May 5, 2020
Bill de Blasio NYC COVID-19 Briefing Transcript May 5
Bill de Blasio held a New York City coronavirus briefing on May 5. He warned of a rare children’s disease with potential links to coronavirus, and went after Trump on coronavirus debt aide, calling him a “backstabbing hypocrite.”
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Bill de Blasio: (00:01)
I try to really focus on that because it’s an extraordinary story of the goodness of this city, the honor, the decency of the people of this city. And we only wish that that goodness, that decency were reflected in the way our national government sees this struggle here in New York City and understands what our people are going through. We only ask that people in Washington show a little respect for the people in New York City have borne the brunt of this crisis who have been living in the epicenter of a national dilemma, a crisis we’d never seen before, a pandemic, the worst healthcare crisis in a hundred years. There are so many ways I could describe it, but we all know what’s going on.
Bill de Blasio: (00:55)
Anyone with a heart and soul would show respect and appreciation for the people in New York City, for our first responders, our healthcare heroes, the everyday people in New York City who have fought through this and now deserve some help to get back on our feet so we can move forward. We didn’t ask for this disease, came from far away, but it has knocked us back, no fault of our own. And yet we have fought back. All we want is respect and support and a sense that we’re all in this together, but that’s not what we’re seeing coming from the White House.
Bill de Blasio: (01:33)
This morning I woke up to this. President of the United States, a former new Yorker who seems to enjoy stabbing his hometown in the back, talking about no bailout for New York. What kind of human being sees the suffering here and decides that people in New York City don’t deserve help? What kind of person does that? Well, I’ll tell you something. Every day President Trump resembles more and more Herbert Hoover, the president who ignored the Great Depression, who didn’t care to put America back on its feet, who has been now remembered in a history as someone who failed at the most basic responsibility, which is to protect the people he serves. President Trump wasn’t there for us when we needed the testing to stop this horrible disease, and now he’s talking about not helping us in our hour of need.
Bill de Blasio: (02:40)
He says in this interview, he’s not inclined to do bail outs. They gave a $58 billion bail out to the airline industry. A few years ago he gave a one and a half trillion dollar bailout to big corporations and the wealthy. So is he kidding? He’s not inclined to do bailouts now? That means he’s not inclined to help firefighters, EMT, paramedics, police officers, doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, teachers, sanitation workers, all the people who are depending right now on the federal government stepping up and making New York City and New York state and so many other cities and states whole so we can get back to business, so we can get back on our feet, so we can lead the recovery. So right there he says he’s not inclined to do bailouts. He’s a pure hypocrite given how much money he’s put in the hands of the corporations and the wealthy already.
Bill de Blasio: (03:41)
He says that it’s not fair to the Republicans because all the states that need help are run by Democrats. So now he is putting partisanship ahead of the needs of the nation. You know, I referenced Herbert Hoover a moment ago. Even Herbert Hoover in his worst moments, didn’t try and pit Americans against Americans, one part of the country against another. In a crisis, a leader is supposed to bring us together. What the president is doing is playing politics while people are suffering. He says it right out loud there. The states that need help run by Democrat … Who cares who runs the states? The people need help. There are Americans who need help right now. Do you not care about that firefighter, that EMT, that paramedic, that police officer, that healthcare worker, because they live in a state run by a Democrat, or a city run by a Democrat?
Bill de Blasio: (04:37)
Does that make them less American in your view, mister president? It’s absolutely unacceptable. We’ve never seen anything like it. The entire history of this Republic, and people won’t stand for it because we need help. We need help because people have been fighting and suffering and all we’re asking you to do is get back on our feet so we can contribute to this national recovery. There’s not going to be a national recovery without New York City and New York state and cities and states all around the country that had been hit so hard. then he says, “Florida is doing phenomenal. Texas is doing phenomenal. Midwest is fantastic.” Okay, so Texas. Here’s a letter signed by 100 mayors in Texas, Republican and Democrat both, talking about how their cities are suffering, how they need help, or they will not be able to serve their people. They will not be able to provide basic services. They will not be able to get back on their feet from the great state of Texas right here.
Bill de Blasio: (05:47)
He says, “The Midwest is fantastic.” How about this headline from the Associated Press? Coronavirus cuts deep scars through meat packing cities in the Midwest, crisis growing in Iowa and other states. I don’t know what country he’s living in, but here in the United States of America, people are hurting, and it doesn’t matter what state they’re in. It doesn’t matter if it’s red or blue. It doesn’t matter who they are. They’re hurting and they need the help of their government. And now we have the president of United States trying to back away from his responsibilities. Look, we cannot allow this to happen and we won’t allow one man to stand in the way of what the people, this city, this state, this nation need. The people rule here. The people will not stand for a government that turns its back on those who have fought heroically through this pandemic and are being looked at with great respect all over the country.
Bill de Blasio: (06:52)
I talked to the president about Elmhurst Hospital and he expressed sympathy, expressed admiration for the healthcare workers. He said, “Oh, I grew up in that area of Queens.” Well, mister president, if you respect those healthcare workers and don’t walk away from them, help them. Because those very same people who have fought this heroic battle are now the people don’t know if they’re going to have a job in the future because there’s no money left. The only place that we can get the help we need to get back on our feet is the federal government. Mister president, be as kind and decent to those healthcare workers as you were to the airline industry and the wealthy and the corporations. That’s what we’re asking. One standard for this whole country. It doesn’t matter which state, doesn’t matter red or blue. It just matters that Americans need help and they need it now.
Bill de Blasio: (07:52)
Let me bring you back right here, and even though we’ve been through so much together, you know what? I’ve really admired and appreciated that the people in the city want to do things the right way in this crisis, want to get it right once the first time. We are being guided here in this city by the facts. We’re being guided by the data, by the science, and every day I’m going over with you, with everyone, those indicators that tell us what’s happening. And you could look at them as just numbers, but I always remind you behind those numbers are human beings and families in the city. When those numbers go down, it means something is happening and it means you’re the reason why it happened, because you’re doing the right thing to make it happen.
Bill de Blasio: (08:45)
This is a story of New York City coming together in common cause, and the numbers tell you something you should be very proud of. Daily admissions for COVID-19 in our hospitals down below 100 a day now. Still too many, but tremendous progress. Fewer and fewer New Yorkers fighting for their lives in our intensive care units and our public hospitals. The percentage of people testing positive, generally going down. Not every single day, but overall going down and going down a lot. You did that. You achieved that. You get the credit and I’m sure you’re proud of it and I want you to feel the pride that causes you to want to finish this fight strong and take the next step.
