heat wave

NYC Opens Cooling Centers Adapted to Pandemic

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To help New Yorkers beat the heat this year the city has implemented a number of measures through its "Cool It! NYC" program while keeping the current pandemic in mind.

Monday's temperatures will soar into the high 90s, though heat index values will reach well over 100. Cooling centers adapted to the pandemic are open across the five boroughs. 

"Our cooling options have been adapted this year as a result of COVID-19 and our goal is to ensure that all New Yorkers that live in heat-burdened areas, that our heat-burdened communities, are within a quarter mile of a cooling element. This is going to be done through a combination of cooling options," New York City's Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell previously explained the city's cooling efforts July 9.

The options include some that have already been a mainstay during New York summers and new ones adapted to meet the needs of residents during the pandemic.

Cooling Centers

As in past years, the city has opened cooling centers in all five boroughs in schools, community centers and other non-profit organizations that have offered up space.

"We have 145 that are prepared to open right now if needed and this number is going to continue to go up throughout the summer," Criswell previously said.

Although the centers are available to provide relief from the sweltering summer heat, they have undergone changes aimed at dealing with the current COVID-19 crisis.

"As the city continues to respond to COVID-19, we have made additional changes. We’ve implemented additional guidelines to ensure the safety of any New Yorker who visits a cooling center to seek relief from the heat. This includes face coverings that must be worn at all times inside cooling centers. Cooling centers will also operate at a limited capacity so we can maintain social distancing guidelines of 6 feet. We will also provide face coverings and cleaning supplies to all centers," Criswell said.

Cooling and Misting Locations

On July 9, the city also announced its plans to activate new cooling and misting locations in heat-burdened communities.

"New Yorkers can find relief from the heat in 650 spray showers located already in City Parks in areas with ample tree canopies where temps can be 20 degrees cooler," Criswell said.

These locations are always operational, according to Criswell, and can be found on the parks website nyc.gov/parks/

Cool Streets

The city also unveiled earlier this month the first set of cool streets for this summer, announcing expanded cooling options on existing Open Streets in the most heat burdened parts of New York City. These streets will be part of the Open Streets network and when activated can also be found on the Parks website.

Spray Caps

"During heat emergencies the department of environmental protection and FDNY will proactively install more than 300 spray caps showers within these heat-burdened neighborhoods," Criswell said.

Free Air-Conditioners to Low-Income Seniors

One piece of the "Cool It! NYC" initiative has been to keep communities, particularly those that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus safe and cool, according to the mayor.

"Protecting our seniors is crucial and that is why we made the decision to give out free air conditioning units to low-income seniors. To help the folks that had to stay home for their own safety," De Blasio said.

According to the mayor, as of the night of July 8, 34,294 air conditioning units have been installed since the initiative started a few weeks ago.

"And we are going to keep going," De Blasio said, adding: "We have to do everything we can to keep people cool this summer."

Criswell also went on to remind New Yorkers to check on the vulnerable population when city is experiencing high temperatures.

"As we head into the heat of summer we are prepared to support all New Yorkers who need relief from the hot weather. As always, I want to remind everybody to check on their neighbors, to check on your loved ones, to be a buddy especially those who are the most vulnerable to the heat as well as to the COVID-19 virus," Criswell advised.

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