Apr 21, 2020
Bill de Blasio NYC COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 21
Bill de Blasio held a New York City coronavirus briefing on April 21. He said NYC will honor coronavirus heroes with ticker-tape parade. Read the full transcript here.
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Mayor Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
… got some important things to talk to you about today, and really what it comes to is understanding New York City, understanding who we are, understanding how we confront the challenges we face in normal times, but even more so in a time of crisis. There’s something about this city that when the going gets tough, just the best comes out in people. I’ve said before, but it bears saying again. This is a city where people make things happen. Folks don’t shirk from a challenge. They meet it and then they go farther than they ever thought they could. It is part of who we are. It’s in our blood as New Yorkers. There’s a reason we are known as this great capital of entrepreneurship and creativity and ingenuity. It’s been proven time and time again over generations and it’s certainly been proven in the middle of this crisis.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:01)
I’ve seen amazing things, and no one for a moment can underestimate how much pain there has been, how much loss there has been, but that has not stopped New Yorkers from doing things big and small to make a difference, and to fight back and approve that nothing and no one and no disease will ever stop us. New Yorkers, by our nature, we’re resilient, we’re tough, and we know how to take care of ourselves. Now, I think it’s a time in our history where we’re learning an important lesson about how self-sufficient we’re going to have to be going forward. We have watched in these last few weeks when we called for our federal government to help us, sometimes we got an answer; sometimes we didn’t. When we went out on the open market internationally even, trying to find the things we needed to protect our people, sometimes they were there.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (02:00)
A lot of times they weren’t, so what we’re seeing right now are the profound limits to a globalized world. We were all told how many things would come from globalization that in theory are going to help us. We’re starting to see the things that don’t help us at all, in fact, have made our lives tougher because so many of the things we need, the medical equipment, the medical supplies aren’t even made here, not only in New York but in the United States anymore. That’s left us vulnerable and we New Yorkers are learning that lesson and we’re not going to be fooled again. We’re going to be ready. We know we have to protect ourselves and we know we have to be ready for whatever comes next. Now I got to tell you, even though it feels like this has been going on for months and months, it’s only been six or seven weeks we’ve been in the thick of this.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (02:50)
What’s happened in those six or seven weeks is absolutely remarkable. New Yorkers creating products that we didn’t make here at all, New Yorkers coming together to do things to protect our heroes, our healthcare workers, our first responders out of love, out of a deep, deep concern for those who protect all of us. That compassion didn’t just come out in words. It came out in deeds. We have seen amazing progress in just a few weeks. I’ve taken you to some of those places to see the face shields being made in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I showed you the surgical gowns also being made in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, but now more and more parts of the city are coming into the game to help out. More and more companies are doing remarkable things. I talked to you a few days ago about the fact that when we found, despite every attempt, we found we couldn’t get the test kits we needed from the federal government.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (03:46)
We couldn’t purchase them anywhere in the quantities we needed. We said, “We’re going to make them right here,” and you’re going to be seeing the results of that in just days. It has been a remarkable journey against a very painful backdrop, but now today I want to tell you about another important step. It has a lot to say with how we will protect ourselves now, but it also says a lot about how we will protect ourselves in the future. Today I want to talk to you about ventilators. You see one here. We’re going to get a little demonstration in a moment, but as you can see immediately, this is not a simple piece of machinery. This is something complex. This is something challenging to make. Nothing like this was being made in New York City just two months ago, even one month ago. Nothing like this was being produced here, but extraordinary entrepreneurs came together for the good of all New Yorkers and said, “We can do it.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (04:46)
We can do something, whether it’s seems possible or not, we’re going to find a way. I want to take you back just to remind you. Just a few short weeks ago, and I used that specific day, Sunday, April 5th was the day where we felt, based on every projection, based on all the evidence that we were going to be at a point where we might run out of ventilators. The number of people who needed them was growing every day and it was a very fearful time. Supplies were running short. We needed answers. At that moment, it looked like we could get to a point where there might not be that ventilator needed for the next patient. Thank God, right around then was when things started to improve, and it’s all because of everything you have done, all of you, the social distancing, the shelter in place, all of the things that have been making a difference.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (05:40)
Today we can say that thank God we have the ventilators to get through this week. We have the ventilators for the immediate future, but as recently as the first days of April, the numbers were staggering. Approximately 220 more New Yorkers each day, more each day, needed a ventilator. That’s what it looked like at the beginning of April, and that’s when this valiant effort was going full bore to make sure that ventilators would be available and would be ready if they needed to be pressed into emergency service, these homegrown ventilators. This is the epitome of that kind of wartime production model, people coming up with an idea and making it happen because if it hadn’t been for these ventilators being ready, we might have been in a situation where there would not have been one for someone. By April 10th, we were still seeing an increase in the number of people needing them each day, 75 day, but it was slowing, thank God.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (06:39)
Now today it’s actually leveled off, and we hope to see a situation where it really declines consistently, the need, each day. But having gone through that terrifying moment, I can tell you I am determined to make sure that New York City never ever is in a situation in the future where we need ventilators and we can’t get them. We have to protect our people. These bridge ventilators that have been created are part of what will protect us now and into the future. This is something we now have that can never be taken away from us. This is something we make here, that there’s no one else in the world can deprive us of. We are now increasingly self-sufficient. We got a long way to go, but this is a remarkable achievement. You’re going to hear from some of the people who made it happen. I want to tell you these ventilators right now, ready to go, being moved into hospitals so they will all have a reserve that need them, FDA approved, and I want to thank the FDA. I want to take a moment. I always try and give credit where credit is due. Dr. Steven Hahn and his remarkable team at the FDA, I spoke to him several times. I know Dr. Mitch Katz did as well from Health + Hospitals. They moved this process in record time, and I really want to give them credit. FDA is not historically known for speed, but they have in this crisis really stepped up, and they were tremendous partners in getting this ventilator approved and ready. Now this story, again, it is about making something out of nothing, and that is a New York tradition doing remarkable things against the odds. There’s three guys who deserve particular credit.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (08:21)
Scott Cohen of New Lab, Marcel Botha of 10XBeta and Charles Boyce of Boyce Technologies, these individuals had a remarkable civic spirit, a remarkable desire to get something done. I want to give special credit to Charles because he also was one of the driving forces behind making those face shields that right now, when you see them out there in our communities, in fact, just yesterday I was in Staten Island, deliveries of PPEs were being made to Rumsey, to the hospital in Staten Island. There were those a Brooklyn Navy Yard face shields being delivered. That made me very, very proud to be there with those delivery workers, seeing the response from all the healthcare workers to that help coming. A special thanks to Charles for being a part of both these efforts. When we think of this city, we think about chutzpah and we think about the incredible verve, the drive, the ability to do something no matter how brash or unlikely.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (09:24)
