isolation to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

If people were stranded on an island the first thing theyd do would be to build shelter, said Dodd. Thats what theyre doing.

Both shelters and encampments are now part of a vital, de facto-permanent infrastructure that needs support.

Torontos shelters, like those elsewhere, remain overcrowded and have just been forced to maintain the bare minimum of two meters between cots, mats or beds and stop packing people into bunk beds, following a lawsuit against the City of Toronto by a coalition of human rights and racial justice organizations.

Like food banks and school lunch programs, intended as temporary solutions to societal failures, both shelters and encampments are now part of a vital, de facto-permanent infrastructure that needs support, not criminalization. As such, tent cities should be supported in practical wayswith proper sanitation, water, public health information, harm reduction supplies and opportunities for community development.

And emergency housing alternativesin Toronto and in other cities, from LA to NYCshould become permanent and should be offered, not ordered.

Meanwhile, Zoe Dodd described people driving by the Toronto encampment at 4 am, waking residents with shouts of Get a fucking job!

This article is the second of a three-part series of reports by Carlyn Zwarenstein about homelessness and its intersections with drug policy. The first part of the series was The Mischaracterized Relationship Between Drug Use and Homelessness.

Photograph of an unhoused community in Oakland, California in 2019 by Neobatfreak via Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons 4.0.

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The Pandemic Accelerates the Riseand Criminalizationof Tent Cities - Filter

Las Vegas Reopening: Are Casinos Taking an Unnecessary Risk By Not Requiring Masks? – The Action Network

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

It better.

Vegas has opened again after an unprecedented 78 days in the dark and yes, theres a new normal.

There are temperature checks at the door with guests registering over 100.4 degrees being asked to leave. Chips and dice have been washed. Sportsbook ticket-writers are wiping down counters after each bettor. Hand sanitizer stations appear to be within view everywhere, seats have been removed and social distancing has been encouraged.

But somehow a requirement that patrons wear masks is a non-starter.

And with that, Las Vegas businesses are saying, This thing is over.

If theres any city that would do this, its Vegas. You know, the city whose mayor, Carolyn Goodman, said she would open up back in late Aprilto serve as control group to see how the Coronavirus spread.

Much has changed since Goodmans appearance on Anderson Cooper. There is a lot more data available and weve certainly flattened the curve. On Thursday, the same day that casinos were allowed to open, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced that there wasnt a single death in the entire state related to COVID-19.

But opening up means people from outside the state are coming in, which could complicate things.

Is requiring customers to wear a mask, at least in the short term as we continue to collect data on how the virus reacts to the re-opening of society, not a reasonable request?

Casinos control so much when you are in their little world. From the air to the smell to the lighting to well, whatever rules they want. Cell phones away. No pictures of the odds boards. It wouldnt be out of the norm for the house to throw another rule, albeit a temporary one, onto the list. Especially one that has very little downside.

But they have stopped short here for some reason. While every casino is requiring employees to wear a mask, only the Wynn, MGM and Caesars are encouraging guests to wear a covering over their face but werent pressured by the Nevada Gaming Control Board to make it anything more than an encouragement.

As someone in the New York City area, my learning curve went at warp speed. One week, I was embarrassed to wear a mask at a supermarket. A week later, it was expected. Now, its the people who arent wearing masks that are the outliers.

Of course this isnt apples to apples. The virus impact wildly varies from region to region. My county of 800,000 people had 1,700 deaths. The entire state of Nevada has lost a little more than 400 people in a state that has four times the population.

It just says a lot to me that all of these businesses are willing to risk opening up without the requirement of masks. Given that there are thousands of lawsuits a year around the world over bedbugs in hotels, you gotta think these casinos are taking an unnecessary risk.

Casinos stay in business because they know the odds. But what happens when that isnt the case?

What weve gone through is unprecedented. And while the world is yearning to get back to normalcy and the momentum so far is great, this is one of very few times where the house doesnt know the odds and theyre the ones rolling the dice.

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Las Vegas Reopening: Are Casinos Taking an Unnecessary Risk By Not Requiring Masks? - The Action Network

Everything You Need to Prevent and Get Rid Of Mice, According to Exterminators – New York Magazine

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020

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Whether its a roach, bedbugs, or someone who doesnt screw the toothpaste cap back on, an unwanted roommate is a fact of city living that you may eventually have to contend with. Among those undesirable roommates are, of course, mice. But if you find that you are suddenly sharing your dwelling with one or more, there are steps you can take on your own to eradicate the problem (aside from shrieking and jumping up on the couch). First and foremost, Andy Linares, the founder of New York Citybased Bug Off Pest Control Center, has two tips for minimizing the chance of a mouse in any house: No exposed food or garbage and no clutter. But we all know that sometimes even good hygiene is not enough.

