May 6, 2020
Bill de Blasio NYC COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript May 6
Bill de Blasio held a New York City coronavirus briefing on May 6. He said New York City may need to lay off or furlough essential workers without a federal bailout.
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Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
Today, I want to start with a word and it’s not a word that necessarily one that’s so common to life in our city and the word is moderation. Moderation sometimes may seem like a bit of a foreign word here in New York City. And I mean that in a way that’s actually positive. We as New Yorkers, we tend to think about big dreams, have big plans, and do things with a lot of energy. As New Yorkers, we put our all into everything. And you certainly have seen that in the way that all of you have fought back this virus. It’s been outstanding. And I’m very, very proud of the people of this city. Just like we do everything in a big, bold way in normal times, people have fought back with all they got in this time and that’s why we’re pushing back this disease more every day.
Bill de Blasio: (01:02)
Now, it would be natural for New Yorkers to want a big, fast, bold restart. It’s natural for us to want to get back on our feet as quickly as possible. We are not a patient people, and that is in many ways part of what makes us great. But this is a time where we need to start appreciating what’s good about the word moderation. Because for us to get to where we need to go, for us to get to that big, strong restart and to get to the recovery which I know we can achieve, we have to do this the smart way. This is a case where a little moderation I think would be good for all of us, one step at a time and let’s get it right. So there’s no on/off switch here. This has to be done in stages, has to be done gradually. That doesn’t mean doing it any slower than it needs to be done, it means doing it just right. When it’s the right time to open up a step, we do it. When we prove it’s working, we take the next step, the next step, the next step.
Bill de Blasio: (02:14)
And there’s a lot of questions we will answer as part of this process. And we’re going to come to decisions, share them with all of you, together we’re going to make them work. So, for example, what kind of personal protective equipment will people need in each industry, in each part of our economy as they open up? We want to be very specific about what will protect both the folks who work in each industry and their customers. We have to be very clear about how we’re going to use temperature checks. And this’ll be an important part of the equation. But how are we going to use them, where are we going to use them, making sure we have enough thermometers, these are all things that we’re planning on right now. And as we get the details ready to go, we’re going to be announcing
Bill de Blasio: (03:08)
How do we make sure that cleaning is handled the right way? It’s going to be different depending on what type of work we’re talking about. But we want to be clear and transparent, what kind of cleaning is going to be necessary to sustain the right environment going forward and keep everyone safe? And when someone tests positive, what happens next? Well, we all know, we’ve been talking about it for weeks now and you’re about to see it come alive. The test and trace initiative is all about identifying people, then tracing their contacts, making sure everyone that needs to be isolated is isolated, everyone that needs to be quarantined is quarantined. We want to be clear how that works right down to the point where someone shows up at work and at that moment finds out they’ve got a positive test, what do they do then if they find out the night before, whether they do. We’re going to lay it out so people know exactly how to handle each scenario.
Bill de Blasio: (04:05)
Now, we already know a lot from the science. Even though no one knows everything about this disease, we know a lot from the medical community. We know a lot about what has been working and not working in other places of the world. We’re going to take the good models and adapt them for what we do here. But we also know there’s no place like New York City. And we know that we as a city government, we can take all the best information and come up with the right game plan, but we need to always run it by the people who actually do the work, the people in each business, the people in each sector of our life in this city, in our economy, who understand the day-to-day life of their workplaces best and can give us real-world advice about what’s going to work, what’s not going to work, what questions they need answered. We want to help each business back on their feet as quickly as possible. To do that, we have to listen to them to make sure that we answer their questions and hear their view of what they need.
Bill de Blasio: (05:13)
So we are bringing together what we call Sector Advisory Councils from different parts of this city, both in terms of different parts of our economy, but also people represent all of us, all the different neighborhoods, people of all backgrounds, people of different perspectives to help us understand what is needed to get this restart right. And it’s very, very important that we think about everything that makes up life in this city, so we’re naming a group of different councils. We’re going to start with a group of people that I’m appointing to each. If we think others need to be named, we will. If we think any other group has to be formed, we can do that obviously at any point. But I think this initial group gives us a good start at some of the things we have to work on right away.
Bill de Blasio: (06:11)
So today, we are going to roll out six councils and then there will be four more on the way after that. The first of these will meet tomorrow, all the others will be meeting in the next few days. By next week, everyone will have had their initial meeting and we’ll be up and running. And their views, their questions, their input are going to be used immediately in our restart planning and then continue on as we build ahead towards recovery. Each group will have between 20 and 40 members. Each group will be led by one or two deputy mayors and heads of different city agencies seeking their input. We’ll roll out today the names of the first six councils and then the additional four as quickly as possible. And I’m going to give you some examples of councils we’re bringing together that are particularly crucial for the restart, so small business.
Bill de Blasio: (07:10)
This Advisory Council will be led by our deputy mayors, Vicki Been and Phil Thompson. Now, small business has really taken on the chin here. And even though I am glad there’s been a very robust federal aid program, we need to make that program work a lot better. We’re pushing hard on the federal government on that front. We need to make sure every single New York City small business can take advantage if it does. We want to figure out every way we can help. We also have to think about the sheer mechanics of how this restart can work best for small business, what small businesses are going to need. A lot of small businesses are very worried about their comeback. A lot obviously have much less in the way of resources than bigger businesses.
Bill de Blasio: (07:53)
Small business owners have poured their heart and soul into their small businesses. Nothing more personal than creating a small business, making it work, making it an asset to your community, your neighborhood to this whole city. It’s never easy. And on top of that, with all the struggles any small business goes through, and they’re going through a lot of struggles before this crisis hit, I talked about a lot in my state of the city address back in February, now on top of this this pandemic, which has created even more uncertainty, so listen, we’re going to come up with plans that will help small businesses back on their feet. We need them. We need them because of the heart and soul of our city. We need them because there’s so much of what makes New York City great. We need them because it’s actually where a huge percentage of employment is in this city. We need everything. We need our bodegas and corner stores, we need our bars and restaurants, we need our startups that are such an important part of our emerging tech economy. You name it, we need them all. So this group will be eyes and ears, idea generators, innovators to help us figure out the next steps. Obviously, this city has a huge number of larger businesses as well, and we depend on them deeply. The larger businesses will be crucial to jump-starting our economic recovery. We’re going to be listening carefully for how we can help them to get up and running as quickly as possible. Certainly, from the employers I’m hearing from, that’s their desire to hit the ground running. But also there’s a tremendous understanding we have to do it right, and we have to do it in a way that’s safe. And we can not allow that boomerang to happen that we’ve talked about. With larger businesses in many cases, thousands of employees, huge logistical considerations. Many have big workplaces that have to be thought of very smartly, in terms of keeping everyone safe, this group, again, will be led by our deputy mayor, Vicki Been, and bring together leaders of large businesses around the city and we welcome their input, we need it.
Bill de Blasio: (10:03)
The next group focuses on labor and workforce development. Look, let’s face it, who is hurting most in this crisis? Working people. Who is this city? Why is this city so great? Because of working people who makes this city great, working people. And so many working people have been heroes during this crisis, keeping the city going, and they will be the heroes of the restart and the recovery as well. They need to be heard, and their rights need to be protected, and their needs need to be recognized. And their voices often left out when governments make their decisions, this time we have to get it right and have working people and those who represent working people at the table from the beginning. I am a big believer in the power of our labor movement. They will be front and center. Their voices will be heard as we build this restart and recovery. This group will be led by first deputy mayor, Dean Fuleihan, and deputy mayor, Phil Thompson.
Bill de Blasio: (11:05)
Now, something that makes New York City New York city unquestionably. All of those amazing organizations and institutions, all the incredibly talented people in our arts community, our cultural community in the tourism sector. We’re bringing together a group focused on those areas, arts, culture, tourism, because it is the essence of so much that makes New York City great in our hearts and our souls and what we are proud of. Obviously, also one of the underpinnings of our economy and one of the pieces that we’ve been missing deeply has to come back strong, has to come back smart.