Bill de Blasio: (09:36)
So as we keep fighting that fight, we don’t forget for a moment because we’re a decent city, a compassionate city. We don’t forget for a moment how many people are hurting right now. We’re still not out of it, and people are hurting. How many people have been hurt? How many families have lost a loved one or are dealing with the disease right now? How many families are dealing with the devastating impact of this crisis on their livelihoods? And you see constantly the dominoes falling in this crisis, and it’s affecting, in one way or another, millions of us. People who would literally have to ask, who maybe never asked the question before in their life, where am I going to get my next meal? People who are struggling still to get that unemployment check because their job’s not there. People are worried that their apartment may be gone, they’re worried about literally how they’re going to keep a roof over their head of their family. People own a small business and they’re worried they won’t be able to get it back on its feet.
Bill de Blasio: (10:46)
That’s what’s happening to so many people, and while we’re fighting for fairness and decency and justice in Washington, we’re helping our people right now. With all those problems, every single one I just mentioned that a family may face, where do people turn? A lot of times they turn right here to their city government and the number one way people do that is by calling 311. And 311 was created to make it easier for people to get what they deserve, to get the information and get the support, get the services and fraud is history. A lot of good has been done because of 311, it’s worked pretty well and when you see our enforcement agents go out to address a problem, you see a line at a supermarket needs to be spread out or a problem in a community, that call to 311 sparks action, whether it’s NYPD or the Parks Department or the department for the aging, getting someone a meal, whatever it is, it is the fact that a New Yorker can pick up the phone and know that something can happen and will happen.
Bill de Blasio: (11:51)
That’s the power of 311. But 311, that system we depend on has gone through an undeniable strain in these last weeks. Before this crisis, a typical day was 55,000 calls. That’s a lot of calls. The peak in April, nearly 200,000 calls a day, four times as many calls and that just exploded in a matter of weeks. 311 team did their best, but it’s been clear they need a lot more help and now we’re going to give them the help that they need to really expand what they do so more and more New Yorkers can get help and get it quickly.
Bill de Blasio: (12:32)
So we have a three part action plan to add support to 311 immediately. One, we’ve hired reinforcement call takers. This one made all the sense in the world. So many calls, more people need to take them. 285 more call takers have been added in the last two weeks. 150 are NYPD cadets. What a great training for them and how to serve and help people in a city, devoted young people ready to serve people and get them answers, get them help. 120 temporary hires, 65% of whom speak Spanish, and that’s crucial in this crisis. So many folks who speak Spanish needing help and needing that reassuring voice on the other end of the line. Also 15 FDNY employees have stepped up to help reinforce 311 and now we’ve added four new call centers because we needed more capacity.
Bill de Blasio: (13:26)
Now 311 got a lot done before the crisis, but the crisis demanded a different mindset, so we brought in leaders from the NYPD and the FDNY to really strengthen the approach of 311. To think not just about responding but about actually preventing problems, preventing emergencies. When someone needs food, if they don’t get food, there’s an emergency that’s going to happen eventually. If someone has COVID symptoms, we don’t know yet if that means they have the disease, but we do know it’s a danger that must be addressed immediately.
Bill de Blasio: (14:02)
You talk about urgency, you talk about focus, you talk about getting things done, you’re talking about the MYPD and the FDNY. So we’ve brought in a leadership group of senior officers from PD and FD and they’re bringing some very important practices with them like a morning roll call where they get everyone together and talk about what is coming in the day ahead, what they’re seeing, what happened on the last shift, what are the new topics they have to address, how they can get ahead of things proactively. Also a reliance on data and learning from the data. 311 has some great data scientists. The NYPD and the FDNY have really perfected the use of data to serve people better. So they’re bringing in that expertise to ensure if they see a spike in calls a certain hour, they see a certain problem that needs to be addressed, they’re shifting resources, shifting personnel to that problem.
Bill de Blasio: (15:03)
They’re also creating an express lane and the express lane idea is if you’re calling with something related to COVID-19, if you’re calling with a need for food, something as urgent as that goes to the front of the line gets addressed immediately. The goal here is to have little or no wait time for people who are calling about anything related to this crisis, in English or Spanish. And of course we serve people in many other languages as well. So what’s happening now at 311 is something very different to deal with a crisis we’ve never experienced before. I want to thank everyone at 311 for the amazing work you do and you’ve been strong during this crisis. I want to thank the NYPD and the FDNY for stepping in and bringing your expertise. Folks who know how to deal with emergencies and challenges better than anyone else on earth to make 311 much stronger, much faster, able to serve much better. This is something really important that’s going to help hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers right away.
Bill de Blasio: (16:10)
Now, one example. Several times, I’ve told you about the importance of our New York City small businesses, getting that federal loan program, getting the opportunity to tap into that because the Paycheck Protection Program, it’s a good thing, but what we found was the first round, a lot of money went to businesses that weren’t the most needy. The second round, the money’s going fast. We want to make sure that every New York City small business that needs those loans, and that can turn into grants eventually that every small business that needs them applied. Remember this newest round $310 billion for small businesses and a special thank you again to our Senator Chuck Schumer, Congress member, Nydia Velasquez, the chair of the house small businesses committee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They all fought hard to make sure there was more money actually for small businesses, every kind of small business in every kind of community. But now we need our small businesses to take advantage of it.
Bill de Blasio: (17:16)
You can apply. It’s first come first served, so apply quickly if you have not money could run out in the course of this week. So please apply immediately. Go to the federal website, Small Business Administration, sba.gov but the reason I bring it up now is because if you need help and you’re struggling with that application, you need answers. You need support, call 311 and our small business team will help you to complete that application and get it in immediately. There are a lot of ways three, one, one can help them. That’s a great example. Let’s help our businesses get back on their feet. So anyone out there, if you own a small business or you know anyone who does, tell them right away, fill out that application, if they need help, call 311. Now I’m going to go to a matter that really deserves attention and I want to tell you what happened here just in the last few days. And if you’re a parent, I want you to listen carefully in particular. I’m made it a point since we’re all in this together in this city, we’re all working together to protect people. When something is raised by our colleagues in the media that points out something we all need to know about or something that needs to be addressed, I’m trying to remember to say thank you. So I want to thank Melissa Russo who raised an important issue about a problem we’re starting to see and we take it very seriously. And in general we know as we’ve dealt with the coronavirus that we have not seen the same kind of impact on young people that we see on older people, particularly much older people.
Bill de Blasio: (18:59)
But something’s happened the last few days that’s beginning to concern our health department. And again, parents pay attention because it does involve our children. And I say that as a parent myself, I take this seriously. Even a few days ago we were not seeing much incidents, but now we are. 15 cases in New York City now we’ve identified, and that is enough for sure to say, even though it’s uncommon compared to the hundreds of thousands of people who have contracted this disease, is still causing us concern. So this particular condition, even though it’s rare, here are the symptoms. And again, this affects children. Fever, rash, abdominal pain, and vomiting. If your children are experiencing … Any child’s experiencing these symptoms, particularly in combination, call your doctor right away. We want to make sure that-
Bill de Blasio: (20:03)
… doctor right away. We want to make sure that if a child is dealing with this reality, they get the support that they need. We will have, in a few minutes, an opportunity to hear from our healthcare leaders who can explain in more detail, but again, when we see something, we want to identify it and tell the public about it. This is something that’s causing concern. I want to make sure all New Yorkers are aware and we’ve put out a health alert letting healthcare providers know that if they see incidents of this new condition that we want to make sure it’s reported immediately to our health department so we can identify what’s going on and how extensive it is and deal with it.