To find out exactly what else you need to deal with a mouse problem (and lower the chance of having one in the first place), we asked three pest-control professionals about the best traps and supplies for DIY mouse-catchers. While this guide takes a more, well, permanent approach to mice removal, if you prefer the more humane catch-and-release method, we have a guide for that, too.

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Aside from practicing good cleaning habits, to prevent mice from getting into your home, Linares says you have to seal off any possible points of entry. To find those possible points of entry, Donald Clark, the owner of New York Citybased Alleycat Exterminating, suggests doing a visual inspection of your home for any cracks, openings, or holes. Hot spots to check include the gas line behind your stove, your radiator pipes, the pipes under bathroom and kitchen sinks, and where any cable, internet, or other electrical lines feed in. Should you find smaller openings, the best way to block them is with a sealant and Linares likes Rodent Stop because it is a flexible, waterproof sealant suitable for both indoor and outdoor use and has tiny, stainless steel fibers to prevent mice from gnawing through it. For another option, Clark recommends the less expensive DAP sealant, which is made from a petroleum-latex that makes it taste really nasty to mice.

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For larger gaps or holes, Linares suggests first filling the hole with chew-proof stainless steel or copper mesh before covering them with your chosen sealant.

According to Linares, installing door sweeps under every door is another essential preventative measure. Clark agrees, and both men love Xcluders door sweep, which Clark describes as a top-of-the-line door sweep. Linares notes that installing it is a commitment its a permanent fix, he says, that cant be easily removed but promises the door sweep is absolutely bite-proof. And doors arent the only thing mice will crawl under: Linares cautions that mice will crawl through an open window, especially in the summer, so be sure to keep the screens down if you keep your windows open.

If you already have interlopers in your home, then its time to select a trap. Traps are generally divided into three categories: glue boards, snap traps, and live-animal traps. They all do what they sound like they do and what theyre supposed to do explains Linares, who says selecting one boils down to personal preference and budget. But no matter what style you choose, Linares and Clark want to dispel one myth: Touching a trap with your bare hands will not deter a mouse from stepping on it. These are cosmopolitan mice. Theyve been living with humans for hundreds of years, and everything they eat has our smell on it, explains Clark.

According to Timothy Wong, the technical director of New York City-based, eco-friendly pest management company MMPC, Glue boards are by far the most widely used mouse traps in the world, because they are affordable, extremely effective, and also be used to catch and monitor for insects, such as roaches and ants. When it comes to specific brands of glue boards, Catchmaster makes the best ones, says Wong. Linares agrees: Catchmaster is the No. 1 manufacturer. But, as Linares notes, proper technique is everything. You want to place your traps along the mouses runway. Mice tend to follow the edges of a space, so look for droppings, urine, or rub marks against baseboards. While it may sound counterintuitive, Clark says you want to leave the droppings, because that makes the mouse think the area is safe. And Linares told us he doesnt recommend baiting glue boards, since typical baits (like peanut butter) could make the trap greasy and allow the mouse to wriggle free. It is also important to keep them clean and dust-free, Wong adds.

Of course, using a glue board (and many other traps) means you will see any mouse you catch. So if youre squeamish, Clark suggests placing the glue board inside a shoebox with holes cut out of each shorter side, and rubbing some vanilla extract or peanut butter onto the lid of the shoebox to lure the mouse in. If youre not squeamish and fine with leaving the trap exposed, after youve caught the mouse, putting a piece of newspaper or cardboard on top of the glue board and gently stepping on it will crush the animal and kill it instantly, Clark says.

Professionals still rely on the classic snap trap, says Wong, and no one makes these as well as Victorpest. Because of its effectiveness, the design has not altered much in the hundred years its been manufactured. While they are cost-effective, the pros do not recommend using snap traps in households with children or pets. Unlike glue-board traps, snap traps do require baiting, and Linares told us you could either use small amounts of food (peanut butter, fruit gummies, or jerky are all Clark-approved) or nesting material (like a cotton ball, piece of string, or dental floss).

The snapping mechanism in snap traps is generally the same across all brands, says Linares. But if you want one that can be used repeatedly, he says the Snap-E is outstanding, very durable, and very effective.

