MAYOR DE BLASIO HOLDS MEDIA AVAILABILITY

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  • Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. You know, we’re going to look back on these times and we’re going to remember them very, very deeply. And I think there’s going to be a story written, a story told of what happened here in New York City and how the people of New York City responded to this unprecedented crisis. And I think it’s going to be a story that is filled with a lot of heroism, a lot of selflessness, a lot of compassion, a lot of teamwork and certainly it’s going to be a story of people adapting in ways we never could have imagined and with lightning speed, because remember 8.6 million people, all of us together here in one place – and not that big a place, meaning there’s not a lot of room, but there’s a whole lot of people. We had only days to change our lifestyle, to adapt to a whole set of new realities and New Yorkers did amazing things in those days and continue to.

    Now, we have a reputation as New Yorkers that were tough, we’re resolute, we want what we want. Maybe you could call that stubborn sometimes, but New Yorkers have shown incredible ability to create, to make sense of a new reality, to work together. And I’ve got to remind you, this happened almost instantly in the scheme of human life. We’re talking about people at a matter of days to make these changes. And they did. You did, and you saved lives in the process. There’s no doubt about it. We’re going to go over our daily indicators, and it’s Friday, so we’re going to go over the indicators for the whole week and you’re going to see once again the fruits of your labor. And this took immense change and immense hard work and it will continue to. But we also know that a lot of that happened when it was a little bit cooler. And as this morning is already indicating, it’s getting hotter. We’re about to get into the warm weather in a serious way, starting today and this weekend. And that means summer’s around the corner and that’s a whole new reality. So, we have been planning intensely over the last few weeks how we’re going to address the summer and the warmer weather. I’m going to give you some major pieces of that plan today. There’ll be more coming, but we know it’s a new reality. And look, the tough part of this is it’s going to take more adaptation, more strength, more discipline to get through this next phase. But the good part is we’ve now proven the progress we can make and how quickly we can change our reality. And everyone wants to see some opening up, everyone wants to see a restart. We’re all invested in this. This will be a reminder that we have to lean in and fight hard for the weeks ahead to get us to that next phase. And it will be harder in some ways with summer, but we’ve also learned how to do it. That’s the other great advantage. We know what works, we’ve already gotten used to it, we just have to stick to it now.

    Now, this is going to be a different summer than any summer we’ve experienced in the history of New York City. And a lot of the things that we love about summer – we love barbecues, picnics, ballgames, going to the beach, all sorts of things. Those things are going to be different for the foreseeable future and there’s a lot of things that we would look forward to doing that we can’t yet do. Doesn’t mean that’s a judgment on the whole summer yet, we’re going to take this day by day, week by week, but we know right now the lot of the things that we would look forward to doing, starting right away, we’re just not ready for. But what we can guarantee is the heat is coming no matter what. And last year we saw some very sobering reality around the heat. It was the 10th hottest July in recorded history in New York City, and you remember those particularly hot days. It’s not only uncomfortable, it’s not only going to be a challenge in terms of social distancing and everything else we’re dealing with, it can be dangerous unto itself. The heat itself, we’ve learned more and more of the hard way, can be dangerous. We’re seeing this all over the country, all over the world. Obviously, because of global warming, things are changing and we’re seeing a kind of heat we haven’t seen before so much and we take it seriously. We understand the lives on the line. So, we’re putting forward today the beginning of a plan to protect New Yorkers – these are the first steps, more to come – and this is all about protecting New Yorkers and helping them through the summer as comfortably as possible and as safe as possible.

    So, we have three goals for our summer heat plan. First, protect the health and safety of the most vulnerable. Second, give New Yorkers safe, positive cooling options, different in many cases than what we’ve known in the past. Third, prevent power outages and, God forbid, they happen, be able to respond to them quickly. I’ll go through each of them now. Protecting the most vulnerable – okay, so in every crisis we work to save everyone, protect everyone, protect the health, protect their safety, but we know some people bear the brunt in the heat. It is those who have the least ability to provide options for themselves who are the most vulnerable. Who is that? Many times that’s our seniors, many times that’s lower-income New Yorkers who don’t have air conditioning. It’s people who can’t leave their home even if they wanted to because of disability or other challenges. It’s folks who have chronic health conditions, certainly mirrors a lot of what we’re seeing in terms of the impact of the coronavirus, but the heat has elements that allow us to hone in on those who need help the most and literally know person by person, department by department, who are some of the people that need the most help, and that’s guiding us in our strategy to proactively get help to people and protect them against any heat wave that might be ahead. So, I’m going to go over some of the key elements of how we will protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers. First, we’re going to be providing more and more a growing initiative to provide free air conditioners to low-income seniors who need them. Again, remember, senior citizens often with the fewest options, sometimes limited mobility, a lot of times lower income. These are the folks who are in the most dangerous situation. Many have major preexisting health conditions. Knowing that low-income seniors are the most vulnerable, we’re going to start initiative right away to get them air conditioners. We’re going to have 74,000 air conditioners in the first wave of this initiative, 22,000 of which will go to residents of public housing. We’re going to identify the individuals need the most working with our colleagues at NYCHA public housing, at the Department for the Aging, our housing department, HPD and the Human resources administration, so we’ll identify those who need help the most, we’ll reach out to them, confirm that an air conditioner makes sense for them, and then we’ll begin installations. Those installations will start next week. This is a $55 million investment and $20 million of it will come from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority – NYSERDA. And we are very, very appreciative to everyone at NYSERDA, everyone at the State government for their participation in this effort. It’s absolutely going to protect our seniors and help save lives no matter what mother nature throws at us. The remainder of the cost is – it’s an area of a public investment that is eligible for federal reimbursement. We want to make sure that we get those federal grants to offset the cost.

    Second, we want to help lower income New Yorkers with summer utility bills. Now, look, first of all, summer utility bills go up in general. This summer, they could go up a lot more because more and more people are staying home sheltering in place. On top of that, you have so many people who have lost their livelihood. So, we want to focus on people who are struggling to pay the bills and we want to make sure that it can stay safe and stay cool and have the air conditioning they need. So, right now, there are almost half a million New Yorkers who get a subsidy for their air conditioning needs from the New York State public service commission – that’s fantastic and we appreciate that. We are petitioning the public service commission to double its current commitment and that would mean for the average customer $160 more typically to help them defray the costs and help them have the air conditioning they need. So, for so many working people, lower-income people, particularly people who’ve lost their paycheck, this could be a lot of what helps them get through the summer both safely and in a way that helps them pay the bills. Now, again, some of this involves partnership with the State and we are very, very appreciative for all the things that we’re doing together to protect lives. New York State gets a home energy funding from the cares act. We’re going to reach out to the State and see if this is another area we can team up to magnify the amount of people we can reach.

    Okay. Now, that’s some of the ways that we focus on those who are most vulnerable, those who both in terms of health and safety and, obviously, economically as well need the most help. Let me go to a second goal, which is to have a variety of safe cooling options in the summer for those who need them. Now, look, again, many people have a place where they can stay cool, but there are too many New Yorkers who don’t. And we’ve always had cooling centers and they’ve been very, very much appreciated by people who needed a place to go, but there are going to have to be different now because of the realities of the coronavirus. So, we’ve got to keep people cool to protect their lives and their safety, but we also have to have cooling centers that work for this moment in history. So, we’re going to be looking at a number of locations, particularly locations that are larger and allow for social distancing and we’re going to be making sure they are places where seniors and folks who are vulnerable can go and be comfortable and have some things to do during those hot days. Again, lots of space will be needed. So, some of the traditional cooling centers will work, but some won’t. So, we’re going to be looking at libraries, we’re going to looking at large community centers gyms, sports venues, auditoriums, arenas, you name it – places that will afford us some bigger open spaces that we can turn into cooling centers, of course, with social distancing, with the right use of PPEs and face coverings. And we want to make sure that there’s something to do. If people going to be there all day, especially if it’s days in a row, we want to make sure there’s programming and things for people that do, particularly if it’s families coming in with kids, we want good things to keep those kids entertained, but that are also safe. So, that’s the cooling centers.

    Second, we’re going to be focusing on a variety of ways to cool people and keep people hydrated, this is so much, so much a crucial piece of protecting health and safety in a heatwave is hydration. So, first of all, we know that some of the things that people traditionally do, the beaches and the public pools, that’s not in the cards right now. Again, we’ll see what the future brings, but not right now. But what our Parks Department will do is create misting oasis – I think that’s a beautiful phrase – that misting oasis and spray showers. So, new opportunities just to get people some cooling water on them and keep them cool kids in particular in the middle of summer. And there’s a plan coming up in the coming days to take a classic New York City option and use it the right way, which is opening up hydrants. There’s a way to do that that can provide cooling for a lot of people, a lot of kids in particular on their blocks, but can be done the right way, the safe way and the way that doesn’t undermine the work of the FDNY. So, we’ll have more to say on that in the next few days. And we’re going to help New Yorkers hydrate in addition to the other types of food we’re providing and beverages that we’re providing, either by delivery or pickup, we’re going to include a lot more of the hydrating kinds of liquids, the Gatorades and the Pedialyte that will help people during this kind of crisis.

    Now, I mentioned that we have a real concern as we always do, but we certainly saw it last summer in terms of preventing power outages and being raised respond no matter what. So, this is a crucial piece of the plan and we know that the more people are using electricity, the more strain it puts on the electrical grid and that’s a real challenge. Now, this is going to be a strange summer. By every measure, we’re going to see a lot less commercial activity. There’s obviously not traditional tourism now, which is a big part of what happens in summer the City, there’s not a lot of the big events, you know, there’s no big events. And so, the things that often took up a lot of energy won’t be there, the whole larger commercial reality, even though it may come back in small pieces, nothing like we would normally see in the summer. But on the other hand, a lot more people home, a lot more people using air conditioning. So, we have to be ready and we’ve been dealing with ConEd on this early to get ready and we’ve put new protocols in place with ConEd to see the warning signs earlier to predict problems earlier and take appropriate steps. There are a number of steps that can be taken if there is a danger of a blackout, a looming or an outage looming. And we’re going to make sure there’s tight coordination with ConEd and a lot more communication between ConEd and all of its partners and government, but also with the people. So, we can address these issues early has been a regular series of meetings with ConEd, a new approach to a situation room jointly between ConEd and our emergency management leadership. Our mandate to ConEd is to alert us even the slightest sign of a problem so we can all act together, and we can inform the public. And the public always plays a role here because the public can make adjustments in the way people are using energy and that makes a big, big impact.