Bill de Blasio: (20:52)
Now, we all know the way forward is all about testing and we know there’s different kinds of tests, different kinds of approaches, but every test of every kind contributes to the solution. There’s still not enough testing available. There’s still not enough of the diagnostic testing that we particularly need. There’s still not enough lab capacity. The federal government is still missing in action when it comes to testing, but we do have some good news today, talked about it a few days ago, and this is a step forward and I do want to give credit when the federal government does something that helps us and I’ve done that throughout this crisis.
Bill de Blasio: (21:37)
On the question of antibody testing, I told you a few days back, we had been in conversations over the last few weeks with the Department of Health and Human Services and with the Centers for Disease Control. The focus was on antibody testing on a widespread level for our first responders and our healthcare workers. Last night, I spoke with Admiral Brett Giroir who is the head of the U.S. Public Health Service and Assistant Secretary at H&H. I’m sorry, HHS, my apology, HHS and he was abundantly clear the federal government is ready to move with antibody testing for the heroes here in New York City. Any first responder or healthcare worker who wants to take advantage of it, it will be made available for free.
Bill de Blasio: (22:27)
This initiative will be up and running by next week, maybe even sooner, but certainly by next week. The goal is to test 140,000 of our heroes and this testing will be done at hospitals, firehouses, police stations, and correction facilities. So this is very, very important. It’s going to give us much more ability to let all of our heroes know what’s happened in terms of exposure to this disease in their own lives. It’s going to be really helpful in terms of finding more donors for the plasma treatments that we’re very hopeful about. It’s going to give a lot of information to the federal government and to us about what’s happening out there with this disease that’s going to help us fight this disease further. So this is a step in the right direction for sure.
Bill de Blasio: (23:16)
Now, a few more things before I conclude. It’s very, very important while we’re fighting this battle to express our thanks for the people who’ve really stepped up, and those thank you’s, I think, are even more important in the middle of a crisis where people are working so hard. So a couple of different things we honor each year happened to fall today and this week, and let’s take time to thank the people we know who serve us so well. Starting with Teacher Appreciation Day. Our educators have done an amazing job. They’ve never been asked to do anything like online learning distance learning on a vast scale. They’ve done it really well. The dedication has been outstanding. Our educators are going out of their way to reach kids, reach parents, help them keep learning no matter what. Any educator in your life, please take the time to thank them today and this week because they certainly deserve it. They’ve done something remarkable.
Bill de Blasio: (24:17)
Today is also Building Service Worker Day. Now talk about unsung heroes. The door men and the door women, the porters, the cleaners, the security officers, the folks who keep buildings running, every kind of building, every place that’s functioning right now that’s part of fighting back this disease. Every place that people live that has a staff that makes sure the building keeps running. Everything we depend on every day in this city, in peace time and war time, these are unsung heroes who are there for us and keep things running. Take an opportunity today to thank them. They don’t get the things they deserve, but what would we do without them? The city wouldn’t work without them. Let’s thank them today. Special thank you to our colleagues in Labor 32BJ SEIU all over New York city for the amazing work you’re doing in this crisis.
Bill de Blasio: (25:18)
And yesterday, this we should be thankful for every day, but yesterday was International Firefighters Day. I went to go meet with EMT and paramedics at EMS Station Four in the Lower East Side yesterday. Our EMTS, our paramedics, our firefighters, all part of the FDNY family, they’ve been amazing. They’ve dealt with things that no one’s ever seen before. They have saved so many lives. They have stood firm, absolutely made us proud in this crisis, keep making us proud. We should be thankful for them all the time, but let’s give a special thank you to them this week.
Bill de Blasio: (25:58)
Okay. The part of this press conference at each day we all look forward to, the daily indicators to know where we’re going. Yesterday, great day. Today, a little less great. Still some good news. We needed to get better to fully take the next steps. So three indicators. First one, daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19 that is down. That is good. From 88 to 75. Think about that for a moment. 75 people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19. That is a sea change from where we were a few weeks ago. That’s fantastic. Daily number of people in our ICUs across our public hospitals for suspected COVID-19 down from 632 to 596. Great news. That still means there’s almost 600 people right now fighting for their lives in those ICU. So good important news, but with something that reminds us the battle still rages for so many.
Bill de Blasio: (27:03)
Here’s the one I don’t like. The percentage of people tested citywide positive for COVID-19 up from 17% to 22%. We know each day can vary for a variety of reasons, but the reason we want all three to go down at once is that tells us we’re on a solid, consistent path and that’s what leads us to be able to start loosening up. Didn’t have the day we needed today, but overall we’re making progress. Let’s keep fighting. Let’s keep fighting to bring these numbers down consistently and take that big next step forward.
Bill de Blasio: (27:38)
So before I say a few words in Spanish, I just want to come back to what I started with. This is just about basic humanity and decency. Anyone watching has seen the pain that New York City has experienced. Anyone watching has seen the heroism of so many New Yorkers. Anyone watching with a heart and soul would say, “I want to help those people because they’ve done something so good, so decent.” That’s all we’re asking of our federal government. We’re just asking the President of United States to act like the President of United States and care, actually care, about the people of this city regardless of politics. Care about the people of this city like any president should, regardless of where they come from. But you think a president who grew up here might have a special feeling for this place, might go out of his way to help his hometown. I’ll give him another chance to show that there’s a beating heart there, but these comments today show me something very cold, and very, very unfair towards the people he grew up around and the people gave him every opportunity in his life.
Bill de Blasio: (28:58)
So Mr. President, you have a chance to atone for what you said here. You have a chance to get it right. Remember your hometown, and remember every hometown in America. Just lend a helping hand so people can get back on their feet once and for all.
Bill de Blasio: (29:16)
A few words in Spanish. [Spanish 00:09:23]. With that we will turn to our colleagues in the media and please remember to give me the name of the outlet of each journalist.
Speaker 2: (30:20)
Just a quick reminder that on the phone we have Doctor Barbot, Doctor Katz, Doctor Varma, Commissioner Shea, and Commissioner Dish. Juliet from 1010 WINS has the first question. Juliet.
