Apr 14, 2020
Gov. Bill de Blasio NYC Briefing Transcript April 14
Mayor Bill de Blasio held his New York City coronavirus briefing on April 14. Read the full transcript with his full updates.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev for free and save time transcribing. Transcribe or caption speeches, interviews, meetings, town halls, phone calls, and more. Rev is the largest, most trusted, fastest, and most accurate provider of transcription services and closed captioning & subtitling services in the world.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
This has been the topic we’ve all been focused on now for months and months. So I’m going to give you some important news and some good news, but I want to frame it first because this really comes down to how New York City and New Yorkers are responding to this crisis. Now this is a city that has always been a special place, has always been a place full of energy, creativity, entrepreneurship. This is a place everyone knows it all over the nation, all over the world. This is a place where people make things happen, and even the midst of this crisis, New Yorkers have been making things happen. Small things in the neighborhood to help people out. Big things that could change lives and save lives as well. The spirit of ingenuity, the spirit of fight has been so clear over these last weeks in this city and it’s growing all the time.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (00:56)
People are not… Not only New Yorkers not giving up, New Yorkers never give up. New Yorkers are forging ahead to find new ways to fight back against the Coronavirus. And look, this is who we are, this a place where we believe in getting things done. And I have challenged the members of my team to do things that were previously not doable, not thinkable, but now have to be in light of the crisis we’re facing and all the problems we’ve had getting our federal government to respond, getting the markets all over the world to be reliable. All the challenges we’ve faced trying to get the supplies we need and the help we need have created a reality for us where we have to defend ourselves, we have to fight for ourselves, we have to create things here, even if they were never created before.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:56)
So that’s who we are as a people and that’s what New Yorkers are showing once again, one of the greatest crisis we’ve ever felt. Let me talk to you today about how we got to what I’m about to tell you about. Over these last years we’ve seen in New York City more and more the growth of advanced manufacturing, the growth of biotech, the growth of the technology sector. Over these last years, more and more capacity growing in this city and it’s allowing us to do things that before would not have been imaginable. So let me start with the crucial, crucial supplies that we depend on to protect our healthcare workers and our first responders, the personal protective equipment. I’ve taken several trips out to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, tried to show all of you the amazing work happening there. But what I first want to tell you about today is that this work is now being supercharged.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (03:07)
The face shields, which are so crucial to keeping our heroes safe started modestly, people in the Brooklyn Navy Yard making the face shields by hand with the components they could get, a wartime factory for wartime conditions. I told you a few days ago on Sunday that when it came to face shields, we really need them, but we only had enough to get through this week when you look at all the hospitals of our city. But now we are having a real breakthrough. The companies that came together have now been joined by more companies. Now we have eight companies in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Brooklyn Army Terminal and in Manhattan all working together to create the maximum number of face shields for our heroes. They started very modestly, but now they can produce 240,000 per week. That will grow to 465,000 per week by Friday, April 24th and then the goal soon thereafter will be to produce 620,000 face shields per week right here in New York City. Made by New York City workers and New York City companies.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (04:19)
That is enough to reach the crisis standard we’re working on under right now. What this means is we will be able to fulfill our entire need for face shields right here in New York City. Now we’re going to keep working to get more outside, obviously we want a bigger supply. We want to make sure we’re secure for the future. We want to someday move off that crisis standard and go higher to an even better standard, but for long as we’re in the middle of this war, so long as we’re fighting the Coronavirus in the kind of crisis dynamics we are in now for the first time with something as important as face shields, one of the major PPE’s, we’re going to be able to say we are self-sufficient. New York City will be self sufficient.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (05:02)
We will no longer be at the whim of either the federal government, the international markets. We won’t have to import things from overseas, we will be self sufficient. That’s the first point. The second point surgical gowns. Now we need a huge number of these every week, this is an area where it’s not possible yet to be self sufficient, but where we’re making huge, huge strides. Again on Sunday, I told you this was an area I was deeply concerned about where we had enough to get through this week, but we couldn’t tell you yet about next week. We’re moving to get major supplies in from all over the country. So this is an area where we do see some relief coming, but again, we will be best off if the most possible surgical gowns are made right here in New York City. Five companies are now participating in this effort to protect our heroes.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (05:53)