Literally people who are part of this effort had to say himself, “Hey, we’ve never made a ventilator before. We’re going to have to figure out how to do it, and then we’re going to have to figure out how to produce thousands of them.” If you talked about a normal timeline to try and create a brand new product like this, you’d think it would take a year. You know what they said? They said, “We have to do it in a month or less,” and they went and did it. They put together a team, an extraordinary New York City team of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, physicians, folks who knew the regulatory system, all sorts of folks who work together, nonstop work literally around the clock, 24 hour efforts over the past three weeks, and they got it done. What do these bridge ventilators do? What they mean is when someone needs that urgent help, that ability to breathe without which they simply won’t survive, these bridge ventilators are there, keep someone alive.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (10:26)
They can play different kinds of roles. They can buy time to keep a patient alive who might need a more elaborate kind of help from a full service ventilator. They can help to stretch out the capacity of the hospital so that, as they’re getting more of those full service ventilators available at any given moment, they buy time to save lives. They also work with a number of different kinds of cases where there are less severe issues, but that people need that help breathing. There’s many things they do. To make this possible to save lives, to make sure we can be self-sufficient, we, the city of New York, made the decision to work with these companies to help coordinate their efforts, to work with the FDA on the approval, but also to make clear that we would fund the effort.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (11:15)
We placed an order for 3000 of these ventilators, a $10 million order. That raises a crucial point that what these extraordinary New Yorkers did was not only create a great product and a necessary product, but a product that was affordable, over $3,000 for each ventilator. That compares to 40 or $50,000 or more for a full service ventilator. This means that we have a ready reserve in the event that this crisis continues, or God forbid, this disease becomes stronger. It means we’re in a position to protect ourselves and to help others who may need our help, but it also is now the beginning of something much bigger that will help frame our future. Today, I’m announcing that we’re going to create a New York City strategic reserve. We have learned the hard way that we cannot depend on the federal government in the future.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (12:10)
I hate saying that, but I think it’s quite evident. We certainly cannot depend on the global market. We can’t depend on our nation to produce products that tragically are not being produced enough in this nation, as we’ve seen in our hour of need. I hope that will change. I hope our country gets the message that we have to start producing these things all over the country again and be self-sufficient as a nation. But until that day comes, New York City, we will protect ourselves. With the leadership of the Economic Development Corporation and working with our healthcare leadership, we will create our own reserve. We will take the production that’s now been created in those four areas, the face shields, the surgical gowns, the test kits, and now the ventilators. We’re going to create a ready supply of those, so we’ll always have enough in the future. We’ll purchase what we need and create a stockpile, so we will never be in a situation where we turn to those who are supposed to supply this and they say, “Sorry, we’re all out.” We New Yorkers will take care of ourselves.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (13:14)
Now, I have to say this all was created from scratch. I remember the day I first went to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and I saw those face shields being made by hand. There’s no machinery. It was all by hand. It reminded me that people would do whatever it took. We’ve seen it now, four whole different kinds of products being produced in large quantities, protecting our healthcare workers, saving lives. This is our future, to be able to take care of ourselves. Now that we figured out we can do these things, whatever we need in the future, we can use as a blueprint to build more and different supplies and equipment, whatever the occasion may be, whatever the challenge may be.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (13:54)
I also want you to know that in the process of these good people figuring out how to create this ventilator, they found out that there was a lot of interest in this ventilator from hospital systems and absolutely in other parts of the world as well. In fact, there will be a market for hospitals and for parts of America and other countries that need lower cost ventilators. This has started to open up a new possibility of getting people help who aren’t getting it right now because the cost is so prohibitive, and any of our fellow cities and states that need help, our reserve will be there to help them just the way they’ve helped us. We’ve been so appreciative to other states, other cities that have stepped up to help New York City. Any of them that need our help in this crisis, we will be there for them because we will have a reserve that’s available and that we can depend on.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (14:49)
You’re going to hear a little more in a moment about these ventilators, but let me give you a couple of other updates first because we know, and this is part of why we want these reserves, we know we’re not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination. We’ve got a lot more to do. We also know that the impact of this disease is being felt right now. Still too many people dying. Too many people going into the hospital right now. Too many people going into the ICU right now because of COVID-19. This fight is raging, and it’s raging especially in the parts of the city that have been hardest hit, that have unfortunately had the worst disparities, the biggest burdens, the least healthcare available historically, and that means our communities of color and our immigrant communities, our lower income communities. We need to fight back and we’re going to do that in a lot of ways.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (15:39)
We’ve talked about all the community outreach. We’re going to do the telehealth programs, everything we’re going to do to reach people, but obviously it also will take more and more testing at the grassroots level. We, as of yesterday, had five community-based sites opened in some of our hardest hit neighborhoods. Those sites will be performing 3,600 tests this week, so they’re all up and running. I’ll go over them in a second, but they will do 3,600 tests this week. Next week we’ll add five more sites in hard hit areas. We will get that total up to over 7,000 tests per week, and we’re going to keep growing from there if we can get the supply of testing we need plus the PPEs and the personnel. We’re going to keep going farther and farther with the grassroots testing where it’s needed most. The five centers are now open in Brooklyn, and they’re all Health + Hospitals, I should say.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (16:28)
The Gotham Health Center in East New York and the Bronx; the Gotham Health Center in Morrisania; in Staten Island, the Vanderbilt Health Center; in Manhattan, the Sydenham Family Health Center in Harlem, in Queens, at Queens hospital, the testing center there. All of these are walk in sits, so I want to emphasize anyone from the community, and these are targeted to the immediate community, you can walk up. We are prioritizing people who are 65 years old or older and who have those preexisting conditions that we’ve talked about so much, those serious conditions that put people in danger. Please, if you meet those criteria, if you are someone who is in a particularly vulnerable situation, we want to get you tested. Go to one of those centers, walk up. That testing is starting, is started, I should say, has started, is available today, and then more will be announced next week.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (17:27)
Now I want to talk about what we do every day, looking at the indicators that tell us where we are. I keep telling people it’s going to be a long battle. We want to see them all moving in the right direction. It’s not always going to work that way, but it doesn’t change anything about how we approach this. We keep fighting, we keep sticking to what’s working and we will see progress, and overall we have. Even though these indicators have not been everything we wanted to be, we definitely see some real movement and that’s really good news. First, the daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19, that went down from 212 to 204; that’s good news. The number of people in ICUs across our Health + Hospitals facilities for suspected COVID-19, that went up, but by very little from 853 to 857. The percentage of people tested positive for COVID-19 also went up, but again by very little, from 34% to 35%.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (18:23)