Clark loves clamshell-style reusable snap traps like the T-Rex because they tend to be more user-friendly and have a sturdier base that wont be set off prematurely by vibrations.

If you absolutely do not want to see a mouse after it has been trapped, Linares suggests these traps from Hidden Kill, which function similarly to a snap trap, but kill a mouse using a mechanism that he describes as like a pile driver. The trap requires baiting, and he explains that the main purpose of Hidden Kill is to kill the rodent and then contain it, so that you dont have any odors, body fluids, or parasites. While theyre on the pricier side and not reusable, these are an excellent choice for those who are even a bit squeamish, say the pros.

A live-animal trap will, as its name suggests, trap a live animal. A passive live-animal trap like this reusable one from Repeater allows the mouse to walk into the trap, which triggers a door to close behind it (but a human then needs to reset the trap before using it again). The Repeater has a clear top, to make it easy to spot any rodents once caught. But if you choose a live-animal style of trap, Linares says you need to have a plan for how you are going to dispose of the mouse. One disposal option, according to Wong, is to release the rodent outside of the house. Linares told us that a glue board could also be placed inside a passive live-animal trap to make disposing of the mouse a little easier. Otherwise, submerging the trap in water to drown the mouse will work as well. And no bait is needed with live animal traps, since a mouses natural instinct is to explore and poke its head into holes, says Linares.

Tip-Traps passive live-animal trap is an affordable option that functions similarly to the Repeater trap above. Linares calls it an ingenious, clever trap, which uses gravity to tip the mouse into it and then shut the door.

Unlike a passive live-animal trap, an active live-animal trap will reset itself after capturing a mouse, so it can catch more than one between disposals. Both Wong and Linares like this active live-animal trap from Ketch-All, which works by using a paddle mechanism that, once activated, flips the rodent into a side compartment, and then resets itself. The compartment is large enough to hold up to 15 mice at once, explains Linares, who says this is ideal for homes with chronic infestations. While it is more expensive than the glue boards, it is made of metal and is reusable for many years if kept cleaned, adds Wong.

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Small-Town Resilience And Bed Bugs On An Unexpected Stop In Virginia | The Long Haul Ep. 3 | Forbes – Forbes Africa

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

During a stop in Waynesboro, VA, Nick interviews Mayor Terry Short, Jr. to hear how the small town in the Blue Ridge mountains is coping with the pandemic, and the family has an unexpected encounter with bed bugs.

About The Series: Before the coronavirus arrived in America, Forbes Creative Director of Video Nick Graham had committed to moving from New York to Los Angeles to establish a new video production hub. As the pandemic grew and changed life as we know it, he and his family made the difficult decision to move forward with the relocation as planned. They are driving cross-country in an RV, and documenting the stories they discover along the way. This is The Long Haul.

Episodes: Episode 1: Brooklyn, NY:

Episode 2: Baltimore, MD:

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N.J. nursing home where 17 bodies were stuffed into tiny …

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

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The New Jersey nursing home where 17 bodies were found stuffed into a tiny morgue last month was hit with a hefty fine Friday after federal inspectors found that residents there were put at risk of "serious injury, harm impairment or death."

The Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation II facility in Sussex County must pay $220,235 more than $14,000 for each day that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) found the "facility was not in substantial compliance with federal requirements," from April 6 to April 20. The home also faces other fines, and the monetary penalties will accrue "until substantial compliance is achieved or termination occurs," according to a May 7 statement by Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J.

The nursing home currently has 133 residents and 54 staff members who have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the congressman. In total, 94 residents and one staff member have died.

"These failures in proper infection control practices had the potential to affect all residents in the facility through the development and transmission of COVID-19 and other communicable disease," said the CMS inspection report cited in Gottheimer's statement. "It was determined that the providers noncompliance with one or more requirements of participation has caused, or was likely to cause, serious injury, harm impairment or death to residents."

The report detailed specific instances of disturbing neglect and violations at the home, the statement said.

On April 10, a resident had fallen on the floor by the bed and sustained a head abrasion. The resident was pronounced dead the next day. A physician's report read: Found dead this am ... not performed Physical-COVID-19 test was done? ... High fever for the last few days that was not brought to my attention. Flu like illness, likely COVID-19.

Patients' elevated temperatures and symptoms were not documented, the inspectors found.

In one case, a resident was found to have a fever of nearly 105 on April 6. Then next day, the patient's temperature was not documented, and the day after that the resident died. "No documentation of coronavirus monitoring was found regarding the respiratory symptoms which included coughing or shortness of breath assessment for this resident," according CMS report excerpts in Gottheimer's statement.

