Apr 2, 2020
Bill de Blasio NYC COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 2
Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
This morning in Queens, its two parts really. The first part was visiting our EMS Station 50 meeting some of our extraordinary MTS and paramedics. They have literally, in the last few days, gone through the biggest surge in 911 calls in the history of New York city. And I got to tell you, these brave individuals, they were so strong the way they were dealing with this crisis. They were confident. They believe that their training and their partnership, their comradery, were going to serve them in this crisis no matter what. They let me know they were up for any challenge and they were also very grateful that help was arriving. And that’s the second part of what I experienced this morning. Fort Totten in Queens. It’s a FEMA staging area now and I met EMTS and paramedics came from all over the nation to help us in our hour of need, folks from States all over.
Bill de Blasio: (01:02)
You know, at one point I was talking to these EMTS and paramedics. I was thanking them on behalf of all 8.6 million New Yorkers. I was telling them what it meant to us that they had driven from all over the country in their ambulances and how powerful that was to us and how that gave us such a good feeling in this city and what it meant to our brave EMTs and paramedics that this help was coming.
Bill de Blasio: (01:24)
And at one point I said to them, please call out the States you’re from. And I just had a shiver went up my spine. I felt this really profound sense of appreciation and faith as I heard this roll call of States; Kentucky and Alabama and Indiana and Illinois and California and Michigan, one after another. People called out the names of their States with pride and they were so proud to be here in New York city. And they knew that New York city had often been there for them.
Bill de Blasio: (01:56)
The FDNY have been out many times around the country helping other parts of this country during natural disasters and that is appreciated and people wanted to return the favor. So it was really something stirring about our nation at this moment that people are rising to the call in such a powerful way. And that help those hundreds of MTS and paramedics and the 250 ambulances that are coming are here already and I got to watch so many of them roll out of Fort Totten. That’s amazing what that’s doing immediately to help us deal with all the emergencies we’re facing around this city. Want to give a special shout out to two guys from Kalamazoo, Michigan. I had a good talk with them, Andrew and Jeff. And they literally gotten their rig and got in their ambulance in Kalamazoo and drove all the way to New York city and they were just ready to go to help us out. And so a special thank you to our friends from Kalamazoo for being a part of this. I spoke earlier today with the President and a group of key members of his administration that he had gathered, they were having a strategy session and they called to ask me what was going on in New York city and how the federal government could continue to help. So it was the President, Vice President Pence, the FEMA administrator, Pete Gainer, Deborah Birx, Dr. Deborah Birx, the Corona virus response director, Admiral [inaudible 00:00:03:28], who’s the head of the public health service. The equipments czar Peter Navarro, the President Senior Advisor, Jared Kushner, who’s obviously a New Yorker and knows a lot about the city and cares about this city.
Bill de Blasio: (03:39)
So we got into a very detailed conversation about where we stand. First of all, I thank them deeply for what they did for the NYPD. And they called it operation Bluebloods. I think that’s a great name, helping the NYPD to have the protective gear they need at this moment. Deeply appreciate that special effort the White House made. But, the real difficult part of the conversation was talking about the days ahead. We went into great detail about a number of New Yorkers in ICUs. The number we projected coming up this Sunday and Monday, the facts that were so powerful and challenging about what we’re going to face next week. I talked to the President about the need for ventilators. I talked to them about the need for N95 masks and other PPEs. I talked to him in detail about the personnel reality and the whole group of leaders assembled.
Bill de Blasio: (04:33)
The fact that even with the equipment you always need the personnel, all these doctors and nurses and extraordinary health care workers, we need more and more help. I talked to the President about the expansion of beds and I will say the President knows something about real estate in New York City and I talked to him about the fact that we had 20,000 hospital beds just a month ago and we’re going to be adding up to 65,000 more to handle this crisis and that’s going to happen all in the course of about four weeks.
Bill de Blasio: (05:04)
And I think he understood that that will be a Herculean effort. But I said to him, we believe we can do that. Taking a huge number of public spaces, converting them, hotels by the dozen that we can actually build out that capacity, but it won’t save us unless the personnel is there. So we had a very good conversation.
Bill de Blasio: (05:26)
I was thankful for the help we had received and I immediately told him just how much more we’re going to need. And I told him we will fight every minute of this crisis to get through it and then we will turn around and give everything we have and send our heroes to other parts of the country to help. And I really appreciate the conversation because it was detailed and it was sober about the facts. But I was also clear with them that I believe at this point we have to come to a recognition that anything short of a full mobilization of our military will not serve this nation sufficiently.
Bill de Blasio: (06:04)
Just going over the situation in New York City and pointing out, imagine for a moment we had 20,000 hospital beds. We’re talking about needing three times more that just to get through the next four weeks or so. Imagine that pattern in other parts of our nation, what that’s going to mean for the ability to build out our healthcare system and protect our people in many places simultaneously. The only way that can be achieved is with the leadership of the United States military. They have the talent, the logistical capacity, the professionals that can play a crucial role. There’s no other way it will happen. So I had a good and respectful conversation with the President, but I also had an urgent conversation with him. I told him, I just think this is the only way we’re all going to be able to get through this and save as many lives as possible is to use the military much more deeply. I reiterated to the President what I talked to him about several times last week the fact that we need personnel right now and we need military medical personnel right now and that I had asked repeatedly and in writing many times for help by this Sunday. And we had asked for military medical personnel, 1000 nurses, 300 respiratory therapists, 150 doctors. These numbers had been over with the President, with the Secretary Of Defense and with General Millie numerous times there are quite familiar with request.
Bill de Blasio: (07:33)
I had a followup conversation with Secretary Esper and General Millie again this afternoon. I’m going to be talking to the FEMA administrator again to reiterate that this is crucial and he will have the ultimate say over whatever military medical personnel are made available. But again, it comes down to this. This is a wartime dynamic and everyone in Washington has to understand that right now, too much of what’s happening is on a peacetime basis, there’s a disconnect and I want to just be blunt about that.
Bill de Blasio: (08:04)
We’re in the middle of a war. We can feel it here in New York city. I could feel it this morning when I stood with those good men and women, those EMTS and paramedics from all over the nation, it didn’t feel like business as usual. It felt like we were in a war and people were coming to save us. We need a lot more of that and other parts of the country will need the same. It’s not going to happen unless we get on a war footing. So it’s the mobilization of the military for sure.
Bill de Blasio: (08:29)
But I also think we have to remember in the Wars of the past when we were really fighting for the survival of our nation and our ideals, we called upon all Americans to serve. And I think it’s time for that in a different way now. I think it’s time for our nation to enlist our medical personnel on a national basis.
Bill de Blasio: (08:50)
We don’t have the same kind of draft we used to have, but we’re going to have to create something new, right now at this moment in history to enlist all available medical personnel from around the country. And I mean civilians, anyone with medical training anywhere in the country who can be spared by their city, their town, their state to come to the front. And right now it’s in New York city and we see it starting in some other cities as well. But I guarantee you all 50 States will have their own battle.