The number of people who tested positive through our public health lab tests went down from 67% to 63%. Again, you see some progress with some areas going up. They’re only going up by a little. Overall, we are seeing definite progress, not everything that we’re looking for to get to the point where we can relax some of the restrictions, but definite progress for sure. Keep doing what you’re doing, New Yorkers. It is working. Just let’s keep with it. It’ll take some time, but we can do it. Now, I always want to offer my thanks to anyone and everyone who stands up for New York City, and today we’re talking about great-
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (19:03)
One in everyone who stands up from New York City and today we’re talking about great stories of New Yorkers doing things for their fellow New Yorkers, but also a lot of the time people have come to our aid so we could help ourselves. And I talked to you about surgical gowns yesterday. This is our toughest situation right now with PPEs and it got to the point where we couldn’t get, it was just quite clear that the global market isn’t functioning right. No matter what you try, you can’t get the kind of supply that we need. But we said, okay, if we can’t get the gowns ready-made can we get the fabric.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (19:32)
I mentioned yesterday we worked with the White House, particularly with Peter Navarro and his team who have been fantastic, and they put us in touch with leaders in the textile and garment industry who have been really helpful. A special thank you to Kim Glass, who’s one of the leaders in industry who has been giving us great help. They connected us to a healthcare supply company, Owens and Minor in North Carolina and they went to bat for us. A special thank you to Chris Lowery and everyone at Owens and Minor. I was on the phone with them several times.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (20:02)
They have already delivered in a matter of days they produced and delivered to New York City, one million square yards of American made fabric and I want to emphasize what a refreshing reality this is, that we’re not searching for something in another country that may or may not let us have it. This is American made fabric, waterproof fabric that we can turn into surgical gowns. So one million square yards already here. That will create enough for 400,000 more surgical gowns and I have an update on the day by which they will all be produced.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (20:33)
They will all be ready and done by May 10th and that production is going to be expanding constantly as we create more and more of these gowns in New York City. Special thank you to folks at UPS, Laura Lane and everybody at UPS. They jumped in immediately to make sure that the delivery from North Carolina 570 miles away, and it happened the second that the fabric came off the assembly line, it came to New York City in record time. So incredible team effort to help us help ourselves and we’re very, very appreciative. Want to say one more thing before I close, we gathered today and normally if our society was functioning as normal, there would be a very solemn remembrances today because it’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (21:20)
There’d be solemn ceremonies, moments to reflect and not just for the Jewish community and our Jewish brothers and sisters, but for everyone to learn the lessons of the Holocaust, to think about what it means and to always gain strength from the incredible examples of people who fought their way through. One of the most painful realities of these last weeks is some of the people we lost to the coronavirus were Holocaust survivors. Think about that. They lived through one of the greatest atrocities in human history and then succumb to the coronavirus.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (21:57)
We have to learn a lesson from all of them, even those we’ve lost and certainly from those who still survive. And I have met so many of them, particularly in Brooklyn in areas I used to represent in the city council where I constantly would meet people who would tell me their stories of fighting through and surviving the Holocaust and it was extraordinarily inspirational. We got to realize that there are people right now in our city who stared down unspeakable evil, who dealt with unthinkable pain and terror and overcame it and fought through it and decided that they would not only survive, but they would create a new life with new families, new hope.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (22:39)
They would sustain their people, their beliefs, their faith, and they did it. And some of those stories, when you’re talking to some of these individuals, you are humbled. I am humbled. I know it because it reminds you of the greatness that’s possible in each of us and what those who have gone before have done and it inspires us. So we need to endure right now. We need to overcome and we need to learn from all of those who went before, but particularly those extraordinary noble Holocaust survivors. They’re teaching us a lesson right now that we should take to heart in this moment.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (23:17)
Lastly, you know the last days, I’ve made it a point to be very straightforward, very honest with all New Yorkers, with all of you about what we face, the fact we have a long battle, the things we can do and the things that we can’t yet do. It was no fun to have to tell you that May events had to be canceled and then June events had to be canceled, including some of the events we love the most each year, we cherish, we look forward to. It’s no fun to tell you, you have to keep social distancing and staying home, but it’s the right thing to do and you’re doing it again with extraordinary ability.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (23:56)
We had to say that those things couldn’t happen, those parades, those concerts, those street fairs. We had to. I had to say, it just isn’t time for them yet. There’s still too many unknowns. There’s still too many threats. There’s a lot we don’t know, but there’s one thing we do know for sure, the day is coming when this city will fight our way back, when this city will get back to normal. The day is coming when we will overcome this disease. The day is coming when I’m going to be able to tell you, we can gather again. The day is coming when I’ll be able to tell you, in fact, we will be having the concerts and the street fairs and the parades again.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (24:39)
But I want to guarantee you one thing that when that day comes that we can restart the vibrant, beautiful life of this city again, the first thing we will do is we will have a ticker tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes for our healthcare workers and our first responders. We will honor those who saved us. The first thing we will do before we think about anything else is we will take a time as only New York City can do to throw the biggest, best parade to honor these heroes. And many, many great heroes have gone down that Canyon to be appreciated and loved by millions of New Yorkers.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (25:24)
But I think this will be the greatest of all the parades because this one will speak to that rebirth of New York City. This one will speak to a kind of heroism that is intrinsic to who we are as New Yorkers, to our values, to our compassion, to our strength, our resiliency. This parade will mark, I should say. This parade will mark the beginning of our Renaissance, but it will also be most importantly a chance to say thank you to so many good and noble people, so many tough, strong people. They’re fighting right now and they have to keep fighting and we have to keep supporting them and showing them our love and appreciation.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (26:08)
But one day we will be able to start back on the road and we will honor them as they deserve and that will be a beautiful and joyous day in this city. Everyone, I want to just say a few words in Spanish and then I’m going to turn to one of our heroes of this great ventilator effort, Scott Cohen, and he’s going to talk about how this amazing effort came together. [inaudible 00:07:39]. With that in the spirit of doing for ourselves and protecting ourselves, a man who had tremendous vision and I just want to say what an amazing thing to look what’s happening around the world and say, wow, we need ventilators.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (27:37)
How about we create our own? What an amazing spirit, how much creativity he and his colleagues had, but that will to get it done and that tirelessness not waiting for one hour and not resting for one hour until the job got done. So my great pleasure to introduce the co-founder new lab and the lead for the Emergency Ventilator Response Initiative, Scott Cohen.
Scott Cohen: (28:05)
Thank you. Thank you, Mayor. Appreciate that.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (28:08)
Thank you, Scott.
Scott Cohen: (28:08)
Yeah. A few words about …
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (28:11)
Scott Cohen: (28:12)
… The journey we’ve been on. Well, I just really wanted to say that we really wouldn’t be here today without the partnership with the city. Really early on when Marcel and Charles Boyce from Boyce Technologies and Marcel Botha, who’s on the end here, from 10XBeta, who’s been a founding member of New Lab since the very beginning. We all started talking about the resources we had around us and the engineers and roboticists and inventors that were around New Lab, the engineers and experts over at Boyce Technologies.
