Apr 19, 2020
Bill de Blasio NYC COVID-19 Press Briefing Transcript April 19
Bill de Blasio held a NYC press conference on coronavirus on April 19. He asked Donald Trump is telling New York City to “drop dead.” Read the full transcript here
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Mayor Bill de Blasio: (00:12)
… at as we’ve fought through this really tough crisis over these last weeks, it’s been a lot of times cold and rainy, but now we are starting to see a change. It’s something that each year we would normally really, really be looking forward to. I think we all are now too, but it comes with a twist this time, which is the way we have to handle it, the way we have to be smart about it.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (00:41)
We now expect for the rest of April temperatures to be generally in the 60s going into May, going into the 70s. That’s wonderful for so many reasons, but it calls upon all of us to be really smart because when you start to feel that nice weather, it’s in all of us. We want to go out even more and more. We want to do things with our families and our friends. We want to play sports. There’s so many things that feel natural when you start to feel that warmer weather. We’re going to have to be smart about always keeping the right limits on things as we fight back this disease. This is a really, really tough foe we’re facing. I think that’s been proven many times over.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:29)
We also know this is not a fight that goes on forever. It’s going to go on for a month, thank God not years. It’s something we’re going to be facing for a while, but we got to be smart about it. We got to be tough about it. We got to be disciplined about it. Look, I’m saying that to you really with a lot of admiration because New Yorkers have been absolutely amazing. I’m trying to let people know not just in this city, but far beyond that there are so many stories of heroism here in this city, starting with our healthcare workers and our first responders and so many acts of kindness that we’ve seen in our city.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (02:11)
But there’s also an everyday heroism that all of you have practiced because this should have been the toughest place in all of America to practice social distancing and shelter in place and yet you’ve done it to a remarkable degree. That is why we are beating back this disease. That’s entirely why. I need people to understand it. There is no vaccine. There’s no cure. It wasn’t that medical science beat back this disease, you beat it back. We got a long way to go, but the fact that we’re seeing any improvement at all is because of you. Now, you’re facing a new test. Got to do it even more because it’s going to be harder honestly during the nicer weather. It’s certainly going to be harder for our young people, but we got to do our damnedest to keep these smart restrictions in place. Keep the limits, keep the balance until the day that we see things are really getting better. Then we can start to open up some more.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (03:05)
Do not underestimate our enemy. This is a horrible disease. We’ve seen the toll it’s taken. If we let it back in the door, it will reassert itself. We’ve seen it around the world before. Let down your guard and this disease comes back with a vengeance. We can’t let that happen. To all New Yorkers, it’s going to be a beautiful day today. You can enjoy it a little bit. You can take it in for a little while, but always while practicing social distancing, always with that face covering on and just for the amount of time you need. Then get back in doors. We’re going to fight together to get through this.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (03:44)
Now remember when you do that, when you practice those smart rules and you bring it to life and you fight back this disease, of course you’re protecting your own family, your own friends, the people in your life, but you’re also protecting those heroes we talk about so often. I know you care about our frontline heroes. I know you honor our healthcare workers. Remember every time you practice social distancing, every time you actually stay home, even when you wish you didn’t have to, you’re actually protecting those heroes too.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (04:19)
On Friday night, I went over to Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, which has been the epicenter of the epicenter. I was there for the 7:00 clap. It was a beautiful thing when you see all the first responders come out, the neighborhood come out to salute our healthcare workers. This is one of those amazing things that has come up naturally in this city and is a statement of who we are. I tell you, our healthcare workers appreciate it. They feel it. They feel your love. It means so much to them. We got to keep showing them that love, but the way to do that is to help them, help them by practicing those smart rules to protect everyone.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (05:03)
Then the other thing we have to do to help them, which is what I’m focused on and the entire city government is focused on is continuing to get them the reinforcements they need. They have worked through such a tough battle. A lot of them understandably are really tired, but they never stop working. They never stop saving lives. We are now getting them a much greater numbers of reinforcements to give them a break, to give them a rest, bring in new folks to help shoulder the burden.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (05:32)
As of today, we’ve added over 1,400 volunteer healthcare workers to serve New Yorkers. These are folks who are healthcare professionals who are coming here. They’re volunteering to go to the front. They’re volunteering to go where the situation’s toughest. They’re volunteering to go into those emergency rooms and ICUs. I want to be clear, we are not asking them to go without pay. We do compensate them, but these are folks who had no obligation to go into places like Elmhurst Hospital or other hospitals that are bearing the brunt. They’re choosing to do it because they want to save lives and protect people.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (06:07)
Some of them are for right here in New York City. Some of them are people from all over the country, packed up their cars and drove here. Took long flights, had to say goodbye to their families for a period of time to be able to save lives here. They’re very noble people. We are so appreciative to all of them, 1,400 who have answered the call. They will be assigned to over 40 hospitals and over 40 nursing homes in this city where the need is greatest. They are another kind of hero coming to our relief. If you meet any of these folks, and I’ve had the honor of meeting some of them, just really let them know how much we appreciate their sacrifice as well and the way they’re helping our homegrown healthcare heroes to get through this crisis.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (06:53)
Now these reinforcements will help us a lot, but we still know there’s a lot of places that are bearing the brunt and a lot neighborhoods that are hardest hit, a lot of hospitals that are hardest hit. One of the things we’re seeing in this crisis is that our independent hospitals are amongst those bearing the biggest brunt here. They are smaller hospitals, community hospitals, hospitals that for a long time have not been able to do all the things they wanted to do because they haven’t been given the financial resources they needed. These hospitals like our public hospitals, our city hospitals are many of the places that have had a toughest.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (07:36)
Unlike some of the big hospital systems that have somewhat more resources, these hospitals have really had it tough. We are stepping up to help them further. We’re sending at least 600 additional medical personnel to 11 of the independent hospitals that need it most. We’re taking volunteers from our city Medical Reserve Corps. We will continue to recruit more and more to make sure that these independent hospitals get the relief they need. This is going to be ongoing. We know, again, this crisis isn’t over till it’s over, but we know these hospitals have served our communities with so much devotion for a long time, even though they didn’t have the resources. We’ve got to be there for them and we will.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (08:29)
Now, talk about reinforcements, I think probably the most powerful, the most moving example of reinforcements has been the arrival of our United States military medical personnel. This is something I fought for and called for many, many weeks because it made so much sense. These are the best of the best. Members of our military who serve all of us, medical personnel had been trained to deal with the toughest conditions, people who have long since made a pledge to devote their lives to saving others. We needed them and we needed them badly. Slowly, but surely the numbers have been growing.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (09:08)