Bill de Blasio: (09:24)
The only way we’re going to get through this, truly, if we’re going to save every life we can save, it means taking health professionals of every kind with every skill, every training, no matter where they are in their career. And enlisting them in a national service. Creating something we just don’t have right now, but we could have and we need to have. So that’s what I talked to the President about, the Secretary Of Defense, General Millie, going to a place we’ve never been before because we are actually dealing with a crisis we’ve never experienced before.
Bill de Blasio: (09:57)
And we have to innovate. We have to see possibilities that we just didn’t see before, if we’re going to really protect and serve the American people. So I hope these conversations will lead us to another place because right now I’ve been really honest about the numbers and I do want to give the President credit. I told him the numbers and I could tell there were some real silences during the conversation. Some real acknowledgement of just how tough it’s going to be in the weeks ahead in New York City, but we know there’s other places about to face this same reality. If we’re all starting to fully, deeply recognize the extent of the crisis, then let’s act like one nation, fight this crisis together, enlisting everyone possible into this cause. Whether they be the men and women of our military and our reserves or whether it be civilians who could bring their extraordinary skills to bear where needed most, it’s time for that in this country.
Bill de Blasio: (10:54)
I did talk to the President about the ventilator situation as I mentioned and the 400 ventilators that we found out late yesterday would be coming in time and be in place by Sunday morning. That was the number I mentioned yesterday that we absolutely had to have to ensure we could protect everyone in need. Those ventilators came out of the federal allotment that went to New York State. I want to thank both the federal government and FEMA and New York State for quickly making those 400 ventilators available.
Bill de Blasio: (11:24)
So the good news is we will get through Sunday, but the tough news is what I told you yesterday is still true. We will need 2,500 to 3000 more ventilators next week, during next week, to get through next week. I explained this to the President and his entire leadership and everyone heard it and everyone took it seriously and I said, I’m not going to sugar coat this.
Bill de Blasio: (11:47)
It’s a very tough number to reach. I know everyone’s fighting to get more ventilators, create more ventilators, manufacture them. But for all those folks who are about to arrive in hospitals around the city, whose lives we must save their simple need is not for us to talk about it, but to find those ventilators somewhere, somehow. And I put that clearly on the table. And said to the leadership of our nation that it is, I think a national priority to find those 2,500 to 3000 ventilators and get them to New York City over the next seven days.
Bill de Blasio: (12:24)
So we talked to also here in New York City about other tools. We’re going to use. The BiPAP machines, which are something that could be really helpful in ensuring that for some patients they can be kept off the ventilators or at least for a period of time. We’re getting some of those in. We’re training staff on how to use them. That will be a part of the equation that will help as well.
Bill de Blasio: (12:53)
The fact is people want to help us, as I said, from all over the country. If you can help anyone out there, if you can help, please go to our website, Nyc.gov/help now or call 833-NYC-0040. Folks, all over the nation want to help. We’re particularly, if there’s anybody anywhere has a ventilator they can get to us. That is particularly important. Anyone who’s a medical professional wants to come here and help us. We have the accommodations. We will immediately plug you in. We need your help right now.
Bill de Blasio: (13:33)
Okay. Now I want to talk about some new guidance. And I want to emphasize that I start and we’ll talk more about it with the questions with the media, with our health commissioner, Dr Barbot, but I want to emphasize that we throughout these last few months, this city, this state, this nation, the global community of nations, the global medical community, everyone has been trying to learn as rapidly as possible everything they can about a Coronavirus.
Bill de Blasio: (14:06)
And we still know there’s a lot we don’t know. And that’s a really challenging reality. One of our heroes at this moment in our nation, someone I’m very, very proud of as a New Yorker is Dr. Anthony Fauchi. And even with that wonderful reassuring voice and that knowledge and that wisdom, he’s the first to say there’s a lot we don’t know. But we are learning every day and every week more and we’re trying to act rapidly on what we learn.
Bill de Blasio: (14:33)
And sometimes you reach that point where there’s just enough confirmation, enough new information to say, okay, it’s time to do something different. So there’ve been studies recently on people who are asymptomatic or presymptomatic and whether they could transmit the Coronavirus to others. One particularly important study coming out of Singapore yesterday, our health department, our healthcare leadership have looked at these studies. There’s been several in the last week or so and have come to a conclusion that it’s time to advise New Yorkers to do something different.
Bill de Blasio: (15:10)
And I want to emphasize what I’m about to tell you is very, very important, but it does not in any way change the basic guidance that you’ve received now over many weeks. The most important things are still the basic hygiene, covering your mouth when you cough and sneeze, wash your hands a lot, use hand sanitizer still. That’s the frontline way to protect yourself. The social distancing that’s the way to protect yourself and everyone around you. And that must be observed no matter what.
Bill de Blasio: (15:42)
And we’ve obviously put shelter in place here in place in New York and we have strong enforcement through the NYPD and other agencies and we’re even now at the point of finding people who do not abide by social distancing. So all of that is just as important as it was before. But now we’re adding a new important point. We’re advising New Yorkers to wear a face covering when you go outside and will be near other people.
Bill de Blasio: (16:12)
So let’s be clear, this is a face covering. Again, we’ll talk about the details in a moment, but it could be a scarf. It could be something you create yourself at home. It could be a bandana. It does not, not, need to be a professional surgical mask. In fact, we don’t want you to use the kinds of masks that our first responders need, that our healthcare workers need. Don’t use those, can’t be clearer. Leave those alone. Leave those to the people who need them the most who are saving lives.
Bill de Blasio: (16:44)
But you can create a face covering with anything you have at home right now, any piece of cloth and that will give the protection to others. And I want to emphasize this. I think there’s been a certain amount of misunderstanding and we’re all dealing with so much information and so many things that are kind of tough to understand and confusing.
Bill de Blasio: (17:05)
The reason for this guidance is because the studies are showing that some asymptomatic people, some presymptomatic people appear to actually be transmitting this disease. We don’t have perfect evidence. It doesn’t conform with what the initial information showed us weeks ago, but it does seem to be more and more evident. What that means is when you put on that face covering, you’re protecting everyone else. You’re making sure that you don’t inadvertently, if you happen to have this disease, and you may not even know it, you don’t end up giving it to someone else.
Bill de Blasio: (17:40)
Now remember with community spread with the projections we’ve told you over half of New Yorkers will contract this disease from everything we know. It means that a lot of people are out there right this minute, don’t even know they have it. We want to make sure that anyone who doesn’t have to get it doesn’t get it. So a face covering is just a simple way to protect other people and to reduce the speed of that community spread and hopefully keep a number of people from being affected who don’t have to be affected.