Scott Cohen: (28:50)
And we all started talking very, very early on at the impetus that was actually another New Lab member who was watching what was going on in Italy, he was Italian, and asked us could we help Italy. And we really started thinking about it and we weren’t sure, both Marcel and I were quite skeptical whether we could do something like this. But then when it started coming to New York, we were like, well we have to, we have to lean into it. And so the three of us came together and then very early on, we reached out to James Patchett at the EDC.
Scott Cohen: (29:19)
We let him know what we were thinking about and that we really needed to know there was some sort of partnership with the city because this was a very risky and fluid endeavor. I don’t think we ever knew at any given instance whether we were going to get this done in the timeframe that we set out to, but we all navigated through it. And I mean there were really, I’d say, hundreds of people involved in this effort. There were engineers from New Lab and from Boyce. There were engineers that reached out from other communities in Silicon Valley.
Scott Cohen: (29:55)
There were engineers from MIT up in Boston that were shuttling down to New York to help us work on the software for the device. And so I do think this is about the agility of New Yorkers, but it’s also about the inventiveness and commitment of Americans coming together and the type of training that’s happening in our engineering schools around this country that I think is really paying off for us. So, I’m grateful for the city and grateful that we have the benefit of having the city invest in New Lab years and years ago. And I don’t think any of us knew where we’d be today, but it’s an asset.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (30:39)
I just want to ask, I know our colleagues in the media will ask questions in a second, but to all of you, there is an audacity to saying we’re going to make something we never made before and not even close to making before and to do it on this timeline. And you said at first there was doubt understandably. What helped you overcome the doubt?
Scott Cohen: (31:04)
I just think we all really felt this was something that had to be done and I think there were different moments. I mean one moment was when we had something that looked like it was working and all the critical care physicians came down with folks from the EDC to look at where we were and give us kind of some input and they sat with Marcel and all the engineers and gave feedback. And just seeing what they were going through and seeing how this was a glimmer of light for them gave us a real charge, gave all the engineers a real good boost when they were exhausted to push on.
Scott Cohen: (31:39)
And I also think that’s what engineers do all the time. That’s what everyone, that’s what Marcel’s group at 10XBeta does. We walk up to his studio all the time with a napkin sketch and say, you think we can build this thing? That’s not something that is a … That’s not a new thing at New Lab. That’s something we do every day. So I think we all felt this was possible. I also really appreciate the fact that in 2010 a group of engineers led by Dr. Slocum at MIT were thinking about building a low cost ventilator that could address this kind of problem in the developing world.
Scott Cohen: (32:16)
And I don’t think they realized that it could have such a service to New Yorkers and to this country at the time. But when we were searching around the internet for like what would be something that could be responsive, we found what they’d worked on 2010 and a close friend of ours Saul Griffith on the West Coast weighed in with us and said, yeah, I think that’s the one. We all kind of triangulated on that device and then we reached out to the folks at MIT and I think they had started mobilizing three or four days before and then it became a round robin of sharing and kind of cooperative competition between lots of engineers.
Scott Cohen: (32:50)
And so they were really amazing and I think whenever we hit roadblocks, we’d call other folks at MIT. When they’d hit roadblocks, they’d call us. We built some hardware devices for them that they brought back up there. So it was a lot of real kind of competitive cooperation between a lot of really smart people.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (33:10)
I love that. And it reminds me of things we’ve seen in different movies of folks racing against time to come up with some solution. But this is real life. This happened here and now. And the fact that you are so inspired when you heard from the healthcare professionals what they were trying to do and the people they were trying to save and that moved you to even higher levels of inspiration and action. I mean, that’s very, very powerful. And I got to have to thank you so deeply for sticking with it no matter what. And I want to see, Marcel or James, if you want to add, you’re more than welcome.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (33:47)
We appreciate so much.
Marcel Botha: (33:49)
Yeah. Excuse me. Thank you. Yeah. I think all of us were sort of I think intimidated by the complexity of a full scale of ventilator six weeks ago. And then four weeks ago we realized that, listen, put that aside, find a solution. And I think that the beauty of this bridge ventilator is that it replaces a hand that’s squeezing an ambu bag or a resuscitator bag. That’s an existing process in the clinical care stack. And what we learned in the last four weeks is that the hand is a very complex neuro skeletal muscular system trained by a brain.
Marcel Botha: (34:32)
So we tried to replace all of that, not just the mechanical function and that’s why this sounds head and shoulders above most other bridge devices out there.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (34:42)
Well done. Well done. James, you want to add?
James Patchett: (34:45)
I’ll just say Scott described it well. It was a process where there were a lot of days of doubt. There were moments where I would call Mitch, Dr. Katz at the Health and Hospitals and say, how soon do we need these? Do we need these tomorrow? And he said, I have five more days. You have five more days. And then I would call Scott and say, okay, we have five more days to perfect this device. And it was a day in day out thing. And fortunately the day never came where Mitch said we need these tomorrow.
James Patchett: (35:12)
But it was a constant process where they were working to make the device better and better to be more functional every day while we were watching the clock. And there were times I think when all of us felt like this would never come together and it’s just an inspiration now to see this device here working, to have seen it at hospitals already with doctors in clinical care settings. So it’s a tremendous inspiration to see these folks and the team at EDC, frankly it’s a team of over 20 people who a month ago didn’t know what a peep valve was and today can tell you all about the different components that are necessary to construct a device.
James Patchett: (35:48)
And we’re just honored to be a part of this team. And I think it’s an inspiration and just as you said, an example of what it’s possible for New Yorkers to do when they believe in something. We have an amazing creativity in this city and it’s amazing to watch.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (36:02)
Thank you and well done, James. You and your whole team at EDC and all our colleagues who did this amazing work and please thank your teams and all those folks who spent all those long hours and everyone they consulted with. It was an extraordinary group effort. So the fact is to the point James made that I was on a number of those calls with Dr. Katz too, and it really was coming down to a matter of days and we even thought at one point it would come down to a matter of hours whether the next ventilator would be ready.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (36:31)
This ventilator had it been needed on an emergency basis would have gone into action during the week of April 6th because it would have been literally a matter of without it lives would have been lost. So this effort succeeded on that kind of wartime footing. They were ready at the moment where there would have been no other choice. This machine would have been ready. And that’s an amazing testament to the work that folks did, but also thank God it did not come to that moment. But I remind everyone again, not out of the woods by any stretch.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (37:07)
We’re dealing with, I always say, a ferocious enemy in this disease. So it is something that gives me a little relief on behalf of all New Yorkers to know we will now have that reserve in place to protect us no matter what is thrown at us. With that, let’s turn to our colleagues in the media and please let me know the name and the outlet of each reporter.
Speaker 1: (37:29)
Hi all. Just a reminder that we have James Patchett, President and CEO of the EDC, Scott Cohen, co-founder of the New Lab, and Marcel Botha, CEO of 10XBeta here in person. And we also have Dr. Katz of Health and Hospitals, President and CEO of Health and Hospitals on the phone. So with that, I will start with Matt Chase from Newsday.