Bill de Blasio: (11:42)
But this is also a sector where some of the biggest challenges exist because synonymous with gathering a lot of people together in one place, some of our arts and cultural venues gather thousands and thousands of people in close quarters. How are we going to go about that in the future? When is the right time to do what? That’s what we’re going to work through with this group. Strike that balance. Safety first, health of people first, making us fight off this disease at all times as job one, but we want to bring this sector back strong. We want to figure out the right stages to do that. Deputy mayor, Vicki Been, will be leading this group, working with great leaders from these fields.
Bill de Blasio: (12:25)
The faith-based community. So I think it is a clear fact. We need faith more than ever in every sense in this city. And our faith based communities are part of what holds New York City together, what gives people the strength, the perseverance we all need. And in this city, and it’s a beautiful thing, I’ve seen it with my own eyes, it encourages me all the time, our faith leaders work together across faiths for the good of New York City all the time. So this community is going to be crucial to our comeback spiritually as well as in terms of all we have to do to bring this city back materially.
Bill de Blasio: (13:04)
Now, our faith leaders deserve tremendous credit because almost to a one, I think clearly this is as close to unanimity as it gets, we have seen faith leaders of every background say, “Safety and health of our people first.” And they’ve had to do really tough things, shutting down worship services, but making sure that always it was about people’s safety. I commend them and thank them for that. The value has been on human beings and human lives and that’s been so powerful and commendable.
Bill de Blasio: (13:35)
Now, the practical question now comes into play. How are we going to restart worship services and what’s the right way to do it? When and with what conditions? This is something that likes the other kinds of larger gatherings has to be approached very smartly. We’re going to be listening to the voices of our faith leaders as we develop those plans. And again, everything is going to start to move in the coming days and weeks. As we put these pieces together, we can project step-by-step. Their voices will matter immensely. This group will be led by deputy mayor, Phil Thompson.
Bill de Blasio: (14:09)
A new sector council that we’re adding is in the area of construction and real estate. Big, big part of this city’s economy, big part of what makes New York New York as well. And people want to get back to work and we want to get them back to work, but here are a set of challenges as well. Different kinds of work, some which might lend itself better to social distancing, some which might be better in terms of health, others present other types of work in this field, presents more challenges, particularly indoor work. We got to figure out what kind of personal protective equipment is needed, what kind of distance is needed, what kind of schedule is needed to get this right. This group will be led by deputy mayor, Laura Anglin, and deputy mayor, Vicki Been.
Bill de Blasio: (14:55)
So those are some of the initial councils and we’ll be putting out those names four more coming behind that. The good news is this is an example of listening to people who are the experts because they live the life, they do the work, they understand what everyone’s going through. We want to hear from them. We want to hear their voices helping us understand what will work. Also, warning us about what may not work. Everyone has that New York energy, that desire to get going. We’re never going to lack that. These folks are also going to help us figure out how to strike that balance. And based on real experience, and they will be pivotal in the effort to get New York City going again. I want to say in advance a thank you to everyone who’s agreed to serve on our Advisory Councils. We’re going to ask a lot of all of you, and we are deeply, deeply appreciative for your willingness to serve New York city.
Bill de Blasio: (15:58)
Now, what I’ve talked about is the things we have to do to get ready for the restart and the recovery. But right now, as we’re doing that work, we’re fighting every day against this disease. We’re fighting every day to make sure that the people of this city are kept whole and supported no matter what this horrible crisis throws at us. And that means both the healthcare crisis and the economic crisis talked about many times, our priorities right now, four things, people’s health, safety, making sure everyone has food, making sure everyone has a roof over their head.
Bill de Blasio: (16:41)
Well, in that last category, we all know the challenge this city has faced for decades is homelessness. And we also know that homelessness is a problem that has often defied conventional solutions. That’s why we started to do some unconventional things over the last few years. Nothing more powerful than the HOME-STAT strategy and the more recent vision called the Journey Home, which are all about ending permanent street homelessness through intensive engagement with homeless individuals who live on the streets. We’ve seen some things start to work, but what we’ve talked about in recent days was something that clearly had not worked for a long time, which was the reality that many homeless people, particularly in colder months of the year will go into the subways and then many cases spend all night going back and forth on a single subway line. What a horrible situation for everyone, starting with that homeless individual. Not safe, not right, not right for the people around them on the subway train either.
Bill de Blasio: (17:44)
In recent days, some really new and important thinking has emerged because of this crisis, because of the challenges it created, because we had to think differently about how to keep mass transit running, how to keep it safe and clean, how to support our central workers. Governor and I and our teams and of course everyone at the MTA we work together on this notion of closing the subways in the overnight hours for deep cleaning, and also as a way to facilitate a different kind of engagement with the homeless to disrupt that pattern that existed for decades and was getting us nowhere.
Bill de Blasio: (18:16)
Well, I’ll tell you something. Last night was the first night that we got to see some evidence of what would happen if the subways were closed in those late night hours. The deep cleaning was happening and everyone had to leave the stations, including homeless individuals. We only have initial snapshot because we’re talking about something that just happened hours ago, but the initial snapshot is a powerful and positive one. Last night, 139 homeless individuals out of 252 who were engaged by our outreach workers and by the NYPD officers specially trained in homeless outreach, 139 individuals agreed to accept support, accept services, and come in off the streets, come in out of the subways. This number is extraordinary.
Bill de Blasio: (19:14)
First of all, more than half of the people encountered and engaged agreed to leave the subways, to leave the streets and come in. That’s an amazing reality to begin with. But we have more importantly never ever seen so much success in a single night before. We’ve never seen this many people, this higher percentage of people who are living on the streets agree to something different. And it’s only one night, and we obviously needed a lot more information, we needed to see how things play out over a longer period of time. But this number is staggering because, look, consistently, what federal surveys have shown is that in this city, and I don’t say it with anything but sorrow, but the facts have been consistently that the federal annual survey shows somewhere between 3,500 and 4,000 people living on the streets of our city, streets and subways combined.
Bill de Blasio: (20:16)
Even one night, 139 people took a step towards leaving that life and coming in to a safe haven or a shelter and starting the process of getting to long-term housing and never going back on the streets. That’s an extraordinary number for one night and very encouraging. We have to sustain it in many, many ways. We’ve got a lot of work to do. But I want to say to everyone involved, to NYPD, to everyone at social services and homeless services, to the MTA, to the governor’s team, we all work together on this vision and hopes it would create something new. And the very first night, we see a very hopeful sign. So we’re going to keep at it and hopefully this is beginning of something much bigger and really good for people all over the city and particularly for those who ended up on our streets and our subways, who we want to get back to a better life.
Bill de Blasio: (21:11)
Now, related point, I’ve said I want to always give credit where credit is due. When our colleagues in the media point out a problem that we need to fix, I always appreciate getting that kind of heads up so we can do something about it. Juliet Papa from 1010 WINS has been particularly active, pointing out problems, and luckily, we’re able to fix these problems. So yesterday, she talked about three encampments of homeless people. I want to make sure all New Yorkers understand, whenever you say the word encampment, it means that there are homeless people who attempt to set up a long-term living arrangement. This is something that used to be common all over the city. Absolutely unacceptable, absolutely not right for the homeless people, for their health and safety, not right for the communities they lived in and everyone around, just not right for New York City. And yet for decades, it was a norm that these encampments existed and were not disrupted. In my administration-
Bill de Blasio: (22:03)
Existed and were not disrupted. In my administration, we made a decision that from, our point of view, it was unacceptable to have a single encampment anywhere in New York City and they had to be dismantled anytime they’re identified. And we’ve been doing that now for years, and it’s really caused the encampments to become a rarity. But, whenever we see a new one, we immediately take it down, because again, it’s not fair to anyone and it’s not healthy and safe.