Juliet Papa: (30:32)
All right, thank you. Good morning Mr. Mayor. Good morning everybody here on the call. There’s now a plan in place to deal with homeless underground. So what is the plan to deal with homeless encampments? I know Mr Mayor, you’ve said they’re not acceptable, but I happen to know of three encampments where there are groups of people with sleeping bags, blankets, shopping carts, even one had a tent. A response to a 311 call in one location indicated it was cleared by police, but that was not the case. So I’m wondering what is happening with that? What is your concern and what is the response?
Bill de Blasio: (31:11)
Well, Juliet, you have distinguished yourself over these weeks in finding things that needed to be fixed and I really appreciate that and we’re going to go fix it. They’re absolutely unacceptable. Again, there’s a story that really should be understood. For decades encampments were tolerated in New York City. People would see them in different places and somehow they were allowed to exist. I found it absolutely unacceptable and I said to the NYPD, to Social Services, to sanitation department, I said, “If we see any encampment develop anywhere in New York City, we’re taking it down period.” So I want you, please, to give those three locations to my colleagues here at city hall right after and they will be dismantled immediately. It’s unacceptable. It’s not a way for human beings to live. It’s not right. It’s not fair to anyone. It’s not healthy. We will not tolerate it. So just give us locations and they will be gone. It’s as simple as that.
Speaker 2: (32:10)
Nolan from the post is up next. Nolan. Nolan.
Bill de Blasio: (32:19)
All right, guess-
Speaker 2: (32:20)
We will come back to Nolan.
Bill de Blasio: (32:21)
Double back to Nolan.
Speaker 2: (32:21)
Brigid from WNYC is up next. Brigid?
Good morning, Mr. Mayor. First a couple questions about enforcement for you and Commissioner Shea. Excuse me. First for tonight’s historic subway closure ordered by the governor, how many police officers will be guarding MTA stations overnight from 1:00 AM to 5:00 AM since every station that doesn’t have a locked entrance presumably needs an officer? And do you have an estimate for how much this enforcement will cost? And then separately, in the 70th precinct there was another event captured on video of an aggressive police encounter with officers [inaudible 00:33:03] some on social media said was a teenager for not wearing a mask. Mr. Shea, do you have details about this incident, how are officers being instructed to enforce the city’s guidance on social distancing and wearing masks, and it appears that one of the officers actually punched the young man in the head. Would that constitute excessive force and does it … need to do additional training for officers and how to effectively interact with the community with addressing social distancing concerns.
Bill de Blasio: (33:31)
Brigid. Brigid, hold on. Brigid. Respectfully, I’m trying to get everyone to really respect the ground rules here. We are absolutely going to answer your questions, but folks in the … our colleagues in the media, we’re trying to get to as many people as possible. We have a clear rule. Give two questions upfront. A run-on question that becomes four or five questions is just not fair. We really are trying to be consistent here. We’re taking lots of questions in the course of a week, so we’re going to speak to obviously the first question about the subways. We’ll speak to the video from the 75 Precinct, but I’m going to take that broadly and again, I’m sure your colleagues will have questions as well, but please everyone just respect each other by not trying to stretch two questions into four or five questions.
Bill de Blasio: (34:19)
Let me start and I’ll turn to Commissioner Shea. On the question of closing the subways in the late night hours, this is something I think is absolutely the right thing to do to ensure the subways are safe and clean, to ensure that our essential workers are respected, protected, know they can be safe in the subways with a cleaner environment. The folks who are putting themselves in harms way knowing that every effort is being done to keep them safe, but also because I think it will disrupt another decades old pattern of homeless folks, street homeless folks, staying on the subway all night in a way that I think is unhealthy, unfair, not good for anyone involved, starting with the homeless person. We want to disrupt that. We want to get them help. We want to be able to be there with outreach services to get them to shelters so I really think it is the right policy.
Bill de Blasio: (35:13)
Clearly it will require serious effort by the NYPD but I’ll remind you that in those same stations that are closed, there will be people cleaning, so there will be MTA staff there. Those are not stations, that from every understanding I have from MTA, they’re not just going to be empty and barren. There are going to be activity going on, but the NYPD certainly is going to support in a variety of ways. The commissioner can speak to that. I will remind everyone that since there aren’t trains running, NYPD officers will not be on trains, so it frees up a certain amount of personnel to address the stations during those hours. Also, obviously, hours that there’s generally in this city much less activity than other hours of the day. On the 75 Precinct and I know Commissioner Shea will speak to it, I have seen the video. There’s obviously going to be review to understand all the facts. The Commissioner and I spoke this morning. I think every one of these cases has to be seen individually. I would caution against anyone trying to look at different videos or different situations and see them all the same. They’re not all the same. I want to caution that any time that an officer asks someone to observe social distancing or put on a mask, the response from any New Yorker one, should follow the rules and the laws we’re living with right now, two, should be concerned about the health and safety of everyone starting with their own family. The response should be to follow the instruction of the officer and people have to understand that. We look at every incident carefully, and as I spoke about the incident in the Lower East Side the other day, when I see something I think is inappropriate, I’m going to say it, and obviously that was a case where an officer was modified right away.
Bill de Blasio: (37:13)
But I also want to remind people that what New Yorkers need to do is respect the NYPD as well and respect the instructions and certainly never ever fight with an NYPD officer. That is not acceptable. People are not ever allowed to use physical force against an NYPD officer. That’s just not something that can happen in this city. So we have retrained our entire police force to de-escalate, to respect communities, to work with a neighborhood policing approach and I’ve seen tremendous progress. There’s still work to be done, but I want to remind everyone, it’s a two way street. Respect goes both ways and that’s how we create a better city for everyone, and when an officer says, “Follow these rules around social distancing or wearing a face covering,” that is for the protection and health of everyone and I say I’m glad that officers are out there making sure that people are safe because if not people wouldn’t be safe. Period. Commissioner.
Commissioner Shea: (38:16)
Thanks, Mr. Mayor. So on the first part with the transit, as soon as this press conference ends, I’ll be on a a a video conference with senior leadership in the NYPD including Chief Delatorre, the head of the Transit Bureau, just finalizing the stage one of this plan for tonight. And again, this is something that’s never really been undertaken to this scale. I expect it to be fluid and we will learn from tonight and as we go forward, try to develop a system that is as efficient as possible to get the job done with the minimum amount of officers. Hundreds of officers will be deployed tonight, and again, as I said, we’ll learn from tonight’s experience and see if we have to adapt and if we can do it with less or have to add more and all of that will be done in conjunction with our partners from the transit system.