Bill de Blasio: (18:10)
Again, you can create your own version. You can be creative and put whatever decoration you want on it. It can be as homemade as you want, but that’s what we want you to do. Something homemade, not something professional, not something from the supplies we need for our heroes and that’s going to help protect everyone. Have a few other updates. We’ve talked a lot about the fact that there are more and more people that need food because let’s face it, even though thank God there is some federal help coming now through the stimulus bill, there’s still so many people lost their jobs, lost their income, don’t yet have that help, are struggling to pay for food. We can’t have that in New York City. We have to help people more and more.
Bill de Blasio: (18:57)
I named a few weeks ago our foods czar, Kathryn Garcia, who’s done an amazing job for the city on many other crucial missions. And her job is to make sure that food is available to everyone who needs it and to build out a bigger plan for the weeks ahead. She’s working, especially now with the department education that had feeding sites up for our students, even though there weren’t schools the way they’ve normally been, they were turned into sites to provide meals to kids needed them.
Bill de Blasio: (19:26)
So we’ve got about 435 sites around the five boroughs where young people can go and get meals for free. They can get breakfast, lunch, and dinner all to go, grab and go and they can bring them home and eat them when they’re ready. If other people at home need food, they can get it for them as well. So what we’re doing starting tomorrow is we’re welcoming adults. Anyone who needs food, anyone who’s hungry can come to these 435 sites. You can get all three meals for yourself and your family for free. No one will be turned away. I want to really-
Bill de Blasio: (20:03)
-her family for free. No one will be turned away. I want to really emphasize that. There is no charge and no one will be turned away. You can go online nyc.gov and get the sites you can call 3-1-1 24 hours a day and get the sites. But we know people are hurting. We don’t want anyone to go hungry in the city. So there’s 435 places starting tomorrow, not just for kids, but for adults as well. Everyone who is hungry has a place to go to get food. Just to tell you, for kids and for families with kids, we’re going to do the early morning hours for pickups at 7:30 to 11:30 AM and then from 11:30 to 1:30, for any adults who don’t have kids with them, you can go in that timeframe. So again, 7:30 to 11:30 AM for children and families with children. 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM each day for adults. And if you want to find a school in your area, you can text the word food or if you speak Spanish, the word comida to 877877 and they’ll get you to location.
Bill de Blasio: (21:10)
Okay. Couple of quick things. Small businesses, this is a heads up to all the small business owners that starting tomorrow, the federal paycheck protection program opens up, it’s a key part of the stimulus, $350 billion loan program. It’s for businesses and for nonprofit organizations that have employees up to a number of 500 people. So it’s a lot of businesses will qualify, and we know our hard hit our small businesses, our nonprofits have been these last weeks. It’s been horrible. You deserve this opportunity to get these loans to keep afloat, build for the future.
Bill de Blasio: (21:49)
But here’s the punchline. This is a first come first serve basis. So first come, first served. Therefore you need to apply as early in the morning tomorrow as possible. So New Yorkers, the early bird gets the worm here. Go to a sba.gov. Sba.gov and these are loans on very good terms and they are forgivable loans and there’s specific categories that you can get. Go online and they’ll talk to you about all the ways that these loans have been made flexible and forgivable. And they cover a lot of different things, not just costs related to your payroll, but also interest on mortgages, your rent, your utility payments, a very flexible program to help people through this crisis. So please sign up immediately.
Bill de Blasio: (22:42)
I’m going to close now and I talked to you about a lot of reasons to hope, but I also always owe it to you to tell you when we’ve lost a friend and and to mourn with particularly all of us in public service. When we lose one of our own it, it hits home, especially. Our department of Citywide Administrative Services, they’ve been doing so much work these last few weeks to help everyone else to get the help they need. Well now they’ve lost a dear colleague and a leader in that agency. Lenin Fierro, a director of safety and the Vision Zero director for fleet management at DCAS. This is an amazing story. He immigrated from Ecuador. Total New York story, an American success story, immigrated from Ecuador, served 10 years in the United States Navy, joined our team five years ago, helped get Vision Zero off the ground in it’s beginning to protect people and save lives. Personally trained thousands of city drivers in how to drive safely. Amazing contribution. To his wife Brenda and his two daughters. We grieve with you and we have truly lost a great man.
Bill de Blasio: (23:58)
And every new Yorker right now, we all have a story. We all know someone who we’ve lost or someone who’s sick. Pretty much everyone can say that right now. We are doing all we can to help those who are sick and we are grieving for those we’ve lost and mourning with their families. But as much pain as we’re going through and even though the worst weeks are ahead, we just don’t give in this city. It’s not who we are. I have to tell you with those EMTs and paramedics today, I saw resolve, I saw toughness, I saw a belief that we were going to get through it.
Bill de Blasio: (24:34)
And the same is true with our frontline heroes, our healthcare workers. Same is true with the folks working in the grocery stores and the pharmacies to make sure their communities are safe and have what they need. So many New Yorkers, by the way, the vast, vast majority of New Yorkers who are practicing social distancing, who are doing it right, who are looking out for each other, everyone is showing incredible spirit of perseverance. I’m very, very proud of all you. I have no question we will see this through together. I have no question in the end, New Yorkers will watch out for each other. And every time there’s someone comes to our aid from around the country, who’s going to give us that boost we need to fight our way through this crisis and come out together.
Bill de Blasio: (25:18)
A few words in Spanish [Spanish 00: 05:23]. With that, we will turn to questions from the media and please let me know each name and media outlet.
Speaker 1: (26:10)
Hi all. Just a reminder that we have Dr. Barbot here in person and on the phone we have Commissioner Shea, Commissioner Garcia, Chancellor Carranza, Deputy Mayor Bean and Dr. Katz. With that, we’ll start with Erin from Politico.
Hi Mr. Mayor. I’m wondering if you can just go into a little more detail on this mask or face covering guidance. If you have old masks sitting around paper ones, can you use those? Do you need to use them once and then discard them? How can you sanitize cloth homemade mask? Just kind of the practicalities of how this is going to work if everyone’s supposed to be covering their faces now.