Bill de Blasio: (22:25)
Juliet identified three encampments yesterday morning. I want to thank the NYPD. I want to thank Homeless Services. I want to thank the Sanitation Department. They have worked together to dismantle those encampments, and the people who were living there have been offered help, which is always the goal. We don’t want to see anyone living on the street. We want to always offer help. So, those three conditions have been addressed and anybody in the media, we welcome, anytime you see something like that, we want to address it immediately. But all New Yorkers, call 311. If you see anything like that. If you see any place where homeless folks are congregating. We need to know, so we can get out there and address it and get people help and get them off the streets.
Bill de Blasio: (23:05)
Well, speaking of streets, some good news today as we continue to build out the Open Streets Initiative. This is an initiative, City Council, put this idea out there. It’s an idea that now is ready to go into higher gear. Want to thank the City Council for their partnership. Want to thank the NYPD, and Department of Transportation, Department of Parks, all the city agencies that are working together to make this work, and thank God, all those city agencies have more and more of their employees coming back, who had been sick with COVID-19. The workforce is, strengthening all the time. So we can do these open streets now with the right kind of enforcement and make them work for everyone.
Bill de Blasio: (23:46)
So, over the last few days, including the weekend, we have opened over seven miles, and now we’re adding two more miles, that will be open tomorrow, Thursday. And this case, these are specific sites that are being managed by local business improvement districts, local organizations that do such important work for their communities, and are taking responsibility for making sure that everything is set up and monitored and is safe and they’ll work very closely of course, with the NYPD and DOT.
Bill de Blasio: (24:22)
I want to thank the Flatiron Partnership, Garment District BID, the Lower East Side BID, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and the 3rd Avenue BID in The Bronx. All of them stepped forward, and are going to ensure that these streets that you can see there on the slide, will be open streets again starting tomorrow.
Bill de Blasio: (24:47)
Also want to announce that one open street that was part of the very original pilot program. This one is now coming back. It’s a half mile long, 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights. Pilot location now becoming a full time location for the duration of this crisis. And again, this is, the next phase we’re announcing, more to come soon as we build this initiative out.
Bill de Blasio: (25:13)
Another thing we are building out all over New York City is, the initiative to distribute free face coverings to all New Yorkers who need them. This is getting a very enthusiastic response. People are really thankful to be getting these face coverings, and the more they get, the more they’re using them, which is exactly what we want. I told you, this week earlier that, we will be distributing 7.5 million, free face coverings. And that is really going to make a huge impact. And so people who want to know where they can get them, again, we have a map, that identifies locations all over the city. We’ve added a number of locations since the weekend. All you have to do is go to nyc.gov/facecoverings and you can see a number of places where you can get a face covering to help protect everyone. Your family, your fellow New Yorkers, to help drive back this disease.
Bill de Blasio: (26:11)
Now, I like to express my thanks. Every day, there are so many people doing so many good things in this city. This is the ultimate team effort. 8.6 million people, pulling together, to fight back this disease. Well, today is one of those national days of thanks for, a particular group that has been just unbelievably heroic. And that is our nurses. Today is National Nurses Day. So, listen, unbelievable, just, absolutely breathtaking what the nurses of New York City have done during this crisis. They’re heroes in this city. They’re heroes to this whole nation.
Bill de Blasio: (26:55)
So, I think it’s a fair statement that, if there’s any New Yorker out there, or any American out there who didn’t appreciate our nurses before, well, they damn sure will appreciate them now. And that is just and fair, that nurses are finally getting the recognition they deserve. But we sure want to do more. I’ve had the joy of going out to a number of our hospitals. Places like Elmhurst Hospital, Kings County Hospital, a number of others, to applaud, all the healthcare workers. I take a special appreciation, thanking our nurses, for what they’ve done here. And, everyone today, when you see any healthcare worker, but particularly since it’s their day, when you see a nurse, say the word thank you and say it with passion because they deserve all the thanks in the world.
Bill de Blasio: (27:49)
Okay. Now, I’ll frame what we do each day. Of course, go over our daily indicators. I’ll frame this by saying, not every day goes the way we plan it. The big trend is good, but day to day we still see fluctuations that are sobering, and it’s a reminder, do not take our foot off the gas. Do not relax our rules until it’s time. Get it right. Fight back this disease. Avoid that boomerang. Because today we see some numbers that remind us we still have some work to do. So, on the first one, daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19. That number has gone up. Look, it’s gone up markedly, although thank God, against a much smaller base than it used to be. So, from 75 to 109. We’ve got to see that go down obviously. Daily number of people in ICUs across our public hospitals for suspected COVID-19, still too large a number overall. The increase is small, from 596 to 599. We’ve got to get that number down. That’s another key piece of the puzzle.
Bill de Blasio: (28:54)
A very good number to go down is the third one. Percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 citywide. That is down from 22% to 15%. Obviously, a particularly universal measure. That is a good example. That’s good news today. So, more fight ahead. We want to get all these numbers going down together. I am convinced we will. But we got some more work to do. So, this brings me back to that word I started with, moderation. Think of the virus, again, give it human characteristics for a moment. This is a virus that seeks out our weaknesses. Talked to you a few days ago about, some places, some big cities in Asia that, started to open up a little too fast and unfortunately, have to clamp back down, in fact, to add new restrictions. In some cases, it was only one part of the city whether it was a problem, but it became a problem for everyone. This disease looks for our weaknesses and tries to exploit them. We can’t let that happen. So, again, I see all over the city, incredible discipline, incredible adherence to the rules. I want even more. I don’t want to let this disease back in the door. So, let’s keep fighting, because, I know we all want that restart. If you want that restart, let’s get it right, right now. And we’ll do it with moderation because that’s how we make sure that every step we take, holds. Then we take the next step. That’s the game plan, and we’ll have a lot more to say on this, in the coming days. Okay, a few words in Spanish. [foreign language 00: 08:33]Okay. With that, we are going to turn to, colleagues in the media. And as always, let me know the outlet of each journalist.
Speaker 2: (31:33)
And just a quick reminder that on the phone we have Deputy Mayor Been, Deputy Mayor Thompson, Dr. Barbot, Commissioner Banks, and Commissioner Trottenberg. And the first question goes to Gloria from New York One. Gloria.
Thank you, good morning. Mr Mayor, I wanted to ask, we heard from Pat Foye this morning who said, he believes 2000 people were removed from the subways. I’m wondering if you have any information on that. And out of the folks that you were able to engage, can you give us an idea of exactly where those people were sent? What is the resource that the city is using at this time? And, what are you doing to ensure that they don’t, go back on the subways when this crisis is over?
Bill de Blasio: (32:24)
My second question is that-
Bill de Blasio: (32:26)
Gloria, wait a minute, wait a minute. Timeout. Again, we’re going to keep, guys, I really need everyone to understand this. Gloria, that’s a multi-part question. We’re going to stay there with that. Respectfully. We got this rule where we’re trying to give as many people an opportunity in the time we have. There’s a lot going on that I need to get back to everyday. So, I originally said to each journalist, one question. We decided to give people another question. They’re turning into three, four or five part questions. We can’t do that. So, let’s make it clear. I’m going to make sure we answer what you just asked. Great multi-part question. We’re going to answer that. And I’m going to ask your colleagues who follow, to please do really literally, one or two questions, and if people can’t do that then we’re going to have to change the format to make it even simpler, because, we just need to be fair to everyone. I want to get to as many people as possible.