    Now, one of the things that happened last summer we saw some particular problems in Brooklyn and what’s called the Flatbush network of ConEd. ConEd has replaced a lot of the equipment in that network, 70 power line sections replaced, updated the relay switches on 15 sections that supply the grid. Replaced more than half the rubber cable so far with the rest being done by the end of May. So, we insisted and contacted a credit is acting aggressively that this was the place we saw last summer that needed real structural work and that work has been done and is being done. But again, we will be ready for anything and so in terms of response, God forbid we see a problem. We right now have 60 portable generators ready for emergency deployment, we are going to add 22 more large generators that will be available to us for the summer months. We’re going to preset pre-stage those around the City so they can be moved quickly to places that need them.

    Also, we want to focus on our seniors, we want to focus on nursing homes and adult care facilities. We need to make sure, and this is something we’ll work closely with the State on, that every facility has a plan in place and is ready if there’s ever an outage. And we’re going to work with the State and certainly encourage the State to mandate that every one of these adult facilities and nursing homes has generator capacity ready to go in the event of a crisis. So, we’ll be working on this every day as we get into the summer to prepare to protect everyone, but particular focus again on our seniors. So, this is the beginning of the plan more to come, it’s as usual going to require all of us to think a little differently, do some things differently, watch out for each other, something New Yorkers do really, really well. Watch out for their fellow New Yorkers. If the results of the last weeks are any indication, people are going to make these adjustments to help each other out and help us move forward the same way we have already.

    Okay. Now I want to come to a very sober topic and it’s one we’ve been talking about now over the last week or more and it is one that has continuing to cause tremendous concern to all of us, which is pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, P.M.I.S. This is about protecting our kids from something that we are seeing differently than we’ve seen before. And again, a huge amount of energy is being expended in the medical field, not just here in New York City but all over to understand what’s happening here and address it as quickly as possible. So, the numbers continue to concern us, we now have 110 confirmed cases, 54 percent of those cases either the child tested positive for COVID-19 or a tested positive for antibodies. And as I’ve said, we lost one child and I want us all to work together and parents to do everything you possibly can to make sure we don’t lose another child in this crisis.

    So, we are continuing to build out a citywide ad campaign and information campaign to make sure parents are aware. Health Department is reaching out and holding meetings and webinars with providers to make sure they’re aware to get the maximum information back to them to make sure they are vigilant. We have preliminary data on the demographic breakout of the kids affected, but I want to emphasize very preliminary cause it’s only 110 cases, that’s way too many. But in the sense of trying to understand this challenge, 110 cases is obviously a small number in the scheme of things and that the data is inherently incomplete as you’ll see on the ethnic breakout. But we want to give people what we have as we have it. So here you see the age breakout, the number one category has been the youngest kids zero to four. The next category in terms of percentage effected five years old to nine years old. The next category 10 years old to 14 years old. And the category we’ve seen it the least end is 15 years old and up. So, this is initial information, but we want people to see and be particularly vigilant with our youngest kids. We see as we have seen with the coronavirus itself, more impact on males than females, and that is something that’s still obviously being studied. The borough breakout here, the number one impact has been in the Bronx, followed by Queens and then Brooklyn with much less in Manhattan and Staten Island. And then the ethnic racial breakout, which again is incomplete because almost 40 percent of this is still not classified, meaning kids that we’re still not getting the details but so far again, sobering – 24 percent African American, 14 percent Latino, 10 percent Asian, 9 percent white. Until we know more about the kids that are not yet identified, we can’t give you a fuller picture, but again, very much concerned that this looks like it’s tracking the same disparities we’ve seen throughout this crisis. And that is something have to address very, very aggressively with everything we’ve got. Now, we are going to go at this with everything we have, but again, this case that we know so far, and this is always based on changing information, but we know early detection matters. We know if it’s identified quickly, if a health care provider is alerted quickly, it can make all the difference in the world. And that is why in so many cases, children have been saved and they can recover. But every family member out there, every parent, please you see those warning signs that we’ve been over. Please, please immediately reach out to a healthcare provider. And again, if you don’t have one, call 3-1-1 and we’ll connect you to a Health + Hospitals clinician.

    Okay. We are spending a lot of time these last weeks preparing for what comes next. And it begins of course, with continuing to move forward on this City becoming safer, healthier because we knocked back this disease. I’ll go over the indicators in a moment, but everything we’re doing, when we think about a restart, when we think about any lessening of restrictions, start with a health and safety prism. That’s where we begin every conversation, that’s where we end every conversation. Whatever we do is going to be based on health and safety. Of course, we all want to get back to normal, of course we all want to get people’s livelihoods back. It’s absolutely crucial and we want to get our lives back. We want to get the spirit of this place, the life of this place, the vitality of this place back. Last night, I was reminded that I met with our arts, culture and tourism advisory council, these are folks who do such amazing work, who have such a big impact on the life of the City who give us so much of what we identify as being great in our City. Also employ a huge number of New Yorkers. So, we want them to come back for every reason and this is going to take real work and real time. This is a sector of our City, of our economy that we’re going to have to be inherently careful and slow with some pieces of what make up the sector can come back faster, others slower. But we’re going to work together to find solutions and I got to tell you, every time I listened to people talk about what it’s going to take to come back, we had a lot of practical suggestions. I get a lot of ideas, I get a lot of cautions about what will work, what won’t work. This is exactly what we want from these advisory councils and the folks who are putting all this time and energy and they’re doing it to help all of us. I want to thank everyone who was on this advisory council and all the others because it’s really helping us to sort these things out and make decisions, but what— I would love you to feel the way I felt last night was the can-do spirit. I talked to folks from all different parts of the arts and culture and tourism sectors and they all said the same thing. Not if, but when we’re coming back, we’re coming back strong. We’re going to find new ways of doing things. We’re going to revive the arts and culture community of this city. It’s going to be in some ways different, but it’s going to be as good or better. We’re going to really focus on our own communities and our own audiences here in New York City because so much of this of course was not just for New Yorkers, but people who would come from all over the world to experience our artistic and cultural institutions and that’s going to be different for a while. It will come back eventually, but it’s going to be different for a while. But you know what also is going to happen is more and more New Yorkers are going to discover what’s right under our noses and a lot of things that maybe we haven’t focused on enough, or enjoyed, or experienced enough, we’re going to come back to. And that was something that these arts and culture leaders felt very deeply, that a whole new wave of New Yorkers are going to experience all that’s here in a new and special manner. So, a hopeful, positive meeting, a lot to be done, but real, real devotion to coming back and coming back strong.

    Now, there’s been a lot we’ve talked about in recent days about how to make sure as we continue toward that better situation that we hold on tight to what we’ve achieved with shelter in place with social distancing, with face coverings, the things that have been working, the things that have been driving down and driving back this disease. A lot of talk about how to do it, how to sustain it, and the role that enforcement plays in that equation – the role of the NYPD. So, we’ve been talking a lot here and had numerous conversations with Commissioner Shea and his team and a whole lot of conversation with elected officials and community leaders who have offered a lot of insight, a lot of concern, but a lot of insight as well – a lot of suggestions, a lot of ideas. And I think what’s become clear in recent days is we’re balancing a very complex equation here. Health and safety come first – unquestionably. We’re dealing with a pandemic; we’re dealing with the biggest healthcare crisis in a century. We have to get it right. Enforcement is always a part of protecting people’s safety for time immemorial. But at the same time, we have something very precious that we have achieved here in this city in changing relationship between police and community, in reinventing our approach to policing, in reducing crime because there’s more of a bond between police and community. And that’s also about protecting people’s safety and we need to protect that. So, we do not in any way, shape or form want to slide backwards and undermine that precious bond that’s been growing and improving between police and community. As we’ve talked it through and thought about how to apply a neighborhood policing approach – the strategy that’s been working – how to apply it in the middle of a pandemic, it became clear that everyone deserves more clarity. And I said, you know, yesterday that Commissioner Shea and I are responsible to inform the people of the city and our officers, what’s expected of everyone and we needed to do that in a way that made sort of clearer, sharper sense to people. And so, I want to talk about a reset in our approach today, which I think will clear things up and make it work better. And as I mentioned, talking to a lot of community leaders, I want to give a special credit to three elected officials in particular offered ideas and insights that really informed a lot of my thinking as we went into this new approach. I want to give a special thanks to Congressmember Yvette Clarke, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and Assemblymember Tremaine Wright. All of them really gave very constructive ideas and referenced the, the deep trauma that communities have felt over the years and the problems and the history that we have to fight our way out of and why we need to protect the progress we’ve made in relationship between police and community and come up with a clearer set of instructions. So, the reset will be this, we start with the fundamental notion – the NYPD is here to protect lives, to save lives, and where we see the greatest danger to lives in terms of the Coronavirus and the area where we can enforce is around gatherings, particularly large gatherings. So, that’s where we’re going to focus, wanting to give people this clarity. And it’s literally the bigger the gathering, the more that needs to be done by the NYPD to make sure that gathering either never get started to begin with or is quickly broken up. And again, if we never need to take any additional enforcement action other than the NYPD showing up and people leaving, that’s the ideal by far. Summonses are an available tool and they will be given if people do not disperse, but the goal is to not even get to the point of summons, just to make sure that large gatherings don’t happen. Large gatherings inherently come with a breakdown in social distancing and the danger of spreading the disease to a lot of people quickly and that’s what we have to guard against. That will be the focus of the NYPD. What we will do in other areas is focus all of our energies on educating, on encouraging, on providing free face coverings; that will be done by civilian agencies, that will be done by houses of worship, that be done by community groups and the NYPD will be out there as well, but it’s role will be focused again on the positives, giving out those face coverings, giving out reminders to people, helping people to understand what good social distancing looks like. We want to make this a positive approach. We do not want to revive the mistakes of the past. We think we can strike a balance when someone says, I don’t have a face covering with me; we want NYPD officers and all these other civilian ambassadors and everyone else to be there with a solution. I think that is the right way to move us forward and strike the balance, but it’s also comes with a reminder to all of you that it is a responsibility of all of us to keep doing what we’re doing; we have been doing on social distancing and to do it even more. You see a lot of people doing social distancing, right; you see some who are not. Let’s all work together to remind people to do it right, especially the people we’re closest to in our lives. It’s the vast majority of people have face coverings, some don’t; sometimes someone just forgets it. That’s why we’re going to have free distribution, but we got to keep reminding people how important it is and every one of us is responsible and we can create more balance the more responsibility everyone shows in this situation.