Matt Chase: (37:52)
Good morning, Mr. Mayor. I’m wondering, what have you told the NYPD to do to address the increased rate, excuse me, of speeding motorists? What benchmarks have you established-
… of speeding motorists. What benchmarks have you established and are you satisfied that those benchmarks are being met?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (38:07)
Yeah, Matt, it’s a good question because obviously, look, I want to start at the beginning of this. To all my fellow New Yorkers, look, I know there’s a lot fewer cars on the road. I understand the temptation people have. They think, “Oh, there’s no one here. I can go faster.” It’s dangerous. You have got to recognize in the middle of this crisis, this coronavirus crisis, we cannot afford another crisis, which is people speeding, getting into crashes, harming other people, harming themselves, or lives being lost. We’ve already seen some of that. We cannot have that happen.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (38:43)
The first point is, slow down. It doesn’t matter if there’s not a lot of cars on the road. You’ve got to protect yourself and others. The second point is, NYPD has been instructed to crack down, as is always the case. The NYPD has been, I think, over the last six years with Vision Zero, extraordinary in their devotion to the concepts of Vision Zero. We still need a lot of enforcement.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (39:03)
Now, let’s face it. NYPD now has multiple tasks they’re trying to undertake simultaneously. I do want to express not only my appreciation, but my understanding. NYPD is short staffed because of the number of officers who are out sick, has to deal with everything it normally deals with in fighting crime and helping people, on top of that we have the new reality of having to enforce social distancing rules and shelter-in-place on a vast scale. That’s a lot to do. We are not always going to be able to do everything to the level we perfectly want because there’s just limited numbers of officers, but definitely have said to the commissioner, “We need aggressive enforcement related to speeding. We cannot ignore the problem. We got to be present. We got to let people know there will be consequences.” That will continue and we’ll do everything we can, and as more and more officers come back well, we’ll be able to expand that further.
Speaker 2: (39:58)
Next we have Erin from Politico.
Speaker 3: (40:02)
Hi, Mr. Mayor. I have a follow-up about the ventilators and then I have a separate question. On the ventilators, how many are going to be in the strategic reserve? Is it all bridge ventilators that are going to be in the reserve or are you going to put full-service ventilators in there as well?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (40:18)
We’re going to put a lot of different things in the reserve over time. In the coming weeks I’ll detail what we intend to have and how we’re going to go about it. But this purchase of 3,000 of the bridge ventilators, that guarantees us a lot of strength going forward if we ever deal with, again, a rebound, god forbid, a rebound of this disease in the here and now or next year. But also for the future, protects us against many other challenges.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (40:51)
We definitely want to make sure we have enough full-service ventilators as well going forward, and the other items. We’ve all seen things like the N95 masks that have been absolutely crucial. I think it’s going to be a combination of what can we produce here so that we know… this will be, Erin, my preference… what we can produce here that we know we can not only have a reserve amount, but a reserve capacity to create a lot more on short notice. Then, some things I’m certain that we will have to purchase in quantity to fill our reserve, but my perfect model, the thing I want to drive toward, is a physical reserve of equipment and supplies and even more so the ability to produce here at a large level.
Speaker 3: (41:39)
My other question was-
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (41:41)
Erin, can you hear me? I want to make sure, everyone, just for consistency, just get your questions normally in our regular press conferences where there’s a different format, I tell people split it up. I just want to always say to folks basically we’re letting people do two questions up front. Just get them both up front. It’ll just make the process easier the way we’re doing things now.
Speaker 3: (42:01)
… Yeah, sure. I think I got muted. Any way, is there anything the city can do to help municipal workers who are struggling to get death certificates that they need to claim the benefits they’re entitled to? The head of two major unions has said this has become a major obstacle for those who have passed away.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (42:20)
Yeah, we have to resolve that. I don’t want to see anyone waiting who doesn’t need to wait, unless there’s a very specific reason causing the delay. Whatever, we’ve said this medical examiner, we’ve said this to health department, whatever they need in the way of personnel or support, this is such a painful moment for so many families, including our public servants. We don’t want people delayed. There are some things we’re all dealing with here that are beyond anyone’s reach because of the nature of this crisis, but anything that we can fix, anything we can do to lighten the burden, we need to.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (42:58)
On something like that, I want to see that sped up and we will make sure that happens and that anything those agencies need to do it, we will make sure they have the personnel to get it done.
Speaker 2: (43:10)
Next, we have [Ruvin 00:43:12] from Hamodia.
Hi, Mr. Mayor. While the state has banned, in most cases, banned visitors from hospitals because they don’t want overcrowding, there have been reports from hospitals across the city of neglect and patients not getting lung section properly, being found with empty oxygen tanks, taking hours and hours to get food or water. Again, some of these are confirmed, some aren’t because no one’s allowed into the hospitals. Would the city consider what some people are asking for, is allowing in some sort of outside monitors who are not on hospital’s payrolls to ensure that there is proper care?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (43:55)
I appreciate this question a lot because we understand. I think what I’m hearing, as the core of your question, is that as good as our hospitals are and our healthcare workers are, they’re also incredibly busy and stressed right now, dealing with so much. It is always helpful for family to be able to advocate for their loved ones or anybody who’s a loved one in their life, being able to advocate for them and understand that that’s been thrown off by this dynamic.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (44:25)
Let me speak to what we can do to work on that, but I first want Dr. [Katz 00:44:29] to jump in and talk about how at our public hospitals, how you are addressing that challenge, understanding that we’re trying to save lives every single hour of every single day and that comes first, but I know, Mitch, you are very sensitive to the realities of the people in someone’s life who matter to them and the important role they play in helping and protecting someone. How are you balancing that and health in hospitals?
Dr. Mitch Katz: (44:55)
Sir, it’s such a difficult question. In regular times, I advise people never go to the hospital without having a family member with you. I just think that things are complicated at hospitals and you should always have someone to advocate for you, especially when you’re sick. But these are such extraordinary times. The major reason that we haven’t been allowing visitors… and it’s not just us, it’s all of the hospitals… isn’t crowds, it’s that we’re trying to prevent transmission of the disease. We want people to shelter-in-place. We don’t want them to be in a hospital where there are a lot of people who have COVID and could transmit COVID to them. We don’t want to use extra protection equipments because we have to maintain enough protective equipment for our healthcare workers. We don’t want to introduce other people, who themselves could be COVID positive, to the hospital.