Bill de Blasio: (33:15)
So, I’m going to start and then turn to Steve Banks. Gloria, from what I can see and I want to make sure we’re speaking the right language here about what’s going on. First of all, again, very thankful for the collaboration with the state and the MTA. I think something very important is happening. Steve will be able to tell you everything we’re doing, once people do agree to accept services, because this is something that’s now been built over three years. The Homestead Initiative, it’s really, a pretty well-oiled machine now with great results. Several thousand people have come in off the streets and stayed in, and not come back to the streets. So, Steve will talk to you about, what we do with people to make sure that they receive those services and stay in to the maximum extent possible. But to the number, I want to caution that again, the federal government’s annual study that’s been going on for a long long time says, the total number of homeless people in New York City, on the streets, on the subways, all five boroughs is somewhere between 3,500 and 4,000. That number has been pretty steady in recent years. In the really cold months, not like now, but the more of the winter months, you do see a lot more people go into the subways. Steve will give you his view. He’s literally one of the leading experts on homelessness, not only in New York City, in the United States of America. And he’s been at it for about 30 years.
Bill de Blasio: (34:40)
When I hear that number, I respect Pat Foye a lot. I like him and respect him, we’ve worked closely together. I don’t understand how that number could be accurate, given what we know of homelessness in this city and this time of year. It’s hard for me to imagine that many people who are actually street homeless. Now, that’s not different from people who might live in a shelter, or people who, maybe appear to be homeless, but may not be homeless. But, that number surprises me. That’s all I’ll say. But Steve, you’re the expert. Tell us what you think of that. I know he’s out there. Steve, can you hear me?
Bill de Blasio: (35:20)
Can you hear me now?
Bill de Blasio: (35:21)
There you go.
Can you hear me now?
Bill de Blasio: (35:22)
Okay. I can tell you what we saw last night out on the field and the platforms. We were down at World Trade Center and other locations working with the staff. We encountered just north of 250 people and, about 60% of them accepted services and came inside, and Gloria, we have shelters and safe havens. And, we’re providing the same services to the people last night. They have enabled us to bring, about 2,500 people, off the streets, who’ve remained off the street, and that’s really the key metric. And look, some people may return, but we’ll be back every night offering that helping hand to bring them off the streets with the same success that we’ve had over a period of time of bringing lots of people off who’ve remained off the streets, more than 2,500.
But I also want to put the numbers in context, and look, Halfway and the MTA have been very collaborative with us. We appreciate the collaboration with NYPD and our social services, not for profit staff. But, half the people that you see in the subways, are transient, meaning we’ll see them one or two nights and then not see them again. And last night was really a focus on the people that are longterm, on the subways. And so that’s why I think the success of last night, just preliminary, it’s only one night, about bringing in, 139 people, is really what we’re focused on. The human beings that are in the subways and have been there for a long period of time, as opposed to the people that may be there one or two nights and we never see them again. And then that’s the perception that there’s lots of people there for long periods of time. Actually, our focus is on the people that are really there long period of time. And those are the people that we were able to bring in last night.
Bill de Blasio: (37:09)
Yeah, and Steve, just if you could take one more step in that answer, I think we all want to understand a little bit better. Again, hearing an estimate of several thousand. My question is from your experience, is it conceivable that they could all be street homeless folks, or do you assume that some combination of people that is street homeless and other kinds of folks?
I think again, experience tells you that, people end up on the streets for brief periods of time or are perceived to be on the streets for different periods of time for a whole range of economic reasons. But they’re not the people that you see every day. And those are the people that you see every day that we’re focused on in the city’s plans. And so, someone who might be panhandling for example, may well have a home. I think that people make a lot of assumptions, when they see people and assume that they don’t have a roof over their heads. What we’re doing with our Social Services staff is actually determining through our by-name list which individual, individual by individual, needs our services and who we can bring inside. And sometimes this all gets lost in large numbers. At the end of the day, it’s about human beings. And on a case by case basis, that’s who we were able to bring in last night and we’ll keep doing that.
Speaker 2: (38:28)
Next is Marcia from CBS 2. Marcia.
Morning Mr Mayor, how are you doing?
Bill de Blasio: (38:33)
Good, Marcia. How are you?
Good. My first question has to do with social distancing enforcement. As you’re well aware I’m sure, Jumaane Williams and Eric Adams, say the NYPD enforcement of social distancing has shown racial disparities that the enforcement has been subjective and selective, and of course they want you to release data. I wonder your take on it and if you’ve given any instructions, to the NYPD, in terms of guidelines, for who gets approached and who gets summons. And my second question has to do with the homeless again. Homeless advocates are saying that you’re taking homeless people off the subway but not providing them with safe alternatives. Your response to that?
Bill de Blasio: (39:18)
Thank you Marcia. Now, I just respectfully disagree profoundly with those advocates. I appreciate their work. But again, Steve Banks leading our efforts to help the homeless, one of the premier advocates for the homeless, for decades in this city, in this country, and, what Steve has created with his team, and with all the amazing nonprofit organizations that do the outreach, is something absolutely unprecedented in the history of this city. And it is compassionate and decent, and it’s about homeless folks get to a safe haven or a shelter that works for them.
Bill de Blasio: (39:54)
We’ve been adding so many more spaces in places that homeless people, where we find them, where they need to be, so that we have places that work for them. We provide medical care, food, substance abuse support, in terms of programs to get them off substances, mental health services. It’s extraordinarily compassionate and, we know it’s effective because over 2000 people have come in and not gone back to the streets and I would think the advocates, would want to applaud and support something that is ending, street homelessness, something that’s never been done in this city before. And, we put a huge amount of resources into it and it’s clearly working and this new opportunity, because of the collaboration with the MTA I think is going to open the door wider, getting even more people off the streets.
Bill de Blasio: (40:45)
On the question of the NYPD, I’ve been in touch with both Borough President Eric Adams and public advocate Jumaane Williams. We’ve had very constructive conversations. I understand the concern a hundred percent. I want to see fair and equal policing everywhere. That’s what we’ve been devoted to now for over six years. Changing the nature of policing in New York City to make it focused on, neighborhood policing, and being respectful and responsive to every community and more deeply connected to every community. And I think it is working. I think the challenge we all have with this pandemic because we’re learning new ways and new approaches. We have a lot more to say on how we’re going to refine our approach, particularly with the warmer months. But the message to NYPD is, be consistent across all communities. Communicate with people as always under neighborhood policing. Help people to understand this is about their own health and safety and their family. And, the vast majority of people, Marcia are, accepting these rules and following these rules.
Bill de Blasio: (41:48)
It’s actually been quite rare that the NYPD or any other agency encounters much resistance. The vast majority of New Yorkers, get it and they’re living this way. And sometimes they need to be reminded, or sometimes they need to be offered a face covering, but they accept and they act accordingly. We definitely want to get the data out. So, we will make sure the NYPD gets the data out. It’s going to show you where there’s been, for example, summonses, but remember there hasn’t been a need to do a lot of summonses, in the last two months, for social distancing. That’s a good thing. But definitely that transparency will be provided.
Speaker 2: (42:21)
Matt from Newsday is up next. Matt.
Hey, good morning mayor. Two questions. First, this morning on TV you said localities including in New York are quote, “Either acting on furloughs and layoffs or preparing for furloughs and layoffs.” How many people are you preparing to furlough or cut? And secondly, absent a crime that two people who live together, have a right to be in public without practicing social distancing. Yes or no?