    Okay, some other important updates in a similar vein of how we’re going to maintain proper social distancing, especially as we have a warm weekend coming up. So, in the parks, we’ve definitely seen some places where overcrowding started to happen. We don’t want that to happen. So, in the places where we know we can put physical limitations, we will. So, we’ll be limiting access to the Sheep Meadow in Central Park, to areas of Hudson River Park, and Piers 45 & 46, and Domino Park in Williamsburg. We’re going to create a monitoring approach; NYPD officers, civilian ambassadors, they’ll be there, they’ll be there early. They’ll set parameters on how many people should go into these areas and always be providing guidance, be providing free face coverings. We want to just get ahead of the problem by limiting the number of people in these areas that become crowded and if our approach continues to work, we’ll apply it to any place else we need to. And then our social distancing ambassadors, that number is now gone up to 2,260 – that’s a lot of City employees who will be out there educating, giving out face coverings. You’ll see a lot of presence this weekend. You’ll also see in the beaches, which of course are not open; enhanced patrols to keep people safe and to remind people that beaches are not open and to protect against any danger that people will go in the water. You’ll see that in the Rockaways, Coney Island, Orchard Beach, and we’re going to make sure in terms of addressing those large gatherings, there’ll be a dedicated NYPD car in every police precinct that will focus always on being able to get to wherever a large gathering might be to make sure that situation is addressed.

    Okay, now we go to the daily indicators and again. On Fridays, we look at the big picture and we see some tremendous progress overall. Today’s report, not everything we want it to be for just today, but the overall progress – again, I’m going to keep saying so impressive, so consistent and so much because of all that you are doing. So, the turnaround, you look at this chart, it’s breathtaking. We’ve been consistently below in daily indicator number one, number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19, consistently below 100 now for a meaningful amount of time. And again, that’s 800 fewer people per day being admitted compared to the end of March – that’s just breathtaking. So, that’s the good news. The less good news is today’s update. Unfortunately, we have a situation where things have gone up from a 59 to 78. So, that is not what we’re looking for – still a low number overall, but wrong direction. Daily indicator number two, this is the toughest one to move because it is about folks who are the most sick and fighting for their lives. Again, progress unquestionably – you look at that chart over 300 people, fewer in ICUs than at the peak, that’s a very good thing, but still a lot of people fighting for their lives. The good news today, the numbers down from 517 to 506. And then percentage of people citywide testing positive for COVID-19 – amazing progress – again, we’ve seen consistent improvement, but not everything we need. We still have to keep going. And again, today, wrong direction, only by one point, but wrong direction from 11 percent to 12 percent.

    So, concluding that – not the day we wanted today. We’ve had some very, very good days lately and we’ve also had some days that were imperfect. Overall direction, absolutely right, but to get to that restart, we need to go further. So, take it personally. That means every time you practice social distancing, every time you put on the face covering, every time you help make sure there are not large gatherings. And if you see or hear anything about a large gathering, please call it into 3-1-1 immediately. We need to do more. We’re clearly making progress, but we need to do more to get to that next step. Okay, few words in Spanish –

    [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

    Okay. With that, we will turn to our colleagues in the media and, as always, please remind me of the name and outlet of each journalist.

    Moderator: Good morning, everyone. We’ll now begin our Q&A. As a reminder, we have Deputy Mayor Perea-Henze, OEM Commissioner Criswell, Social Services Commissioner Steve Banks, and Dr. Eric Wei, Vice President and Chief Quality Officer of New York City Health + Hospitals also on the line. First question today goes to Julia from the New York Post.

    Question: Hey, good morning, Mr. Mayor. And a happy belated birthday and anniversary to you and the First Lady. I would have extended the well wishes yesterday and Friday, but I wasn’t called on. So, I’d like to get to my two questions now about the Health Commissioner. One, you said yesterday you had no idea about the exchange between Dr. Barbot and Chief Monahan, but Chief Monahan said yesterday he told City Hall immediately after the incident and Barbot called him 30 minutes later to apologize. So, who at City Hall knew about this and why weren’t you informed? And then, you also said yesterday you would speak to Barbot and Monahan to determine next steps. Have you had those conversations? If so, what were the results? If not, when will you be speaking with them?

    Mayor: On the first part, Julia, I don’t know why I wasn’t informed, but I wasn’t informed. On the second part, I’ve talked to Chief Monaghan and I will be speaking to Commissioner Barbot this weekend.

    Moderator: Next we have David Evans from ABC.

    Question: Good morning, Mayor. I wanted to ask you about two different things. First of all, the reset with the police enforcement that you talked about on social distancing and the expansion at least into Sheep Meadow. I take it [inaudible] what you’re saying is that police are no longer going to be doing the one-on-one enforcement, telling people you need to wear a mask, you can’t go into the subway, etc. The second question that I have is about the Governor overnight extending the stay at home order, the emergency declaration until June 13th. When did you first hear about it? How did you hear about it and what does that mean? I mean, if you on June 7th say we have all seven categories, we meet those numbers, can you go ahead and open or are you going to have to wait down until 13th?

    Mayor: So, Dave, thank you. On the second one, again, we’ve been closely coordinated with the Governor’s team throughout. There’s been tremendous agreement on the strategic approach. And I know the Governor takes a cautious approach, as do I. I’ve said that our indicators consistently both the State and the City ones are pointing us towards the first half of June. But we’re – that’s when we get to the point where we can even think about relaxing restrictions. Anything we do would be in close coordination with the State. And look, if conditions suddenly became more favorable, we’d have that conversation with the State and obviously we and they could make adjustments. But, right now, I think we’re all aligned that the first half of June is the earliest opportunity for even some lessening of restrictions and we’ll work together on that. On the police department – yes, I think you have it right, Dave. We are going to focus the police consistently on gatherings, particularly the largest gatherings. We want to make sure that people understand when you gather, you create a danger for the people around you and for the whole city and that’s where the police can have the biggest health and safety impact, that’s where the focus will be. There’s actually been a lot of good work done in recent weeks, stopping gatherings before they start, getting them to clear out quickly – that’s where we’re going to focus. But the more individual work, we’re going to, again, have a lot of ambassadors out there, a lot of community-based organizations. And a lot of the elected officials made this point – it was a very fair point, that there’s a positive approach that can work, and the NYPD can play an obvious role in that too, reminding people, giving out the face coverings. But it’s a better way to approach things to focus on where the biggest health and safety problems are and continue the positive collaborative relationship between the NYPD and the community on so many other fronts.

    Moderator: The next is Yoav from The City.

    Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. I just wanted to ask when the last time you spoke to Commissioner Barbot was? And, if it was a relatively long time ago, why haven’t you spoken to her? We’re in the middle of a pandemic, one would think you would need to speak to your health commissioner certainly daily, if not more often.

    Mayor: Yeah. Yoav, I’ve been speaking with the Commissioner constantly throughout this. And I’ll remind you, we have a team of health care leaders and I am speaking to an any number of them each and every day. A couple of days ago was the last time I talked to the Commissioner. And again, we’re going to have a more detailed discussion this weekend. And this has been going on for months now, we’ve all been communicating constantly.

    Moderator: Next is Al Jones from 1010 WINS.

    Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. A two-parter – New Jerseys is set to open its beaches here in about a week. You mentioned though that beaches in the city are not in the card at this time for the summer – why? And then the other one is, estimates as many as 80, 85, 87 percent of restaurants have been unable to pay their full or partial rent this past month. Is there a real danger that when New York City opens or reopens or a lot of restaurants won’t?

    Mayor: Al, having now talked to a number of restaurant bar owners over the last few days, this is a distinct danger. And, you know, they are realistic about the fact that they don’t want to see anything happen that is not about the health and safety of the people of this city, or their customers, or their workers. So, they have been super realistic about job-one is health and safety. And, in fact, I think I mentioned a number of them said they don’t feel they can come back effectively until they can get to higher capacity and have fewer restrictions to create the right atmosphere. So, this is an ongoing conversation, but I certainly don’t hear people saying, hey, let us rush back prematurely and do anything that might undermine health and safety just for our bottom line. In fact, I think restaurant and bar owners have been very, very responsible. But, unquestionably, some of them are in real danger. And, you know, we’re just going to do our best to get them back the first available opportunity and help them in every way we can, but it’s all going to be health and safety first. On the beaches, we’re just not ready. We’re just not ready. We are – as you saw today, you know, great overall progress, not enough progress to meet our goals or the State’s goals for when we can reopen. And it’s painful, because we would all love to be able to go to the beach with the hot weather, but it’s not safe yet. Beaches come with a whole lot of people getting together. We saw what happened in California, in Florida – people started just immediately doing what they had always done. It’s very hard to create distancing. It takes traveling to the beach, which means there goes the notion of only keeping to essential travel. That’s something that we’re just not ready for. We’re going to look at it constantly, we’re going to be in close touch with the State, and the day may come, but we’re not there yet.

    Moderator: Next is Andrew Siff from NBC.

    Question: Good morning, Mayor. Good morning, everyone on the call.

    Mayor: Hey, Andrew. How you doing?

    Question: Good. Hanging in there. Happy it’s Friday. Two questions – first of all, sort of following up on what Al just asked you, do you think Governor Murphy is making a mistake in New Jersey to open up the New Jersey beaches? Why is it safe for them but not safe in New York? And the second question is, Dr. Katz wrote an email on March 10th, which said the city is better off staying open, schools open, people keep taking the subway. That email and judgment has now proven to be incorrect. Given that, what do you make of what he recommended then when California officials at that same time were already telling people to lock it down and not go out?

    Mayor: Yeah, Andrew, look, first of all, I want to remind people what Dr. Katz and his whole team at health and hospitals did – they have been among the heroes of this crisis, holding the line in our public health care system that bore the brunt and held no matter what. So, this disease we all now know probably was deep seated in New York City before any of our health officials knew it, federal or local, and it was coming on like a freight train no matter what, but the one thing we knew is we had to protect our hospitals and make sure they function and make sure they save lives. And I think Dr. Katz and his team at health and hospitals did an absolutely extraordinary job in achieving that goal. I think everyone’s going to look back in the medical community and say they understood some things and they didn’t understand some things. I think there’s a whole host of medical professionals who were basing their judgements on what they knew at the time, but it’s been an ever-changing reality with this disease. So, I have seen in the work he has done – and I judge people by their deeds – he’s done so much to save lives in the city, I have a lot of confidence in him. And we’re all learning – our health care team and everyone’s been learning about this disease all the time and adjusting as we get new information.