Dr. Mitch Katz: (45:55)
It has been extremely difficult. We have been trying as much as possible. We have volunteers with iPads who are connecting people to their families, which I think is a beautiful thing. But it’s been very challenging to weigh the risks of creating more infection in New York by allowing more people into a very high COVID place and trying to also be thoughtful about people’s families.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (46:28)
Thank you very, very much, Mitch. That really paints the picture on the challenge very powerfully. I think, to the question of having some kind of monitors in hospitals, I think what I’d say right now is we better make sure… and this is something we will work on with all the hospitals… that family members who are trying to get information, who are trying to advocate, even if they can’t be there in person, that there’s a way to do that the right way and to support them and to hear them while, again, recognizing what Mitch just said, that that is not the same thing as allowing people to have the access they used to have because we have to protect everybody.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (47:03)
I don’t want us to miss that that advocacy still has a place, so we will work together with the hospitals to figure out how we can do that for this circumstance in a better, clearer way and I’ll come back with an update on that.
Speaker 2: (47:18)
Next, we have Alex from Chalkbeat.
Hi, Mr. Mayor. How are you?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (47:24)
Hey, Alex. How you doing?
Good. I wanted to ask a question about school grading policies. Some other large districts have moved to no-harm policies, acknowledging that students are going to have differential access to online learning. I’m wondering why that hasn’t happened in New York City, or if that’s something that you’re considering?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (47:48)
Yeah, Alex, it’s a great question. We are considering a lot of things because we’re in the great unknown. At the time we closed the schools, it was quite clear there were so many questions to answer and that every school system in the country dealing with this has had the challenge, but we’re having it in a way that’s beyond any other school system, just because of the size and the complexity, the diversity. We’ve got to figure it out.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (48:14)
The thing we’re particularly focused on is helping our seniors who can graduate to graduate and go on to what’s next in their life. That’s been a singular focus. Obviously, with every week trying to strengthen the online learning. But we got to figure out within that what we’re doing about grading. There’s some time, obviously, to figure that out before the end of the school year, but not a lot of time. That’s something the chancellor, I know, is trying to determine with his team. We’ll come back and say more on that soon.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (48:48)
I appreciate that point you make about the no-harm approach and we’re certainly looking at that. I think right now the first focus, again, is help the seniors who can graduate, maximize the online learning, and getting those devices in the hands of kids who don’t have them yet in the next few days, and getting more of a rhythm going with the online learning. Then, we’ll definitely make sense of the grading issue and talk about it publicly.
Speaker 2: (49:15)
Next, we have [Shaunt 00:49:16] from the Daily News.
Yeah, thank you, Mayor. The fact the city is resorting to creating its own stockpile feels like a combination of the federal response to the outbreak, since the feds were supposed to maintain robust national stockpile in the first place. I was wondering if you can put the city’s strategic stockpile in the context of the nationwide pictures on supplies. Do you think other cities should emulate what New York City’s doing?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (49:46)
Yeah, Shaunt, it is a very… you said a mouthful there… it is a very sobering, telling moment when I have to sit here before you and say that New York City needs its own strategic reserve because we can’t depend on the federal government at this point. It’s sobering as all hell. It’s just not something I’m happy to tell you, but it is really, really clear.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (50:10)
This is a city that really led this nation over generations in building up the concept of the federal government that would be there to protect all Americans. Obviously, no one did it more than New York’s own Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But that idea has atrophied in so many ways. Now, we have a New Yorker in the White House who, unfortunately, is putting an exclamation point on the idea that the federal government is no longer reliable when it comes to protecting every day Americans. No place is bearing the brunt of that neglect more than New York City. It’s just unacceptable.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (50:50)
The reality… the famous phrase fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me… we’ve now gotten the point. We’ve, since January 24th, we’ve been asking for a sufficient supply of testing that we haven’t had one day where we had it. What else do we have to know to understand that going forward we have to protect ourselves. We will build what we can build here. That’s my first preference, to have the production to be right here and to make sure that we know how to turn it on rapidly for anything that we think we might need that’s viable to produce here. Then, on top of that, to buy what we have to buy. But we’ve got to have our own reserve to protect ourselves.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (51:41)
I would hate, in the future, if New Yorkers faced a crisis and turned to the federal government and they said, “Sorry, we’re all out.” Then, New Yorkers suffered, New Yorkers died because of it. We cannot take that risk, so we have to do it ourselves. I’ll just preview that when the Q and A is over, we’re going to have Scott just show us a little more about how this thing works. That’ll be our finale to give people a sense of how this amazing machine actually works, homegrown in New York City.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (52:10)
Speaker 2: (52:12)
Next, we have [Yoav 00:52:12] from the city.
Hi, Mr. Mayor. I wanted to ask about… the state is rescinding some of its orders for equipment, basically stuff that might no longer be needed, and is now giving ventilators to other states. Is the city going to similarly try to perhaps cancel? I know we need a lot more PPEs, but on ventilators, are you going to cancel any of those contracts or will those perhaps go into the reserve?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (52:49)
As far as the field-
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (52:51)
… Go ahead.
… As far as the field hospitals, do you still plan to build all the ones that you’ve announced, or might you scale those back as well?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (53:02)
The quick answer is, on the purchasing, again we do need to ensure that we’ll have enough full-service ventilators for the future. A number have come in. Some of those are going to be returned, obviously, when the crisis really is over and we’re far from out of the woods. When everything’s toted up and we know which ventilators are going to remain in New York City at the end of this process, we do need to make sure we have a reserve beyond that. We will have that as part of our strategic reserve. Obviously, the bridge ventilators as well, the 3,000. But yeah, you said it. On the PPEs, we are way far from out of the woods. We don’t have enough strategic gowns to get to the end of the week, so we’re going to have to have a really substantial supply to protect us in the future.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (53:52)
On the field hospitals, the basic reality now is the ones that are up and running will continue for the foreseeable future. The ones that are not yet built out, some may be built out and be ready in reserve and/or to be turned into isolation and quarantine centers. Remember, in most of these cases, the same building, whether it’s a hotel or some other kind of building that could’ve been used for a field hospital, can be converted to an isolation and quarantine center. We’re going to need a lot of those rooms, a lot of those beds, when we go into the next phase of really pushing back to the Zs and then lots of testing, lots of temperature checks, lots of people who if anyone is positive or symptomatic, isolating them, quarantining them, helping them get through, testing more before people come back. We’re going to need a lot of space for that. Those facilities will have more than one purpose, for sure.
Speaker 2: (54:47)
Next, we have Marsha from CBS.
Good morning, Mr. Mayor. How are you doing today?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (54:53)
Good, Marsha. How are you?
I’m okay. I have two questions for you today. First of all, there are several southern states, including Georgia, that are thinking of reopening their states. I wonder if that concerns you, if it concerns you that people from those states might come to New York City and spread more disease? Would you consider barring those people from coming into New York in order to protect New York City residents?