Bill de Blasio: (26:53)
Thank you, Erin. I’m going to ask obviously Dr. Barbot will go into the details, but I think you raise a really, really helpful set of questions there. Reminding everyone, face coverings. So I want to actually not use the word masks because when you think of masks, you’re talking about what our healthcare workers and our first responders need and those precious supplies that we keep bringing in those PPEs, that’s for them. That’s for all the people at the frontline who need it. If you’ve got something around the house already, Dr. Barbot will talk about how to deal with that. But I’m talking about face coverings to distinguish things you can create yourself. Like I said, scarfs, bandanas. I think Dr. Barbot will be the first. She’s a good New Yorker, grew up in the Bronx. She’ll be the first to say it doesn’t have to be fancy to work. It can be real homegrown and it will still help protect others. So Dr. Barbot.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (27:44)
I think that’s a good thing. The less fancy, the better. So again, these face coverings are intended to do two things. One is for individuals who may be at the very, very beginning of an illness and don’t yet know it and so they are presymptomatic ensure that they don’t transmit infection to other people when they have to go out for essential activities. The other thing that these face coverings do is, again, if someone has to go outside, I want them to be a reminder for anyone that they may come in contact with to keep the distance of six feet. These face covering shouldn’t be seen as an invitation to come closer. They should actually be an indication to keep six feet distance.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (28:35)
And so in terms of the materials for these face coverings and the upkeep, etc, if someone has a paper face covering that can cover the mouth and the nose, then certainly what I would recommend is that they use it when they go outside and that they can continue to reuse it as long as it doesn’t get wet and as long as it maintains its integrity. I would remind individuals that they shouldn’t share these paper face coverings and that when they are done using them, they should store them in a place where no one else can touch them.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (29:26)
What I would actually recommend is that individuals use cloth face coverings and that they can use old bandanas or new bandanas. They can use a scarf. And again, the important thing is that it covers the nose and the mouth. What I recommend is that for these face coverings to be used for a day and then you can hand wash them in soap and water, just regular soap and water, nothing fancy. And that the important thing is that they dry completely. And so we would recommend that you have more than one face covering so that you can alternate them.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (30:14)
The important thing to note is that there are a number of different potential designs, if you will, that individuals can use in terms of these face coverings. But again, thinking back to when we were kids and playing games or Halloween and covering our faces with a cloth, it really is as simple as that. And again, one of the reasons that we want to make it as basic as possible is to remind folks that these face coverings are not a substitution for all of the layers of prevention that we’ve been talking about since the beginning of this outbreak, which are hand washing with soap and water, hand cleaning with alcohol based hand sanitizer, covering your mouth and your nose when you cough with your elbow.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (31:14)
And the most important and evidence based intervention is the social distancing. And so these face coverings are just one more layer to those layers of prevention. None of them will work a hundred percent in isolation, but all of them together I think provide the greatest opportunity for us to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Bill de Blasio: (31:42)
Thank you doctor.
Speaker 1: (31:42)
Next we have Rich from the Post.
Yes. Hi. Could you just explain there, is spring break on or off, and why haven’t parents been formally told? Can you clear this up and what are your feelings on the subject? The DOE website still has it listed as from April 9th to April 17th, why wasn’t an updated?
Bill de Blasio: (32:08)
Yeah, it’s a great question, Rich. So there’s been a back and forth with the state. We’re all trying to figure out the right way to handle the really, really unusual situation here. The Chancellor will jump in if he has anything he wants to add after I’ve gone over this, but here’s the deal. We said originally of course that our hope was we could bring school back up by April 20th after the spring break.
Bill de Blasio: (32:38)
We all understand how tough that looks right now and we’ll have more to say on that as we figure out what the future looks like. But originally people were thinking of spring break in traditional terms. Well guess what? There are no breaks at this point. There’s no vacations, there’s no place to travel. Our kids, we’re asking them to stay indoors all the time, except for a little bit exercise each day. It’s a whole new dynamic.
Bill de Blasio: (33:03)
So the more people thought about it, both at the city and state level the more they realized, wait a minute, that idea doesn’t make sense anymore. We’re kind of in a very, very different environment. There are obviously crucial religious considerations. If you’re talking about a religious day, a day of obligation for people are truly a devout. But we’ve got to rethink that week and we’re working with the state on how to do that right this minute. And then the second that’s all confirmed, it will be updated.
Bill de Blasio: (33:35)
Chancellor, you may have more breaking news than I have on that, but obviously whatever the final decisions, we will update the website for sure. Chancellor you want to add?
Chancellor Richard Carranza: (33:45)
Yes, Mr. Mayor. Thank you. So we will update this website. This is obviously an ongoing conversation. We just want to… All of the projections say that this virus is going to be hitting its peak around the time of spring break. So while we want to be optimistic, we also have to be very, very grounded in what we’re doing. So we want to make sure that students are actively academically engaged.
Chancellor Richard Carranza: (34:14)
And Mr. Mayor, I know that you and I have had many conversations about this. We really appreciate how above and beyond our teachers, our administrators, our food service workers, our custodians have gone to make sure that our students and families are being served. We honor that work, but we also know that we need to flatten the curve and in order to flatten the curve, we want people to be indoors and we want our school communities to be actively engaged at home.
Chancellor Richard Carranza: (34:48)
So we’re working actively with our labor unions around finding a way to honor their contracts, but at the same time making sure that we’re also taking care of the public good. So we will have more information as soon as we can get that out. But at this point we want everybody to understand we’re going to be actively engaged and we want to make sure that academically students have opportunities to be engaged as we go through next week.
Bill de Blasio: (35:15)
Speaker 1: (35:17)
Next we have Beverly from Manhattan Times News Bronx Free Press.
Bill de Blasio: (35:23)
Beverly, can you hear me?
Speaker 1: (35:27)
We’ll circle back. Next we have Yoav from the city.
Bill de Blasio: (35:33)
Hi Mr. Mayor. How are you doing?
Bill de Blasio: (35:36)
Just wanted to ask you on a host of issues we’ve confronted with coronavirus, your administration has taken some steps that you’ve described as being out of an abundance of caution. And I’m just curious now with the kind of the change in the advice on the masks, why I’m more cautious approach wasn’t taken when clearly there wasn’t a lot of evidence one way or the other. And it seemed that the message coming out of the administration was that the prime concern is symptomatic transfer. So, why on that issue wasn’t more caution voiced?
Bill de Blasio: (36:21)
It’s a fine question. And I’ve obviously had this conversation repeatedly with my team every step of the way to determine what we think would make sense. So first of all, the first answer is there just wasn’t evidence. And for the first time, and we obviously have a great health department, and they’ve been scrubbing evidence from all around the world for weeks and weeks. And for the first time and just the last days there have been studies that actually started to show some meaningful evidence about asymptomatic transmission? By the way, those are some studies. That doesn’t mean everything is known about it. It just for the first time gave our health leadership a sense that there was something more tangible here than they’d seen previously.
Bill de Blasio: (37:11)
Second, there was a real concern all along about focusing people on the most important things. And that really is the basic hygiene that we talked about. The shelter in place, the social distancing. Those are still the most powerful elements of the strategy. And to make sure that we did not send a message that made people over-confident the other way. Because Yoav, I think there’s a real balance always in this that you don’t want people thinking, “Oh I put on a face covering and now I have nothing else to worry about in the world.” No. In fact, the face covering idea is just to help make sure you’re protecting everyone else around you. The ways you protect yourself and everyone else are those basic hygiene practices, the shelter in place and the social distancing. So it was really about making sure the most important messages were being acted on, the most important strategies were being acted on. But once people felt, “Look, there’s something here, there’s some evidence, at least,” that’s when it made sense to put it out there to folks.