Think about what it means. I’ve talked to a lot of our doctors and nurses and healthcare workers in the hospitals hit hardest. I’ve asked them, “What does it mean to see the members of our armed services arrive? What does it mean for you?” What I hear over and over as people say, “It’s the most amazing sense that help has finally arrived. That these heroes have come to give everyone a shot in the arm, give everyone that support. They bring an incredible positive attitude. The can-do attitude we associate with our military.” For a lot of the frontline healthcare workers who were just feeling so tired and so worn, imagine that uplift when they looked down the hallway and they see doctors and nurses in their fatigues coming to help them. It’s really, really beautiful. It’s really beautiful and moving. It’s meaning a lot to our healthcare workers. It gives them a sense of security. I always say, we always grew up with that phrase, “When the cavalry comes.” Well, the cavalry did come, the reinforcements did come. It’s making a huge difference. The first wave was almost 300 medical staff. We heard amazing stories from that first wave of the impact they made and the relief they gave, the talent they brought. That number is almost doubled now. What we are seeing is the impact is great.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (10:36)
I have an example for you from Bellevue Hospital where … I always have trouble this word, anesthesiologists and neurosurgeons went into the ICU. Again, remember they went right to the heart of the toughest situation in the hospital. They came in from other parts of the country and plugged in right away. They wanted to go where the situation was the toughest. They came in and helped immediately including some medics who had served our nation in Afghanistan. These are folks who have been through a lot, who have had to practice medicine in the midst of war. They brought that skill, that poise, that amazing commitment to our public hospitals.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (11:20)
A team of military nurses arrived at Bellevue and they were asked what shifts they were ready to cover. Their answer was days, nights, weekends, 24/7. That is the spirit that our military medical personnel have brought. You can imagine the hope that that generates, the feeling that generates in our healthcare workers. I could not be more appreciative to everyone in the military for this incredible assistance. They’ve sent us doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, dieticians, physicians assistants and many other specialists. The hospital leadership all tell me those specialists brings so much to the equation that we need.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (12:08)
I want to just read this honor roll to you. Elmhurst Hospital, obviously the hardest hit of all, I know there’s been elements of the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force there. Queens Hospital, the Air Force and Army are there. Bellevue, Navy is there. Woodhull, Navy. Kings County, Navy. Lincoln Hospital, Air Force and the Army medical personnel. Jacobi, Air Force and Army as well. Harlem Hospital, the Army. Coney Island, the Army. North Central Bronx, the Navy. I got to tell you, it’s so moving to me. I’ve talked to some of our soldiers and sailors and airmen and they just bring such an amazing spirit. I’m thankful to every single one of them. When I get a chance to thank them on behalf of all 8.6 new Yorkers, it moves me. It’s one of the best examples of our nation doing what we really need in this moment of crisis.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (13:11)
Those are some of the things we all can do and your city is doing to support our frontline heroes. But there’s something we can do additionally to support each other and protect each other. In this case, it is about the extraordinary opportunity to help people to recover from this disease. What we need is that folks who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have recovered, we need you to give blood. Your fellow New Yorkers need you because what we’re finding so far, and these are studies that are going on, but they are promising, is that the plasma in your blood, if you’ve tested positive and recovered, the plasma in your blood can help others.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (13:59)
There are a number of our public hospitals that are participating in plasma trials using it with patients currently undergoing treatment. We’re seeing promising results so far. The New York Blood Center is doing extraordinary work right now as part of this effort, collecting the blood and making sure that this opportunity to protect others grows. Anyone who has tested positive recovered and you’re in a position to give blood, we need you. Please give blood as quickly as possible. You can go to nybc.org/covidplasma. You will be doing another New Yorker a great, great favor.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (14:44)
Now, I want to go back to this challenge we’re going to face as we all navigate the spring weather. Again, the spring weather is a beautiful thing. It’s going to feel like we’re going back to normal, but we’re not going back to normal until we have proven that we have beaten back this disease. We’re not going back to normal until we have those healthcare indicators show us that things are truly getting better. We are not getting back to normal until we are clear that we can do it safely. We do not want to see this disease boomerang. We do not want to see it come back with a vengeance so we’re going to do this the right way.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (15:19)
My message to people is please be smart, be careful, take care of yourselves, take care of others. Keep going with social distancing keeps staying home. Let’s do this the right way. Now, for anyone who doesn’t understand that message even though I have said it a thousand times, I know that you have heard it in so many other ways, if you don’t understand that message yet, we’re going to have to get tougher and tougher. NYPD, which is regaining strength now as more and more of our officers are coming back who were sick with COVID-19. Parks Department same thing. They will be stepping up enforcement today and in the days ahead. They will be targeting any hotspot, any place that there’s been complaints before.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (16:08)
Now, let me make this part really clear. No one wants to give you a fine, okay. I don’t want to give you a fine. Our police, our Parks Department employees, no one wants to give you a fine. We’re going to keep giving you warnings before ever having to give you a fine. If you just listen to the warnings, you’ll never get a fine. If a police officer or a park’s enforcement agent or anybody else from the city says, “Hey, you’re not practicing social distancing. You got to separate.” Or, “Hey, that’s a gathering. We don’t allow gatherings.” Just do what they say.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (16:42)
By the way, if your fellow New Yorkers remind you, do what they say, listen to them. But if someone ignores the instructions of our enforcement agents, we will give fines. Now, those fines can be as high as $1,000 per incident. Now look, if you said to me, “We’re in the middle of a horrible crisis. We’re in the middle of an economic crisis on top of that. People don’t have money.” I agree. That’s why we don’t want to give fines, but the first thing we have to do is save lives. The first thing we have to do is protect each other. People have been warned and warned and warned and educated. You’ll be warned again. But listen, this is serious. It’s going to get harder now with the nice weather. Please everyone, take it seriously. If people do right here, just do right by each other. Just be respectful of each other, there won’t have to be a need to give fines. If people ignore these warnings, there will be. We will if we have to.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (17:47)
Remember, I’m going to be clear about this. I need everyday New Yorkers, I need all of you if you see violations of social distancing, if you see gatherings, you got to report them. Sometimes people may feel a little self-conscious, like there’s something wrong with reporting what other people are doing. I understand that. In normal times, maybe you could feel that. I don’t agree, but you could feel it. In wartime, in a time when people’s lives are threatened, in a time where if we don’t get it right, this disease could come back and kill so many more, I’m sorry, this is not snitching. This is saving lives. You got to do it. If you care about protecting human lives, if you care about protecting your own family, we cannot let people start to have gatherings. We cannot allow people to ignore social distancing.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (18:36)
There’s something very easy you can do. Of course, at any point you can call 3-1-1, just call in what you see. You can live by that same idea we talked about in the fight against terror. If you see something, say something. By the way, when we were threatened with terrorism, no one doubted that it was right if you saw something to call it in immediately. Well, this is just the same reality. We just have a different enemy, an enemy we can’t see. We have an enemy that has taken so many lives.