    Moderator: Next –

    Mayor: I’m sorry, the beaches. I’m sorry, Andrew, I owe you with the other piece. Andrew on – look, I think the world of Phil Murphy, he’s an extraordinary leader, and he has a very different state. New Jersey’s certainly been hit hard by this disease, but New York State and particularly New York City has been the epicenter. We are the biggest city in the country, one of the most densely populated places in the United States of America. Our people don’t get around by car. I think it’s fair to say about New Jersey – the vast majority of people in New Jersey travel by car, that’s not true in new Yorkers. For people to start going to beaches it means getting on buses and subways. You know, our beaches, they have a huge long coastline, arguably ways that could spread people out. You can’t spread people out in places like Coney Island that get jammed packed. So, it’s just a different reality. We have different realities even in our own state. But New York City is New York City, and we’re going to be slow and careful and cautious to get this right and to protect lives.

    Moderator: Next is Emily from NY1.

    Question: Mayor de Blasio, how are you? How is everyone on the call?

    Mayor: How are you doing?

    Question: I have a question please for Commissioner Banks on behalf of my colleague Courtney Gross. I hope was hoping he could speak to the photos we saw via The City of the presumably homeless men sleeping in the stairwell of the 30th Street intake center, maskless, close together, and not distancing at all.

    Mayor: Yeah. And Emily, I’ll lead into Steve and say, I have not seen the photos, but I’ve heard it summarize. It sounds absolutely unacceptable and that’s not something we’re going to do allow. We’re all trying to deal with an unprecedented situation, but that is clearly not acceptable, and the people who work there have to do better, and if they need help we have to get them help. Commissioner Banks?

    Commissioner Steven Banks, Department of Social Services: I would just echo what the Mayor said, Emily. This is unacceptable. I have spent my entire career making sure that the City provides beds for anyone who needs a safe and secure setting, and that’s our commitment. Those photos don’t represent our work. It doesn’t matter that eventually those individuals got shelter. The fact that they had to wait under those circumstances is absolutely unacceptable. And we’ve refined our intake process to make it more streamlined, efficient, ensuring that the staff have what they need. I would say at Bellevue, just to remind everyone, that we’ve cut the number of beds at Bellevue in half and we’ll do more so that we can make sure that when clients come to us we can promote social distancing. And, of course, as you know, we’ve been seeing thousands of people out of single-adult [inaudible] shelters into hotels and we’ve been connecting clients directly off the streets into commercial hotels who have been able to set up stabilization and Safe Haven beds, and we’re going to keep doing that. But those photographs, to me, are heartbreaking, they don’t represent our work, and we have to do better and we will do better.

    Moderator: The next is Joe Anuta from Politico.

    Question: Hi Mr. Mayor.

    Mayor: Hey Joe, how are you doing?

    Question: Not too bad. I had a quick follow up on the beach as well. At the – there was a council hearing yesterday and Mark Treyger who represents Coney Island said he was petrified about this summer and he seemed to say that he was still a little unclear about what he should be telling constituents and sort of what the city’s policy is. Can you go into a little more detail about beaches being closed means, maybe there’s no lifeguard, but what happens with people just show up? And then my second question is on a NYPD. Most of the videos that I think you and the Commissioner has said – has been, you know, problematic had to do with social distancing enforcing and not mask wearing, but could see that one video subway. So, is the NYPD taking any other I guess, are they undergoing any more changes about how they enforce social distancing specifically?

    Mayor: Yeah, Joe, I – the fact is that some of the specific encounters involved, that had been on video, some of them actually weren’t first and foremost about social distancing. They were about other kinds of issues and offenses and this is all I think being kind of a little confused and that’s why it was really important for us to set the record straight. You know the NYPD has a huge job to do keeping this place safe. A crime has been down overall, but there’s still plenty unfortunately that has to be addressed as well as all sorts of quality of life issues. NYPD will continue to do that as they always have, and again, they’ve driven down crime now consistently over the last six plus years and that will continue.

    But in terms of addressing the pandemic, first of all New Yorkers overwhelming have done the right thing themselves and we are asking people to take responsibility themselves. We’re asking people to work within their families, among their friends to really be reminders to each other of what we have to do right. But we’re going to send out all these civilians and all these community-based folks to do a lot of the education and a lot of the exhortation and the giving out of the free face coverings and all that. Also, NYPD will give people reminders and give people face coverings, but NYPD’s best efforts would be dealing with the things that are real danger, which is the larger gatherings.

    So, what you’re going to see is that’s going to be the focus for enforcement, and again, the perfect enforcement is if anyone tries a gathering, NYPD shows up and people immediately disperse. That’s what we’re looking for. Worst case, we’re giving a summonses if people won’t disperse, but we’re not going to have the NYPD focused on, you know, two people together or three people together. We’re going to focus on when it starts to be more than a handful of people and we’re not going to be having the NYPD enforcing on face coverings. That will be a positive approach where just you’re going to constantly see free face coverings given out. So hopefully that will clarify everyone’s relationship to each other and help us get the best result while also really protecting the progress we’ve made in the relationship between police and community.

    Moderator: Next is Mark Morales –

    Mayor: I’m sorry, I’d also have got the beaches one there. I’m having a beach issue today. Joe, so to the Councilman’s point. Here we are today and obviously normally beaches would not be open until Memorial Day and we’re still not there yet. So, right now, we’re in the reality that we would be any time we’re at this point in the year pre-Memorial Day. We will come out with further guidance because we need to keep people safe first and foremost. So, we have two safety issues. Now first and foremost, addressing the pandemic. We can’t have crowds, we can’t have gatherings, we can’t have people going to the beach, we can’t have the boardwalk get crowded, we’ve got to protect against the problems that come with people being in too close proximity in this pandemic.

    Second, we know there’s a danger in terms of people trying to go into the water, particularly young people trying to go in the water, so we have a lot of patrols out to deal with that now. But the way we’re going to sustain that in the next weeks and months, we’re going to have more to say on that in the next few days about the measures we will take initially to keep people safe and to create a clear set of boundaries and rules, and then that can evolve over time if the situation with the disease improves and we get to a point of reevaluating the beaches. So, we’re going to have a way we start the summer that may not be the same way we end the summer, but a more specific guidance coming to the people in the city on the beaches shortly.

    Moderator: The next is Mark Morales from CNN.

    Question: Hey everyone, how are you doing today?

    Mayor: Good, Mark, how are you doing?

    Question: Good. Good. So, I have two questions. The first was for the OEM Commissioner, I wanted to ask about those refrigerated trucks. What’s the status of them? Are they still in town? Have they left? You know, where are they at, at the moment? The other I had was about contact tracing. And where does that stand right now and the build-up of that program is sort of a joint operation with Health + Hospitals and the Department of Health or is this – where does that stand?

    Mayor: Thank you, Mark, I’ll answer your second question and then turn to Deanne Criswell on your first question. So the contact tracing effort again is bigger, more complex, a much greater operational challenge than anything we’ve seen in the history of contact tracing in this city. So the way we structured is to say we need a massive citywide apparatus testing, tracing, for those who need a hotel room and all the support systems, the ability to get them to that and support them in that. This is unlike anything we’ve seen before. Previously, and we saw at the beginning of this pandemic, you had a small number of Health Department folks who went out and did very good work on the tracing and the follow-up, but we did not have a massive testing apparatus. It was quite limited. We did not have a massive test tracing apparatus. We did not have an apparatus for giving people hotels and food and laundry and everything. This is an entirely different reality than we’ve ever experienced.

    So, it’s led by Health + Hospitals because they are a huge operational entity with all of the strengths that go with being a huge operational entity. They are also an independent agency, which allows them to do a lot of things, contracts and other things much faster than a Mayoral Agency. Department of Health is bringing its extraordinary expertise to the equation. A number of key people from Department of Health have gone into this effort working with Health + Hospitals. So, all that expertise is being brought to the table for maximum impact and as I’ve said, a number of other agencies, Department of Buildings, Design and Construction, DoITT, our IT agency, all of them working together as one team to set this up. In terms of status, we now have hundreds of people who have been trained and they’re going to start their work in the coming days. We’ll hit the thousand mark of people ready to go by certainly the end of this month. By the beginning of June, we’re going to get up to about 2,500 and then build as needed to there potentially as high as five or 10,000. Deanne on the refrigerated trucks?

    Commissioner Deanne Criswell, Emergency Management: Hi, good morning, Mark. So, we’re still working very closely with the Medical Examiners’ Office and we have refrigerated trucks located at each of the hospitals throughout the city. We also have refrigerated trucks supporting our operations at the Brooklyn Marine Terminal. We will continue to have these here in the city to support operations for as long as we need them. But we are looking – and we do have some still in staging if we have a need for additional trucks in the future. But, right now, again, working very closely with the Medical Examiners’ Office and our hospitals to make sure we have the right amount of resources available to support these operations.

    Moderator: Next is James Ford from PIX11.

    Question: Happy Friday, Mayor. We’ve made it.

    Mayor: Happy Friday. It’s a – even in the pandemic, we still love Fridays.

    Question: Oh, that’s for sure. We’re adding more days, which is related to my – to this question, which is kind of a follow-up to a Dave Evans question. With this stay at home order in place through June 13th, can you give us a sense of what that means for New Yorkers? Like what, what will our lives look like for the next four weeks compared to the last two months? And is it possible that the city could maybe reopen, start be reopening before then?  Also, do you want to share about the stimulus bill vote today in the House?

    Mayor: On the stimulus, very quickly. I mean, the House did exactly the right thing and I want to commend Speaker Pelosi, Chair Nita Lowey, Hakeem Jeffries who is one of the key members of the House Democratic Leadership, Congressman from Brooklyn and all the House delegation from the city. They did outstanding work. I talked to all of them constantly. They did an amazing job putting together a package that actually represents what New York City and New York State need to get back on our feet, and we’re talking about a two-year package, you know, the years after that will matter as well. But for something that clearly talks about dealing with our lost revenue and getting us back to a whole place where we can move forward. This is a great step forward. So I want to see them vote today, move it to the Senate and I’d like to see the Senate act quickly and really recognize what is going to take for us to recover.