Bill de Blasio: (38:15)
But in a way, and this is the last point, Yoav, and then I’ll see if the doctor wants to add. We were very concerned all along about the supply and this was really, again, Yoav you’ve watched the work of government for a long time. This was really a big factor as well. We’ve been fighting for those PPEs. We’re finally starting to get a better supply, but we got a long, long way to go. It was very important not to give the impression to people early on that everyone should go grab everything and hoard everything when we knew that there was no way lives would be saved if our first responders and our health workers didn’t have the personal protective equipment they needed.
Bill de Blasio: (38:56)
So without a lot of evidence, we didn’t think It made any sense to suggest to people something that for some people might be interpreted as go grab those supplies, in fact, deprive others of them. That’s why we’re saying face coverings, homegrown, make your own. You can make it with stuff that’s already in your house. You don’t need something that a first responder or a healthcare worker needs. Dr. Barbot.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (39:21)
Yeah, Mr. Mayor, I think you got it just right. So I’ll add just a couple of other things. One is from the very beginning, we’ve been saying that as the evidence grows because it is a new virus and there was very little known, as the evidence grows, we will adapt our guidance. And so specific to masks I think we have seen a progression on our guidance as the evidence has grown, but it has always been based on the evidence. And so we’ve also tried to sort of measure that with, although the evidence isn’t there, it-
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (40:03)
With. Although the evidence isn’t there, if New Yorkers want to wear masks, as we were saying at that time, then we’re not going to stop them. I think the shift now is twofold. One is there’s scientific evidence that people can transmit infection before they realize they are symptomatic and then the second one is that we are at a different point in the curve, meaning that with widespread community transmission and the new evidence that people can transmit when they are in their presymptomatic phase makes the extension of our message of “Wear a mask if you’re sick.” A logical step, meaning that don’t wait until you’re symptomatic. Now, assume you’ve been exposed and use a face covering to ensure that you don’t contribute to the ongoing acceleration of this spread that, along with physical distancing and staying home, a face covering can be an additive measure.
Bill de Blasio: (41:08)
Next we have Katie from the Wall Street Journal.
Hey, Mayor, I just wanted to ask … Mr. Mayor, sorry. I wanted to ask you, bouncing off of your last question, if you’re just asking people to cover their faces with scarves and pieces of cloth, couldn’t that directive have been given sooner? I mean, I don’t know if there’s going to be a run on bandanas necessarily, but I guess the question is, on March 15th, you said asymptomatic people don’t transmit, which didn’t turn out to be true. Recognizing this as an evolving thing, but when did that shift really happen for you?
Bill de Blasio: (41:45)
The last 48 hours really is when our health leadership, our health department, has gotten the information, analyzed the information, and provided this specific proposal. So, it’s literally just in the last days. But I want to emphasize, again, we’re going to go through a long difficult journey where we don’t know everything we want to know and need to know. We’re always going to be doing our best with the information we have. But what’s abundantly clear is literally only in the last day or two did our healthcare leadership come to the conclusion that the studies were finally providing some evidence that face coverings helped prevent the spread, and again, I’m going to say it very clearly and bluntly, this is not put on a face covering and you can’t get the coronavirus. That’s not what we’re saying. We’re saying put on a face covering, abundance of caution, to help prevent further spread, but the evidence just wasn’t there before.
Bill de Blasio: (42:51)
I explained a moment ago with [inaudible 00:42:52], the other reasons, the other factors in the decision that we were valuing a lot. We’ve always valued in this discussion protecting our health care workers and our first responders and what they needed. That was a big factor here to always be cautious about that because if that piece isn’t right, nothing else is right. But now that we have some evidence, it was time to say, “Okay, we’re giving advice.” It’s an advisory based on new evidence. March 15th or whatever date you said, we just didn’t have the evidence.
We’re going to circle back to Debralee, Manhattan Times News, Bronx Free Press.
Hey there. Good afternoon, Mr. Mayor. How are you?
Bill de Blasio: (43:31)
So, I want to ask a tangential but related question about testing. We’re having reports that frontline workers including transit workers, including nurses and doctors and folks that are out there every day who are actually essential workers, are just unable to access these tests. They’re being rerouted to their primary care physicians who are overwhelmed. They’re being rerouted to testing sites and it just seems to be not enough. Yet, we’ve got enough boldface names reporting that they have tested positive and within hours we know it as well. So, you’ve spoken about there being this ending of this divide between public and private care as regards the pandemic. What exactly can you speak to? I’d also toss this to Commissioner Barbot. What is the directive now from the city and medical guidance as regards to testing? What is the point of testing? In fact, if anyone seeks out a test, are they just wasting their time?
Bill de Blasio: (44:32)
I really appreciate the question, Debralee. I’m going to start … I want actually Dr. Katz to jump in and then Dr. Barbot. And the reason I want to go to Dr. Katz is that Health + Hospitals has now changed its approach now that it does have sufficient testing, to its own health care workers. And I want him to talk about that because I think it’s a valuable example for the whole city. But look, to answer this properly, we’ve got to go back to the origins and I know my colleagues feel this deeply. We started on January 24th calling on the federal government to give us testing here in New York City. It took weeks and weeks and weeks to even get the beginning of the ability to test here and, by the time it was here, it was already bluntly right on the verge of having community spread.
Bill de Blasio: (45:18)
So, all of the virtues of testing that could have been strategic to help us address this crisis more fundamentally like a few other parts of the world have done, that window was lost and the federal government just didn’t act. Then, we went through a phase over weeks now where there wasn’t enough testing available anywhere and we kept trying to say the priority needed to be for people who are really sick and for first responders and healthcare workers. To some extent, that has happened. But you’re right, Debra Lee. There’ve been some exceptions that make me very angry when I see folks who used their wealth and power to get tested that didn’t even need a test rather than all those tests going to people who are really in danger. And particularly those tests being available for healthcare workers and first responders.
Bill de Blasio: (46:04)
I mean, it just makes no sense for someone who’s privileged to look out for themselves ahead of all the other people who need it more. But now, we’ve got a phenomenon of more testing coming in, more capacity, I should say, coming in. New interesting possibilities now starting to finally take root like the 15-minute tests, like the antibody tests. There’s a lot coming together that could revolutionize the approach and make it much more widespread and much more effective. What I want to see is that it be as widely available to first responders and healthcare workers and any other essential personnel, that be the first thing we do. Really makes sure that anyone who wants that test among those crucial, crucial workers we’re depending on, that they can get it when they want it. So, that’s where we’re trying to go rapidly. Mitch, would you talk about what you’re doing with testing for Health + Hospitals workers?
Dr. Mitchell Katz: (47:03)
Absolutely sir. So, starting today, any of our frontline workers can be tested at their facility in occupational health, and we’re doing that because we recognize the tremendous heroism of our doctors and nurses and other support staff. We want to make sure that they have the ability to get a test when they want to have a test. We recognize that many of them worry about the possibility that they will bring the virus home to their spouses, to their children. We feel strongly that people have a right to know. We appreciate all the work you’ve done to give us enough access so that we can now do this. Thank you.
Bill de Blasio: (47:44)
And Dr. Barbot?