They’re in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, they’re in Sunset Park, they’re in the garment center in Manhattan and in Long Island City, Queens. They’re currently only making 30,000 per week, but by next week that will go up to 100,000. Soon thereafter, we want to get to 250,000 surgical gowns per week and then we’re looking to go even farther. So this is an area where we’re going to make a lot of progress. These are particularly important to protecting those who are saving our lives. Another great example of New York City ingenuity and the speed with which New Yorkers can move. Both these items I just told you about face shields, surgical gowns were never in recent memory made in New York City. These are brand new production lines created from scratch by companies here by New York City workers in an atmosphere crisis and they’ve surpassed any possible expectation we could have and they’re going farther.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (06:48)
But look, as much as we’ve been so deeply concerned about the PPE’s and we’re going to be concerned about them until this crisis is over because they mean protection for those who are saving our lives. The number one issue from day one has been testing. When we started fighting the Coronavirus here in the city, we said we needed the federal help with testing. It never came. We have scoured the world looking for test kits on the open market. It’s been an extraordinarily frustrating. We’ve had so many good people searching everywhere just to buy the test kits to get a reliable supply. It has not been possible. So, over months now the place we turn to for help, Washington DC, we never got a straight answer. We never got a consistent approach and we wondered when would the day come that we could actually get the test kits we need so we could start on that road that I talked about a few days ago from this widespread transmission of the Coronavirus to low-level transmission and eventually no transmission.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (07:55)
To get there, you must have testing in large quantities and we knew that as recently as yesterday, we did not know when and where we would get those test kits. Now we’ve had one breakthrough on the open market and then another breakthrough right here in New York City and I’m so excited to tell you about this. Our friends from Carmel, Indiana, I talk about them a few days ago, they donated test kits, a biotech firm there donated test kits to us, but now they have confirmed they can produce them regularly for New York City. So on top of their donation of 50,000 kits, which we’re so appreciative for, Aria Diagnostics, Carmel, Indiana is now going to be producing test kits for New York City. We will be purchasing them starting Monday, April 20th this coming Monday, we’ll be purchasing 50,000 full test kits per week from Aria Diagnostics. I’m sure New Yorkers wouldn’t have thought that the cavalry would come from Carmel, Indiana, but it has, this is going to be a big piece of the solution going forward.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (09:09)
We’re going to get a whole lot more. I want to be clear because to really get to that point where there’s no more transmission, we’re going to need a huge number of test kits. But even being able to know we can rely on 50,000 a week from a supplier that we believe in, that’s going to be a major, major step forward for this city. I want to thank Mayor Jim Brainard of Carmel, Indiana, who I’ve gotten to know over the last few years very well at the US Conference of Mayors. He and I are on the leadership of that body and he has been an extraordinary friend and ally and really stepped up for New York City. So Mayor Brainard again, thank you. Thank you to everyone in Carmel. Thank you to Aria Diagnostics, this is a big step. So that’s 50,000 per week, but we’re going to need a lot more. And remember a test kit, and I talked about this a few days ago, I used the analogy of a cup of coffee with cream and sugar.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (10:06)
You need the coffee beans, you need the water, you need the cream, you need the sugar, you need the coffee mug. Putting together the full test kit takes three basic components. The nasal swab, the liquid solution, that’s what you keep the sample in is called a viral transport medium and a tube with a screw top that keeps the sample secure and sanitary. You need all three of those things to perform a test for the Coronavirus and then of course you have to get that test to a lab that then processes it. So we’re talking right now about just collecting the test itself from an individual, whole other part of the equation is continuing to increase the capacity in labs to process these tests and give us the answer person by person, positive or negative. And again, we’ll have to do that on a mass scale going forward.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (11:04)
But to get these three parts together so you can collect a test from someone, well that’s, you can’t get to first base unless you have the actual tests that you can collect from people. So needing those three pieces was crucial. Again, our efforts to get them consistently from Washington DC, no result. Our efforts scanned from the open market, never could get a reliable partner until today with Aria Diagnostics. So as we went through these last days and saw New York City companies stepping up, our local government, particularly economic development corporation, bringing together partners from the private sector, figuring out how we could do surgical gowns, figuring out how we could do face shields, starting to figure out other equipment that we need to build and we’ll have announcements on that too. Constantly figuring out new ways to support our hospitals and get them the supplies and equipment they need. More and more what’s happened is the members of our team here at city hall, economic development corporation and companies and even universities now all talking about what can we produce here? How can we do it more and more? How can we do things that have never been done in New York City.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (12:12)