Bill de Blasio: (42:52)
So, Matt, on the social distancing issue. The way I’ve understood it from the beginning, and Dr. Barbot can comment on this too, that if people are already, entirely exposed to each other, all day long in their household, social distancing is a different concept than it is for folks who are not exposed to each other. If you’re already in constant contact with someone, it does not require the same approach, as if two people who do not live under the same household, same roof, I should say, come in contact. So, our focus and enforcement, is to make sure, first and foremost, there’s not large gatherings, not any kind of gathering. Second, that social distancing is recognized. Third, that people have face coverings on. In that order. On the question of furloughs and layoffs, what I said this morning is I’ve been talking to mayors all over the country, Republican and Democrat, both. Some of them have already announced layoffs, some of them have already announced furloughs. Some are planning to. Every one of us-
Bill de Blasio: (44:03)
… some are planning to. Every one of us has to start looking at that possibility if we don’t have any money. We have a budget coming up in June. I’m not here to project anything while we’re in the middle of fighting for the stimulus funding because that’s what would get us out of this mess and that’s what New York City deserves. That’s what every city and state that’s suffering deserves, is stimulus funding that makes us whole, that replaces all the lost revenue that allows us to retain our full workforce, ensure that public services are being provided, basic services so we can get on with a restart and recovery. That’s what I’m doing right now. I’ve been talking nonstop to the members of our congressional delegation, spoke to Speaker Pelosi on Sunday. We need to get that stimulus done so that people don’t have to experience furloughs layoffs. If it doesn’t happen and we’re missing $7.4 billion in revenue, then all options are on the table, but it’s not time to talk about specifics yet.
Speaker 5: (44:59)
Erin from Politico is up next, Erin.
Hi, Mr. Mayor. On the question of the subway, the homeless people on the subway. So if I understand correctly, these folks, if they accept your offer being sent to shelters, is there any consideration of offering them the hotel rooms? You know, if that might be safer than the [inaudible 00:45:22] shelter?
Bill de Blasio: (45:24)
Well again, I’m going to turn to Commissioner Banks, but I want to note that over these last years, this is another thing that didn’t get a lot of attention and it really should have so I want to bring it to light now. For decades, there was a bad division of labor, I think in this city where shelters that needed the positive influence of the NYPD didn’t have it. And some years ago we made the decision and I really want to thank the NYPD for seeing how important this was, to have them NYPD go into shelters, supervise the security, train the staff, and have a regular presence in our shelter system. That’s been tremendously helpful in terms of making shelters safer. On top of that, we really invested intensely in the Safe Havens, which are much smaller facilities.
Bill de Blasio: (46:14)
So I think we have to keep in mind that the realities of our shelter system are different than what they were a few years ago. Different also because we have so many more Safe Havens. And then you have to think about the individual and what they need. Steve can speak about it more eloquently than me, but depending on each individual, they need certain services and supports. Some people could fit a hotel room fine, others may not and may need a different kind of supervision and support. So we’re tailoring it to each. We have hotel rooms available whenever we need them now, but the decision I think becomes very case by case. Steve, why don’t you jump in?
Steve Banks: (46:51)
If I could just add to that. I think it’s important to understand the range of tools we now have to try to meet people where they are and help people come in from the streets. In terms of our overall shelter system, right now that’s 7,000 of the single adults out of the 17,000 single adults are actually in commercial hotel rooms. As part of some initiatives that proceeded COVID-19 and some that were put in place since COVID-19. And we’re continuing to move people out of our single adult [inaudible 00:47:25] shelters into commercial hotel rooms that will continue. So coming into our regular shelters, there are pathways to get into the commercial hotel rooms that we’re bringing online literally every day. In terms of the tools that we have to bring people in from the streets in addition to our traditional shelters with now the availability of commercial hotel rooms through that system, we also have the Safe Haven beds and the stabilization beds. Some of which are in hotels now that have enabled us to bring the people in off the streets over the past several years.
Steve Banks: (48:01)
And people are accepting those beds every night that we’re bringing people in from the streets. And I think we announced a week ago that even in the middle of the pandemic, we’re opening up another 200 beds in the Safe Havens as again, a pathway off the streets for human beings. So there are a range of options that our shelter system now has, some of which we didn’t have before and that we’re using those, all those tools to try to bring people in from the streets.
Speaker 5: (48:30)
Deborah Lee from Manhattan Times, Bronx Free Press is up next, Deborah Lee.
Deborah Lee: (48:35)
Hey, good morning everyone. Can you hear me?
Bill de Blasio: (48:38)
Yeah, Deborah Lee, how are you doing?
Deborah Lee: (48:40)
I’m well, thank you. I wanted to follow up, Mr. Mayor and actually I’m not sure if Commissioner Shea is on, but I wanted to follow up on this conversation about the enforcement on social distancing. Specifically about the fact that you’ve got both PBA President Pat Lynch and other saying that there’s just not enough clarity around the guidance. That there isn’t really a sense of what it is that police officers are supposed to be doing when they approach people who they feel are in violation of social distancing guidelines. Moreover, others are saying that this is just another opportunity for subjective policing and are concerned that this is going to become, particularly as warmer months approach, this is going to become just another opportunity for mistakes. Forgive me, that said, can you speak to the fact that others are calling for other agencies and other individuals to be involved in this other than police officers?
Deborah Lee: (49:33)
That this is in fact not a policing conversation, but particularly as it deepens and you’ve got more people out in the streets, that this should become a citywide conversation across other agencies. And then finally, I wanted to ask Commissioner Barbot with wellness visits being postponed by parents who are concerned about visiting doctors, what guidance is the city offering for parents who want to make sure that their children are vaccinated on time and are receiving the visit that they need in light of the fact that there is now Kawasaki concerns and also that we are asking people not to travel and visit doctors unless they absolutely need to.
Bill de Blasio: (50:13)
So I’m going to let Dr. Barbot answer that and I’ll double back to the policing answer. But just to say as we lead into Dr. Barbot, I’ve been very struck already, Deborah Lee, by visits to a couple of our health and hospital’s clinics, one in Morrisania and then the South Bronx, the other in Coney Island. That the way they are reporting so much more use of telemedicine in this crisis and that it’s actually getting everyone more used to using it. And a lot of the patients, a lot of the people who go the clinic are getting more and more accustomed and more and more comfortable with that option. So even as we’re navigating the question of people limiting travel or not being willing to go out, I do think we’re seeing more and more use of telemedicine in a helpful way. And it’s something we clearly want to deepen in our efforts as well. We’ll have more to say on that soon. But in terms of how to advise parents, Commissioner Barbot jump in and then I’ll come back on the other question.
Oxiris Barbot: (51:15)
Certainly Mr. Mayor and Deborah Lee thank you for that question because I think it’s an incredibly important [inaudible 00:07:21]. When we hear new information that is potentially scary for parents, like something like Kawasaki’s or Kawasaki’s like syndrome, it can make parents more hesitant or more concerned about what they should be doing for their children. And so I want to just clarify that even though we are hearing about Kawasaki more and more, it still remains a relatively rare condition. And we want to draw attention to it because during this time it can be confused with other things that we don’t want to lose time in terms of children getting access to treatment that can be definitive and avoid longterm consequences. In addition, we want to make sure that not only parents, but New Yorkers in general know that healthcare is open for business. Meaning that we want New Yorkers to seek care for conditions that they may have that they’ve had to put off seeking care for because maybe their doctors weren’t open. And as the Mayor said, it doesn’t necessarily mean going to the office in person, but it could mean having telephonic access.
Oxiris Barbot: (52:43)
It could be a whole host of ways in which medical practices are now adjusting to social distancing and how they continue to see patients and ensure that they have ongoing care. And so that also extends to children going to their pediatricians to get their necessary vaccinations. We want parents to continue taking children to their pediatricians, ensuring that they have the proper face coverings when they go. We are working with clinical practices to make sure that they are also open and available to provide patients with necessary vaccinations. I know that H and H is very much actively reaching out to patients to make sure that parents know that they should be bringing their children in to get their vaccinations as scheduled. Because we don’t want this situation to than lead to children getting infections or conditions that are vaccine preventable. So I think it’s a really important question and the opportunity for us to get out the message that medicine is open for business and that practices are seeing patients for things other than COVID. And that there are ways to conduct these visits that don’t always need an in-person visit.