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Documentation did indicate the practice of placing patients with COVID-19 symptoms in rooms with residents who did not have symptoms, according to CMS. The inspectors also found "multiple instances of insufficient PPE usage and protection for staff in the facility."

I am absolutely disgusted and heartbroken for the residents, staff and families about the conditions this CMS inspection has uncovered from the facility in Andover. The loss of life and the circumstances that so many of the residents faced are a complete tragedy," Gottheimer said.

In mid-April, an anonymous tip led to the discovery of 17 bodies crowded into a four-person morgue at Andover, which is one of New Jersey's largest nursing homes. They were just overwhelmed by the amount of people who were expiring, Eric C. Danielson, the towns chief of police told The New York Times at the time.

The center has been hit with two federal fines over the past three years, totaling more than $20,000, and had a rating of "much below average" for its health and overall categories before the pandemic, according to a Health Department report obtained by NBC New York. The home has been issued dozens of citations over recent years.

Former employees who declined to be identified told NBC New York that conditions at the home were bad long before the coronavirus crisis.

"There would be urine and fecal matter on the floor, in the hallway, in the bedroom, like it was just gross. ... I have seen bedbugs in patient beds and, you know, we have reported this a couple of times and nothing is being done about it. Nothing. They don't care about the patients," said one. "And then with the virus happening ... things just got 10 times worse because there's nobody there to help these residents, because of the staff being so scared of working there."

But Andover would ask staff to come in to work even if they had been symptomatic for the coronavirus, the former employee said.

Another worker said staffers weren't given the proper personal protective equipment. "I would wear a mask because I would bring a mask from home. They wouldn't give me a mask," the employee said, adding that one person, believed to be a supervisor, said they "shouldn't have a mask on" and that the facility didn't have any to give out.

One of the owners of the home was a top executive at a collapsed chain of troubled nursing homes previously investigated by NBC News. Federal records show that Louis Schwartz, who is listed as a 50-percent owner of the Andover, was a vice president at Skyline Healthcare, a now-defunct nursing home chain that was plagued by allegations of neglect and mismanagement and the subject of more than a dozen lawsuits.

A statement from Mutty Scheinbaum, an owner and operator of Andover Subacute, said that while CMS "noted areas of improvement for Andover Subacute II," it "determined that the facilitys remediation plan was acceptable as fatalities continue to drop at the facility."

But a letter from CMS said the Andover facility has 10 days to submit an extensive plan of correction or else it will face additional fines.

Scheinbaum said "Andover has made steady progress over the past several weeks. The number of virus-related deaths at the facility has dropped precipitously and is now down by approximately 90 percent as compared to the height of the pandemic.

"Dozens of staff who were in quarantine have been able to return to work and the workforce is at full strength with a team of new consultants and other professionals on board to help us through this crisis," the statement said, adding, "PPE inventory is also being restored."

While nursing homes around the country have been hit hard by coronavirus cases, none have been more slammed than New Jersey's. More than half of the state's COVID-19 deaths have come from long-term care facilities, 513 of which have seen viral outbreaks.

This week, Gottheimer introduced the Nursing Home Pandemic Protection Act of 2020 to make it federal law for nursing homes to report communicable diseases, infections, and potential outbreaks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and keep patients' families informed of infections at facilities. The law would also require homes to have crisis plans, and a stockpile of PPE.

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Up to 2.7 Million in New York May Have Been Infected, Antibody Study Finds – NBC New York

Friday, April 24th, 2020

What to Know

Preliminary results from New York's first coronavirus antibody study show nearly 14 percent tested positive, meaning they had the virus at some point and recovered, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday. That equates to 2.7 million infections statewide -- more than 10 times the state's confirmed cases.

The study, part of Cuomo's "aggressive" antibody testing launched earlier this week, is based on 3,000 random samples from 40 locations in 19 counties. While the preliminary data suggests much more widespread infection, it means New York's mortality rate is much lower than previously thought.

As of Thursday, nearly 16,000 people in New York have died of virus-related complications. With 260,000-plus confirmed cases, the mortality rate would be as high as 6 percent. With 2.7 million cases, it would be around 0.5 percent -- much lower, though still much higher than the seasonal flu.

Cuomo was quick to caution, though, that the death toll was higher than even the state's own official report -- it counts deaths in hospitals and nursing homes, but not at-home deaths or other "probable" cases. In other words, the mortality rate is still hard to determine properly.