    On the executive order and the timeline, again, I’ve been saying this for days now, our trajectory both in terms of the indicators we go over daily and what we’re seeing from the state indicators clearly it was putting us into the first half of June no matter what. The minute you get to that moment where you hit all your indicators, that’s when you can start to make decisions on lessening restrictions. Governor and I have been very united in a cautious, careful approach and we both believe fundamentally in avoiding that boomerang. That’s the thing that would set us back for a much longer period of time if that were to happen. It has happened elsewhere. We’re not going to let it happen here. So that timeline fits what we’re thinking. I do not foresee changes before that. But if anything, if we had a sudden movement in the right direction and we thought it was sustainable again, the Governor and I, our teams would talk, we could always reevaluate. We’re always looking at the numbers, but nothing moves until these numbers all hit together in the right direction, hit the right goals and then you have to hold it. Remember, it’s natural we think in sort of like a perfect straight line and you know, we get better and we reduce restrictions and we get better, we reduce more restrictions, we get better – that’s what we want. If you do that the wrong way, then the disease starts to reassert in a real major way and then you are clamping back down. Some places, James actually went to tighter restrictions later than where they even started meaning they thought they had beat the disease, they loosened up too quickly. They not only went back to the previous restrictions, they added on many more. We just can’t let that happen. So slow, steady, cautious, smart, and the first half of June is when we’ll make these decisions in close coordination with the state.

    Moderator: We have time for two more today. Next is Matt Chayes from Newsday.

    Question: Hey, good morning, Mr. Mayor.

    Mayor: How are you doing man?

    Question: You hear me, okay.

    Mayor: Yeah. How you doing?

    Question: Good, good. I’m wondering, is your administration investigating any potential rule breaking or violations of the law connected with the NYPD, apparently trying to commandeer for itself, PPE intended for health care workers?

    Mayor: Matt, I have no indication that happened. Every time there was a concern it was raised up the chain of command. As I said, I intervened to make sure that NYPD officers had the PPEs they needed because we needed to make sure our first responders and our health care workers were served and at various points there were substantial reserves available, and the real issue was putting together an extraordinary operation to get more PPEs and get them quickly, and that’s what happened, and I want to commend to everyone in Emergency Management the team that Emma Wolfe has put together that did outstanding work finding PPEs one way or another, everywhere, looking all over the world. But it was not acceptable to me that our police officers and other first responders wouldn’t have the PPEs they needed when they needed them. So anything that was done was done through chain of command and specific decisions and directions as far as I know.

    Moderator: Last question for today goes to Gersh from Streetsblog.

    Question: Hello Mr. Mayor, how are you?

    Mayor: Good Gersh. But I miss your recipe updates.

    Question: Oh, I’m having – my bread is having a dough-saster right now, but that’s just a bad pun and it’s a terrible situation.

    Mayor: Gersh, you coined a new phrase for us.

    Question: My tabloid background, I guess. I do want to say Mr. Mayor, thank you because I did test positive for coronavirus antibodies yesterday because of one of your tests, so I appreciate that.

    Mayor: All right, and I guess do you say congratulations in that case? I don’t know, but I’m glad you have clarity.

    Question: My kids are treating me like Typhoid Mary, but nonetheless yesterday several members of the City Council questioned the NYPD budget in a time when you have cut the budgets to other agencies including funding for some of DOT’s Vision Zero work, which I know is important to you. So, this question gets into transportation in this way: the NYPD has been accused of poorly enforcing public space and also has a huge role even under normal circumstances in managing traffic in this city, which are jobs that are done by Departments of Transportation in many other major cities. So, I wonder if you’ve considered transferring these current police functions to other agencies that could do it more efficiently and even maybe with less controversy?

    Mayor: I believe you are leading the witness, Gersh, but I just disagree with the construct respectfully. I look at what’s happened in the last six years of Vision Zero and I remind everyone, with deepest respect to all my predecessors, this administration decided to do something absolutely radical and put Vision Zero in place, and I remember the first months, I remember the naysayers, I remember the people said it would be politically unpopular, it would be impossible, it wouldn’t work, it would be too controversial and I’m very proud to say we forged ahead anyway and in fact built it bigger each year and overwhelmingly Vision Zero has worked and Gersh I think you will remember even before he became our first Police Commissioner in this administration, Bill Bratton talked about the importance of the NYPD playing on a more directed energetic focus role in stopping these fatal crashes and protecting lives in terms of traffic and he, along with Polly Trottenberg and her team at DOT, folks at TLC, folks at City Hall, we all built this vision together and there has been consistent success with Vision Zero in large measure because NYPD has been at the table and an active full participant throughout. So that’s not changing. In fact, I’m a big believer, you’ve heard me say it in more and as we get back to normal, we’re going to go right back to this. You know more and more and more NYPD enforcement on speeding, on failure to yield, more speed cameras, which have proven to be so effective, and we’ve been building them out around schools. No, we’ve got a strategy that’s overwhelmingly been working, we’re going to stick to it. We’re going to build upon it. The only reasons for delays lately have been because of work that wasn’t happening, couldn’t happen under these conditions. But once we get a little bit better, we’re going right back to all the Vision Zero physical work, and on the PD budget.

    Now we still have real issues to address in terms of crime. We’re not veering away from a strategy that’s worked, we’re the safest big city in America for a reason. We’re not going to move away from strategies that have been effective. What we will have to do is make very, very different decisions if we have the kind of stimulus that’s coming out of the House of Representatives, if that actually gets passed by the Senate, the city can be whole, the city can move forward. We can fund a lot of crucial things and necessary services. But if we do not get that stimulus or if they cut it to ribbons as some things that you’ve heard of Mitch McConnell say would suggest, then the NYPD budget, the FDNY budget, the DOE budget, the health agencies budgets, everything is threatened. All agencies are threatened. The kinds of – I think sometimes people hear something like, we’re in the hole $7.4 billion and it’s some kind of pure abstraction. I don’t blame anyone for that. $7.4 billion in lost revenue, and counting and growing means every single agency will suffer and suffer big and therefore the people will suffer, and that’s what we have to stop, and that’s where I’m going to put a lot of energy in these coming days into working to get the US Senate to actually pass the stimulus we need.

    Okay. As we conclude, so it’s perfect segue actually off of that question because the reality we have to deal with is the pandemic came out of nowhere, became the dominant reality in our lives, but the rest of our lives didn’t stop. And striking that balance has been a supreme challenge, but it’s something we’ll work on every day. Getting it right – we still have to protect people on our streets. Vision Zero is just as important today as it was before the pandemic. Quality policing, effective policing, precision policing, neighborhood policing, just as effective as they were and just as important as they were before, and the world to come as we get back to normal, all of these strategies need to come back strong.

    What I announced today in terms of a reset of our approach to the NYPD’s role in enforcement in light of this pandemic comes from the fact that we have to strike a balance – remembering the things that have worked. Neighborhood policing has worked, deepening the bond between police and community has worked. Helping to overcome that horribly divided past, helping to overcome the structural racism that pervaded this city and every city moving forward reinventing policing so it would be more effective and more grounded in our neighborhoods. These are things that work and these are the things we’re going to continue with. So, this reset allows us to ensure that that fundamental approach will continue while also recognizing that there are new dangerous from the pandemic that must be addressed, and that particularly comes with the gatherings, especially the larger gatherings. That’s where NYPD’s focus will be. But we can do both. We can strike that balance, and in fact I have particular confidence because it all comes back to you. Everything we do comes back to what you do as an individual, what you do as a family. No time in our history I think has that been clearer than this pandemic where we see your efforts making the city safer and better and you have a lot more to do. We all have a lot more to do to get to where we want to go. But it’s also because of you that we became safer over these years and became the safest big city in America. You working with our police, our police working with you. We need that to deepen and continue and that’s what we will do in this city. So, the one thing I always have confidence in is the people in New York City, and I hope you feel confidence in yourselves after what you’ve achieved when you saw those charts earlier. I hope everyone felt something warm inside, that was because of you. Now, let’s take it the next step, together.

    Thank you.

    ###


  • manzoor hussain <manzhussain72@yahoo.com>
    To:Anwar Abbasi,Hussain66 66
    Sun, May 17 at 3:10 PM
    Best Regard.MAYOR DE BLASIO HOLDS MEDIA AVAILABILITY

     

    Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, good morning, everybody. Happy Sunday to all. Every day I get the honor of watching the people of this city fight back against this disease and it’s 8.6 million people working as one. It’s really quite extraordinary how much people have banded together to fight this disease as a common front. And what our job is, here at City Hall and all our agencies, is to keep strengthening that fight, giving you more and more tools to fight with, more and more ways to support the efforts that everyday New Yorkers are doing to help us overcome this disease. And one of the things that’s been really gratifying, really amazing is all the businesses, all the organizations in the city have stepped up in extraordinary ways to support this fight. We’ve had some amazing partnerships with the private sector. I’ve talked to you about over the last few weeks, New Lab and Boyce Technologies, two of the companies that got together to create the ventilators built right here in New York City. Something that was not created here and suddenly it was because of the ingenuity and the commitment of these individuals. All those companies, dozens of companies who got together on5 the Brooklyn Navy Yard and other places to create PPEs, – didn’t do them before, they found a way to do it. Right now, in New York City, so many things were being produced to protect our health care heroes, our first responders, everyday New Yorkers because other New Yorkers stepped up, cared, made something happen.

     

    But the biggest challenge throughout from day one has been testing. I don’t need to say again how frustrating it’s been that we’ve never had the partner we needed in the federal government when it came to testing. And this is the central question of this whole dilemma we’ve been through – where has the testing been? But again, when the federal government doesn’t come through, when the international markets don’t come through, what do we do? We do it right here in New York City. We make something happen. So, we have a new partnership today that’s going to be a difference maker in our effort to get more and more testing to the people of New York City. And the place we turn is to the largest urgent care company in this city, CityMD. And I want to thank everyone at CityMD for their commitment to making something very important happen here. Really appreciate that they’ve come forward to help this city. They care about this city. They’re doing something extraordinary.

     

    So, we’ve been working over the last few weeks and found a way to come into partnership on a very, very big scale. This is the diagnostic testing, the PCR testing. It will be available at all CityMD sites all around New York City and that’s a lot of sites – 123 sites. I’m going to say it again – 123 sites across the five boroughs. We predict to begin, 6,000 tests a day at the sites, 6,000 more tests per day. These are walk-in sites. They’re open seven days a week. The hours differ somewhat by site, but basically, it’s 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Saturday and Sunday. You can get locations by going to CityMD.com. Now, obvious question, does it cost you anything to go get this test? Well, if you have insurance, they’ll simply bill your insurance. That’s fine. That’s easy. If you don’t have insurance, CityMD will cover the cost. And I want to thank them for that. That’s an extraordinary commitment to the people of this city. They are stepping up and saying, if you don’t have insurance, they’ll be there for you. And this is consistent with our commitment from day one, whether it’s testing or health care, whatever the people of New York City need, we will get it for them regardless of your ability to pay. So, big deal. Thank you, CityMD, big step for the city. And I want everyone to know this now puts us ahead of our goal. We had said we wanted to get the capacity for 20,000 tests per day by Monday, May 25th. I can tell you we have now hit the goal a week early. We are at that capacity now and we’re going to keep growing. So, with 20,000 a day, you’re almost at 150,000 tests a week. Our goal is to continue to build that rapidly and CityMD’s really helped us take a big step forward.