So just a few days ago people started saying, “Wait a minute, if we can make all these other things, could we say no matter what’s going on in the international market, no matter what’s going on in Washington, could we actually make the test kits here?” There’s nothing like it in New York City being made right now. Nothing even close. But could we make them here if we just throw in the kitchen sink and tried all the ingenuity that exists in this city?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (12:39)
At first, of course we didn’t know what the answer would be. We had to pull together a lot of smart people to figure out could it be done, could it be done quickly enough? Could it be done in the quantities that we needed? And we thought about what New Yorkers are facing and we thought about this crisis and what we have to get through. And we said, “Well, if people can make them around the world, why not us? Why couldn’t we make them? Even if we’ve never done it before.” Companies all over the world could make some of these components, why couldn’t the most innovative city on earth figure out a way? So I’m here to announce to you that we have found a way and starting in a few weeks, we will be producing here in New York City, 50,000 test kits per week with components put together right here with companies, universities, New York City workers right here, building a brand new supply chain to feed this industry that will now develop in New York City 50,000 tests per week to begin.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (13:47)
And if we can go farther, we’re going to build it up rapidly. It means commercial labs and academic institutions in this city working together to produce that liquid solution the right way. It means local manufacturers and 3D printers coming together to make the testing swabs and the tubes. Something as simple as those testing swabs, the entire international market has been struggling because those swabs have been less and less available. In fact, a lot of them are made in places that were deep in the middle of the COVID crisis themselves. So the whole international supply was disrupted. But now, through the ingenuity of New York City producers figured out a way to make them right here. Production will begin in a few weeks at the beginning of May, 50,000 a week to begin, add that to the 50,000 a week from Aria Diagnostics. We’ll have 100,000 full test kits per week that New York City can rely on 400,000 per month and that’s just the beginning.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (14:54)
So, we will have to take that new capacity, ensure that there are labs that can handle all those tests and get us results in real time. And remember we’re going to need the personnel to administer the tests. We’re going to need the PPE’s to protect the personnel who administer the test. There are a lot of pieces to this equation and all the while continuing as a city to make the progress we’re making through social distancing and shelter in place. So even while we’re building out this brand new capacity and it’s going to help us to the next stage, we will not let our foot off the gas. We will not relent in the successful strategies that are now opening the door to getting out of this horrible crisis.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (15:42)
But I want to keep cautioning, it takes all these pieces coming together. Now the good news is as we see some progress on the hospital front and we’re far from out of the woods because we see some progress, that’s going to give us a little more ability to free up some medical personnel for testing. As we see some progress getting more PPE’s, that allow us to devote more PPE’s to testing.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (16:09)
But all these pieces have to come together and we’re still not in a situation where you can say it’s going to be easy, it’s not. But we need to find a way to keep building up the testing because it’s one of the foundations of getting to that next phase. When you get to that next phase, when you get to low level transmission and remember, then you’re able to constantly test people, figure out who has the Coronavirus and needs to be isolated, needs to be quarantine, get them the support they need, keep them away from other folks that they might infect. You have to know how to constantly trace anyone who has been infected, the people in their life who might’ve been exposed. So you can get to them, test them, isolate them if they need it. It’s a constant moving machine to ensure that the cases, each and every one individually are addressed. And you go back to a containment strategy, which is where we were weeks ago when we had the very first cases here in New York City. That’s where we want to get back to. But to do that, we need a whole lot of testing. For the first time, we’re going to have a truly reliable major supply of testing. And I’m so proud of my fellow New Yorkers. I’m so proud of the people in the companies who are helping us. So proud of the people in my administration who put together this plan. A lot of folks who have said this was impossible, they’re making it possible. And that’s what New Yorkers do.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (17:36)
Now I want to be crystal clear. This does not let the federal government off the hook. So please, even though I’m telling you good news and something unprecedented and a real breakthrough, it does not take away the responsibility of the federal government has. Not only do they have to deal with the fact that for months and months, they didn’t do what they needed that could have helped us stop this crisis from growing the way it has, but they still have to come through now because the amount of testing we’re going to need, the amount of testing is going be needed all over the-
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (18:03)
Have to come through now because the amount of testing we’re going to need, the amount of testing that is going to be needed all over the country is vast, but hopefully the example New York City is setting will be recognized in Washington, that if we can do it here in a place that doesn’t produce tests, has figured out a way to do it, then why can’t it be done all over this country? Why can’t we build up a supply that could protect all of us? If the federal government can’t figure it out, then get out of the way and let us at the local level get this done, but support us, get us the components, get us the help so that we can do this rapidly and protect ourselves.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (18:41)