Mayor De Blasio: (19:02)
The enemy, we can’t see, an enemy that’s taken so many lives. So, you can call 311 or you can just snap a photo right in the location where it is, and text to 311-692. Just send that photo along, 311-692 or you can use the 311 app or you can send it to nyc.gov. We need those photos, we need those locations so we can enforce right away. Okay, let’s talk about what we do every day, which is tracking where we stand in fighting back this disease.
Mayor De Blasio: (19:40)
And again, every time we make progress, it’s because of what all of you are doing. This is everyone’s fight. So, these numbers show you how we’re all doing together, but take them personally. The more you do, the better we’re going to do in terms of showing progress and beating back the disease and starting to get to normal. Yesterday was a mixed result, unfortunately. We had to have our indicators down, which is good news, but one went up. Today, also a mixed result. Daily number of people admitted to the hospitals for a suspected COVID, that went up from 261 to 317. Daily number of people in ICUs across our public hospitals for suspected COVID, that went down from 880 to 849. Percent of people tested positive for COVID19, citywide that went down from 42% to 38%, but at the public health lab it went up from 72% to 84%, so we have a mixed bag. We have seen in the last couple of days, summit indicators moving in the right direction. So, anytime you see progress, it means something that you’re doing is having an effect.
Mayor De Blasio: (20:52)
We need to make that happen even more, so we need to see all those numbers move in the same direction for a prolonged period of time. It means keep fighting, buckle down, keep fighting. We’re on the right path, but we got to do it even more. Now, let me conclude with this: many times I’ve asked new Yorkers to hang tough and I’ve asked you to do more. I’ve asked you to step up, and you’ve been doing it. God bless you for that. We’ve asked our healthcare workers, our first responders to step up. They have every time. Now I need a former New Yorker to step up, President Donald Trump. President Trump, it’s as simple as this. This is a moment where you could actually help to save your hometown or you can turn away and you can fail to protect New Yorkers. And right now, you are failing to protect the very people who you grew up around, the very people who gave you every opportunity. Every opportunity you had in your life came from New York City.
Mayor De Blasio: (21:58)
But when New York city’s in need, where are you? It’s as simple as this, right now, right now in Washington, the Senate, the house, they’re discussing a stimulus bill, stimulus 3.5, that would provide relief to New York City and cities around the country and states around the country with a simple concept, if these cities and states lost all the money that they use to provide the most basic services, police, fire, sanitation, education, you name it. If we’ve lost billions upon billions of dollars, how on earth are we going to support and protect our people? How are our public hospitals going to function? How are we going to ever restart the economy if we’re billions of dollars in the hole? So what’s happening right now in Washington is the discussion of adding to the stimulus money to support state and local governments so they can get back on their feet, so they can actually move forward to that restart of the economy. The house under the leadership of speaker Pelosi is 100% ready to move forward. Senate Democrats under the leadership of Chuck Schumer are 100% ready to move forward. Senate Republicans are trying to stop aid to cities and states around the country, and let me remind you, blue states and red states, they’re actually standing in the way of people of all persuasions, all backgrounds, big states, small states, every part of the country getting the help they need to get back on the feet. So the Senate Republicans don’t want to act. They don’t want to protect New York City or any place else. But you know what? Literally with a snap of his fingers, Donald Trump could fix that. If he would just say the word, the Senate would jump. But the president’s been silent. So President Trump, what’s going on? Cat got your tongue. You’re usually really talkative. You usually having an opinion on everything.
Mayor De Blasio: (23:54)
How on earth do you not have an opinion on aid to America’s cities and states? How on earth do you think that New York City, which has been the epicenter of this crisis, can get back on our feet without federal support? I remember famously in the 1970s when one of your predecessors, Gerald Ford didn’t care to help New York city during the fiscal crisis. There was that famous daily news cover that said Ford to city, drop dead. So my question is, Mr. Trump, Mr. President, are you going to save New York City? Or are you telling New York City to drop dead? Which one is it? But you have to speak up now or the Senate will not act and we will not get the help we need. It’s as simple as that. So the present, instead of speaking to the issue that would really help, somehow amazingly silent on the stimulus.
Mayor De Blasio: (24:50)
He has been very quick to tweet these slogans like quote unquote, liberate Virginia and liberate Michigan. Well, I say, how about liberating New York City? How about helping us get back on our feet? Right now, you could liberate us by sending us test kits. You could liberate us by sending us stimulus aid to make up for our vast budget gap. You could liberate us by helping us to restart our economy, but we can’t do that without our cops, our firefighters, our healthcare workers, our sanitation workers, our teachers. We can’t do that if we don’t have any money to pay for the most basic services of any city in a civilized country. So, I think I’ve made the point. The president has one chance to get it right here. One chance, and so far he’s silent. Time to speak up, Mr. President. With that, let me say a few words in Spanish to conclude, and then we will turn to our colleagues in the media.
Mayor De Blasio: (26:04)
[Spanish 00:26:04] So we again, can support those heroes and I think this is the call to arms for all of us. Everything you do protects each other. Everything you do supports those healthcare heroes. It’s no fun to practice social distancing. It’s no fun to stay home, but when you do, you’re protecting a healthcare worker, you’re protecting a first responder, you’re protecting the people you love. So it’ll get harder now, but let’s fight through it til the day we turn the corner and can start to bring things back to normal. With that, let’s take questions from our colleagues in the media, and please let me know the name and the outlet.
Speaker 1: (27:32)
We’ll now begin our Q&A. As a reminder, we have Dr. Katz and Dr. Barbot also on the line. First question will go to Miles from WNBC.
Good morning, Mr. Mayor, how are you doing?
Mayor De Blasio: (27:43)
Good Miles, how are you?
So, we were together in the Bronx yesterday at the food distribution center, and a number of people came up to our truck yesterday saying that they were having issues getting food, obviously turned that over to someone in your office and both of those people now being able to get food, but is there any plan to maybe have a desk there for people who want to connect and have had issues with 311? These people said that they called 311 repeatedly and had not been able to get any response.
Mayor De Blasio: (28:15)
Yeah, Miles, I appreciate anytime… Again, thank you to everyone in the media. I know Politico did some good work on this and Wynn’s did some good work on this, and I appreciate your work as well. Anytime you find folks who are not getting food, we need to know about it, we need to fix it. This is a vast, vast endeavor. Remember, we’re projecting now that for the month of April we’re talking about serving about 10 million meals, so this is a huge endeavor. But it has to be as close to perfect as it can be, so we need to know if anyone for any reason didn’t get what they needed. I think we found out the hard way that 311 was not performing up to the standards we needed a few days ago. There’s been a very rapid overhaul to add a lot more personnel and to prioritize all COVID-19 calls, particularly for food.