     

    Now, you need tests and then you need the tracing to go with it. And to do the tracing, we need an army of tracers, and there’s also progress on that front as we keep adding more and more contact tracers. We have 500 tracers who have now completed their training and another thousand on top of that have started the Johns Hopkins University training, gold standard training. And again, thanks to Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg Philanthropies for helping us to make this happen and happen quickly. So, in the week of May 24th those who have been trained by Johns Hopkins will go out and do their field training. The field training literally involves preparing for over a hundred different scenarios, getting ready for real life choices that have to be made quickly and then we’ll have a thousand tracers ready on the playing field, helping the people of this city by the end of this month. We’ll have a group of a hundred tracers that will lead the way starting on May 24th, a week from today. They will start their work in the field doing the case interviews and then hundreds more will join them in the days after that. That first group of a hundred tracers will work with those who have positive at the health + Hospitals testing sites. We believe they’ll be able to trace almost 2,000 cases just between May 24th and June 1st. So, it’s going to be a great start, the others coming right behind them. In the next literally two weeks, you’re going to see a vast testing and tracing operation come alive like we’ve never seen before in the city and this is just the beginning.

     

    As I’ve said, we expect the army of tracers to grow to at least 5,000, could be between 5,000 and 10,000 before this is all over because we want to be able to reach everyone who needs that connection, that support, that ability to find out what’s happening in their lives and the people that they are close to it. We need to find those people, get them to the support they need. So, this vast army is coming together very, very quickly and thanks again to everyone involved in this extraordinary test and trace effort. We’re asking a lot of everyone, we’re asking you to move very quickly and very effectively and you’re doing it. We are very, very appreciative. Now, as I’ve said before, once you test someone and then you find the contacts and you test them and you’re going to find people who need to be kept separate from their families and we use the word isolation and it’s not a perfect word, it gets the point across, but we got to think about how to explain this in a more positive light. The goal is if someone needs to be in a place other than their home, their home is too crowded, they can’t be supported properly in their home, that’s what the hotels are for. That’s why we have a whole effort, not only to say, okay, we’re going to help you evaluate whether you can properly stay in your home, if you’ve tested positive, if you’re symptomatic, to help you figure out if that can work or you need to be someplace else. But if you need to be someplace else, to get you there and get you all the support you need while you are in that setting, getting through the disease, making sure you’re not infecting the other people in your life.

     

    This model has shown tremendous impact in many parts of the world. We’re going to do it on a grand scale here with all the support that people need and to make that happen by June 1st we’re going to have individuals all over the city who are helping everyday New Yorkers who need that facilitation, who need that support to get to a hotel and get all the help that goes with it. And these folks will be our resource navigators. So, we’re going to get community-based organizations in all five boroughs to help us do this, who know communities around the city, who understand what people need and how to help them. And with these community-based organizations, we’ll hire between 200 and 300 resource navigators and they’ll be the go to people, understand communities of the city, speak the languages of all the communities in the city, understand what their neighbors need. They will be there and the resource navigators will help make sure that people get that transportation to the hotels, get the food they need, the medication they need, everything, the laundry services, you name it. If people need mental health support, whatever it may be, there’ll be, obviously, medical professionals also constantly working with the people in the hotels. But we want an everyday connection with anyone who’s in a hotel, in isolation so they get whatever support they need for the period they’re there. So, folks are going to know who to turn to at all times and have that personal connection to get the help they need.

     

    Now, when we think about test-and-trace and we think about all this big apparatus being put together, that’s what the diagnostic testing, the PCR testing first and foremost, but all pieces of the equation are important and the antibody testing is important, too. And we’ve said many times antibody testing isn’t perfect, but it is helpful. It at least tells you if it’s a good test, if it’s a quality test, it tells you if you’ve been exposed to the disease previously and obviously you’ve been able to beat it, that’s evident. So, it tells you something important. It does not tell you to let down your guard or that you can never be once again infected by the disease. But it does tell you you’ve shown before you could overcome it. That’s very, very important. So, in these next weeks we’re going to reach 140,000 New York City first responders and health care workers with free antibody testing and another 140,000 everyday New Yorkers also with free antibody testing. So, combined, more than a quarter million people will get this testing. New Yorkers in all five boroughs can start signing up for antibody testing right now. It is by appointment only. And remember, it’s not just so that you get the results which you deserve and is important, and of course it’s free, but on top of that, it helps the medical community and the City of New York to understand better what’s happening with this disease here in the city. The survey that’s part of this will help us to fight this disease better. So, you’ll be helping yourself, but also helping everyone else with the information that will be gleaned from all this testing. So, we have five locations – in the Bronx at 4006 3rd Avenue in Claremont, in Brooklyn at the NYPD Community Center in East New York, which is an amazing facility. I have visited and very, very appreciative to the NYPD for their partnership here. In Manhattan, Manhattanville Health Center, obviously in Manhattanville. In Queens at 3409 Queens Boulevard, Long Island City. In Staten Island, at the St. John Villa Academy in Concord. To make an appointment today, go online, nyc.gov/antibodysurvey or call (888) 279-0967.

     

    Alright, so that’s testing, tracing, all the things that we’re doing to fight back, all the partners we brought into play, all the ways we’re trying to help you and protect you. And now we need you to help protect everyone in this city because everyone in this city who is able to give blood can give blood and make such a big difference. And right now, we have a challenge with our blood supply. This has come up in recent days. We need to address it. And so many New Yorkers are saying in this crisis, what can I do, how can I help? One thing you can definitely do, one thing that will help for sure, is to give blood in this moment of crisis. What we know happened here is that traditionally in a regular year where people gather together, companies and organizations, there’s blood drives, that adds up to a lot. We do them at City agencies, too. But this year for the last few months, blood drives have been disrupted. It’s now having a real impact on our blood supply. We need to make a comeback quickly. So, the New York City Blood Center now has only a few days’ supply. We need to make sure that we strengthen that supply. That supply of blood helps all our hospitals, they’re not in a position to resupply them until they get more blood from people’s donations. Each hospital has some blood on hand as they need it for emergencies, but – and they’re all practicing very carefully right now, conservation practices. I know our public hospitals, H + H, are doing this. But unless we have a bigger supply of blood some surgeries cannot move forward. Obviously, things that are immediate and lifesaving will, but others can’t until there’s more of a blood supply.

     

    So, for all those good people out there, so many of you have said, how can I help, what can I do? Right now, you can help, come forward if you can give blood – and obviously some people cannot, but if you can give blood, we need you to make an appointment today at the New York Blood Center, and this is an appropriate reason to leave home for sure. You’ll be helping your fellow New Yorker and helping to keep people safe. You can go online – NYBC.org or call (800) 933-2566. So, again, NYBC.org or (800) 933-2566, something very important you can do right away to help your fellow New Yorker.

     

    Okay, now let’s go to a tough issue we’ve been talking about these last days and every one of us who is a parent, every one of us who has children in our lives, we are really concerned about this pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome. PMIS. The number of cases continues to grow, 137 confirmed now, 66 of those cases, there’s a positive test for COVID-19 or antibodies detected. And as I’ve said for days, we lost a child to this syndrome and we never want to lose another child to it. So, we’re doing a huge outreach effort citywide. We’re coordinating with health care providers and particularly pediatricians all over the city. We want to make sure that there’s constantly the latest information flowing to our Department of Health, learning what we can about the demographic dynamics of this disease so we can act more quickly. And everything we see gives us information to act on. We see, certainly, initial indication of real transparent – excuse me, a real disparity. I’m deeply concerned about that. We have only, thank God, a small number of cases, but if we continue to see evidence of disparity, we have to continue to adjust our strategies to address this. But right now, what we need the most is to protect every child. So, every parent, every family member out there, if you see those symptoms of fever, rash, vomiting, if you see any of them particularly in combination, please immediately call your doctor or your health care provider. If you don’t have one, call 3-1-1 and you’ll get connected to a Health + Hospitals clinician. Early detection saves lives of children. So, please, if you see anything unusual like that in your child, call immediately so we can make sure your child gets help.

     

    Okay, now, turning to something that is both about our health and safety but also about this time of year. Everyone is feeling – this weekend we had some beautiful weather already. We’re feeling the pull of the outdoors. We’re feeling the seasons changing. We all want to be out there. We all also understand we’re in the middle of a pandemic and we have to do things differently. The idea here is to put health and safety first. No one has to be reminded, we are the epicenter of this national crisis with the coronavirus. Some places in this country haven’t been affected much. Other places in this country were actually affected a lot and for whatever reason decided to reopen quickly even if there wasn’t a lot of evidence it was safe, and tragically we’re seeing in some of those places a huge uptick in the disease. There are places that have been hard hit but no place has been hard hit the way New York City has. We are going to be always putting health and safety first. We’re going to be careful and cautious to get it right and so even though it’s beautiful weather, even though people want to be out there, we’re going to be really smart about what we allow, what we don’t allow for the foreseeable future.

     

    So, there’s obviously a huge interest in the beaches and the State of New York has said that different localities can make different choices and some are deciding in the metropolitan area to open beaches for Memorial Day, the traditional start of the beach season. I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again we are not opening our beaches on Memorial Day. We are not opening our beaches in the near term. It is not safe. It is not the right thing to do in the epicenter of this crisis. So, that decision I did not make lightly. We thought long and hard about it but continuing to watch our indicators which don’t have us where we need to be yet, we are going to be very smart and careful about this. So, what’s going to happen is we are going to take it week and day at a time to figure out where we’re going. I’ve never ruled out the possibility of beaches being open later in the summer but we’re not ready yet. And the scene you see there, that is a typical beach day when things are normal in New York City. That cannot happen anytime soon and that’s what we’re guarding against. Because right there you can see a lot of people in danger and a lot of spread of the disease and we’re not going to let that happen after all the progress we’ve made, you’ve made fighting back this disease. We’re not taking that chance.