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (47:47)
So, in terms of testing, as we’ve said many times before, in a world where we have widespread community transmission, for the average New Yorker, 80% of people will have a mild course and having the results of a test aren’t going to change the recommendations that your doctor is going to give you, which is “Stay home and call me back if you’re not getting better.” I think the situations for healthcare workers are different because from the beginning we’ve also been saying that all of the measures that we’ve been putting in place are to slow the transmission and reduce the burden on healthcare delivery systems because we need them to be whole in order to take care of the vast number of New Yorkers that can get sick from COVID-19. We’ve also said that, in a clinical setting, the most useful way in which a test can be helpful is if it’s going to help a doctor make a treatment decision about his or her patient and so those recommendations remain.
Bill de Blasio: (49:09)
Okay. Who’s up?
Next we have Jill from New York One.
Hi, mayor. Can you hear me?
Bill de Blasio: (49:15)
Hi. I wanted to ask you about the death of Sandra Santos-Vizcaino. She was a teacher at P.S. 9 in Prospect Heights and I believe she may be the first teacher to pass away from the Coronavirus. I wanted to see if you or the chancellor had anything that you might want to say about her, but also wanted to ask, it’s hard to know if she was the first teacher to pass away because the city has not been tracking or publicly releasing any information about how many teachers have become ill. I understand teachers aren’t reporting to work in a school right now, but obviously, they’re all still teaching. Some may be ill and calling out. I just wanted to see why that kind of information hasn’t been made available or hasn’t been tracked. And then a somewhat related question, are you also recommending face coverings for children?
Bill de Blasio: (50:09)
Okay, let me have the chancellor speak to the first part and Dr. Barbot speak to the second part. I mean, look, I just want to say as a parent whose kids went through our public schools, there are so many teachers who I can right now name. Dozens of teachers who had just a profound impact on my children’s lives and the notion that we’ve lost a teacher, it’s very painful. These are people who devote their lives to our kids and losing someone who’s that good a person, who’s giving that much, is just very, very painful. We lost a principal last week. A young woman full of extraordinary promise. I wish I could say we were not going to have to tell these stories of these incredible people anymore and it was all going to be over tomorrow, but it’s not. We’re going to be at this for a while and we’re going to lose some really good people and we have to fight to try and save every single life. So, chancellor, why don’t you take it from there?
Richard Carranza: (51:15)
Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I just want to say this is a devastating tragedy and Sandra was a beloved teacher at P.S. 9 and our heart goes out to P.S. 9 and that community and her family. As you said, Mr. Mayor, this is not going to be the first or the last of the beloved community members that are going to succumb to this unfortunate tragedy of a virus. This is the first teacher death that is self-reported by a family as being linked to COVID-19. We are working on a protocol to capture these kinds of informational strategies. We know the NYPD and the fire department, these are first responders that are out in the community right now serving our community. We know that our teachers are at home but serving our students. So, it’s a little more complicated for us to get those numbers.
Richard Carranza: (52:15)
The other thing is, it’s important to understand that we have to respect and recognize the wishes of families during these trying times. Some families don’t want us to publish the names of their family members that have been afflicted by COVID-19, so we want to respect the wishes of the families, but we also want to be transparent as much as possible. So, I will just say that to Sandra and family, we are just incredibly thankful for her service and we are devastated by her death. Sandra Santos-Vizcaino, we know that she’s made a lasting impact on her community and her family and we’re going to work to make sure that we are here, work with her students, and we will be there to support the family and the community of students and colleagues at P.S. 9 with this devastating news.
Bill de Blasio: (53:23)
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (53:28)
So, on the question about whether face coverings should be used for children, I would say yes and I want to go a little bit further than that. I think that in engaging children in making these face covers, I think it’s an opportunity to teach them about COVID-19 and beyond that, to really instill in them the role that these face masks play as part of our civic responsibility in ensuring not only our own health and the health of our family but really the health of our communities and that when we are sick or potentially symptomatic, it’s our responsibility to take definitive measures in order to protect those around us. So, I would really encourage parents to take this as a teaching opportunity for all of the city’s children.
Next, we have Jennifer from AP.
Bill de Blasio: (54:30)
Hello, can you hear me?
Bill de Blasio: (54:32)
Thanks very much. I was wondering whether the city has had any discussions with the federal government about the potential of switching the Javits Center and comfort facilities to take COVID-19 patients rather than only others of which there may be so many?
Bill de Blasio: (54:56)
Yes. I had that conversation with several of the admirals in the command structure. I had talked to you earlier, I talked to Secretary Esper, I talked to General Milley. So, it’s a conversation that’s been going on over the last 24-48 hours. I know we are all trying to figure out the right balance, but I think what makes sense is to … because the number one biggest community of patients we have to deal with are those who have the disease but are not in ICU. The ICU patients that are most sensitive by far, and those are the folks that are going through life and death struggle, but there’s going to be many, many more who are not in the ICU. So, I think it’s smart to say let’s use those facilities in whatever way makes sense. Whatever proportion makes sense for COVID-19 patients who are not folks who are going to be in ICUs.
Next, we have Shant from the Daily News.
Yeah. Thank you, Mayor. On the face coverings, just wanted to ask if you’re contemplating any kind of enforcement there? Is it possible there could be fines or maybe just police officers or others encouraging people to cover their faces?
Bill de Blasio: (56:19)
I’m going to start and want to certainly let Dr. Barbot add. No, I am not anticipating enforcement at this point. This is an advisory. We’re very, very clear when we’re giving you an order, when we’re giving you something that’s required in this city under our emergency. We’re very clear when something comes with penalties and when it doesn’t. This, right now, is an advisory and I would say to you, I think it will remain an advisory for the foreseeable future because we have much more important things to achieve with enforcement. Enforcement right now has to be focused on shelter in place and social distancing, ensuring that people only go out when they have to go out only for the time they need to and that there’s not gatherings, there’s not violation of social distancing. So, that’s where I want to see the enforcement go. This is about giving people some helpful advice based on new evidence we think will help protect other people.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (57:24)
I agree with that, Mr. Mayor, just to add, 11 years ago when we had H1N1, before that no one ever really coughed into their elbow and it was a huge cultural shift and now it’s the norm for most people to cough into their elbow. So, I see this as a similar sort of cultural shift, that giving new Yorkers this advice, giving them opportunities to reinforce that with their own loved ones, with their neighbors, I think will be probably the best way in which we can have an opportunity for this to really take hold and become part of the cultural shift of more civic accountability for our community’s health.
Next we have Jeff Mays from the New York Times.
Jeff Mays: (58:18)
Hey, Mr. Mayor, Dr. Barbot. Just a quick question about the masks. The CDC, I guess, is issuing similar guidance today and I’m wondering about the timeline. Dr. Barbot, did you ever think about doing this in advance? Was there a time where you thought about issuing this guidance and how much of your guidance is related to the change that the CDC is making? And for the mayor, just wondering when you talk about the guidances, can you talk about how your language, whether it’s couched in a way that tells people that this may change eventually, how do you go about doing that because there’ve been a few changes in guidance over the past few weeks?