So I want to see how far we can go, how quickly you can go. 50,000 test kits produced in New York city per week, starting in the beginning of May, is just a beginning, from my point of view, I want to see how far we can take this, and I want to challenge all New Yorkers who could contribute to this effort, I want to challenge the academic labs, I want to challenge the research labs, I want to challenge the manufacturers, I want to challenge the 3D printers, all the companies with 3D printing, the biotech companies, the pharmaceutical companies, the research universities that chemical companies.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (19:19)
If you’re in New York City or you’re in any part of the New York area or anywhere in the country, and you want to help build this effort, we need you. We’re going to get a lot of help to make this work. You can be a part of history. You can do something unprecedented. You can save lives through this effort. So everyone who can help please, right away, communicate with us. Let us know you’re willing. Let us know you’re ready. Email us firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, email@example.com. We need you. We will be responding to people, and soon as the emails come in, we’re going to be reaching out to people because this needs to move immediately. And anyone out there that could help us, I want to say thank you in advance, because this is going to be a huge step forward.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (20:11)
So again, everything I just talked about is about taking us on that journey from where we are now, high level of transmission, widespread transmission of Coronavirus, deep in this crisis, to low level transmission where we go to that containment strategy and we get to trace each case, get people isolated, quarantine, support them, reduce the number of cases all the time, and then no transmission. The place we all want to get to, where the Coronavirus is a rarity in this city, and life goes back to normal. That’s the journey we’re on. The testing is crucial, but also making sure we use the right strategy and again, the social distancing, the sheltering place, it is working New York City, you’re doing an amazing job. You again are the heroes because you’re following these rules in an unprecedented manner, 8.6 million people together. We need to keep doing it.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (21:02)
I said every day we’ll go over those three indicators that we announced yesterday, to tell you where we stand. We’ll all watch them together, we’ll all know where we are. We’ve got to see consistent progress to be able to talk about any changes in those rules and restrictions that are working. So we’re going to stick with them until we see really sustained progress.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (21:22)
So going over the numbers today, the new numbers, again, you’ll be able to see this online, nyc.gov/coronavirus. So when it comes to the daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected coronavirus conditions, that number has gone down, I’m happy to say. Remember, these statistics have been verified, there’s a two day lag because of when the information comes in from the hospital. So this goes back to April 12th, that’s the latest confirmed information. But April 12th, two days ago, we saw a reduction from the day before went from 383, April 11th, to 326, April 12th, that’s the correct direction. That’s a good thing.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (22:04)
But now here’s a situation where we don’t have good news on this statistic. The daily number of people in ICU across our health and hospital system. Our 11 hospitals for suspected COVID-19, that number from April 11th to April 12th actually went up from 835 to 850. Then the other measure, a percentage of people tested who are positive for COVID-19 citywide, that number again went up April 11th 58.1%, April 12th 59.6. The public health labs tests, again, that number went up April 11, 78.4% to 84% on April 12th.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (22:46)
So look, again, this is the real world, real talk, we had a really good day yesterday, progress, and all those indicators all went down together today. No such luck. It does not mean you should be discouraged. It’s just a reminder we’re going to fight our way out of this. It’s not going to happen overnight. There’ll be good days and bad days. We got to start some momentum here.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (23:08)
You need to keep at it. We all need to keep at it with the social distancing, with a shelter place because it’s working. Every day we have to win that battle to prove that we can reduce the spread of this virus, get those indicators to go down in unison over a longer period of time, and then we’ll be in a position to talk about our next steps. I think what’s clear is people will be able to see what we’re doing and what’s working, and be reminded there’s going to be ups and downs, but sticking to the strategy is the best way forward.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (23:45)
I’ll summarize now with a few words in Spanish and then we’ll take questions from our colleagues in the media. [foreign language 00:05:53]. With that we will turn to questions and please let me know the name of the reporter and the outlet.
Speaker 2: (24:43)
Hi all. Just a reminder that we have Commissioner Barbeau and James Patchett, president and CEO of the EDC on the line. With that, I will start with Debra Lee from Manhattan times and Bronx free press.
Debra Lee: (24:57)
Good morning everyone. Can you hear me?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (25:00)
Debra Lee: (25:02)
Great. So this is good news obviously on the testing front, can you speak specifically both Commissioner Patchett and Mayor on what efforts are being done to make sure that this first wave of new testing capacity is going to go right to the front lines of these heartache communities, the 88 zip codes that you spoke about now for the past week.