Mayor De Blasio: (29:08)
So, I welcome our colleagues in the media to keep testing that system, and we definitely want to hear what you find. But in terms of anyone who called before and did not get the result, we need them to call again. That’d be the first thing I’d say. If you have not gotten a food delivery, call 311 again. And yeah, at those distribution centers or any place, remember we’re also doing a huge effort with the city council to support local food pantries, soup kitchens. Any place where someone is… Those 435 school sites where we’re giving out free meals. If you tried to get the meals from 311 because you can’t get out, you don’t have the ability to go shopping and that hasn’t worked for any reason, but you are at one of those sites or can be in touch with one of those sites, they also will make sure to get you registered right away.
Mayor De Blasio: (29:58)
We’ve got 11,000 taxi drivers, yellow cab, green cab drivers, For Hire vehicle drivers, Uber, Lift, everyone, who are signed up now and participating in this delivery system. So, we have the ability, we have the food, we have the drivers. So yeah, any time anyone is near any of our food distribution sites and they need to sign up, they can do that. But most important message is if for any reason it didn’t work before, 311 has been reinforced and you can call it and you will get the service you need.
Speaker 1: (30:32)
Next question is Shant at the Daily News.
Yeah. Thank you mayor. So, granted the city is still trying to end the outbreak of course. Just wanted to ask you, what is your understanding now of why New York City is the hardest hit city in the country? Could you also say what steps you might be thinking of taking to prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again, and if you would support an independent review of what led up to this catastrophic outbreak?
Mayor De Blasio: (31:01)
Shant, I think the reason that we bore the brunt… First of all, stating the obvious, there was a strategic opportunity to limit the damage greatly in the beginning with testing. So, one thing we have seen around the world that has a profound strategic impact and that should have been available from the very beginning, and the only place that could have happened was the federal government. That needs to be available in the future. So, the most important thing we can do is, as a country, secure a consistent testing supply. Let me state the obvious, make it in America. As we’re finding this whole crisis, and when you talk about independent review, I think we have to take a hard look at everything what happened here, but really what happened around the entire nation.
Mayor De Blasio: (31:53)
We do not in this country, the greatest country on Earth, but we do not produce enough of our own medical supplies and equipment. That’s 100% clear now. That must change immediately. This disease could be with us in the future, for sure. It will be in one form or another, and there could be others out there as well. So, we have gotten an immense warning sign that we have to have our own ability to produce the medical supplies we need, and that begins with testing. We’re going to start doing it here in New York city, but we’re limited in what we can do in the first instance. This is another example of where has the federal government been? Why hasn’t the defense production act been used to convert any and all factories of whatever appropriate type, medical, chemical, pharmaceutical, you name it, to ensuring that we had ample testing, and we still need that now.
Mayor De Blasio: (32:44)
So, I think that is going to be one of the biggest lessons. I think obviously in New York City specifically, one of the biggest questions is going to come down to when you’re at such a densely populated area, which so many people who historically have not gotten enough healthcare, that this kind of disease has very fertile ground. And I think it’s going to really put a point on the question of how on earth are we going to proceed as a society without universal healthcare? Had we had a universal healthcare system, we would’ve been able to first of all, save a lot more lives on the front end because people would have been healthier, but also address it so much better. So far, one of the better examples out there is Germany, which has used its national healthcare system in a very coordinated manner to help beat the disease back and limit the damage.
Mayor De Blasio: (33:29)
And you can see, it’s like night and day compared to the United States. So, those are some of the things I think immediately. We’re going to absolutely look at everything and anything we can learn from this, and we’ll figure out the right ways to do it. I can’t comment now on what form it’ll take Shant, that’s something we’ll have to think through. But I’ll tell you one thing, we’ll do that, but we’ll do that when we finish fighting this immediate war, and we’re far from out of the woods. So, I think the time to try and figure out everything that happened was when we are finally beating back this disease once and for all and to here and now. Here and now, all our energy is going to go into fighting back to the disease and saving lives.
Speaker 1: (34:12)
Next question is Katie at the Wall Street Journal?
Hey, good morning. A happy Orthodox Easter to all who celebrate. My question is a quick two parter. The first is, will there ever be an opportunity for people who never tested positive because they couldn’t get tests or they didn’t want to waste tests for COVID to possibly give and donate plasma if they are certain, based on their symptoms, that they had it? And the second is for Dr. Barbot and Dr. Katz. I’m curious, I’ve heard from a lot of people who want to know, they’ve been in quarantine for more than a month, if they were sick, they’ve gotten better. But when can they see, not huge parties, but when can someone go visit a grandparent or another member outside of their immediate family who they haven’t been in quarantine with. I think a lot of people are confused as to do they have to wait till the pause is lifted to go see an aunt, an uncle or grandparent or can they do that in moderation?
Mayor De Blasio: (35:04)
Katie, thank you for the question, and I want to join with you in wishing a happy Orthodox Easter to all who celebrate it. I’m going to let the doctors speak to it. I will only say and both on the blood drive, as I understand it, the focus is on people who have a confirmed positive test, but the doctors will speak to that.
Mayor De Blasio: (35:33)
But in general, I would say as they speak to the question of folks coming out of quarantine and what kind of connection they can have with their family, just to remember what we said weeks and weeks ago about the dangers facing anyone who’s over 65, over 70, and folks particularly who have preexisting conditions, if they’re serious, severe conditions. And then when the two overlap, those folks are in tremendous danger and there needs to be real caution while we’re still in the heat of this crisis. Remember, we keep going over these daily indicators, Katie, and we haven’t really seen a sustained pattern of progress yet. We’ve seen something better than what we were experiencing at the beginning of April, but we have not seen sustained progress. That means this disease is still out there, and those particularly vulnerable people have to be careful. But Dr Barbot, Dr. Katz, why don’t you jump in?
Dr. Barbot: (36:26)
Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I would echo what you’ve said with regards to ensuring that we continue to protect the elderly, especially… One of the things that we have said since the beginning of this pandemic is that every day we learn new things about this virus. And the reality is it wasn’t until recently that we learned that people in the presymptomatic phase could transmit the virus. I think it is yet to be determined how long someone can continue to shed virus, and so my recommendation would be that once someone has recovered from likely COVID-19, that they continue with the preventive recommendations that we have given with regards to diligent hand-washing, continued use of face coverings and maintaining that six foot distance from others. I think to the extent that family members do want to see one another in person, I would be very diligent about ensuring, again, that I limit visitors to elderly and that I’ve put in place those three really crucial preventive measures to ensure that we continue protecting those that are at greatest risk.