     

    And by the way, that’s just the beach. Imagine the scene on the A train with people going out to the Rockaways or any other train where people go to the beach, or the buses. We’re not going to allow that crowding to happen. So, the word is no, not yet, not now, beaches are not open for swimming. They’re not open for all the normal things people do in beach season. So, there will not be swimming, it will not be allowed. There will not be lifeguards on duty. We’re going to treat this immediate phase the way we do through the times of year when beaches are not open. For now, we’re going to leave it the way it is that if someone wants to, from the local community, walk on the beach, that’s okay. We’re going to let that happen for now but if we start to see people congregating, if we start to see people swimming, if we start to see people doing things that literally go against everything we’ve talked about in terms of health and safety, then we will take further measures. We’re putting fencing in and in reserve that could close off the beaches if needed. It’s certainly not something I want to do or my team here at City Hall wants to do. I know the Parks Department doesn’t want to do it. But we will be ready if we have to.

     

    So, what you’ll see in the coming days is fencing put in place, ready to be implemented. In the meantime, a lot of NYPD presence, a lot of Parks Department presence and you could go, everyday New Yorkers from the neighborhoods around the beach, just like you are now, you want to walk along the beach or sit on the beach for a while, fine. No swimming, no parties, no sports, no gatherings. We’re going to give people a chance to get it right, and I believe in New Yorkers, I believe in everything you’ve done. If people don’t get it right, if we start to see a lot of violation of those rules, up will come the fences closing off those beaches. No one wants that but we’re ready to do it if that’s what it takes to keep people safe. In the meantime, we will prepare for better times. We don’t know the day yet when in the future we might be able to open the beaches the right way, we will have our lifeguards trained and ready, we will be ready for that eventuality. But we are not there yet.

     

    Okay. Let me do the daily indicators and again, this kind of makes the point progress but still not enough progress. Yesterday, we definitely had a good day, but not a perfect day because two indicators down, one indicator up, but only by a little today. A good day. Still not a perfect day, but definitely a good day. Two indicators down, one unchanged. So indicator one daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19 unchanged 77 to 77. Number two, daily number of people in ICU across Health + Hospitals for suspected COVID-19 down and down in a very big way. This is really, this piece of the news is just playing good news and very important for all those folks fighting for their lives down from 506 to 469 and the percentage of people are testing positive for COVID-19 down from 13 percent to 11 percent so a good day, particularly in terms of ICU, but we want even better days and we want to see him strong together consistently. A few words in Spanish.

    [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

    With that we turned to our colleagues in the media. And please remind me of the name and outlet of each journalist.

    Moderator: Hi all. Just a reminder that we have Deputy Mayor Dean, President and CEO of Health + Hospitals, Dr. Katz, executive director of test and trace core, Dr. Long and senior advisor, Dr. Varma on the phone. With that I will start with Abu from Bangla Patrika.

    Question: Hello Mayor. How are you?

    Mayor: Good. How are you doing?

    Question: Thank you so much for asking. I have just two questions. Small two question. Number one, the doctors and you know, the people who understand that kind of disease they’re always warning that this disease can come back again. So, I would like to ask you if it’s come back again then how New York City prepared to face the kind of epidemic again? And number two, the you know, we face a huge crisis because of the COVID-19. And what is the best lesson you get personally in that crisis?

    Mayor: Well, I think the lesson has been the power of the people, Abu. We asked the people at city to do something extraordinary and difficult and unheard of for New Yorkers and they’ve done it overwhelmingly. So, I think in the end we have to remember that the power in a democracy resides in the people and the ability to change things for the better resides in the people. And this is what I believed all my life, but I’m seeing it much more vividly than ever in this case, you know, the greatest crisis we’ve faced in generations. People are making the difference, and I think, you know, leveling with the people about what’s going on and empowering them to act is the best way to actually achieve our common goal of overcoming this disease.

    On your other question, what I refer to as the boomerang the disease reasserting, we are every day concerned to stop this from happening, that’s why we’re making cautious, careful decisions. But we also are constantly preparing both for times to get better but we’re also preparing for bad scenarios and that would mean tightening up the restrictions. If we have to do that, we could don’t anticipate it, but we’d be ready. So, I think it comes back to what people do every day. I want people to take it personally. When you follow these rules, the shelter in place, the social distancing, the face coverings, you’re speeding up the day when we can open up more. If you don’t follow these rules, unfortunately there’s a danger of that boomerang and even more restrictions. So that’s the balance we strike all the time.

    Moderator: Next we have Shant from the Daily News.

    Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor, wanted to ask about reporting from over the weekend that New Yorkers were flocking to locations from bars on the Upper East Side to Coney Island and elsewhere. Just want to get your thoughts on that and if you’re contemplating any steps to handle that. On a separate issue, I understand the City Council is going to try to pass the bill requiring a hotel room for every single homeless person. Will you veto that if that passes without a veto proof majority? And any other thoughts on that bill?

    Mayor: Look, Shant, on that bill. We’re working with the Council. We’re in constant dialogue with them. We’re all trying to get to the same place in the end. We want to protect people, we want to keep people safe. We also have to figure out what’s going to be best in all senses for homeless people, including their mental health needs and other needs. How they can get the services they need. We want to use the facilities we have and when we need others, we’ll bring them into play. We also have to think about, you know, the costs involved. Everything has to be looked at. But, in the end, it’s about health and safety first. And so we’re working closely with the Council and I think there’s been a good track record of us working through issues and ending up in a good resolution.

    On the bars and the beaches on the beaches the report I’ve gotten from yesterday is there were people walking on beaches and there were very few instances of a problem. But again, we’re going to have a lot of NYPD, a lot of Parks Department out to address anything. And if people, you know, if we have sporadic problems, that’s one thing. If we have consistent problems then as I said, we will use the fencing on top of all those patrols. Don’t want to do it but we’re ready to. But the reports I got about beaches yesterday were overwhelmingly that there was compliance and that enforcement was honored.

    The bars is a different matter. We are waiting for a full report cause obviously this is from last night, but I’m not comfortable at all with people congregating outside bars. It’s the same rule. If you start to form groups of people and then you know, two, three, five and then it becomes six, it becomes 10, it becomes 15, that violates what we’re saying about social distancing. I put lives and that puts lives in danger. So the Police Department will be out, the Sheriff’s Office will be out watching very carefully on the Upper East Side in particular. I know we had a particular problem there, but everywhere around the city and we’re not going to tolerate people starting to congregate. It’s as simple as that.

    Moderator: Next we have Katie Honan from the Wall Street Journal.

    Question: Good morning, happy Sunday. Mr. Mayor, I wanted you do to, I guess, expand upon the beaches plan, this new update, particularly about lifeguards. I’m curious, I’ve spoken to lifeguards. They said they haven’t heard of anything about when they’ll begin training. When will the training begin? How long will it take? Will it be different? I know it usually involves CPR classes and swimming and in the, you know, in the various lifeguard pools. I don’t know if that’s capable. And I know you’ve mentioned a few times this morning that you will allow people who live in the communities to walk on the beaches, but are you suggesting people shouldn’t travel, you know, shouldn’t go from Manhattan out to Coney Island or elsewhere in Queens to Rockaway? We’re in. Is that one way you want to, I guess, try to limit the amount of people on the beaches?

    Mayor: Yes, Katie. Exactly right, Katie. The point is we’re still – look, nothing’s changed in the status of New York City in the last few weeks. We do not want to see non-essential travel. We want to see people keeping things as modest as possible. Get your basic exercise in and get back home, go to the store or go to the pharmacy, whatever you have to do to get your basic goods and go back home. This is working. We want to keep it that way. So we certainly do not – again, I don’t want a lot of people on a train. I don’t want to allow people on buses going to orchard beach. I want us to recognize we still have to fight back this disease. It won’t be forever, but we have to fight it now. So yeah, the point is we don’t want to take away from the local communities. A lot of people live – hundreds of thousands of people live near our beaches. We don’t want to take away from them the right to just walk on the beach. But again, if we start to see abuse of that, we’re going to take tougher measures.

    In terms of lifeguards. We’ll start them in training immediately. As I understand it, it does take several weeks. We’ll get you an exact date. But, certainly, by the time we would honestly consider reopening beaches with all that comes with that, the lifeguards, they’ll be ready.

    Moderator: Next. We have Debralee from Manhattan Times Bronx Free Press.

    Question: Good morning, everyone. Can you hear me?

    Mayor: How are you doing Debralee?

    Question: I’m well, thank you. This is the question, Mr. Mayor, regarding last week’s reports on tension and discord within the Department of Health and specifically with Commissioner Barbot, who’s again not present for today’s lineup. I wonder if you could speak – last time we left off, you said he was going to speak to her over the weekend. If you could apprise us of that conversation. And are you concerned that our continuing absence will continue to undermine the efforts of the administration to provide accurate guidance that [inaudible] follow from the city in a unified way on what they should be doing to combat the virus? And then also, I wanted to speak to the degree to which community-based health centers are being involved or not in the testing process here. I know that the State has lined up a number of federally qualified health centers, but we’re not really hearing from the City the same kind of collaboration as regards testing, tracing, that kind of one-on-one service with these already established centers on the ground. Can you speak to that?

    Mayor: Absolutely. Yeah, we’re – look, as you’ve seen today, the testing effort is growing all the time. The first and most straightforward way to do this was with the Health + Hospitals clinics and all the capacity at Health + Hospitals that already exist out in communities. That was the most obvious go-to. We’re going to keep building from there. The CityMD – 123 locations – an amazing, you know, single effort that now brings so many places into play – very, very high impact. But we’re going to start working with community health centers of all kinds. I’ve talked to you all about the ways we’re starting to coordinate with them. We want them to play a bigger and bigger role as this goes forward. And obviously, they can be important places for testing as well. So, we are going to be doing more with them on testing and everything else – announcements to come.

    On, Dr. Barbot – again, I don’t want you to in any way compare what happens at a press conference to the overall work of our agencies. The work of all of our agencies continues every single day. Press conferences, we put together different lineups each day for whatever the purpose of that press conference is. The Health Department is doing its good work regularly. I spoke to Dr. Barbot yesterday. We had a good and constructive conversation. We talked about the concerns that I’ve raised and others have raised about her conversation with Chief Monahan. I told her I thought it was important for her to address that publicly. I believe she’ll be doing that soon. And the work needs to continue, and we talked about how to deepen the work of all of our Departments as a single team and a unified effort for the good of all New Yorkers. And it was a good conversation. I am convinced we’re all going to do important and good work, going forward, to keep fighting back this disease. So, a positive conversation and we’re all moving forward.

    Moderator: Next we have Myles from NBC.

    Question: [Inaudible] on the Upper East side, it was more than just being people outside of bars. You had people doing dine-in at some of the Thai places that are just a few blocks from where you live. And it was a different scene that we saw at Domino Park or at the beach. The beach was packed, but at least people, you know, were spread out. This was a different situation and when our cameras went there the people were defiant, they yelled at our photographers, and it just – is it that people just don’t understand what’s going on?