My second question has to do with the fact that the governor is meeting with President Trump today and I wonder if you were in that room, what you would be saying to the President today.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (55:31)
Marsha, on the first point, I am really concerned. I don’t begrudge any state or any city that has really carefully looked at their healthcare situation, seen a lot of improvement, they’ve gotten to that phase where those only a few cases and they can trace them and contain them and keep the outbreak from reasserting. Any state or any city that is certain that that’s what they’ve got, god bless them. I understand why they would then open up.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (55:57)
But if they’re wrong about that, if they’re not careful about that, then it could threaten all of their residents and then everybody else. That becomes a problem for New York City. That becomes a problem for all of the United States of America. I’m definitely concerned that you’ve heard the rhetoric from the President, liberate Michigan, liberate Virginia. That’s dangerous, in my view, because it pushes people to move whether they have the facts or not. I think the facts are what matter here. If you can prove that the disease is really under control, then start opening up more. But if you can’t prove it, don’t make a false move. Don’t take your foot off the gas.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (56:34)
In terms of the threat to New York City, that’s a real threat. I want to be careful about the notion… and this is something we would work on the state with… I would be very careful about the notion of being negative to any individual from a state. People tried that towards New Yorkers. I didn’t think that was fair. I’d be very careful about that. I think the more essential point is to push for federal leadership to work with the states to make sure they reopen carefully, slowly, and if they see anything wrong that they quickly-
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (57:03)
Carefully, slowly. And if they see anything wrong, that they quickly put some of those restrictions back on to protect all of us. We got one chance, Marcia, to restart our economy and restart our lives the right way. And if people jump the gun, we’re going to pay for it. We’re all going to pay for it. If I was in the room today with the president, I would say, “Mr. President, there’s only been two things you needed to do this whole time. One, get the testing to New York City and all the places in America that needed it. And two, help us through this horrible challenge by providing us the aid we need to get back on our feet. The cities and states that have borne the brunt, that are going through this healthcare crisis, this economic crisis, and aren’t going to be able to pay the bills, aren’t going to be able provide basic services, help us as only the federal government could do.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (57:47)
Well, Marcia, he’s got two things he really, really needed to do. The first one, he’s blown completely. The second one, he’s been silent on. And right now, we’re waiting for a word from Washington about whether that state or local aid is going to be in the current package. It’s not looking good right now. The president must speak and tell the Senate they have to do it. They have to either do it right now or do it very soon or else you’re going to see cities and states start to go bankrupt literally and not be able to provide what our people need and then you won’t have a recovery.
Speaker 4: (58:17)
Next is Roger from 1010 WINS.
Hi, good morning, Mayor. I wanted to ask you what you thought about the President’s immigration announcement and what you think the appropriate immigration policy should be during a pandemic. Should there be cuts in immigration if it threats public health?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (58:36)
Roger, I want to say, what I saw was bluntly, and very sadly, just a brazen political move by the President to introduce the question of immigration in the middle of this when he hasn’t done those two things I just mentioned. He hasn’t gotten us the testing. He’s not getting us the stimulus funding. He’s not doing his job. So he’s going to his all time favorite distraction, immigration, which he uses as a campaign weapon all the time. Remember when the caravans were all going to be coming to our towns and taking over our towns from Mexico and Guatemala. Of course, nothing like that ever happened. This is his go-to when he’s in trouble. So that’s what I think’s motivating it.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (59:14)
To the bigger issue, I respect any kind of a plan that is trying to protect us all while we deal with a pandemic. It’s an exceptional situation. An honest plan to protect us while we deal with this and get back on our feet and then resume our traditions in this country of being a welcoming, open country, that’s one thing. I don’t think that’s what he’s talking about. I think he’s talking about a political ploy, honestly.
Speaker 4: (59:40)
Next is Julia from The Post.
Good morning, Mr. Mayor and everyone else on the call. A question for you, Mr. Mayor and a question for James Patchett, who I believe you said is on the call. First for you, I’m wondering if you regret not having this bridge ventilator program going weeks earlier when we were in more dire need of the machines. And I’m wondering if they were available on April 6th, why didn’t we hear of it then? And then for James Patchett, I was looking for an update on the homegrown testing. Have any of the contracts with the universities and the private companies been signed? And if so, can you make that announcement now?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:00:23)
So Julia, on the … I’ll turn to James in a moment. I think you know our ground rule, when we have something to announce, we announce it. James will offer whatever he wants to now, but I will remind you that we’ve said those homegrown test kits will be coming in the beginning of May and that we’re going to announce the different organizations that are part of it, the companies, the universities, anyone who is part of putting that together like this amazing coalition that put together the ventilators. We’ll announce it publicly. But when we are ready and when everyone has been notified and they’re ready, that’s when we make an announcement. But to the question of the bridge ventilators again, and we’re going to do the demonstration a couple of minutes now because I know time is running short. These were ready to go into action the week of April 6th. The situation changed radically and for the better right around April 5th, April 6th, including that we got some shipments of the full service ventilators in at the last moment that we had not been able to depend on. So we didn’t need to put them into service. But if they had been needed, they would have gone immediately into service even though they were partway through the process with the FDA. And I want Dr. Katz to explain this because I think it’s hard for a nonmedical person and someone who hasn’t been here in this kind of wartime headquarters dynamic to understand just how close it got. Dr. Katz is the one that said to me, “Look, if we get to the point where it’s about saving a life, then the rules, the medical ethics are actually different vis-a-vis something like an FDA approval if it’s the only way to save a life. Dr Katz, could you explain that?
Dr. Katz: (01:02:03)
You have it exactly right, sir. And during those days, I remember every night right before going to sleep, I would be checking to make sure there were enough ventilators at every one of our 11 hospitals. And it would be the first thing I would do in the morning. Everything was about making sure that we wouldn’t run out of ventilators. In general, we like for all of our machines to be approved by the FDA. We like them to have been gone through clinical practice. And so when it turned out because you were able to secure those ventilators for us right when we were running out, we did not run out that week of April 5th. But had we run out, we would not have needed the FDA approval, we would have not needed having done the research studies to prove that it works. Physicians can always use a device to save a life. And so if there were no ventilators to use and the choice was between allowing a patient to die and placing them on a ventilator that had not yet received FDA approval or been proven in clinical studies to work, everyone would favor using the ventilator device. And so that’s why I was tremendously relieved when I knew these devices could be put into service.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:03:24)
Thank you, Mitch. And I’ll add to last point before turning to James quickly that no, I want you to understand, Julia, the notion in the beginning that we would not have a supply chain that functioned. In the beginning of March as this was going on, we thought our supply chain was holding. We also thought federal aid would be consistent. And it was really as we got into the third week in March that it became abundantly clear that something was getting worse and worse and something was going wrong. And had there been a ready supply chain and/or a federal effort to either use existing stockpiles or move ventilators around the country, which is something they could have done at any point and they never did. I kept saying, “Mobilize the military, create a national supply chain that was federally run, use the Defense Production Act properly.” None of that happened. All of that could have given us the security that we didn’t need to even think about something like doing a homegrown model. But at a point, it became clear, towards, again, the third week of March, that everything had gone haywire, that we couldn’t depend on any of the things we normally depended on. And that’s where, from my point of view, it’s like if we have to create something ourselves, whether we know how to make it or not, we got to do something. And these folks were amazing in pulling something together. And the fact is they did it so that, and we didn’t know exactly how the pieces would align, but had it been needed, it was going to be pressed into service and this ventilator would have saved lives. James, you want to add?