Commissioner Shea: (39:16)
In terms of the video in the 75, we’ve seen a couple videos surface in the last couple of days. I would just point out a couple of things. The common denominator here is starting with a lack of compliance and I think, echoing some of what the mayor said, respect here is a two way street. We understand that everyone is stressed out under these trying times in two months but we need people to work together more than ever. And when officers approach a crowd for whatever the reason, work with the officers. We commit to work with the community. But one thing that we can not have is we can not have individual-
Commissioner Shea: (40:03)
Cannot have is we cannot have individuals having physical contact with our offices. To the comment about the punch, every incident is unique and has to be examined under the lens of the circumstances of that particular incident. A punch is something that we actually trained for in the police academy. It is a part of the level of escalation that begins with discussion, begins with deescalation, and it progresses up from there. So to answer your question, no, a punch should not be assumed to be excessive force. It should be examined in the totality of the circumstances, and as any incident is reviewed, we review all of these incidents.
Commissioner Shea: (40:47)
But again, I don’t think it’s surprising when you start to see some of the patterns emerge here, your individuals that are being repeatedly arrested. And it is not shocking to me that they are not complying with the police’s orders at times. This individual in this particular incident that you mentioned had just been arrested for a burglary a month ago. So that’s something that the officers are dealing with as well. But we’ll work through it. We’ll continue to do what we do, keeping New Yorkers safe, and hopefully we’ll come out of this sooner more than later.
Speaker 4: (41:25)
Henry from Bloomberg is up next. Henry.
Hi, Mr. Mayor. How are you doing today?
Bill de Blasio: (41:29)
Good, Henry. How about you?
I’m hanging in there. I’d like to try and see whether or not we can get more precision on what you think the timeframe would be an opening up various aspects of city life, particularly schools, the restaurants. You agree with the governor’s assertion that schools and theaters should open in sort of a stage four, the last stage, that they are equivalent in terms of when they should be opening.
Bill de Blasio: (42:13)
Well, Henry, we keep working with the state all the time to refine the approach because we’re all in uncharted territory here. Here’s what I’d say. I feel very impressed by the progress the city is making. That gives me greater confidence about something that we all should be working towards, which is the reopening of school in September. We got a lot to do to get to that point where we can do that effectively and safely and smoothly, but I’m getting more confident by the day when I see these facts. Now, we are not there yet. You’ve been watching our daily indicators, a lot of progress, but still not the kind of consistent progress we want to be able to take the first steps to relax some of the restrictions. But I am increasingly hopeful about the ability to open school well and fully in September. Remember, the tightness of the approach that we’re using right now is again to ward off a resurgence, boomerang, and that is the best way to keep squeezing this disease. And the test and trace strategy, which is going to be coming up intensely now, is crucial to that as well.
Bill de Blasio: (43:28)
So I think there’s broad agreement, and certainly this is somewhat what we see from around the world, that certain types of settings lend themselves in terms of reopening to being in the earlier stage because they have more space available, more distancing to be done. Others are inherently places where people are close together. You would include schools in that, you would include theaters and sports events and all. So it makes sense that you’re going to go in stages. But rather than theorize about it, Henry, we’re going to literally lay it out step-by-step, as we are ready. When we see the indicators get close to where we need them to be, we’re going to lay out what the next steps will be. And that’s something that I think will be constant because we keep making progress. But I don’t want to theorize about what happens too much down the line because the first thing is not to get overconfident and to fight off any chance of that boomerang. If there’s a boomerang, then all schedules get set back and that’s not something I’m going to see happen.
Speaker 4: (44:33)
Trying Nolan from the Post one more time. Nolan. Nolan, can you hear us?
Mr. Mayor, can you hear me?
Bill de Blasio: (44:41)
Yeah Nolan, how you doing?
I’m doing all right. Two questions. Two separate issues. The first of which is the governor has frozen wage increases for state employees as a way to try to create some breathing room in the state budget. Are you considering a similar move here in the city? And the second question is with the city’s death toll approaching states, death toll I think approaching 20,000 at this point, why does your administration continue to be so guarded in discussing how this city is treating its debt?
Bill de Blasio: (45:25)
Well again, I don’t feel we’ve been guarded. I feel like we’ve tried to answer a wide range of concerns but also respect the families involved. I think there is a very big difference of interest here, meaning I think the media respectfully, and I understand it’s your job, but I also understand the nature of the free enterprise system. The media very much wants to report on this story constantly. And I think a lot of families are not interested in constantly having their pain portrayed publicly. And we’re trying to strike a balance here where we’re answering the concerns functionally without dwelling publicly on something that’s very sad and tragic and very human and very individual. So where there’s a substantive issue to address, we’re addressing it. The situation continues to move forward as we reduce the number of people we’re losing each day. Thank God. As we’re taking small steps towards getting back to normal. But I think whenever an issue has come up, we’ve addressed it and been open about it, just not lurid about it.
Bill de Blasio: (46:44)
We’re not going to go into a lot of detail. That’s just the way we’re going to handle this. On the wage issue, state has different laws and standards in the city. Right now, our central focus is on keeping our city going, keeping our workforce going so we can serve people, so we can provide services and we can get back on our feet. Our ability to do that is going to be absolutely determined by what happens with the stimulus bill this month. If we get help, we can move forward. If we don’t get help, some very, very tough decisions are ahead, much tougher decisions than something like a wage freeze. There’s much harder decisions ahead if we do not get help from Washington.
Speaker 4: (47:28)
Christina from Chalkbeat is up next. Christina?
Hi mayor. Thanks for taking my question. I was hoping to get some more clarity about the budget cuts to college access for all and how the city plans on making sure that students who manage to graduate from high school in this very difficult year also continue to go on to college if they’re on that path.
Bill de Blasio: (47:52)
Thank you, Christina. Look, there was a lot of things that we do in normal times that we think are really valuable like college access for all, but just was profoundly disrupted by not having people together in a school building and things like college visits. There’s many things that could not happen in this environment, and a situation where you have to make tough choices. This was one we had to sacrifice. But what continues is an incredible commitment at the DOE to support high school seniors to make sure that every single one who can graduate does. I know guidance counselors are constantly reaching out to high school seniors. I know the chancellor and his team have said whatever else they’re doing now and so many things they’re doing now, job one is to really focus intensely on those high school seniors, get them the help they deserve. So we’re doing that right now with the online learning, with counseling remotely.
Bill de Blasio: (48:50)
Remember that our seniors, we want to see as many as possible get through in June, but if for any reason they’re not ready in June, there’s still July and August to keep working with them. And online learning offers a lot of flexibility that we can use in this case in a good way. And we’re going to celebrate all our seniors with a citywide graduation ceremony. That’s going to be something very special. And we’ll be putting that together soon and announcing details as we have them. But I would separate what we had to do with college access for all, which is obviously a big program to acclimate our students to the opportunities ahead, versus the pinpointed work to help each senior. That work to help each senior continues intensely.
Speaker 4: (49:35)
Next is Yohav from the city. Yohav.
Hi, Mr. Mayor. I just wanted to get greater clarity on what I asked about yesterday about the enforcement of social distancing for a group let’s say of two people. Is it presumption that those people live together under the same roof or is the NYPD instructing its officers to check their IDs and confirm whether they should be within six feet of another?