Mayor De Blasio: (37:57)
Dr. Katz, you want to add on the plasma treatment or anything else?
Dr. Katz: (38:03)
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (38:03)
Plasma treatment or anything else?
Speaker 2: (38:03)
Yeah. On the plasma treatment, initially our focus is on people who are known positive. The people who seem to make the most antibodies are people who have a major disease. People who have had a milder course don’t seem to make as much in the way of antibodies. That’s part of why we’re focusing on people with known infections.
Speaker 2: (38:28)
There may come a time when we’re able to test other people as well, and some of them may turn out to have robust antibodies and therefore be plasma donors; but right now we’re focused on people with a known positive.
Speaker 3: (38:46)
Next question is Todd, AM New York.
Good morning, Mr Mayor.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (38:51)
Todd, how are you?
I’m doing great. I have a question. Last night, the police responded to a rap party video, whatever it is, and they issued 60 summonses and arrested two people for having guns. This was a huge gathering. I would love a comment from you and maybe what message do you want to send? It was mostly young people. So what message do we want to send to them?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (39:32)
Look, my message is, this is not business as usual. When you’re partying in the middle of a pandemic, you’re risking your life and the life of everyone around you. And I understand young people, I understand teenagers, I understand everything that they feel and maybe the way they don’t hear information the same way adults do. But you know what? This is different than anything we’ve lived through in our entire lives.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (39:58)
The message has been given over and over again about how dangerous the situation is. So I say, I want to say thank you to all the officers who went out there and broke that up. By doing that they’re not only protecting those young people, but think about the parents, the aunts, the uncles, the grandparents who are going to come in contact with those young people, who need to be safe.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (40:20)
And when people get together for a party one young person could be picking up that disease from another young person and bringing it home where their older relatives could be endangered. The police are absolutely doing the right thing to break it up, but we’re going to keep breaking those things up. If people need a get summonses to get the message, we’ll do it.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (40:39)
And remember also in terms of the guns that they picked up, policing goes on the fight always to protect public safety goes on and even though we have seen a lot of crime go down during this crisis, police still have to remain vigilant. So I particularly commend them for getting those two guns off the street.
Speaker 3: (40:58)
Next question is Yoav at The City.
Mr Mayor, I wanted to ask about the city’s efforts for nursing homes. The volunteers that you mentioned for the 40 plus nursing homes, when are they going to start actually working there? On testing the city is adding the 50,000 tests this week from Aria. How many of those, if any, will be earmarked for nursing homes?
And same question about securing PPE for nursing homes. Are there any efforts by the city currently? And if so, do you have any specific numbers on that? And just more broadly speaking [crosstalk 00:03:42]-
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (41:42)
Yoav, come on man, you’re doing a 16 part question. I got you on what you got here. In the interest of balance with your colleagues, that’s a good set of questions right there.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (41:54)
The nursing homes, that’s going to move quickly with the folks coming in, the medical volunteers. We’ll get you the exact timeline on that. Now I’d say the whole picture with nursing homes. Look, the way we’re looking at this crisis is it’s all hands on deck. So the normal lines of authority here remain meaning let’s just break it down.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (42:18)
For example, in the hospital world we run, of course the city of New York runs health and hospitals runs the 11 public hospitals. The voluntary hospitals, the independent hospitals are all regulated by the state of New York. Nursing homes are regulated by the state of New York. In peacetime there would be a very clear division of labor.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (42:41)
But in this wartime dynamic, everyone is working together. The regulatory responsibilities of course remain. We’re in charge of our public hospitals, the state’s in charge of all the other hospitals and the nursing homes. But what we’re doing is when ever there are those independent hospitals in particular need, they have a lot less resources than the voluntary hospitals, those bigger hospital systems do.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (43:06)
When nursing homes are in need. We have made it a city priority to get them PPEs, to get them support. And now as we look at their staffing situation, they’ve gone through a lot. We made the decision to take some of our city medical volunteers and not just use them for our public hospitals, but use them for those independent hospitals and for the nursing homes as well. We’ll get you exact timelines on that.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (43:35)
That is staffing and that is also in terms of PPEs. The PPEs has been ongoing already where nursing homes have been getting regular supplies and we can get you the details on the broad strokes of that. But the bottom line is nursing homes are supplied regularly from everything we take in. I have a note here telling me that a number of the medical volunteers have already gotten to the nursing homes, but we’ll get you more detail on that.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (44:03)
In terms of the test kits coming in from Aria. The first priority is still, again, protecting the lives of patients whose lives are in danger, protecting healthcare workers, protecting first responders. We’re now expanding, as you know, to community based testing in the communities hit hardest with a focused on folks who are older and have preexisting conditions, and testing for adult home workers, and home healthcare workers, and folks who go and directly are at the frontline in a different way. We’re doing that in coordination with 1199 SCIU.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (44:41)
Those test kits are being used in that manner. The more test kits we get in plus the personnel to administer them, plus the PPEs to protect them, the deeper we want to go. So certainly nursing homes are one of the places we’re going to be looking to do more with as we get more and more in, but we’ll have details on that as we get to that point.
Speaker 3: (45:03)
Next question is Kathleen from Patch
Hi, Mr. Mayor and everyone. Given your concerns about the lack of federal funding, I’d like to know how many New Yorkers your office estimates will become food insecure this year? And how many of them you can feed if federal assistance doesn’t come?
And providing weather how was the city preparing for blackouts considering that people aren’t going to be able to go to the office, or the movie theater [inaudible 00:45:30] and will probably be blasting their air conditioners at home?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (45:34)
That’s a great question Kathleen. I appreciate it and we got a good question out of the day about the question of heat waves, too. Which the two go together. Obviously when we see the heat waves is when we’ve had problems with our electricity supply.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (45:53)
We have a little time to prepare. Obviously we are coming up with a plan of how to deal with heat waves in general and obviously we need to look at different models of how working with the state, working with utilities we can do more to avoid blackouts. Some important work happened last year after what happened last summer to put additional protections in place but we got to make sure those are strong.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (46:20)
I think you’re right that a lot of people will be home using air conditioning as it gets hot. I think given that we expect the economy start to come back in stages, I still imagine there’s going to be a lot less use overall then if all the offices and all the businesses were at full boar. But we need to model that and I think it’s a great question of what we expect when and how we stay ahead of it. We’ll have more to say on that as it starts to get a little warmer.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (46:51)
On the number of people, food insecure. I’ll come back to you with a population estimates but I can tell you one thing, the common sense answer is it’s a hell of a lot of people and it’s growing. Because I share the projections that say we’re somewhere along the line to about a half million New Yorkers either already unemployed or on the way to it, even with some forms of support that are coming in, that’s just a massive number of people who don’t have or won’t have the resources they used to have and that’s going to cause deeper and deeper food insecurity.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (47:27)
Kathleen, a way to think about it, as I said, we now right think in April we’re going to provide about 10 million meals to New Yorkers. That number is going to probably go up to something like 15 million in May; just based on the increases we see in need and the number of calls coming in. But we’ll get you a better estimate on how many people we think are effected and where we think it’s going.