James Patchett: (01:05:02)
Sure. I’ll just say on your second question, we’ve made tremendous progress. We’ve had a number of our partners sign contracts with us. And we are well on our pathway to being able to meet the overall test kit obligations that the Mayor has set out for us to acquire for the city.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:05:20)
More to come on that soon. Go ahead.
Speaker 4: (01:05:22)
We’ll take two more questions today. Next we have Andrew from NBC.
Mayor, good morning. How are you?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:05:30)
Good, Andrew, how you doing?
Good, thanks. So yesterday you announced the cancellation of all the June events including Pride, which is June 28th. Just six days after that is the 4th of July. I wondered, have you already begun discussions about whether there can be any kind of fireworks watching in New York City? And can you envision that?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:05:53)
We have not begun those discussions, certainly not at my level. I’m sure our team has been talking to our colleagues at Macy’s and everyone else who would have to coordinate an endeavor that size. Hard to see it today. But that is obviously one of the most important days of the year and boy, does it speak volumes to our values and what we’re feeling as a country right now. So that one we have some time to sort out. Hard to see right now. But Andrew, we’re going to be looking at our indicators every single day to see where we’re going. And so, I’m going to reserve judgment on that for a little bit while we see what the healthcare facts tell us and just recognize that July 4th is a day like no other and want to be really thoughtful about that.
Speaker 4: (01:06:45)
Last question for today, Henry from Bloomberg.
Hello, Mr. Mayor, I hope you’re doing well. I’ve got two questions that are related. The first is how is this bridge ventilator different from a normal ventilator? My second question is a lot of the recent research and reporting on this disease suggests that ventilators are not necessarily the most effective treatment of this form of respiratory distress, that really, respiratory therapy, moving patients in bed using oxygen may be better techniques for treating this particular new disease than going to a ventilator and intubating a patient.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:07:47)
Okay. So what we’ll do is this, I’m going to turn to Dr. Katz to answer your medical question on one, what a bridge ventilator allows. And two, on whether there are alternatives that are being considered. I can say from being in the middle of this battle, I certainly think our healthcare professionals across the board believed, especially in dealing with the scale of this problem, that it was absolutely necessary to have ventilators available in quantity to keep up with the demand and keep people alive. And they have saved many a life because they had the ventilators. But Dr. Katz will answer your two questions. And then we’ll have Scott just take a moment as we conclude to show us a little more of how this works so everyone can see it. And Scott, you can just describe first in the microphone what you want to show people and then you can do that. But let’s have Mitch Katz first answer the questions.
Dr. Katz: (01:08:44)
Thank you, sir. I’ll start with Henry’s second part. So Henry is correct that as we’ve learned more and more about this illness, we know that it’s best to try to avoid intubation. It’s best to use other methods like giving people oxygen, doing aggressive respiratory therapy, using a BPAP, a BiPAP, and other methods of trying to keep people off the ventilators in part because once people need ventilators, they don’t do very well in general. That being said, no one disagrees that if somebody cannot be oxygenated through other methods, they should be on a ventilator and there is no choice. So we do everything we can to try to keep people off ventilators, but when they need a ventilator, no choice. And that has not changed anywhere in this medical picture.
Dr. Katz: (01:09:41)
In terms, Henry, of how to explain it, and I think when you see it, it will help, most ventilators work by pushing oxygen through a tube into the tube that people have placed in their mouth and then down into their lungs. So you’re essentially, the machine is blowing out, a typical ventilator is blowing out air that goes directly into the tube. This ventilator is based on a robotic squeeze of what is known as an ambu bag. When we ventilate patients, if they only need to be ventilated for short periods of time, we’ve always used what I call an ambu bag. It’s not a ventilator. Basically, you squeeze it and it pushes in the oxygen. And we’ve used this for generations. It’s a very safe and well known tool. The problem is somebody has to squeeze it. And you need a live person to do that and you need them to do it at a particular rhythm so that the inspiratory phase and the expiratory phase is the right length of time, the pressure is the right amount of pressure. So first, it would take a real human being 24 hours a day to do it. And second, they wouldn’t necessarily always get it right the way a robot cam.
Dr. Katz: (01:11:13)
And so basically, the way I look at these events is it’s a robotic ambu bag presser. It presses the ambu bag the way a human might, but it does it with much greater scientific precision. It doesn’t require a human. And the developers of this have added some amazing bells and whistles, literally bells and whistles that would tell us if the person were not getting the proper amount of oxygen through the ventilator.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:11:47)
I think that’s perfect. That’s great, Mitch. I think Mitch just gave us the narration we needed. Unless there’s anything you want to add, Scott, feel free and then show us.
Okay. Yeah. The only thing I really wanted to add was that I think what the bells and whistles that Dr. Katz is talking about, we have on here primarily because we had physicians, clinicians working with us from the very beginning. Dr. Kwon and Dr. Slocum Jr. who were working with Marcel and the engineers. And we were getting constant feedback about what physicians would want on a device like this. So they had the visibility, kind of a control panel, to understand how the device was interacting with a patient.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:12:30)
Speaker 5: (01:12:43)
Okay, it’s on. It’s good. Yeah. So you switch it on, you set your tidal volume, your respiration rate, and your inspiration, expiration ratio, and then you hit run. And then once that is going, it’s going to just be like watching paint dry. It’s going to go for hours and days. The bags themselves lasts for about three days. So we replace the ambu bag every three days. We have an inline pressure sensor that measures the respiratory or the airway pressure. So that’s one of the safety feedback loops so that you get all of that displayed on the interface on the front. If there’s any of the thresholds for safety that are surpassed, the device will show one of the relevant alarms, run airway pressure if it fails to work. Or if there’s something that obstructs it, we’ll have a mechanical failure alarm that you cannot silence. And so, it’s a minimum viable product around replacing a human hand. And it’s able to do that with a much higher rate of precision than an untrained hand, for instance.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:13:49)
Excellent. Well, thank you again to everyone. Really an amazing achievement. And as we wrap up, just to say this is New York City ingenuity at its best. This is a homegrown solution to an international problem. And it really, really inspires me. As I said, day’s coming when we’re going to really praise and appreciate and love and celebrate all the heroes of this fight, starting with our healthcare workers and our first responders. I’m going to make sure we also have a moment in that parade where we get to celebrate the folks who created these ventilators and the folks who built those face shields and the surgical gowns and all the things to protect our healthcare workers and our first responders because it’s just been an amazing effort by so many New Yorkers to help each other, to be there for each other. And that is something that one day we will celebrate like we have never celebrated before. I think the ventilator agrees with me. Okay. Thank you so much, everyone. God bless you all.