Speaker 5: (54:17)
Jeff Mays from the New York Times is up next, Jeff.
Jeff Mays: (54:21)
Yes, good morning Mr. Mayor, you didn’t really answer the first part of Deborah Lee’s question about-
Bill de Blasio: (54:27)
Oh, I’m sorry. Yeah, let me … Jeff, hold up, I meant to and I got caught up in other things here. My apology and then we’ll come back to your question. Yes, Deborah Lee on the previous, so look again, we are dealing with something that is entirely new still to all of us. It’s going to take time to get it as good as it should be, but I think the core realities are still strong. Meaning, we have for years now built up a philosophy of neighborhood policing. We have a whole new generation of police officers who have been trained in this. All, the entire force has been trained in this philosophy in deescalation. I think we’ve seen two months now of the NYPD engaging the people of this city in the context of the coronavirus. And I have to say, and I obviously every day I’m listening for what’s working and what’s not.
Bill de Blasio: (55:25)
We’ve seen a couple of really unfortunate and inappropriate instances, but only in my view, a very small number compared to the vast number of interactions between our officers and our communities that have gone the right way. And I want to keep things in perspective. Our officers are trying to understand how to be effective in this new reality of this pandemic. We need to do more to create clear, simple protocols and make sure that our supervisors are supporting them. We also have to remember that for weeks we had the NYPD missing a huge percentage of its officers because of the disease. We’re now coming into a situation where the force is coming back to its normal levels. We’re getting more and more experience with what works, what doesn’t work in terms of trying to figure out the right kind of enforcement. Again, the hierarchy I present is we’re most concerned about stopping larger gatherings, that’s where the most danger is. And then enforcing social distancing on a more individual level and then the face coverings.
Bill de Blasio: (56:27)
And most people, this is the bottom line and I’ve checked this many times over with community leaders and with the NYPD regularly. Most people when asked to create more distance from the people around them or asked to put on a face covering, they’re doing it. So we’re not having overall a compliance problem. We do need to give clear guidance. And to the other part of your point, Deborah Lee, we definitely want to bring community leaders and community organizations much more deeply into this. Previously, when the virus was on a constant upswing, that wasn’t our focus, obviously. Now that we’re getting some relief, it’s something we can do more and more and obviously with the warmer weather it makes sense to do it more and more. So I’ll have more to say on that in the coming days as well.
Speaker 5: (57:15)
Back to Jeff.
Bill de Blasio: (57:15)
Now to Jeff. Jeff.
Jeff Mays: (57:19)
Thanks. Just following up on that question, just given the interactions we’ve seen between police and enforcement of the sort of individual social distancing, do you think that there’s a benefit to that enforcement or does it outweigh the risk of these negative interactions? You’ve seen police without masks in some of these encounters. And then secondly on the subway, what are your expectations about a return to 24 hour service? Do you have any sort of timeline? Do you expect that 24 hour service will eventually return?
Bill de Blasio: (57:57)
Yes, Jeff, absolutely. It’s a conversation the Governor and I had as part of the decision to move to the overnight cleaning. He was clear, I was clear. We were totally unified that we will return to 24 hour service. Obviously, the state runs the MTA but this was something to me was prerequisite to the city agreeing to this plan. And agreeing to putting the resources into it that we are is, we wanted to know that when the crisis was over we would resume 24 hours service. I think the answer to your question is when the crisis is over. And that will be determined by our indicators, that will be determined by what happens with this disease. Look, my general hope is that we are going to see more and more normalcy through the next few months with particularly this very aggressive test and trace approach. And that it’ll get better with each month and when we get to September, particularly with the beginning of the school, I want the beginning of the school to happen fully and safely.
Bill de Blasio: (59:02)
And that is one of those things I think will signal that New York City is back in a really strong way. I want to get us there again, that moderation approach to get us there. So I’m not going to be surprised if the overnight cleaning goes on for months because the health dynamics require it, but my hope is it’s a matter of months and then we get to a situation where we can go back to the 24 hour service. On the question of police officers, I’ve had this conversation with Commissioner Shea, it’s absolutely essential that officers wear masks. The idea is of course, for their role that they play in our society is everyone looks to them for guidance. Everyone looks to them as an example. We want people wearing masks when they’re outside and coming in contact with people.
Bill de Blasio: (59:55)
Look, the rule’s clear, if you’re outside and you’re not coming in contact with anyone, that’s a situation where you are not required to wear a mask, but I think it’s safe to say police officers are in contact with people very, very regularly. And so the notion of wearing the mask regularly is the right thing to do. And again, I am watching really closely, what are we seeing with interactions overall across now two months? The rules have evolved over two months, but the reality of dealing with the coronavirus and the police’s role in the coronavirus crisis over two months, we’ve seen very few incidents. People say, oh, it’s getting warmer. Be careful, be worried about that. I’ll tell you, Jeff, from the very beginning of my administration, people have warned me about the warmer months and I think it’s something we take seriously.
Bill de Blasio: (01:00:49)
I know I take it seriously, but I don’t want to overrate it either because the world has changed in a lot of ways before this pandemic. The reality of policing in this city has changed profoundly. The reality of the city has changed profoundly. The summers are not what they used to be in the city. I remember when summer was equated with just vast amounts of crime and violence and tension between communities and tension between communities and police. That has not been the case in recent years in the city. And the pandemic cuts both ways, it has changed … clearly has created a lot of frustration and challenges. It’s also changed people’s lifestyles profoundly and it’s caused a lot more unity, I think, a lot more purposefulness about looking out for each other. A lot fewer people on the street to be policed.
Bill de Blasio: (01:01:41)
So no, I don’t think it’s a simple equation that says, oh, we’re inevitably going in one direction. I think we have to give clear guidance to our officers and make adjustments and we will do that. But I think the vast majority of interactions between our police and our community are positive and effective and I have faith that will continue to be the case.
Speaker 5: (01:02:02)
Kathleen from Patch is up next, Kathleen.
Mr. Mayor and everyone. I was just wondering if you had a response to the controller’s office report yesterday, estimating as many as 900,000 people could lose their jobs this quarter. And since my second question was already asked, could I seed it back to Gloria for hers?
Bill de Blasio: (01:02:24)
That’s an inventive approach, but I’m not going to get into that today. I think if Gloria had sent you the question, you wanted to ask it, that’s great, but we’re not going to bring her back on the line. So if you have a second question, ask it now, Kathleen.
Oh, that’s okay, that’s what I’ve got. If you could just focus on the report, I would greatly appreciate it.
Bill de Blasio: (01:02:44)
Great. So Kathleen, look, it’s a staggering number. I mean, think about this in human terms. That’s so many families that now are left in doubt for their future. That’s so many people who are not going to have money for the basics in their lives. There’s so much pain that comes with that. When you hear that number, it’s just unbelievable. I appreciate that the controller did this report. It is sobering. Look, we have been preparing for this reality now for the last two months. That’s why, just earlier this week, I said we are now ramping up our food program to be able to feed a million people a day. I mean, think about that. A million meals a day.
Bill de Blasio: (01:03:39)
Unfortunately, we’ve entered a whole new reality and this certainly puts a point on the human suffering happening in this city, but it also puts a profound point on why we need federal aid and we need it quickly. Because the situation is getting worse all the time and because people are suffering and because the ability of the city to reach people is getting strained. We’re going to use everything we have, but it’s getting strained every additional time someone loses their job. It’s more and more need that gets created.