Speaker 3: (47:52)
Next question is Abu from [inaudible 00:00:47:53].
Hello? Mr Mayor. Did you hear me?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (48:00)
Yes. Can you hear me?
Yes. Hi, how are you Mr. Mayor?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (48:05)
Good. How are you doing?
Thank you so much. My question is, since the Corona situation happened, how many times do you talk to President Trump? And since he said you are the worst mayor, what was the mood of to talking to you?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (48:26)
Abu, it’s a great question and I have spoken to the President somewhere between I’d say eight and 10 times in the last month or so. Look, it is a complex dynamic. Obviously, we disagree fundamentally, across the board almost. But the first conversation we had was a very practical one about the immediate needs that New York city had, and that was at a point where unfortunately the crisis was growing by the day. Even with the profound differences we have, we were able in that moment to put them aside and just talk very specifically about where we would get ventilators, where we would get PPEs. I spoke to him a number of times about trying to get the military medical personnel in and how crucial that would be. And again, I will always say I have profound differences on what he’s doing right now with the stimulus, what he’s doing, nothing. And I have profound differences with the way he mishandled the beginning of this crisis with a absolute inability to acknowledge the depth of it and get us the testing we needed.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (49:34)
But over a few weeks time, I did see real results from him and from his colleagues in the White House getting us at least something in the way of ventilators, PPEs personnel. And I valued that and I said it and I praised it many times because it was something we needed.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (49:50)
But let’s be clear that that was to help us survive. Now, we’re talking about how do we fight back this disease and how do we restart our city, largest city in the nation, the linchpin of the American economy. How do we restart it? I’ve had this conversation with him and the Vice President, I’ve appealed to them. I’ve gotten nothing back; no response, no public statement about the importance of the stimulus. I find it just unbelievable.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (50:17)
I don’t know what they think they will gain through their silence, both the President and Vice President. If the President remains silent and the money to relieve America cities and States doesn’t come, he is guaranteeing that there will not be a recovery. It’s as simple as that. You can’t have a recovery if your state and local governments aren’t functioning. And it just makes no sense. It makes no sense, humanely, morally, it makes no sense for what he says is his priority.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (50:48)
The conversations have been unusual I’ll put it that way. Because sometimes I see something I can make some sense of and sometimes I don’t. But the strangest part to me is I put the clearest need on the table, made it abundantly clear what it would mean to all of us in New York city, but to everyone around the country and how it fit everything he said he believes in and wants to do and I got no response whatsoever.
Speaker 3: (51:21)
Next question is a Roger at 1010 Wins.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (51:27)
Roger? Roger are you out there?
Speaker 3: (51:32)
We can come back to Roger. Next question is Sydney at Gothamist.
Hi, Mr Mayor. This is Sydney with Gothamist. You’ve been updating us every day on these very three specific indicators for a few days now or a week or so and they’ve been ticking up and down. Today it was a mixed bag like you said. The other day it ticked all in the direction that we don’t want to see, but now that we’ve been following these, what are they telling us so far? Is this a plateau? Could you give some context around what these really specific numbers are showing?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (52:07)
Yeah, Sydney, fantastic question because this is what we’re all asking ourselves. Is it a plateau? Which would be really bad in my view because that means we’re fighting this same kind of horrible Groundhog Day reality of a lot of people going through hell and our system pushed to the limit and the inability to really turn the corner and relax the restrictions, that’s what a plateau means. Plateau is not a good word.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (52:37)
I think it’s too soon to tell. I think compared to where we were, look, just take the beginning of April and you remember I talked about Sunday, April 5th I went over this with so many people, so many times during the days leading up to that we thought we were about to really walk through the gates of hell. We thought we were about to go into a just horrendous situation and at that point it leveled off and thank God it did.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (53:04)
The plus side of what you’ve been seeing now over the last two weeks or so with these indicators is that it is better than it was projected to be by a lot. And we have shown the ability to make progress and it obviously relates to the strategies in place, like a shelter in place and social distancing and keeping those tight.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (53:27)
What it does not yet tell us is, is this a sustained reality is sort of up and down different days? Or can we turn the corner and get some momentum? Now, yesterday again we had a mixed bag, but three of the four indicators went in the right direction and the one that went up only went up by a little bit.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (53:46)
We’ve had days like that are a little more hopeful and I still remain convinced that if we do things the right way we can create the momentum and start on the pathway to the next stage. But I think we have just too small a sample size right now. I think it’s going to take more before we can get a real take on this. Either of our doctors want to comment on that?
Speaker 4: (54:10)
Yes, Mr Mayor, I want to build on what you laid out to say that I think it’s important for us to look at these measures, but I also want to remind New Yorkers that it’s normal for us to see what I refer to as a saw tooth pattern. Meaning that some days we’ll see them go up, other days we’ll see them go down.
Speaker 4: (54:32)
And the important thing is to look at them in the broader picture and what the trends have been. And so I think for the last several days, perhaps a week and a half or so we have been saying that we are seeing very encouraging news in terms of the various indicators that we follow and that we need New Yorkers to continue though adhering to social distancing. I think the important thing here to note is that it’s to be expected that we’ll see daily fluctuations, but that broadly speaking, these do seem to be moving in the right direction, but it’s too early to declare whether it’s a plateau or whether we’re seeing sustained reduction.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (55:19)
Thank you. Do we have Roger back or not?
Speaker 3: (55:24)
Roger, you with us?
Mayor, can you hear me?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (55:27)
Can you hear me? Roger?