Debra Lee: (25:23)
Then secondly to the degree that you’re looking to deploy a workforce that’s going to respond to this new capacity, the personnel, the creation of PP, what efforts are being made to make sure that these communities are also being engaged directly, that beyond the Brooklyn Navy yard, that you’re also looking to call, recruit, really attract from these communities? Again, they’re also being hit with these unemployment numbers, and, again, are being affected so disproportionately by the virus.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (25:53)
Excellent questions. I’ll start and if the President of EDC, James Patchett wants to add, he will jump in. So first of all, yes, of course. One of the things that’s so powerful about this new announcement is it’s going to allow us, in combination with everything else we need to focus on the communities that are being hardest hit and get them more testing, but also to build the framework for the bigger effort to do, again, as I said, that constant tracing and the constant efforts to take us out of this period of widespread transmission and into a better phase, a low level transmission.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (26:39)
So the targeted piece in the communities that are hardest hit is crucial for everyone having the ability to transfer our efforts to, evolve our efforts to a containment strategy, is absolutely necessary. That’s how we save lives the most, getting out of this period of the crisis, and being able to apply testing anywhere and everywhere we need it as part of a containment strategy.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (27:05)
So in terms of the first part, as you heard over the last few days, we plan to get additional test centers up later this week, but we have also, I was very clear that we needed to ensure the test kits, we needed to ensure there’d be the PPEs, that we needed to ensure there’ll be the personnel.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (27:26)
Every day changes, and Debra Lee, it’s something that’s hard to describe, but I’ve been trying to, that literally the supply dynamics change by days. We have good days and bad days. We have days where supplies come in. We have days where we get more than expected. We have days where a company steps up or the federal government or the state government, FEMA come through with something. We have days that are bad days too, where an order that we were promised from a company in this country or overseas suddenly evaporates or is delayed. So to get the PPEs to the point that we know we can sustain testing is still a challenge. But we’re fighting that fight all the time and being able to make more of them here obviously is going to help.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (28:14)
The part about personnel too. We’ve got to see this crisis beat back enough to free up medical personnel who can be devoted to testing. Remember a few days ago really when it looked like the hospitals were going to bear the brunt, even worse, we were surging all available personnel with any medical training into the hospitals. We were getting ready to expand ICUs massively, and again, Debra Lee, it’s hard to think about, it feels like a day is like a week or a month nowadays, because things change so rapidly, but literally just days ago we were preparing for a vast conversion of our hospitals to ICU and taking every available medical personnel in this entire area and surging them in the hospitals, which would have taken away of course from the ability to be out testing and communities.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (29:03)
We’re getting some improvement in that situation. That is freeing up the potential of getting more personnel who could be out doing the test. You do need people with a certain amount of medical training to do these tests, but I’m a little more hopeful now. So to finish the first point, this now improves our ability to do the grassroots testing. We certainly will make it a priority. We do need to add those other pieces to the puzzle. We obviously need to make sure there’s also the lab capacity to process the tests. Everyday we’ll be working to perfect that equation, everyday we’ll be giving you updates on when and how grassroots testing is progressing, and how much will be done at each site, which also will vary according to all these supply dynamics and logistics. Our goal is to get as many tests done where they’re needed the most and that’s what we’ll keep driving towards.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (29:54)
On the job front, I think it’s a great point, a lot of the companies that we are working with, of course, the first thing they did was they brought back their own workers who really do represent working people all over this city. When I was at the Brooklyn Navy yard a couple of weeks ago you could not have had a more beautiful picture of all of New York City, all people of all backgrounds in one place, working class, people who had been out of work because those companies didn’t make essential items, then they converted to making facials, they brought their whole workforce back.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (30:27)
So that’s going to be the kind of thing you’ll see that will employ a lot of people who have been out of work, particularly from communities of color, but we can target further to your point, and so I’ll ask James Patchett and the team at EDC to ensure when we need to do more hiring, we focus on the community that have been hardest hit. And I certainly want to remind everyone that there are also our jobs being made available now at H&H. And again, we want people to take advantage of those jobs. We need the help, we need the labor, but we also need people to get a paycheck. But yes, we will target those new hiring efforts as they emerge to the places that need them most. James, you want to add at all?
James Patchett : (31:09)
I’ll just add primarily on the second point. I think the mayor has visited the Brooklyn Navy yard two times, but I don’t want folks to overindex on that. As the sole producer. We have over 15 different firms across gowns and face shields that are producing across the city that represents four boroughs, so the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. And one of the… Although Staten Island is not represented, one of the organizations we’re working with is run by two Staten Islanders, although their organization is based in Brooklyn, so all five boroughs are well-represented.