Bill de Blasio: (59:04)
Yeah, Jeff, first of all, I just want to keep saying everyone face coverings because I want to strongly differentiate from the surgical masks, the N95s, all the things that must be protected for our healthcare workers and our first responders. So, I just want people to get a real clear line in the sand there. A face covering you can make out anything you got at home and Dr. Barbot gave you the news you can use about how you take care of it. A face mask, to me, is something that is for professionals and the people who protect us. Jeff, I think … Dr. Barbot will talk about the CDC element. Jeff, I don’t know how to say it more clearly than this, we have said from the beginning, and anyone who’s honest has said from the beginning, we’re dealing with a disease that the entire global medical community still does not fully understand. We said that back on January 24th and we’re still saying it today because it’s true.
Bill de Blasio: (01:00:02)
… Back on January 24th and we’re still saying it today because it’s true. There is no cure, there is no vaccine, and new information is coming in. I remember sitting here weeks ago when we talked about the study from China that was the most definitive study to date saying it was not airborne, it was droplets. Now these studies have come in, including in particular a study from Singapore saying, “Look, we don’t have perfect evidence, we don’t have exhaustive evidence, but we have some meaningful evidence that there could be asymptomatic transmission.” Doesn’t mean that’s what’s happening a lot. Doesn’t mean that’s happening most of the time but it’s saying something different than what we’ve seen before.
Bill de Blasio: (01:00:41)
So guidance will change, Jeff. I just want to be as blunt as I can be and I need people to understand that, that we are on a ever changing situation. And we’re used to, all of us, I understand that we’re used to a world that was very, in many ways, clear and straight forward and certainly was a lot more comfortable a few weeks ago than what we’re dealing with now, and we all strived to want everything to make sense all the time. We’re dealing with something that, unfortunately, is a bit of the great unknown.
Bill de Blasio: (01:01:12)
The honest truth is to say, “This is what we know now and we’re going to act on what we know now. And we’re going to tell you how to protect yourself and your family with what we know now. And we’re also telling you all the time, it could change if we learn something new.” That is the honest truth. Anyone who wants the perfect definition of everything related to coronavirus right now, if anyone tells you they can tell you everything about coronavirus and know it perfectly, they’re lying to you because I have not met a single person starting from Dr. Fauci who will tell you that they fully understand this disease at this point. But we’re always going to get in the information we have. When we think it’s confirmable and real, we’ll say it. When we think it determines actions we need to take, we’re going to tell you.
Dr. Barbot: (01:01:57)
Yes. And to add to what the Mayor just laid out, I have scientific advisors on staff at the health department and we have scientific advisors in the academic community, all of whom have been, since the beginning of this outbreak, really scouring the medical literature to learn as much as possible on an ongoing basis.
Dr. Barbot: (01:02:21)
And so I think this evolution of this guidance is an extension of that. And as the Mayor mentioned during his remarks, there was a study that just came out yesterday in terms of what was found in Singapore. And we put that together with a study that Dr. Daskalakis, who’s been leading the day-to-day operation of COVID-19, was actually a part of reviewing.
Dr. Barbot: (01:02:51)
So we are intimately involved in the scientific community to make sure that whatever guidance we bring to New Yorkers is based on the best science available and is done in a timely a manner as possible. Because in this fight, hours and days really make a difference.
Bill de Blasio: (01:03:14)
Next we have Sydney from the Staten Island Advance.
Hey, Mr. Mayor, can you hear me?
Bill de Blasio: (01:03:20)
So, today you made the announcement that the city’s public hospitals are going to be getting 3,000 ICU beds by May 1st, more doctors and nurses are going to be going to the public hospital system, there’s going to be free COVID testing and you keep talking about how you’re going to be adding more beds on Staten Island since it’s not part of the public hospital system and sending more supplies there.
But the only problem is these beds haven’t come online yet. You haven’t identified any sites. Staten Islands two COVID hospitals are nearing capacity. We don’t know if the beds at the two field hospitals are going to be ICU beds and the health department doesn’t disclose how many supplies it sends to local hospitals. So there’s really no way of knowing if the hospitals are getting what they need from the city.
So I just want to know is Staten Island going to be getting the ICU beds, the free COVID testing, more doctors and nurses like the rest of the hospitals? And if so, when? And do you know if the two field hospitals are going to include ICU beds or a mix of both? And since you’re on the-
Bill de Blasio: (01:04:26)
Sydney, Sydney… Wait a minute. Too many… You just got to stop there. I cannot keep track of so many different pieces and what you’ve said is very important questions. Let’s just stay on that. Our team will follow up on anything else you need. Okay.
Bill de Blasio: (01:04:40)
I think you’ve asked the question before, it’s a very important question. And this is part of a build-out plan I talked about at length yesterday, Dr. Katz talked about, every part of the city, I’m going to keep saying it to you and you will see the evidence through the doing of it. Every part of the city is going to be reached in our hospital build-out plan.
Bill de Blasio: (01:04:59)
Now remember, first on the ICU issue, because respectfully, I’m not sure you’re remembering the original plan that the city and state agree on on ICUs. Hospitals are going to be converted more and more to ICU. RUMC is going to be converted more and more to ICU with the existing beds it has. The same with Staten Island University Hospital. And all hospitals, public and private, have to have an expansion plan, a 50% expansion of their capacity within their building within their campus, again, for the purpose of expanding ICU beds.
Bill de Blasio: (01:05:37)
So I think your question suggests that we’re looking for ICU beds out of our main hospitals. That’s just not a fact. We’ve been talking about this over and over again. There’s three areas to think about and I really want people to feel this. ICU is for the people in the greatest danger, the lives that we’re fighting to save. That work will be done in hospitals, public, private, voluntary, independent, whatever words you want to use, in existing hospitals in the city. That means initially about 20,000 beds, but with the order to build-out capacity by 50%, it means almost 30,000 beds ultimately will be ICU.
Bill de Blasio: (01:06:20)
That includes every single hospital. Those two Staten Island hospitals have to do that by state mandate and I’m certain they are doing that. But what will happen every day in all sorts of hospitals is, it doesn’t matter what the ICU capacity was a month ago or a week ago, what Dr. Katz went over in great detail yesterday was how a lot of his hospitals are blowing by any numbers of ICU beds they’ve ever had and they’re expanding daily into numbers of ICU beds they never had in their entire history. Every hospital’s going to do that.
Bill de Blasio: (01:06:52)
Then there’s the question of the COVID convalescent folks, folks who have the disease but do not need ICU. And then, of course, there’s a question of everyone else who needs hospitalization for a car crash or trauma or a heart attack, you name it. So the division of labor is the hospitals, first and foremost, ICU, and then these additional facilities are being built-out, whether it’s a field hospital, whether it’s a college dormitory, whether it’s a hotel, will be for the other types of medical needs. That will be done all over the five boroughs. The goal will always be to keep people in their home community to the maximum extent possible. So, that’s how the build-out plan’s going to go.