Bill de Blasio: (50:13)
Again, this is something we’re all learning as we build out the approach, Yohav. This is never something that the NYPD or any enforcement agency has had to do before. And so we don’t have every perfect rule in place. We’re learning by experience. One thing that’s true is that for anything to work, there has to be enforcement. There has to be some consequences. If you mean to ensure that a place where the 8.6 million people moves forward and fights back this disease and we save lives, enforcement is a crucial part of that. NYPD, Parks Department and all the other agencies that we have brought into play. So we’re going to keep refining our approach to enforcement. As always, a substantial amount of any enforcement activity depends on communication, depends on public education, which there’s been a huge amount of, depends on the training of the folks who do the enforcing.
Bill de Blasio: (51:18)
Depends on their professional judgment, which we always depend on. That’s just part of any enforcement activity. So we’re working through to keep tightening up the protocols. We know the biggest thing we’re concerned about is anything that’s a larger gathering. We know we want to avoid anyone not social distancing whenever humanly possible, and we know we want people to wear face coverings. And I think that’s the sort of hierarchy of need. But we’ll have more to say as we refine the specific protocols. But again, some of it is common sense, just talking to people, reminding them of the importance. And where folks need enforcement because they refuse to follow instructions, then that’s what we have summonses for.
Speaker 4: (52:03)
Sean from the Daily News is up next. Sean.
Good morning, Mr. Mayor. With the council doing a hearing on the budget tomorrow, just wanted to ask you about some of the issues that I understand on council members’ minds. For one, the summer youth employment program, I know a lot of them want to bring that back in some form. Do you see a way to meet them halfway or do you basically consider that program dead? Another area is with crime down during the outbreak, any cuts for the NYPD and DOC? And last-
Bill de Blasio: (52:40)
Sean, I couldn’t hear that. You skipped out for a moment there. You said with crime down, and then I couldn’t hear you.
Yeah, so sorry about that. With crime down, would you consider budget cuts for the NYPD or the Department Of Correction. And last thing, if I’m understanding correctly, is that your revised budget has $2.4 billion for the coronavirus response this year, but none marked for fiscal 2021. So what are your thoughts on preparing for fiscal 2021?
Bill de Blasio: (53:15)
Again, I’m going to do this but I’m going to start to just cut questions off going forward when people go from two into three. Respect the questions, they’re all good questions, but the SYP is one question. The PD and DOC is another question. And the 2021 is yet another question. So just saying it to everyone, I’ll start to edit if needed. I would ask people just really respect each other and respect what we’re trying to do here to give as many people an opportunity, two questions. Really clear what two questions is. SYP, I’m always talking to the council. This is what we do. This is democracy. This is the different branches of government working together. And I will remind you, this is now the seventh time, seventh year that I’ve gone through this process with the council. Every single year we’ve come to common ground, gotten to a budget on time, gotten to a fair, smart, balanced budget.
Bill de Blasio: (54:14)
So we’re going to do it again. And the work with the council has been very, very respectful because everyone understands what we’re going through. The council cares deeply about SYP. I care about it too. It’s expanded greatly during my administration. I’ve said one, we don’t have money right now. Two, we don’t have a logistical framework to make it work because people can’t gather, and it is wholly dependent on people gathering in the same place. So I don’t see a way to do it right now, but I’m always going to have an open door to the council. And budget adoption is not until the middle of June or later June. Things could change by then, so don’t see it now, but the conversation is open. On police department and Department Of Corrections, no anticipated budget cuts at this point. Both of them are doing extraordinarily important work and we need to keep them doing it.
Bill de Blasio: (55:07)
Dealing with a lot of new challenges in this crisis. Again, anything could happen between now and adoption. And the number one question is what’s going to happen in Washington with the stimulus? That will frame everything. And then what’s happening with the disease will frame a lot. So nothing anticipated now, but everything is an open question depending on what happens in Washington. And then absolutely in the following fiscal year, we’re going to be dealing with the coronavirus in a variety of ways. Certainly the aftermath of it, if not the real thing again. So we will be definitely thinking about what that means for future budgets. Right now we’re focused on the here and now, but we have time between now and June to figure out how to project our needs ahead. They will be substantial for sure.
Speaker 4: (55:58)
Sydney from the Advance is up next. Sydney.
Hi Mr. Mayor. I have two questions. I wanted to follow up about adding Staten Island’s private hospitals as well as the rest of the city’s private hospitals to your daily ICU indicator count. I asked you a week ago if you would consider adding at least Staten Island to that count so that the five boroughs are represented and you said you would look into it, but it looks like you’ve decided not to add Staten Island and private hospitals. Can you explain why you decided not to? And second, going back to the military medical personnel, it’s my understanding that the federal government said that military medical staff could only be sent to New York City’s public hospitals. I wanted to know if you ever tried to go back to the federal government and ask if it would be possible to send them to Staten Island because it has no public hospital and is still a part of New York City?
Can I read you a quote? I know you don’t want us to run on with questions, but it’s relevant to the military medical part. So yesterday in response to what you said about not wanting to send the military medical staff to Staten Island and only to public hospitals, borough president Otto and Congressman Rose said the ease in which the de Blasio administration allows the fact that Staten Island has no public hospital to be an excuse for them to avoid their responsibilities to Staten Islanders is stunningly callous and contemptible. What do you have to say to that? And again, if you tried to ask the federal government to send staff to Staten Island?
Bill de Blasio: (57:34)
Well thank you for the questions, Sydney. Look, I think we’re just in a kind of revolving door here and I’m just not going to play that game. Whatever any hospitals have needed around the city, there’s 56 hospitals. When they have needed help, we’ve gotten them help. In the beginning, we all were struggling just to try and keep the most basic operations going as the disease was growing intensely. Overwhelmingly, the biggest challenges were in our public hospitals, starting with Elmhurst Hospital. We needed to reinforce the places that were bearing the brunt. As we got more resources, we started spreading them more intensely all over. Every hospital has been served by that effort. As we got more personnel, we’ve been sending them all over. I get requests from Staten Island, from Romsey, and every request is honored. Whenever we have something, we provide it. But the military medical personnel were explicitly requested for our public hospitals that were bearing the brunt.