James Patchett : (31:41)
Just to give you an example, one of our largest gown producers, it’s an organization called Course Of Trade, not for profit organization based in Sunset Park who does training of [inaudible 00:13:51], and they are bringing back over 400 seamstresses from the Sunset Park and greater community to construct these gowns. So it really is a across the city effort, and the great thing about a lot of these jobs is there are people, as the mayor said, who were put out of work and are now back to work doing this type of manual labor, that is both good paying as well as being available and accessible to a lot of different New Yorkers.
Speaker 2: (32:22)
Next we have Andrew from NBC New York.
Mayor, how are you?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (32:27)
Good Andrew. How are you doing?
Good. Since you’ve spoken about New York and the ability to innovate and come up with creative ways to do things, I want to re-ask about why you have not come up with a way to close more of the streets given that there are very few cars on the streets, cities like Oakland and Minneapolis have closed block after block. And I know your answer before was that the NYPD wouldn’t have the personnel for that, but do they really need the personnel for that? Could you not find ways to get people outdoors safely with more space?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (33:05)
Well, yeah. I’ve heard the concerns and the questions from people in communities and also from the media. I asked the NYPD and department of transportation to analyze the Oakland plan, which was the one that was raised a few days ago. Adamantly, the answer back was, we are just profoundly different than those other cities. In Oakland, as I understand it, they said that streets were closed off, but they didn’t put up any barricades. They didn’t have any enforcement. They just depended on drivers to not go on those streets, and everyone to look out and be careful. And that’s noble, and hopefully that would happen anytime, particularly in a crisis. But we are not comfortable saying that we’re going to just assume that people are going to be safe because that’s our good intention.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (33:54)
This is all about safety, Andrew, the whole concept right now, everything we’re doing is about people’s health and people’s safety. That’s where we’re going to stay focused. And I do not believe we can do that safely. I do not believe that we can do it in a way that does not undermine enforcement of other things we need to do. So I’ve heard it. I’ve been elected by the people to make decisions including a time of crisis. I have heard the concern, we’ve analyzed the concern, we’ve analyzed the possibility.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (34:23)
The answer is I do not believe it will work, period. We’ll continue to look at it if situations change going forward, but right now I am convinced that we needed to take the NYPD and the other enforcement entities, keep them focused on where people have to be, the grocery stores, the supermarkets, the pharmacies, the parks, the subways, the buses, make sure those are being enforced properly, get the NYPD back to full strength. That’s where our focus is and protect lives. The last thing I want to do is have a situation where we end up endangering people because we put a plan in place that we could not enforce properly. So that’s where we stand now. We’ll keep looking at going forward.
Speaker 2: (35:12)
Next we have Marsha from CBS.
Good morning Mr. Mayor, how are you doing today?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (35:18)
Good morning, Marsha, how are you?
I’m good. Mr. Mayor, there’s been a raging debate about when and how to reopen the economy and businesses. I wonder who should be making the decision? Should it be the mayor of New York City, the governor of New York, or the President of the United States, and will you follow the decisions made by the governor and the president?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (35:41)
Marsha, great question. Marsha I think you’ll appreciate we’ve known each other a long time, in this case, I’m going to declare myself a conservative. The fact is we cannot jump too soon. This is all about safety and all about health, it all we should be thinking about. That does not mean we don’t need to restart the economy.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (36:03)
… all we should be thinking about. That does not mean we don’t need to restart the economy. We do, of course. People’s livelihoods depend on it. We’ve got to, over time, get back to normal.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (36:09)
But, Marcia, my profound concern is that if we do this the wrong way, if we do it prematurely, we will see a resurgence of this disease, and this disease is a ferocious one. It has put the entire nation, the entire world back on its heels. So we would be fools, I think, to ignore the warnings we have received, including in places that did act a little prematurely and ended up paying for it.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (36:38)
My view is job one, health and safety; job two, restarting the economy. You can’t restart the economy effectively until you perfect the health and safety equation. If you do attempt an artificially early restart of the economy, you’ll end up having to shut a lot of it down again, because the coronavirus will reassert. That’s the worst of all worlds.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (37:02)
So my view is smart, cautious approach. Beat it back. Prove that we’ve beaten the back. Get to that containment strategy, that low-level transmission phase that I’ve talked about. Secure that phase. That’s when you can start to loosen up, but don’t do it artificially.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (37:21)
In terms of who makes the decision, look, it’s a federal system. The Founding Fathers are really clear about this. Of course the President has a crucial role to play, particularly at a time of national crisis. Of course the governor has a crucial role to play, particularly in a time of crisis in this state. Localities still play a crucial role in our federal system, no matter what. That’s how this country was built.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (37:44)
So I’m going to defend the health and safety of New Yorkers. I believe, in a lot of ways, all levels of government will find some consensus. That’s my hope, especially because I think the disease will give us a lot of information, literally, because if we do things right, we’ll beat it back. If we do things wrong, unfortunately, the disease will prove its power to us. But, in the end, my job is to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers, and I will do that no matter what.