Next. We have Bridgid from WNYC.
Hi, Mr. Mayor.
Bill de Blasio: (01:07:41)
I think the face covering guidance, I think is fair to say is going to be jarring to a lot of New Yorkers. And it’s hard to think that with some of the additional guidance including among essential activity, the ability to go outside for exercise. And so I’m wondering if you and Commissioner Barbot can speak to how much time is it really safe to be outside and when we say that now we should be doing face coverings at all times, if someone goes out for a run, should they be wearing a face covering? If someone brings their child who’s under two years old outside, are they safe without a face covering? The CDC’s recommendations are expected to be not for children that young to wear them?
Bill de Blasio: (01:08:36)
So, I’ll start and pass to Dr. Barbot. Again, Bridgid, the first thing we’re saying is, this is based on new information. The second thing is this does not in any way replace the much more foundational protections for yourself. To protect yourself is the washing the hands, the hand sanitizer, the way you take care of your own hygiene. Obviously protecting other people, too, with the way you cough and sneeze the right way, the social distancing, the shelter-in-place are about protecting yourself and other people. The face covering’s about protecting other people.
Bill de Blasio: (01:09:14)
So I really want to make clear, that’s what the studies are telling us. It’s not that the face coverings will miraculously keep the disease from reaching you in your life. It’s about making sure if you happen to be affected by this disease, even if you don’t know it, that you’re not going to inadvertently spread it.
Bill de Blasio: (01:09:33)
So I think you’re right, it will be in one way jarring. But I will also say to you, Bridgid, again, I got to say this honestly, I think there’s a disconnect that I see and I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone, I think the media’s job is to look at the problems, look at the challenges, portray what people are feeling and their fears. But I also think what I’m seeing is everyday New Yorkers are making extraordinary adjustments.
Bill de Blasio: (01:09:59)
Everyday New Yorkers are incredibly resilient people. I have been through everything with my fellow New Yorkers, 9/11, and Sandy, and everything. What I constantly see is, I never fault the media for talking about the pain or the difficulty or the anxiety or the fear, but then what I see in everyday people is much more of the resilience and much more of the sense that they’re going to find a way to get through and they have to find a way to get through and they’re going to make those practical adjustments and they just go on with their lives. That’s who new Yorkers are. Even after terror attacks, people go right back to business.
Bill de Blasio: (01:10:34)
So, this has been extraordinary and more difficult and more painful in many ways and more jarring. But I still think people can keep up with these changes. They’ve been doing it. We’ve seen a hell of a lot of compliance with the new rules that have been put out. I think people are… To some extent you’ve got to respect everyone’s definition, but I think the definition is pretty clear in the end. It’s like if you go outside, you go outside for enough time to do your shopping, get your medicines, the basics you got to do, get some exercise. Get done what you need to get done and get back inside. And that’s what I see people doing. So I think what you’re going to see in the coming days is more and more people in face coverings doing exactly the same things.
Dr. Barbot: (01:11:20)
I agree, Mr. Mayor. It is a message that we have been conveying to New Yorkers in terms of the physical distancing, in terms of all of the other preventive measures over the last couple of weeks. And yeah, I think each time we’ve given new guidance, it’s another thing that people have needed to get adjusted to. But like the Mayor says, I think New Yorkers are incredibly resilient and adaptable and people have been rising to this unprecedented situation.
Dr. Barbot: (01:11:53)
And so with regards to face covering, it’s not so much the time but the physical space. And so I would focus on ensuring that even with a face covering, people are adhering to the six foot distance. And in the past, we’ve also said that if a parent and their child go out, we’re not expecting the two of them to adhere to a six foot distance because they’ve already been in close quarters. And then to answer the question about whether someone should wear a face covering during exercising, the recommendation would be again, if they’re able to keep six feet of distance between themselves and everyone else, there’s no need to wear a face covering.
Last two for today. Next up is Henry from Bloomberg.
Hello, Mr. Mayor, can you hear me?
Bill de Blasio: (01:12:50)
How are you doing?
Bill de Blasio: (01:12:52)
Good. How are you doing man?
Okay. My question is whether or not you knew whether this company in Texas that’s going to be building out these temporary hospitals is also building the Mexican wall at the border?
Bill de Blasio: (01:13:10)
Yeah, I heard that after, I think we did the event with them a couple of days ago and then the next day I heard it. I don’t agree, obviously, with what the President has done with the border wall. I think it’s a mistake, I think it’s a waste of money. But I also think all the soldiers involved in anything involving the building of the border wall should be at the front fighting coronavirus, I’ve said that before.
Bill de Blasio: (01:13:35)
But it’s immaterial to me, honestly. If the company was doing that work on a federal contract, I know they’ve done disaster relief work and set up shelters after hurricanes. I’m not really worried about which federal contracts they’ve had previously. I only want them to create hospitals for us here in places like the Billy Jean King Tennis Center and the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Right now what I care about is, are they going to help save New Yorkers lives? The answer is, yes.
Last for today, we have Jeff Colton from City and State.
Jeff Colton: (01:14:09)
Hey, Mr. Mayor, there’s a ice cream truck in the background. Sorry about that.
Bill de Blasio: (01:14:13)
Okay, that’s a good thing. That’s a positive sign, Jeff.
Jeff Colton: (01:14:17)
Absolutely. Just wondering that in the previous months you were really worried that the state would try and balance the budget on the back of the city. Have you had a chance to review the state budget yet? And do you think the city is getting screwed?
Bill de Blasio: (01:14:29)
Well, thank you for your clear question, Jeff. I have been worried about that and I was worried about that, obviously, in normal times, and we’re not in normal times. Look, I think the most important thing that happened in Albany was that because of the actions federally to support states and cities with the Medicaid money, and I give a lot credit to Senator Schumer for that, the state was able to take that money and tide itself over and then what we need to focus on is that fourth stimulus and making sure that that really helps states and cities fully address their lost revenue and fully address the extraordinary expenses that we have from coronavirus.
Bill de Blasio: (01:15:15)
So that, to me, is really the essence of what happened. That’s the big story and the big next step will be the stimulus, getting that done. Look, there’s some cuts in there I don’t like one bit. We’re still touting them up, but we don’t have another a hundred million to give, for example to Access-A-Ride, and I’ve expressed real concerns about how that program is managed. I would like to have clearer goals for reform of that program before we end up being put in a situation where we have to spend a lot of money.
Bill de Blasio: (01:15:50)
But the governor and the legislature, in their wisdom, did what they did. We will deal with it. I think in a perfect world, it would have been the state holding the city harmless. We were not held harmless but we will live to fight another day. That’s the way I look at it. Okay, thank you everybody and we will have more updates for you soon.