New York City had a higher rate of antibodies (21.2 percent) than anywhere else in the state and accounted for 43 percent of the total tested. Long Island had a 16.7 percent positivity rate, while Westchester and Rockland counties saw 11.7 percent of their samples come up with the antibody. The rest of the state, which accounted for about a third of those studied, had a 3.6 percent positivity rate. There were early variations by race/ethnicity and age as well.

Cuomo says further analysis of the antibody study findings is underway. The early estimates mirror findings from a study in Los Angeles County, California. Researchers there found COVID-19 could have been 55 times more prevalent than reported, which would mean a far lower morbidity rate than believed.

One prominent New York City doctor reacted to the results by saying they were plausible but by no means certain, and that even if 21 percent of NYC residents had antibodies, it didn't mean they were immune.

"It means a lot of us in NYC have been infected. But that's not surprising news - we've seen high levels of cases for over a month. It means the virus is STILL spreading in NYC. It means that the MAJORITY of us are still very susceptible! It means we still need to #StayHome," said Craig Spencer, a Manhattan emergency room doctor, Ebola survivor and prominent social media voice during the crisis.

About a quarter of the state's total fatalities have been in long-term care facilities, which have been dubbed ground zero of the national crisis.

By law, nursing homes must provide personal protective equipment and temperature checks for staff. They must isolate COVID-19 residents, ensure separate staff for virus patients and notify all family members within 24 hours if any resident tests positive for COVID-19 or dies from infection.

That's not always happening. More families are finding themselves blindsided by a loved one's nursing home death before they were even told a particular facility had a virus problem. In some cases, that reflects a home's lack of awareness. In others, it's an absence of reporting.

Declaring nursing homes a "top priority since Day 1," Cuomo said the state would crack down on centers that don't comply with current regulations and executive orders. Attorney General Letitia James will lead that investigation in coordination with the state Department of Health, the governor said.

The federal government has pledged better tracking and information-sharing on nursing home outbreaks, which the Associated Press reports have been linked to at least 8,500 deaths across the country. The real toll is likely much higher; the virus is adept at killing, Cuomo has said, and the people in nursing homes, the frail and the elderly, are most vulnerable to its attack.

Experts say the outbreaks have been fueled by the industry's chronic challenges with controlling infections and staffing shortages. Many homes have not reported their deaths and state counts may not include those who die without ever being tested for COVID-19.

Cuomo has incorporated nursing home data into the New York state coronavirus tracker; it currently lists nursing homes and adult care centers that have reported fatalities by name and breaks out the total numbers by county. As of Wednesday, 22 percent of the state's 15,740 fatalities came from nursing homes or adult care centers. The state tracker does not list all the centers that have reported infections. Last week, the governor ordered nursing homes to begin supplying this information to the state. Noncompliance may lead to civil penalties.

Some of the nation's biggest outbreaks have been local, including 55 deaths at a nursing home in Brooklyn. The borough now has the highest virus death toll (3,540) of any county in America, per state and NBC News data, accounting for 7 percent of all U.S. deaths. Five homes in the outer boroughs have reported at least 40 deaths each. Part of the issue is the vulnerability of the population itself; part of it is reporting and access to testing. Supplies and personal protective equipment for staff have been problematic as well.

Earlier Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled stepped-up efforts to fight that battle in the five boroughs. He says his administration has sent nearly 10 million N95 and surgical masks, gowns, gloves, face shields and other PPE to the city's 169 nursing homes in weekly distributions to date. On Thursday, he announced the city would increase its weekly shipment by at least 50 percent, adding to the over 40,000 N95s, 800,00 surgical face masks 40,000 face shields, 1.5 million gloves and 105,000 gowns or coveralls that went out last week.

To help with urgent staffing needs, de Blasio has sent 210 clinical staff volunteers to 40 NYC nursing homes and will double that, bringing the total number of personnel to more than 420, the mayor said Thursday. His administration has established a task force to work with about half the nursing homes citywide, collecting data on staffing, PPE, death management and other metrics to ensure nursing home needs are continually met through the crisis.

Our citys nursing homes are home to some of those most at risk for COVID-19, de Blasio said Thursday. They need our support more than ever, which is why we are stepping in and sending more staff and support to assist those who protect and care for our most vulnerable.