Next we have Julia from the Post.
Hi, Mr. Mayor. How are you?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (38:18)
Hey, Julia. How you feel?
Good. I’m wondering if … A follow-up on Debra Lee’s question, who exactly will be prioritized for testing? Because we know that 100,000 is a great start, but, based on what the governor said, we may need tens of millions of these tests to get to the next phase. Then I wonder if you have a cost of the tests from Aria and if you can name any of the companies and universities involved in New York City’s homegrown testing efforts.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (38:52)
Okay, good questions all around. We’ll get you what we can on Aria. I don’t have it in front of me. On the institutions involved, absolutely anticipated that question. We are, right now, in conversation with a number of organizations to get this done. Want to make sure they are comfortable with their names coming out before we just start talking about them. Again, we’re trying to recruit a lot more. So over the next few days, we will announce the different partners in this initiative.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (39:22)
On the question of the testing priorities at the community level, again, what I said was here is the plan to get this done by the end of the week, at least to start in as many locations as possible, pending getting those PPEs and the personnel. The exact priorities we’re going to announce shortly, Julia. It’s obviously going to be a focus on the most vulnerable. So the exact criteria, we will announce. We’ve said what the locations will be. The test will be for people from those communities, because those have been amongst the hardest hit.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (39:54)
But the general criteria we’ve discussed previously: folks with preexisting conditions, folks who are older, and particularly those who have both. That’s the number one concern, folks who are over 50 and have preexisting conditions. So we’ll lay out the exact focal group, the exact priority group for the grassroots testing. It’s going to be limited to begin, so we want to make sure it gets to those who need it most, and we’ll have more to say on that in the next few days.
Next we have Sean from the Daily News.
Thank you, Mayor. Wanted to follow up on the regional working group a bit more. Have you spoken with Governor Cuomo since the regional working group was announced, and just what would you say is your role, either formally or informally, in that group?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (40:47)
I have not spoken to him. I think it sounds like a good idea. I love the notion of everyone trying to solve these problems together. Again, the states have their role to play. Here’s the truth about cities and localities. We provide the services to the people. The federal government does its role. The state government does its role. But, in the end, this is where the rubber hits the road.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (41:13)
So when it comes to protecting people, it’s our police force. It’s our fire department. When it comes to the health of everyday New Yorkers, it’s our health department. It’s our public hospitals, with the health and hospitals. We’ve obviously been mounting the constant effort to get supplies to the hospitals that need them, to get help to people who need them. It’s our EMS, obviously, that brings people to the hospital, and our EMS workers have been extraordinary and valiant in this effort.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (41:44)
By the way, again, a thank you to FEMA. Thank you to the federal government. Those 250 ambulances, we’ve gotten 500 EMTs and paramedics from around the country. I visited with them a few weeks ago. They’ve been amazing. They’ve helped us deal with this crisis, and, clearly, thank God we see the number of 911 calls starting to go down. We have, by the way, more ambulances and EMTs and paramedics coming in from around the country to augment further. I’m told by our OEM commissioner, Deanne Criswell, we have another 100 ambulances and 200 paramedics and EMTs coming in, I believe, next week to add to those ranks further. So that’s been crucial.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (42:28)
So, Sean, that’s just my reminder to everyone that what we do is actually directly serve people and directly protect them. So if the governors of all those states have particular ways that I can work with them, our city can work with them, we want to, for sure, but whatever they’re doing together, and I’m glad they are working together, my job is to protect New Yorkers everyday with all the resources of this city government, and that’s what I’ll do.
Next we have Katie from the Wall Street Journal.
