The spread of COVID-19 has deeply impacted the lives of all New Yorkers. In addition to the threat the virus poses to people’s health, the pandemic has changed the way we go to work and school, access health care and other critical services, and interact in our communities and beyond. Information about closures of services and institutions, policy changes, and what your rights are can change day to day. This page will be updated to ensure that New Yorkers know where to find accurate and trusted information.

Last updated Thursday, August 13

How to Stay Updated

Q.How to Stay Updated
A.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remains the best resource to get information on keeping yourself safe from the virus, identifying symptoms, and reviewing reported cases across the country.  

For up-to-date information on actions taken by the Governor and the state Department of Health to combat the virus and assist New Yorkers, visit the state Department of Health website.  

To receive important announcements on COVID-19 via text alerts, text “New York” to 81336 for state updates. Text “COVID” to 692-692 for New York City updates or text "COVIDESP" to 692-692 for updates in Spanish. 

Physical Distancing and Business Closures

Q.Physical Distancing and Business Closures
A.

Parts of New York are beginning the process of re-opening on a regional basis. Gov. Cuomo issued an executive order on Friday, May 22 to allow nonessential gatherings of fewer than 10 people for any lawful purpose. For more information, and to see reopenings by region and industry, visit forward.ny.gov/.

Everyone in New York is required to wear a mask or face covering when in public and unable to maintain six feet away from others. Essential services and stores will be open, including grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants that serve delivery and take-out. For more information, visit the New York State Department of Health website.

Protesting

Q.Protesting
A.

You still have the right to protest, but the rules for protest are different while New York is in a state of emergency under COVID-19. If you are planning to engage in protest, here is what you should know

Voting and Elections

Q.Voting and Elections
A.

You can find up-to-date information about voting and upcoming elections on our voting rights and information page. For more information, or for instructions to obtain and cast an absentee ballot, contact your county’s Board of Elections.  

The 2020 Census form was mailed out to all residences in March. You can fill out the questionnaire by mail, by phone, or online. Learn more about the 2020 Census and your rights here. For more information, visit the Census Bureau website. The 2020 Census does not have a question on citizenship and there are strong privacy safeguards to protect personal information. 

Schools 

Q.Schools 
A.

For detailed information about health and safety for students and educators, and about students’ and parents’ rights during remote and in-person learning, check out the NYCLU's new back to school guide.

Governor Cuomo announced that all schools may reopen. School districts have developed their own reopening plans.

NYC public schools have options for either 100% Remote Learning or Blended Learning (mix of remote and in-person learning). Families who opted for Blended Learning can switch to 100% Remote Learning at any time. Families who opted for 100% Remote Learning will have the option to change back to Blended Learning at a few specific times during the school year. See more information here.

Students in NYC who do not already have tools for remote learning may be able to receive devices and tablets. As information is changing rapidly, your principal will probably have more up-to-date information than the central DOE office. Please click here for information about obtaining a device. 

All New York City schools will provide free "grab-and-go" breakfast and lunch daily for anyone who wants it. For more information, visit the state Department of Education website. There is also meal delivery for those who can’t go to the schools to pick up meals. 

Starting on March 23, Regional Enrichment Centers will be open for the children of first responders, healthcare workers, transit workers, and others in every borough. If your child receives special education or medical services through their public school, they may also be able to access these services through the enrichment centers. Please click here for details.  

New York State districts are using various methods to get instructional materials to students, so please check your district website for information. In addition, our NYCLU chapters across the state may be able to assist.

Housing and Utilities 

Q.Housing and Utilities 
A.

Residential evictions for tenants who are struggling financially due to COVID-19 are on hold at least until October 1. If you have been served with papers for an eviction proceeding, you can call Housing Court Answers at 212-962-4795 for more information and assistance.

New York utilities will keep power, heat, gas, and water on for all customers, to support people who are unable to pay their bills due to the coronavirus.  

Health Insurance

Q.Health Insurance
A.

Loss of employment, becoming pregnant, or various other changes in status can make you eligible to apply for coverage on the NY State of Health site. Call them at 1-855-355-5777 or get enrollment help here.

Unemployment 

Q.Unemployment 
A.

If you have lost your job due to the coronavirus, the seven-day waiting period to apply for unemployment insurance benefits is waived. For more information and to apply for benefits, visit the state Department of Labor website.

Courts

Q.Courts
A.

The New York state court system has postponed most non-essential services and proceedings. As of April 13, virtual court proceedings have now expanded to selected non-emergency and non-essental matters. Click here for more information. Sign up for updates for court closures from the New York State Unified Court System website. To find out if a particular court is open, call the court’s coronavirus hotline, (833) 503-0447. 

Domestic and Gender-based Violence

Q.Domestic and Gender-based Violence
A.

If you are experiencing domestic violence or gender-based violence, here is a list of local hotlines in New York State you can call for help.

New York City's 24-hour domestic violence hotline is 1-800-621-4673.

The New York State Adult Abuse Hotline is 1-800-342-3009, option 6. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing should dial 711.