New Jersey, which has seen about 40 percent of its total COVID-19 deaths come from nursing homes, launched a new webpage earlier this week that names all 446 long-term facilities where outbreaks have been reported and those where residents have died. One home in particular, a sprawling facility in Andover, came under fire after an anonymous tip led to the discovery of 17 bodies piled inside a makeshift morgue. According to the New York Times, they were moved there after being temporarily stored in a shed. Gov. Phil Murphy said he was outraged by the gruesome find and pledged a thorough investigation.

Current and former employees at the Andover home described vile conditions there even before the pandemic hit.

"There would be urine and fecal matter on the floor, in the hallway, in the bedroom, like it was just gross ... I have seen bedbugs in patient beds," one former employee said. "We have reported this a couple of times and nothing is being done about it. Nothing. And then with the virus happening ... things just got 10 times worse."

Cuomo has said reopening states will be a gradual process -- and that can't really begin until the data supports it, meaning hospitalization and death rates are completely under control. The numbers have been trending in the right direction, but the volume is still high overall. Cuomo says it'll never be zero.

"The number will decline to a level that is basically a low constant. You can't stop all transmission of the virus," Cuomo said during an interview on The Daily Show late Wednesday. "When you get down to the lowest level you can, that's your low point. Once we hit that number, then we can talk about starting to reopen."

New projections from the widely watched Gates Foundation-backed IHME model, the one relied upon by infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci and often cited by Cuomo, suggest New York and New Jersey could relax restrictions after May 27, presuming strong containment strategies remain in place, including testing, contact tracing, isolation and crowd limitations. Connecticut's timeline would be a bit later, after June 9, the model says.

The new "nation-leading" contact tracing program Cuomo announced Wednesday will help with the containment part of the equation. The plan is still in its very early stages; former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has committed $10.5 million to develop and implement it in partnership with Johns Hopkins researchers.

Cuomo said the plan would be regional in its approach, rolled out in coordination with New Jersey and Connecticut. Gov. Ned Lamont later said he was still evaluating it.

IHME revised its death forecasts upward for Connecticut again Wednesday night, for the third time in a week. The state could now see 3,006 deaths through June 2; it has reported about half that to date.

The new model slightly lowered projections for New York (23,232 deaths through May 23) and New Jersey (7,058 deaths through May 21), though those numbers are still higher than in the model's April 17 iteration.

The newer forecasts take into account New York City's reporting on probable fatalities (it has 5,121 of those to date) and data compiled by The New York Times.

"People are about to burst, on one level. On the other hand, we had 474 people die yesterday," Cuomo said Wednesday of reopening. "You tell me how many people go outside and touch other people, I'll tell you how many people go into a hospital three days from now. It's an impossible balance."

On Thursday, Cuomo added another 438 fatalities to New York's growing toll, it's lowest single-day toll in weeks and a fourth straight day below 500. The state now has 15,740 dead, not counting NYC's probable fatalities. New Jersey's toll has reached 5,368, while Connecticut has seen 1,639 lives lost.

Casewise, the tri-state area has reported more than 385,000 infections -- 263,460 in New York, 99,989 in New Jersey and 23,100 in Connecticut. New York City reported its first confirmed case on March 1. A new model from Northeastern University suggests nearly 11,000 people could already have been infected in the city by then, according to The New York Times. De Blasio said Thursday he still believes half of the entire city could ultimately become infected.

The stark numbers and the uncertainty have New Yorkers, tens of thousands of whom have lost their jobs amid this crisis, torn between their desire to get back to normal and their fear of what could happen when restrictions relax.

Evidence of the state easing some rules on construction can already be seen in the city. On the Upper West Side, work on a high rise is being allowed because it includes affordable housing which is considered essential. So is work at a west side hotel project, which was newly designated as essential.

Mayor de Blasio admitted that seeing an apparent recent uptick in traffic on NYC streets and sidewalks gives him some cause for concern. He said that even though COVID-19 admissions at city hospitals has plunged from 850 in late March to 227 on Wednesday relaxing on social distancing would undo any progress that's been made.

"I've been seeing it personally and I am worried about it," the mayor said. "If it's folks starting to get too loose, that's a problem."

People may not look at a crowded subway train the same way again; they may be leery of walking into a Broadway theater. The New York area has endured debilitating hardships since the shutdown; hardships will linger when it lifts.

The stresses of this crisis -- physical, psychological, financial and otherwise -- are profound. Cuomo says they'll lead to lead to "PTSD for an entire generation."

New York and New Jersey have launched mental health hotlines amid the pandemic. Here are more ways to get help.

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Up to 2.7 Million in New York May Have Been Infected, Antibody Study Finds - NBC New York

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