    Mayor: Well, defiant and yelling at your photographers, I’m sorry that happened to you guys. But, again, I think there’s going to be a different reality when the sheriff shows up at NYPD shows up and that’s what’s going to happen, and all the other agencies. When we first – you know, I made the decision – and I remember the day I did it, I spoke to Dr. Fauci for guidance and made the decision to close the bars and restaurants in this city, only allow them to do takeout and delivery, and we’ve kept to that ever since. And, overwhelmingly, we’ve seen a lot of compliance. If we have instances where there’s not compliance, I want to know about, I want to know about from you telling my team, I want any New Yorker who sees any place allowing a dining in, call 3-1-1 immediately, and they will be visited immediately with inspectors and there’ll be serious fines. And if we have to shut places down, we will if they’re starting to violate these rules, because it’s about health and safety. And the same with congregating outside – look, if a bunch of people are congregating, that’s a gathering. What did I say the other day? The NYPD is going to focus its enforcement on gatherings. So, please share with us those locations and we will deal with them immediately.

    Moderator: Next we have Luis from New York [inaudible] –

    Question: [Inaudible] antibody test tomorrow, it’s part of that new survey. There was basically no criteria for us getting the appointment for our test, but looking at the CityMD site, I see the criteria needing to be met in order to get a test through them. Do you hope for a day when every single New Yorker can be tested regardless of having ever been symptomatic or having ever been in touch with anyone who tested positive? And Mr. Mayor, can we approach the future – as we approach the future when more and more and more testing would be made available and the criteria is that adjusted to include more and more people – what else can you say to everyone out there to make them understand the importance of getting tested?

    Mayor: Well, look, Luis, again, the PCR testing, the diagnostic testing, which is still in a very imperfect supply – although, I’m thrilled we are now at 20,000 a day capacity and growing, it’s still nowhere near what we want. We are keeping some real criteria on that according to greatest need. That will – that is starting to loosen up as we get more and more supply. It will continue. I would love nothing more than the day to come when that could be truly as universal as we want it to be. But we will keep being clear about criteria. Again, the antibody testing, very valuable, but not the same as the PCR testing, but we still want any New Yorker who wants to take advantage of the antibody testing to do so.

    Now, the point to my mind going forward is that testing helps us know what’s going on big picture, but it’s also about the ability – with the diagnostic testing, the PCR testing, the kind we have at City MD, the kind of we have at the H+H clinics – it’s our ability to determine what to do with each person, each family. If someone tests positive, then we know how to help them get support. If they need to isolate, how to isolate. The value of testing is it gives you the knowledge then to act. It’s not perfect because things change over time and that’s where more and more testing would help us to be able to test people as frequently as ideally. But what I can say to people is the most important thing to do is to follow those basic rules on shelter in place, on social distancing, wearing a face covering when you go out, basic hygiene, washing hands, hand sanitizer, covering your mouth when you cough and sneeze, those are still the basics. But for people who meet the criteria we’ve laid out, we want as many as possible get the diagnostic testing because it’s going to help us understand, but most importantly, it’s going to help us in their case and their family, help them to do what’s safest and help them to protect their families.

    Moderator: Next we have Yoav from The City.

    Question: Hi Mr. Mayor. I believe on Thursday or Friday you were asked a number of times essentially to offer an expression of support for your Health Commissioner. She has been absent from quite a few of these press conferences lately. She did not attend Friday’s City Council hearing. So I just essentially wanted to offer you another opportunity to essentially assure the public that you believe you have competence in your Health Commissioner.

    Mayor: I chose her, Yoav. She is the Health Commissioner that I chose to put in place. I’ve been working constantly with her during this crisis. I have a lot of respect for Commissioner Barbot. I have a lot of respect for the Health Department. It was important that we have a conversation to clear the air on some of the recent issues and I think we had a good and productive conversation and we’re going to move forward together. So yeah, look forward to her doing good and important work, and I think we all understand this is a team effort. And I know and I don’t ever blame the media for focusing on personalities, I’m going to state the obvious, having the responsibility for protecting all New Yorkers, it is not about one personality and another, it is about a huge team that needs to work together as a team to protect people with only one agenda, protecting the people in New York City, nothing else, no other considerations. And that’s what I expect from everyone and we’re all going to move forward on that basis.

    Moderator: Last two for today. Next we have Jacob from Jewish Insider. Jacob, are you there?

    Mayor: Jacob, can you hear me?

    Question: Hey Mr. Mayor, good morning.

    Mayor: There we go. We thought we lost you, Jacob. What’s going on?

    Question: You’re never going lose me and I’m sorry if I’m a week late but I want to wish you a belated happy birthday.

    Mayor: Thank you, Jacob.

    Question: So, I have two questions. Number one, I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about the State extending the restrictions on small businesses and local shops opening, and a lot of shop owners have expressed, some say disappointment, but also the frustration at you know, they were given no guidance and they do not know as to when they would be able to reopen even with, you know, some restrictions, if it’s letting one customer at a time in implementing some restrictions in practicing social distancing. So, my question is what would you tell those shop owners as how long to wait and what can be done for them to resume business?

    And the second question is the ADL recently reported a troubling report about a dramatic rise in anti-Semitic incidents. Obviously, you have addressed that in the past and this is an ongoing battle. However, there have been some complaints recently that members of the Orthodox community who are more visibly Jewish have been receiving insults and, you know, amid this pandemic going to places while practicing social distancing, while wearing masks, as the ones who are responsible for this outbreak. So, what is the city doing, number one, to combat this dramatic rise in anti-Semitism, but also to avoid these incidents from happening?

    Mayor: Yeah, Jacob, thank you. Look, it’s absolutely unacceptable and we had a horrible incident and there were instant consequences for those perpetrators, the incident where we had someone in the Jewish community wearing a mask and someone tried to pull it off them, which is just insulting, it’s anti-Semitic, it’s discrimination, it’s a really a horrible thing to do to another human being. Think about the implication too of someone trying to do the right thing and protecting their fellow New Yorker by wearing that mask and then someone tries to take it off them, thus endangering everybody, themselves included. Not only is it anti-Semitic and inappropriate, and an act of bias, it’s idiotic because it just makes everyone less safe. So there were quick consequences in that case, those individuals were arrested, but we’re going to as always ensure that there is a strong NYPD presence, anytime, anywhere we see a bias, and this has been true in many different communities and the answer has always been to make a strong, clear statement that we don’t accept bias in this city, that there will be consequences for acts of bias and discrimination, to increase NYPD presence and presence of other city agencies to protect people. We’ll do that whenever needed. It has worked consistently and people need to know there’s consequences and it will not be accepted in this city.

    On the small shops, very important issue. Look, I keep talking about these indicators every day and the State has their own indicators and we’re all working together and it’s quite clear nothing is going to change in May. It’s May 17th, the indicators on the state level and the city level have not moved enough to change things in May for all intents and purposes. So, we’re talking about June as our first opportunity, but we have to keep making progress. So, I say to everyone in every community, if you want to open those small shops, keep buckling down on the social distancing, on the shelter in place, on using the face coverings, all these things. It’s literally a direct line between what you do and our ability to reopen anything. We will be providing in the coming days guidance on what that first phase of re-opening would look like, so people will have some time to get ready. But I want to say the shop owners and everyone else, there’s no guarantee we get to that point until the indicators show us factually that it’s safe enough to do. And then once we do it, we’re going to monitor very intensely to make sure people follow the rules. If they don’t, there’ll be consequences. If we see a resurgence of the disease, unfortunately we would have to put back on restrictions. So, we’re going to be very smart and careful about this, but there will be time for shop owners to know what’s coming, but it’s not coming in the month of May.

    Moderator: Last question for today, Roger from 1010 WINS.

    Question: Hello Mayor. Good morning. I wanted to ask you a little more about these resource navigators and how that’s going to work. If someone tests positive for COVID-19 is living with family, when should they reach out to these people? How will they find out about these people and how do they reach out to these people?

    Mayor: So I’m going to turn to Dr. Ted Long who’s the Executive Director of the Test and Trace Corps, and I’ll only say as we turn to Dr. Long, the goal here is to make it really user-friendly, really easy for the people in New York City who needed that support, to get it, and we want it to be a sympathetic positive process. We want people who need to go to a hotel to feel comfortable doing it and feel really supported in it. So, Dr. Long talked to us about the resource navigators and the role they’ll play. I know he’s out there, Dr. Long, can you hear me?

     
    President and CEO Mitchell Katz, Health + Hospitals: 
    I’m going to fill in until I see him. This is Dr. Mitch Katz, Mr. Mayor, thank you. And Dr. Long was here just a second ago. So I’m thinking it was a technological issue. Yes, we see that our ability to use these resources will really help the effort. We want people to see what we’re doing as a service to them. We think that if it’s as – if people see it as a service to them and recognizing that our only concern is that they be healthy and that their family be healthy, that they will then accept the idea that they need to be isolated, whether it’s in their home or in our hotel room, and then these great resource people that you’ve spoken of will take care of bringing them the other things that they will need, including their food, help them with any economic benefits, medicines, figure out how they’ll need medical treatment. So I think that it really reinforces the efforts that you’ve spoken of sir. Thank you, Dr. Katz.

    Dr. Ted Long, Health + Hospitals: If you can hear me, I agree.

    Mayor: You’re back, was that consensus, Ted?

    Dr. Long: Strong consensus.

    Mayor: Strong consensus. Thank you. Thank you, Ted. Thank you, Mitch. All right, well as we conclude for today, I’m going to say one of the statements you can say in this city that probably would get the greatest consensus, in fact, and I’m going to say this, this is the greatest city in the world. There is no one on earth, no group of people in the whole world as amazing as New Yorkers. I believe that in my heart. And I want everyone to understand we’ve taken on this pandemic. We have been the epicenter and we fought back. You fought back. The success we’ve had to date is because of you. Now we have to go further. We have earned our way to the point where we even have the ability to talk about loosening restrictions, we’ve earned our way to the point we could talk about at one point having beach season again, we’re not there yet, but if you keep earning it, if you keep fighting for it, if you keep being as great as New Yorkers can be, then we get there. It’s everyone’s responsibility. We’re all in this together. So keep doing what you’re doing because it’s been amazing. Aim high, be as great as this city is capable of, and that’s the pathway to beginning to reopen. That’s the pathway to having a better summer and a much better year ahead. We all need to earn it together and I have confidence we will. Thank you, everybody.

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