Bill de Blasio: (58:47)
We got a good number. We got less than half of what we asked for originally, so it was not anywhere near the number that would have been ideal, but we’ve used them for the intended purpose. So I think your questions are always trying to suggest something that’s just not there, which is any difference of feeling and concern. I care about all 56 hospitals. I care about all five boroughs. I think a lot of people don’t want to ever let that in because it’s politically inconvenient, but that’s fine. I’m used to it by now. If the hospitals in Staten Island need something, we’re going to get them help. We always have gotten them help. But different hospitals, different communities are dealing with different needs. That’s just been clear throughout. The other question, the indicators, again, as I said to you several times, the public hospital indicators are the most consistent and they tend to reflect what we’re seeing from all 56 hospitals, but they are more readily available and consistent information. I’ll double check with the team again, but to date, no one has shown me evidence that we need to broaden. You’re seeing something in this indicator I think that isn’t there. It’s not meant to be what’s happening-
Bill de Blasio: (01:00:03)
… this indicator I think isn’t there. It’s not meant to be what’s happening in each of 56 hospitals. It’s meant to be a trend line for the whole city. And using the 11 public hospitals is a simple verifiable way to do it. And appears to be consistent with what other hospitals are experiencing.
Last two. Katie, from The Wall Street Journal. Katie.
Hey. Good morning, everyone. I have a question for Dr. Barbot and it’s actually about the warning about the Kawasaki disease and the toxic shock syndrome seen in children. I’m just curious what took the city so long, I guess to identify these pediatric cases. I know you said on April 29th that the city had not seen cases of this severe rare illness in children. And they were surveying pediatric intensive cares. And the 15 patients were hospitalized between April 17th and May 1st, so was there just more monitoring being done or can you explain the gap there? Thank you.
Bill de Blasio: (01:01:04)
Yeah, and let me jump in on Katie’s question. Oxiris, and obviously if Mitch or Jay would like to join in as well after Oxiris. Start, if you would, by defining so everyone knows, particularly parents know what are these syndromes. Explain it from scratch, and how do identify it, and what it does to children, et cetera.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (01:01:28)
Certainly, Mr. Mayor. Kawasaki illness is actually a rare condition. When I was a pediatrician in clinical practice, I actually had patients with Kawasaki disease. And what we see is generally children present with prolonged high fevers, several days of very high fevers. They can also have very red eyes, very brightly colored lips. And then one of the hallmarks that we see is what we call a strawberry tongue, which means their tongue is very bright and red. Then the other symptoms that children can have are a rash. They can have swelling of their hands and feet, and generally if the condition is identified early, there is definitive treatments, and there are typically no longterm consequences. However, if the syndrome is not identified early, there can be longterm consequences. Most commonly related to ongoing heart problems. So the important thing here is though that when you have a syndrome that’s not very common, in the context of a worldwide pandemic, there are situations where pediatricians may not be thinking, this could be an atypical manifestation of what’s going on.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (01:03:08)
And so, when we got the question from Melissa, made sure that our … I directed my staff to reach out to all of the pediatric providers to say, “Are you seeing these types of symptoms coming in, in children?” And they were like, “Yes, we actually have seen them.” Or, “No, we haven’t seen them, but we will be on the lookout.” And so in public health, oftentimes we say that outbreaks are made or broken by astute clinicians that are paying attention in clinical settings, be it their private practice, be it in the emergency department, or be it in an intensive care unit. And that then signals the call for us at the Health Department to look more widely across the city to see if this is a one off or if this is part of an emerging trend. That being said, there have been cases identified in the UK and we are learning that there are very small numbers of cases that have been identified in, for example, Philadelphia and Boston.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (01:04:27)
We’re not sure what to make of this yet. And as I’ve said several times in the past, we’re still learning every day about how COVID-19 behaves. Not only from a public health point of view, but from a clinical point of view. And as we have learned that, for example, in adults the virus doesn’t just affect the lungs, it can also affect the kidneys. We are learning that even though children by and large are mildly affected when it comes to COVID-19 that there can be situations where they are more severely affected. Thank God, in this situation, we haven’t had any children who have died from the number of children that have been identified with Kawasaki or Kawasaki like illness. And so we want pediatricians, we want pediatric intensive care specialists to let us know when they have more patients.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (01:05:28)
And importantly, as the mayor alluded to or stated in his opening remarks, we want parents to pay attention to when they see these symptoms to reach out to their doctors early, because the most important thing in this situation here again, is not only diagnosing it early, but providing the appropriate treatment early. The treatment for this is something called immunoglobulin, as well as Aspirin. And it’s actually one of the few, if not the only pediatric conditions where Aspirin is an indicated treatment. So kind of a long winded answer, but very important that we not lose sight of the fact that we need doctors to report. It’s actually part of the health code, to report when they see atypical presentations of common conditions or even rare conditions. Because it could help inform our greater understanding of how this vicious virus is affecting our city as a whole.
Bill de Blasio: (01:06:36)
Dr. Katz or Dr. Varma. You want to add?
Dr. Jay Varma: (01:06:44)
This is Jay.
Dr. Katz: (01:06:45)
I think Dr. Barbot did a great job of responding. I would only add that the city hospitals have successfully taken care of children who have this condition. So it is something that the astute clinicians that Dr. Barbot is talking about did see and provided appropriate care for the children.
Bill de Blasio: (01:07:05)
Excellent. Dr Varma?
Dr. Jay Varma: (01:07:08)
No, nothing else from me.
Bill de Blasio: (01:07:09)
Great, thank you. Okay.
The last question goes to Melissa from NBC New York. Melissa.
Hi. Good morning, Mr. Mayor. And I want to thank you so much for the acknowledgement. I really do appreciate that. What changes are you making now to make sure that your health department is getting the most up to date information on these emerging health concerns? And at this point, how, if at all, does the knowledge that children are impacted by this more than maybe we thought change your considerations about planning, say for schools? That’s my first one. And then I have to ask one for my colleague, Andrew Siff. Who wants to know, given that studies show minimal outdoor transmission, seems like the city is expanding massive energy on policing outdoor behavior. Wouldn’t time and energy be better devoted to testing and tracing? Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
Bill de Blasio: (01:08:09)
Thank you, Melissa. Melissa, appreciate your question. Again, always appreciate when our colleagues immediately bring things to our attention that we want to make sure are deeply focused on. So I think the first question, look, we have to be vigilant. We have seen some things with the coronavirus, and I’ll start and certainly our three doctors can jump in afterwards if there’s anything they want to add. We have seen some things with the coronavirus that have been very consistent from the beginning. For example, that the vast majority of people did not need hospitalization. Ended up with something that was much less severe. But there obviously have been so many people who did need hospitalization. So many people we lost. There’s no constellation in the fact that most people went through it better, but the predictions did a hold on that sort of vast majority not having the extreme experience.
Bill de Blasio: (01:09:17)
From the beginning we heard that the impact seemed to be mostly on those with preexisting conditions and older, particularly much older folks. That again, very sad for everyone who has been affected. That truth has seemed to be consistent pretty much throughout. But we have to have our eyes open for anything that might change and evolve. Our doctors have been warning us all along that no one knows everything about this disease anywhere. And it’s an ever changing a situation. There’s always new information coming in. So, no one is saying we have the definitive understanding that we’d like to.