Bill de Blasio: (01:04:08)
So I take that number very seriously. We’re going to build everything we do on the assumption that it’s that number and could even get worse. We’re going to be there for every New Yorker. As I said, the focus will be health, safety, food and shelter. That’s where we’re going to keep our focus all times, whatever the number of unemployed people becomes. But if ever there was evidence why the federal government needs to step in now, I mean, we’ve literally not seen anything like it in our lifetimes, this many people becoming unemployed this quickly. So we need a much bigger response to be able to really protect people going forward.
Speaker 5: (01:04:46)
Anna from The Daily News is up next, Anna.
Hey Mr. Mayor, I like your haircut, it looks nice.
Bill de Blasio: (01:04:56)
Thank you, Anna.
I just wanted to get an update. How many coronavirus tests are being conducted in New York City today on average? Last week when I checked in, it was about 14,000. We obviously need tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands a day. What are we at?
Bill de Blasio: (01:05:12)
We’re in that same 13,000, 14,00 range, the last I checked a day or two ago. We will keep updating on a regular basis. And we need a breakthrough. Meaning, we need the federal government to come in with a real sea change in terms of lab capacity. Because Anna, what we’re seeing right now, let’s say we’re around 13,000. The fact is we would like to be initially tens of thousands a day. I want to get to 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 a day as quickly as possible. We’d love to get higher than that. Now the antibody testing is coming into play now more and more, and that’s certainly helpful. So the numbers that you and I are talking about-
Bill de Blasio: (01:06:03)
Now more and more and that’s certainly helpful. So the numbers that you and I are talking about, the PCR test, the diagnostic test, which still, I think, are the single most valuable tool we have in a test and trace program. But even with the imperfections of antibody testing, we’re going to use that information. It’s going to contribute to what we do in terms of testing, tracing, isolating, quarantining, making decisions about how individuals can engage their workplace or not. It’s another piece of evidence we’re going to use. We obviously started without even having any testing and we had to base things on people’s symptoms. That’s not the whole story, but that’s another piece of evidence we can work with.
Bill de Blasio: (01:06:40)
But to get these test numbers up really closer to where we want to be, we’ve got to get a lot more lab capacity. We now have the cell swab test approach, which is easier and faster, but we need the lab capacity whether we’re doing self-swab or test kit. Whatever it is, we need the lab capacity to really increase and that’s what we’re working on right now. So I am very hopeful in the coming days when we pull all these strands together, we’re going to be able to put up real numbers that will allow us to do the test and trace we need to. That would really have a transcendent impact, but there’s definitely more work to do on the lab front.
Speaker 6: (01:07:16)
Gersh from Streetsblog is up next. Gersh.
Hello Mr Mayor, how are you?
Bill de Blasio: (01:07:21)
Good Gersh. How are you doing?
I’m doing great. I appreciate that. Listen, two quick questions. The new open streets that you just announced are just almost entirely all of them being overseen by business groups. As you know, the city’s effort to get a hundred miles will involve community groups and residents to create the open space under guidelines asking for some pretty serious commitments in terms of staffing and monitoring the space. Today’s announcement reveals a potential problem with that. Will the only communities that get this vitally important open streets program be those that have business improvement districts or neighborhood associations that happen to have the luxury of not being completely preoccupied by matters of life and death for essential workers in those communities? And just the second quick question is, I noticed you finally decided to include transportation as one of your recovery panels. So I’d like to know about that.
Bill de Blasio: (01:08:13)
Sure. On the first point, Gersh, so no, this is a beginning. We expect to be in every kind of community. In fact, you’ll remember that when the idea first came up, the central concern was how do we do it safely? Will we have the right kind of force for it? Will we have the right kind of structures? As we have been working with this model, we’re finding different ways to get it done and that we believe are safe and come with structure. So I really want to emphasize my concern from the beginning was needing structure, needing enforcement, needing safety. I think as we’re getting deeper and deeper into it, we’re finding more and more ways of doing that. And that’s great.
Bill de Blasio: (01:08:57)
We also said from the beginning, this had to be something that focused on where the need was greatest, where this kind of approach would benefit the most. And when we worked with the city council on the recent package, one of the strands was focus on communities that have been hit by the disease hardest. Another, of course, focus on the areas around parks and in parks where the demand was growing with the warmer weather. So these examples you see today are just the beginning. You’re going to see these kind of open streets in all five boroughs more and more and you’re going to see different kinds of organizations that have the capacity to help make them work and give them real structure joining into it. We’ll announce them as they come together.
Bill de Blasio: (01:09:45)
In terms of the advisory panel, and you raised a couple of good points and some of your colleagues in the media did too about what it’s going to mean for the future to come back differently in this city in terms of issues of transportation. When we put together the panels initially we were thinking about the most immediate restart issues and obviously some of the issues around transportation are going to be dictated by larger realities that are different than what’s happening, for example, with small business. A lot of our transportation system has continued unabated because it had to. So it’s a different reality. It’s not the same kind of level of restart as, for example, what we’re going through with small business.
Bill de Blasio: (01:10:31)
But we put the group together because even though it’s less about the restart, it’s very, very important to what happens in the months thereafter. And we want to start planning now. And again, some of the questions, I want to thank you Gersh and I want to thank your colleagues who raised this point about is this an inflection point? Is this a moment to rethink how we get away from too much dependence on cars? And the answer is yes. We need to see this as a transformational moment. Even with all the pain, even with all the challenges, we are not going to bring New York City back the way it was. We’re going to bring it back in some ways that are different and better. And because we’re in a transformational moment, we can rethink some things and do them very differently.
Bill de Blasio: (01:11:20)
So what I want to see from this group, again, less about the immediate restart decisions we have to make in the coming weeks. More about how we think about the months and years ahead. I want ideas on how we maximize mass transit, minimize use of the automobile. Think about this in terms of fighting global warming and pollution. Think about this in terms of fighting congestion. Think about it in terms of equity for communities and really help us take a big jump forward by the end of this administration in terms of how we approach issues of transportation with an eye on the future.
Speaker 6: (01:11:58)
Last two. Julia from The Post. Julia.
Hey, good morning. Two separate questions for you, Mr Mayor. One is a followup on the furloughs and layoffs. Are you willing to sacrifice first responders, teachers, and healthcare workers without first making spending cuts identified by Comptroller Stringer to programs that do not have proven results such as Thrive NYC and unnecessary DOE contracts?
And then my second question is a followup to what you said on TV this morning about nursing homes. You said that some COVID patients should go back to the facilities because that’s where they’re known, but how does that make sense if we’re also exposing other vulnerable elderly residents to the disease? Shouldn’t there be alternative facilities where they can go and get good care to help prevent the spread of the virus?
Bill de Blasio: (01:12:50)
So Julia, as I’ve talked to our healthcare leaders, there has been a recognition that this is a complex question. It’s not a simple question of saying that the best thing for a senior is always to send them into a hospital setting. What I think I would say to take your question and broaden it further is we need some real serious changes in the approach to nursing homes. Although the city doesn’t have a direct role in nursing homes, and because I don’t experience these issues because we don’t regulate the nursing homes, what I’m seeing on a human level is unacceptable. And obviously the city is trying every way we can to help the nursing homes in the last two months to get them a lot of PPEs and provide whatever support we can.
Bill de Blasio: (01:13:39)
But I think this crisis is pointing out that we need a different and better approach to nursing homes going forward. A lot of them are for-profit enterprises. If that model is going to be continued, it’s obviously going to need more rigorous standards going forward. But on the specific question of where should a senior be if God forbid they contract COVID, first of all, a doctor has to decide that. Second of all, I do understand that you have to think about that totality of that senior’s life. And for many seniors in nursing homes to be away from that place could be problematic in a whole host of other ways. I think the question is can the nursing home support that individual while keeping everyone else safe? If they can, that’s a viable option. If they can’t, of course the seniors should not be there. But I think it’s up to doctors and it’s about each individual case.