Yeah. Can you hear me?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (55:30)
I’d like to talk about Borrow Park. There have been tweets suggesting that a policeman cracking down on illegal gatherings in the Hasidic community, but they’re not issuing summonses or making arrest. And some are saying that they’re not getting authorization to do that from you or from the top brass at the NYPD. Can you comment on that?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (55:55)
Yeah, sure, I can comment. That’s bull. Let’s put it politely. Roger, I have had this conversation with leaders of the Jewish community. I’ve had the conversation with Commissioner Shay and Chief Monaghan. No, no. It’s abundantly clear. There is a crackdown anywhere that people are ignoring the rules that have been put in place.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (56:20)
You remember back at Passover, we talked about a very small number of individuals who were still trying to gather in the Jewish community. There was also some that were trying to gather in Christian communities, and we said literally right in the middle of the holidays, that if people tried to gather, they tried to go into their houses of worship, the NYPD would meet them there and turn them back.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (56:46)
If we had to lock the doors, we’d lock it. If we had to have the builders department go in and deem the building a place that people could not occupy, we would do that. Whatever it takes, including the fines and all. No, that’s just wrong. Anybody who’s gathering-
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (57:03)
Fines and also, no, that’s just wrong. Anybody who’s gathering is going to be dispersed, and if there needs to be violations, there absolutely will be. Arrests would be, of course, the very last resort, but right now the job is this, stop people from gathering, if they need to be dispersed, disperse them, if violations have to be given, they can be given up to $1,000 per person, and very last resort, and it will only be used if there was tremendous resistance, of course there can be arrested. I’ve had this conversation with Commissioner Shea, overtly he agrees, we all agree, and no one’s going to hesitate to do it if that’s what it takes.
Speaker 5: (57:42)
Next is Reuven from the post?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (57:47)
Reuven, can you hear me?
Yeah. Can you hear me?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (57:50)
Just wanted to see if you could weigh in please, some members of the city council are urging the governor to shut down subways to stop the spread of course, and I wanted to see if I could get your take on that.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (58:05)
Look, I respect obviously that that’s a decision the state has to make, the governor has to make. They run the MTA. But I would say so far the biggest challenge that would create would be for our frontline healthcare workers, first responders, essential workers. I don’t know a truly effective way they could get around. I’ve heard different ideas thrown out there, but I don’t know how it would work honestly. And we can’t have those people in a position where they can’t get to work. Most New Yorkers don’t have a car. So I’m dubious about whether there is any alternative, honestly. And obviously with the subways, the ridership is down greatly.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (58:48)
So we need tight social distancing standards, and I think the MTA needs to do a better job of defining really clearly what’s the maximum number of people that should be on a subway car, and ensuring with the NYPD there’s never more than that number on a subway car. But I think the real question here is if we continue to limit the number of non-essential workers, the subway should be able to function in a way that still allows for social distancing. And they are still the best way, and the buses of course, for people to get around.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (59:25)
As we start to increase over time, we got to make sure that people can remain safe. So that’s where I think it gets more complex. But I have trouble understanding any proposal unless we can prove that there’s another way for people to get around that actually works, the people we need the most, if they can’t get to where we need them, that poses a threat to everyone.
Speaker 5: (59:50)
Next, we have Janin from Cranes.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (59:50)
Say that name again.
Speaker 5: (59:50)
Janin Fisher from Cranes.
Speaker 6: (59:53)
Hi, Mr mayor. Janin Fisher.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (59:56)
Speaker 6: (59:57)
Hi, Mr. Mayor, Jane and Fisher. This week the business community has given some dire prognostications about the economic forecast of the city. Your plan seems to lean heavily on federal aid and cutting city services. All indications of that federal aid may not come, what is your plan B?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:00:19)
Janin, I don’t start with the assumption the federal aid won’t come. I appreciate one could see it that way, but I don’t see it that way. I’ll tell you why, because I think there’s a logic here, I never would accuse thE folks in Washington D.C. Of being logical normally, but I think there’s a survival logic. If the president doesn’t step up, and if the Senate Republicans don’t step up, and there is not aid to cities and states, there will not be an economic recovery period. It literally cannot work. If cities and States cannot provide basic services, you will not have an environment where the economy can restart. You’ll have huge numbers of people out of work. It will not work. And I think the sheer pragmatic reality will, sooner rather than later, become clear and overcome the ideology.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:01:13)
The only thing standing in the way here is ideology, a Republican ideology that somehow does not want to support State and local governments that are holding the line right now and saving lives, and it makes no sense against the backdrop of this crisis. I think what you’re going to see, Janin, is more and more members of the business community speaking up because they’re practical. They know if their city and state governments can’t function and there aren’t basic services, they won’t be able to sustain their businesses.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:01:46)
So no, I do think eventually the hand of a President Trump and, and Leader McConnell will be forced. Now it shouldn’t have to be forced, they should do this because it’s the right thing to do. If they could give $58 billion to the airline industry, they could certainly do more for the nation’s largest city, to get us back on our feet, we’re the economic leader of the country. Again, the president was able to lead the way to 1.5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations a couple of years ago. Of course, he could make this happen.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:02:19)
So I don’t think it’s right to say that’s unlikely. I think it has to happen or the results will be just fundamentally horrible for people, horrible for working people, but they also will set back a recovery deeply.
Speaker 5: (01:02:34)
We have time for two more. Next question is Debra Lee from Manhattan Times.
Debra Lee: (01:02:39)
Hey, good morning everyone. How are you?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:02:41)
Debra Lee: (01:02:41)
I wanted to ask, Mr. Mayor, about earlier this week when you unveiled a very sobering municipal budget, and you described it at the time as wartime, even in years of more robust revenues and projections, the shortfalls that exist are really taken out nonprofits across the city and they’re addressing the very areas that we’re looking to focus on now, shelter, food, health. What is the guidance really at this point given that some of them are really peering on the precipice of extinction, and have some real concerns about how they’re going to move forward from this time. Many of them are really, really beginning to falter?
Debra Lee: (01:03:19)
And the second question I have is about the field hospital in the Bronx. We know that the federal government is in charge, but there’s nothing, there’s no field hospital in the borough at all, for the borough that’s been most impacted. And your thoughts on that?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:03:33)
Well, Debra Lee on that point, look, the entire reality with the field hospitals changed in a matter of days. Again, if you go back to Sunday, April 5th, everyone, and I will say this was actually a case of real coordination and common cause, federal government, state government, city government, everyone was on the same page. Massive expansion in field hospital capacity. We were going to turn a vast number of hotels in the field hospitals, everyone was on the same page that the numbers were terrifying and suggested a need for a massive number of beds, huge more number, more ICU beds, a huge number of beds for people convalescing from COVID, and then things changed and they leveled off substantially.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:04:20)
So the question to me now is what are the needs of the people in the Bronx in terms of hospital beds? Dr. Katz can speak to this in a moment, but the question is, have our hospitals, which all of which were expanding, remember Debra Lee, every hospital is under obligation to expand bed capacity. Have they been able to sustain the needs of the people in the Bronx, within the existing hospitals? And if we see anything that suggests we need additional capacity, we can turn it right back on. But my sense is what happened is when things leveled off, the hospitals were able to pick up a lot more slack than originally intended. So let me have Dr. Katz jump in there, and then I’ll speak to the nonprofit issue.