Bill de Blasio: (01:09:54)
We haven’t seen much impact on kids, but when we see something like this we’re going to be very, very vigilant. And anything else that might come along like this. So we’ll be all over protecting every child who is affected in this way. But in terms of what it means for schools, I think the way to think about it is that decision about how we’re going to restart schools in September, the exact ways we’ll do it, will evolve in the months between now and then. We certainly want to make sure we come back safe. And if we’re seeing any other particular challenges to kids, we’re going to add that into our strategy.
Bill de Blasio: (01:10:33)
But my bottom line is I believe fundamentally we’ll be able to reopen schools in September. But the way we are going to do it has to be a safety first approach. And absolutely we’ll have to reference the best knowledge we have as we get closer from the healthcare community. And on the outdoor question from Andrew. I don’t think it’s an either or. It’s a fair question, for sure. I would say it this way. The testing and tracing operation is going to get anything and everything it needs to succeed. That is a different question than how we use all of our enforcement personnel to ensure there is social distancing.
Bill de Blasio: (01:11:16)
The fact that our numbers are going down is directly related to the fact that people stayed home to the maximum extent possible, practiced social distancing, and more and more are wearing those face coverings. That is why we are seeing the amount of people affected by this disease steadily decline. So we’re going to stick with those strategies. And we have to enforce them to make sure they work. That’s just reality, especially in warmer weather. So I don’t think it’s either or. I think we will have a strong enforcement approach, constantly be informing and educating people, but also build an intensive testing and tracing apparatus. We need both actually to succeed. It’s the only way forward. Doctors, anything you want to add on Melissa’s questions? Question about how we stay vigilant to anything that might affect kids. And as we look forward to school. Anything you want to add to that?
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (01:12:11)
Yes, Mr. Mayor. I would add, first of all, I want to start by thanking Melissa for bringing this to our attention. And it’s certainly something that we will continue to pay close attention to. So as a result of this, we issued a health alert that goes to thousands and thousands of doctors across the city. And so my expectation is that as a result of us issuing [inaudible 01:12:41] as a result of the coverage that this is getting, we will get more cases identified of Kawasaki illness as well as Kawasaki like syndromes in children that are more aggressively affected. And so we will continue to monitor that situation. With regards to the ongoing transmission of COVID-19 in children, I think from the beginning we have said that children are not an exception to this. That they like adults can be infected. They can transmit the illness. But that the learning that has gone on has been that they are not severely affected.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (01:13:27)
I think one of the new things that we are also learning, and I think time will tell how much this will sort of change the clinical course and the public health course, is that the strain of the virus that we’re actually seeing here in New York is behaving slightly different than the strain that was observed in China. And so, hence we’re seeing children with Kawasaki, Kawasaki likes syndromes. And so the answer is that the preventive measures that have been put in place with regards to closing the schools, social isolation, physical distancing, the face coverings, the vigilance around hand hygiene, all of those things are the layered approach.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot: (01:14:18)
They’re going to help us when the time comes for safely opening our schools. And I think that we’ve got a significant amount of time to continue doing that learning. Learning from the scientific community. And as we’ve demonstrated to date, as the science becomes available, our guidance needs to adapt to that to ensure that we continue to keep New Yorkers safe.
Bill de Blasio: (01:14:49)
Dr. Katz or Dr. Varma, anything you want to add?
Dr. Jay Varma: (01:14:51)
This is Jay. I would just like to kind of emphasize the fact that we have to be really humble in the face of this infection. There’s a lot that we’re still learning and there’s a lot that we’ll continue to learn. The fact that it wasn’t seen or reported in Asia, may be something to do with the virus. It may be just that there needed to be a certain number of people that were infected until we saw these things. So I think it really does reinforce, number one, the fact that we’re learning as other people are learning. So we value the feedback and input that we get from providers, and patients and need to always be open to consider new possibilities.
Dr. Jay Varma: (01:15:32)
And the second is that it just really does emphasize how important the efforts that New Yorkers are taking regarding social distancing. We can’t be complacent and say that even though kids generally have a mild illness, of course if it’s your child or yourself that gets that illness and it’s severe, you’re more than just a statistic. It’s a real dangerous problem. I would just emphasize these points about the need to be humble in the face of new information. Constantly accepting and learning it, and also emphasizing that we should never take this virus too lightly.
Bill de Blasio: (01:16:07)
Amen. Dr. Katz, anything to add?
Dr. Katz: (01:16:10)
No, sir. Thank you.
Bill de Blasio: (01:16:12)
Thank you. All right. We’ll conclude today. And I just want to go back to the point about when people need help, where they turn. I want everyone to understand this has been a time in our lives, in our history, unlike anything else we’ve ever been through. And I think there’ve been many, many times where people have been shocked to be dealing with something they never would have expected. There are people right now, watching right now who have had to worry about food. I did a conference call with … a tele town hall, I should say, with thousands and thousands of members of AARP. And a man got on the line from Manhattan who clearly explained that he had never had to wonder about food before in his life, but now had to. And it was a shock to him. There are people who always had a job until the day that there were no jobs because of this crisis.
Bill de Blasio: (01:17:13)
Folks who felt that they had their life together and now are dealing with fears, anxieties they never could have imagined. This is happening to everyone in one form or another. I want people to not feel alone. I want everyone to know we are here for you. Your city is going to stand by you and support you and help you. That’s why I talk about 3-1-1 as the way to think about that helping hand that’s always there. You need a meal, call 3-1-1. You need to know if it’s time to, for example, just what we talked about with the Kawasaki syndrome. You need to talk to a medical person about it and you don’t have your own doctor. Call 3-1-1 We’ll connect you to health and hospitals. Whatever it is. If you have a landlord that’s talking about evicting you, which is not allowed in the middle of this crisis, call 3-1-1. We’ll give you the information you need.
Bill de Blasio: (01:18:14)
We’ll get you a lawyer, if you need. The bottom line is to think that if you can’t make sense of the situation, there’s some place to turn. You’re not alone. And by the way, if you’re dealing with the doubts, and the anxiety, and the fear or even feeling depressed, it’s quite a time in history. It’s not at all abnormal for anyone to feel depressed. We have another way to help and that’s the helpline that’s there 24/7 for free, 888-NYC-well, for anyone who wants to talk to a trained counselor.
Bill de Blasio: (01:18:49)
These are the things we do in New York City for each other. And we will always be there for you. And you should never feel alone, even in the toughest moments. There’s always help there for you. And today I particularly thank everyone at 3-1-1 They don’t get a lot of attention, but they are always there for us. Always helping people to get what they need. Always there with the answers. And that means so much to us every day, but particularly in this crisis. So everyone, we will get through this together. But one of the ways we’ve always gotten through in this city is by being there for each other. And we will continue to be there for you. Thank you very much.