Bill de Blasio: (01:14:34)
On the second point, we’re going to just disagree from the beginning respectfully and I respect the comptroller, don’t agree with him on some things as well as to which initiatives are having which impact on people. Anything that’s about health and safety as a priority, whether it’s physical health, mental health, we’re focused on health, we’re focused on safety, we’re focused on shelter and we’re focused on food right now. So I’m going to look at the entire budget and for the duration of this crisis through that prism.
Bill de Blasio: (01:15:06)
I said earlier, I’m not going to start projecting what we have to do in terms of the budget. I’m saying that if we are missing $7.5 billion now and then add the projections that the comptroller just gave us on employment, which means horrible things for working people and families, but it also means there’ll be less and less revenue on top of that for the city. If our revenue picture continues to get worse and worse, not just for the next fiscal year, for the one after that, too. If we’re threatened with potential cuts from the state level because the state has run out of money, we’re going to have to do very, very painful things and every option will be on the table.
Bill de Blasio: (01:15:45)
The way to avert that, the right way to do it, the fair way to do is for the federal government to step in and bail out cities and states all over the country in every part of the country that is hurting. Every place that’s lost revenue, not any fault of their own, deserves to see that revenue replaced. The federal government can do it. I keep saying they found $58 billion effortlessly for the airline industry. Why are they not helping America cities and states to get back on their feet? So that’s what we’re going to fight for. I’m going to remain hopeful in that fight because I think there’s a groundswell of support, including from Republican governors and mayors. That’s the way to solve this problem. I’m not going to theorize, I’m going to say, “Let’s go solve the problem in Washington, otherwise, any and all options will be on the table.”
Speaker 6: (01:16:28)
Last question goes to Dave from ABC7. Dave.
Hey mayor. I just wanted to ask you two quick things if I could please. I didn’t quite understand what you, and if Steve Banks wants to clarify or you, the difference between Pat Foye’s number of the number of homeless people on the subway this morning and what your all’s tally is. The difference is, and I think Steve used the word transient. If they were just on the subway catching a ride, hanging out, they’re not counted in your tally, but they are in Pat’s. And what you’re saying is upon interviewing them, that you determined that they are long-term, basically living on the subway.
And my second real quick question to you mayor, is I just wanted to get your thoughts on the president announcing yesterday that the White House Coronavirus Task Force is going to be going away sometime around Memorial Day. It seems kind of early.
Bill de Blasio: (01:17:17)
Yeah. Dave, truer words ain’t never been spoken. It sure as hell does seem kind of early. I don’t understand it. Memorial Day is right around the corner. I do not understand what he’s thinking. Dave, I checked this morning and my understanding is that there are several states where the numbers are increasing markedly, big states. We are not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination, so thank God things are getting better in New York City, but we still have a long way to go. That fear of the boomerang is something everyone should be having on their minds until you are sure this disease has been fought back down to the point, what we call low level transmission where there are so few cases you can trace every single one and all their contacts. Until that point, no one should breathe easy.
Bill de Blasio: (01:18:08)
And this isn’t a place where the number of cases are going down. If you’ve got parts of the country a number of cases are going up, that’s a profound danger to the people in those places and even more to the rest of the country that is going to start to spread elsewhere. So this is far from over. I do not understand what he’s thinking. He should not close down that taskforce. He should treat this as the national emergency it is. The president needs to understand the coronavirus is not going away right away. No matter how much he wishes it was. He needs to understand that the thing he could do to actually fight the coronavirus would be to get us all testing and he still hasn’t done it. And he needs to understand if he wants a restart and a recovery, he needs to help the cities and states. And as of last night he is more interested in helping rich people get a break on their capital gains tax than he is in providing relief to New York City and other cities and states around the country. So I think he is losing touch with the reality and that is very, very dangerous.
Bill de Blasio: (01:19:05)
On the number of homeless. I’m glad you asked that clarification, Dave. I’m going to say it and then Steve can join in again as one of the leading experts anywhere. We know again from annual studies that the number of permanently homeless people, which I think when people are talking about homeless, they’re thinking about the street homeless. The person who’s on the corner for months or years on end. The person who lives in the subway. And that’s a, thank God, many fewer people than I think people imagine, but still way too many. And we have to end that phenomenon once and for all. Versus a lot of people you see panhandling, they’re actually not homeless. They have a home, they live in a shelter, not homeless in the sense of street homeless, have no place that they go to at night.
Bill de Blasio: (01:19:52)
So I think there’s some confusion sometimes on which is which. We have a very specific strategy for folks who are permanently street homeless versus someone who is out on the street part of the day, but has somewhere to go at night. And that number 2000 just doesn’t sound possible in terms of talking about permanently homeless people. So Steve, again, I’m trying to as a layman explain it. You can do it better than me, but could you finish out that answer?
Mayor, I would just add to that, that the people that we engaged last night were the people that we found in the subway. Pat’s a great partner. We work with him all throughout the year and I think that one of the key realities here is that this work isn’t just work we did last night. So we know the people that are there on a long-term basis and we’ve been working to bring them off and we’ve had success on a human being by human being basis. And that’s what last night showed as well.
But that much larger number is often referenced for one night, usually a cold night in January. Sometimes it’s warmer and there are more people in the streets rather than subways or vice versa. But the numbers that we engaged last night were the numbers that we saw last night, as opposed to as the mayor said, that transient people that have somewhere to go that may be seen once or twice and then not again, as opposed to the person you see all the time. And that’s the person we’re really working very hard to bring in. And last night we had success. We have much more to do in order to really change lives, though.
Bill de Blasio: (01:21:33)
Yeah. And Dave, I mean look, it’s way too early to tell obviously and we’ll be at this for months because again, I assume this period of having the subways closed at night for the cleaning will go on for months. But I mean, if it’s anything like what we saw last night in terms of the ability to reach people and actually change their lives and potentially get them off the streets for good, this could have a really transcended long-term effect on the city. If you’re talking about the worst part of homelessness is the folks who are permanently street homeless, living in the streets, living in subways or some combination.
Bill de Blasio: (01:22:13)
But that, out of 8.6 million people, that 3,000 or 4,000 people at any given point in time who are living on our streets, it is one of the most painful things in the city. It’s one of the things that bothers us the most morally in so many ways. We believe we can break that, change that once and for all, break that cycle and actually get these people to homes. Living on the street, living in a home. And we’ve seen real progress in that direction. But last night showed us something we’ve never been able to see before in history because we’ve never had a single night where all of the stations were closed for cleaning before. And if those numbers are at all an indicator where we’re going, this could be the beginning of something very positive in terms of helping the homeless and improving life in the city overall. So I’m very, very encouraged by what I see.
Bill de Blasio: (01:23:03)
Let me close it down now and just say to everyone that, and as we come back to that word, moderation, I think it’s a positive word in this case because it means we’re going to get it right. It’s a positive word because it means when we make the move to begin reopening, we’re going to feel real confident about it. Then when we make the next move, we’re going to feel confident about that and so on and so on. We’re bringing in the voices of a lot of folks who bring tremendous expertise to help us make these decisions the right way, but what’s going to guide us is the facts, the science and the sureness that when we do something we really know it’s backed up by some rigorous analysis. And then when we do it, we watch to see how it’s working and confirm it’s working and then take the next step.
Bill de Blasio: (01:23:55)
If we can do that right and avoid that boomerang, the two points go together obviously. Imagine how good it will feel to get to the point where we’re really restarting and we don’t have to be looking over our shoulder all the time wondering if we left a door open for this disease. I want people to have confidence. I want people to feel the comfort that when we make these moves that are right moves, and the folks we’re bringing together to advise us are going to help us a lot. And in the next few days we’ll lay it out more and more of the thinking coming out of these groups so people can literally start to visualize what the restart looks like and how we’re going to make it safe and secure for everyone. Thank you very much everybody.