Dr. Kartz: (01:05:08)
You’re correct sir. Our three Bronx hospitals, Lincoln, Jacoby and NCB have already peaked in terms of their census and actually have fewer patients now than they did about 10 days ago. So I feel confident that without field hospitals we’ll still have enough capacity to take care of people who are ill.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:05:31)
Thank you doctor. On the nonprofits, Deborah Lee, you’re asking a really powerful question. This city has the strongest nonprofit network community based organization network than any place in this country by far. It is one of the reasons we succeed in protecting people and protecting their health as well as we do, and protecting young people, supporting young people. There’s so many things that we reply on the nonprofits for. I think you’re making a powerful point. Every nonprofit is feeling tremendous strain. Some of the bigger, stronger ones are going to come through. There’s a lot of smaller ones and community based ones that are going to go through a much deeper crisis. Today we can only do a modest amount to help because everybody’s in this state of, sort of, suspended animation trying to figure out where we’re going with this crisis and when we’re going to be able to do our physical work again and have our society and economy get back to something more normal.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:06:35)
I think the question going forward is once we have a picture where we’re going, once we see what kind of support we’re getting from the federal government, et cetera, what can we do to protect those community-based nonprofits? I think it’s a really important priority, but I can’t give you a game plan yet because we’re still not out of the woods with the immediate crisis. I can tell you it’s something we’re going to talk about overtly in our budget process looking to June, because someday things will get back to normal and we’re going to be depending on them.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:07:05)
I’ll give you a small example, but I was just in Bedstuy in Brooklyn in a campaign against hunger, a really community based organization. This one of course dealing with food in the middle of a food crisis. So their work is particularly pertinent to the moment. But if they had not already been there and been a strong community based organization, it would be a lot harder right now for us to get food to people who need it in that part of Brooklyn. So I think that’s an object lesson of why we need the nonprofits to survive this crisis, and we’ll do everything we can to help them do that.
Speaker 5: (01:07:39)
Last question for today goes to Jacob from Jewish Insider.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:07:45)
Jacob? Let’s try again. Jacob, can you hear me? Jacob?
Can you hear me now?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:07:53)
Hi Mr. Mayor. Good morning. I was very encouraged to hear your comments about enforcement, but I just wanted to detail a complaint that I myself had reported on Friday on the specific location that was open over the holidays and also on the Sabbath. Police actually came down. They were there for 15 minutes, but they were clueless. They didn’t even know that there is such a restriction against opening such locations, and they didn’t disperse the crowd. It was an hour before Shabbat came in, an hour before the services were to be conducted, and the entire Shabbat, which is Friday night, Shabbat morning, and in the evening, there were over 40 people in that specific location.
I cannot confirm about other locations, but although I know a majority of Schuls were officially closed, I know from people who have confirmed to me that some Schuls were open and I’ve been open over the past few weeks. So when you talk about enforcement, can you clarify first of all, what kind of enforcement, and how will you as the mayor of New York city, in order to save lives, make sure that these are not just warnings, these are not just fines, but these things do not keep on happening? Because I have witnessed my own complaint, and I’ve seen the NYPD not do the enforcement that you are speaking about, but also people are not necessarily taking pictures and sending it to 311.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:09:42)
All right, so Jacob, stay on the line. Let’s keep that line up and with Jacob. Thank you Jacob for reporting this. First of all, the location where you say the police went and did not disperse, where is that place?
That’s on 43rd street in Brooklyn.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:09:58)
Okay. Can we get an exact location?
Yes. 1321 43rd street.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:10:04)
Okay, so I want to thank you for that report. We’re going to deal with… I’ll talk to commissioner Shea right after this. I will order that there be police there and waiting for the next Shabbat to ensure that no one gathers and to watch throughout Shabbat to make sure there is no gathering. And I’d like to ask of you if you have any other locations you’ve heard about, please give them to our team here at city hall. Any details, and I want to say this to all our colleagues in the media, but also to all New Yorkers. This is why I’m asking people to call 311, or to send those photos in, but I need specificity, I need to know the location, I need to know the time, and what people saw, obviously a photo says it all, or a description of what you saw.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:10:58)
It’s unacceptable, Jacob, for people to gather. As you said, the vast majority of Schuls have closed, across the board the rabbinical leadership has worked with us to tell people do not gather. We’ve seen tremendous adherence. There are clearly still some who are violating, and we will be very harsh about that. So it goes like this. We’re going to have police there to not allow people to gather. If someone gathers that we didn’t hear about, we’ll go break it up, send people home. If people need violations up to $1,000 per person, we will do that.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:11:31)
Again, we don’t want to do arrests unless someone is absolutely refusing police instructions. Then arrest is an option as well. But we have been over this and over this, so all we got to do now is know the locations. Commissioner Shane has been abundantly clear that there will be full enforcement. And anyone who gives me location, I will make sure the police are there. And if for any reason police don’t follow through, then that precinct commander will be in trouble. It’s as simple as that. This is a crisis. This is about saving lives. So this is real serious stuff. So let’s be really clear. It’s going to be super easy to tell who’s doing their job and not doing their job. You just give me the places and the times, and we will do the rest.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:12:15)
Jacob, thank you. Really appreciate that. Keep that information coming in and everyone else. And again, that’s a good note. As we wrap up here. Look, again, I don’t like the notion that we’re going to have to have New Yorkers calling in reports like that. I don’t like it. I don’t think anyone likes it. No one wants to do it. No one wants to see someone get a thousand dollar fine. No one wants to see this kind of enforcement action has to happen. But it does have to happen. And this is why I keep coming back to, if you don’t like this crisis and what is doing to us, you got to actually do something about it. Now the vast majority of New Yorkers are, and I say thank you. I really do. You’ve been amazing. The folks who still don’t get it are going to have to pay a price.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:13:04)
So please help us do what is right and what is just, if you see it, call it in, send the photo in so we can do something about it. Anyone who’s ignoring these instructions is putting other people’s lives in danger. And I would say to people across all communities, every part of the city, all families, all cultures, every neighborhood people love our elders, we respect our elders. They’re the ones who are in danger. If we don’t follow these rules, you know who’s going to suffer? Folks in their sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties. Those are the people we are supposed to love and honor, but if we don’t follow these rules, we’re putting them in danger.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:13:46)
So when you call 311, when you send a photo, you’re actually protecting people. You particularly protecting our elders, you’re protecting our healthcare workers. We need to do it. And then it is, our job in the city, it is the job of the NYPD, it is the job of all enforcement agencies to follow through and show people there are real consequences because that’s how we’ll save lives. With that, everyone, again, it’s a beautiful spring day, enjoy it a little bit and then get on back home and let’s protect each other. Thanks so much.