Hey. Good morning, everyone. Mr. Mayor, I wanted to ask you, I know that the city eliminated the summer youth employment program and it a budget saving measures, and now there’s been a push to save it. I was curious, because I know, last month, before you canceled schools, one of the major factors you cited for not canceling was what would the youth do, especially teens? So I’m curious. If things improve, if there is widespread containment of the virus in the summer, would you consider bringing back this program so teens and the youth can have something to do in the summer? Thank you.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (43:40)
Thank you, Katie. It’s a great question. We thought a lot about this. There’s been a great expansion of the summer youth employment program in the course of my administration. The city council’s made it a major priority. We’ve worked with them. It’s, I think, more than doubled from when we came into office. So it’s painful to take away something like that, and it’s not just that. It’s the other summer programs that we have well beyond summer youth, all of which are valuable. I talked about in the State of the City, we wanted to do even more of that kind of thing.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (44:16)
But here’s the truth, and, again, I’m going to declare myself a conservative on this point. When I say conservative, I’m not talking about ideology. I’m talking about strategic conservatism in light of this crisis. I want to make sure we get the health piece right. I want to make sure we protect people’s health and we actually know we’ve beat back this virus and we’re actually in that new phase.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (44:42)
We’ve talked about, somewhere between May and June, we hope to have the proof that we’ve moved forward enough to be able to start to change some of the restrictions. But that’s just the beginning, and even then, we have to watch like hawks to make sure that things don’t go back in the wrong direction. The numbers today, we really believe in these indicators, and, as you saw, unfortunately, today they went in the wrong direction. So we don’t yet know the trajectory.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (45:12)
What I do know is the kind of planning that you would normally authorize and the spending you’d authorize for summer initiatives of all kinds would be happening right now. We can’t do that. We cannot spend a lot of money and put people through a lot of trouble for something there is no guarantee at all could possibly happen, and there’s a real chance …
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (45:31)
Remember our Health Commissioner, Dr. Barbot, talked about September is really the time that we think is realistic to think about getting back to normal. We’re confident at this moment we can reopen the schools in September, but we’re not confident about June. We’re not confident about July. We’re not confident about August, that we could have people gathering together again in large numbers, and that’s what summer youth is and all these other youth programs.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (45:54)
So we’re going to take this very slow and carefully to make sure we get it right. In terms of your question, what should young people do, it’s tough. It’s tough. Look, I’m a parent. I vividly remember when my kids were teenagers. It would’ve been really tough to say to them, “You’ve got a whole summer ahead, and you still have to practice social distancing. You still have to stay in a lot.” But that could well be the case.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (46:20)
We’re going to try and provide every conceivable kind of online programming we can. We’re going to try and be ready to, in any way we can, help kids through it. DOE is preparing contingency plans for each and every scenario for what might happen over the summer.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (46:37)
So the answer to your question is I don’t see that scenario at this moment, and I’m always going to first focus on how do we guarantee the health and safety of New Yorkers and make sure we don’t take our foot off the gas too soon?
Next we have Gersh from Streetsblog.
Hello, Mr. Mayor. How are you?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (46:57)
Good, Gersh. How you doing?
I’m great. Mr. Mayor, we can all appreciate the good news you shared today to fight this war, but let’s look ahead for a second. Residents are saying they don’t want to return to streets filled with traffic, skies polluted by car exhaust, hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists killed every year, the result of how we allocate public space to the automobile.
So just as FDR, Churchill, and Stalin repeatedly met to discuss the future even before they defeated Hitler, do you have someone in your administration, perhaps it’s your talented transportation commissioner, who we haven’t seen during this crisis, who is planning for the car-light future that residents will demand when this is all over?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (47:40)
Well, Gersh, even with some editorializing there in the question, I don’t agree with your entire frame, but I think your underlying question’s a very good one, and the answer is yes. Real work is starting now to plan our future.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (47:56)
So I want to affirm, I think, the point, the basic point you’re making, which is that we are not looking to simply bring back the status quo that existed before the coronavirus. I think that would be a huge mistake.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (48:09)
Now, Gersh, my first concern here is the health and safety of New Yorkers. So, one, the planning has to recognize that we have to get it right on ending this crisis, and if you look around the world, coronavirus is not linear. It doesn’t just have an on-off switch. We may be fighting it in different ways for an extended period of time. So I want to be careful that people not think we turn a corner and we’re done, necessarily. We have to be smart about that.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (48:37)
But when you think about where we are, going forward, and when we think about where we are now and how we have to move forward, the first thing I would say we need to do is fight inequality. This is what I came here to do. This is what New Yorkers, I think, fundamentally believe in. We’re still a city racked by inequality. We must do so many things differently, and it starts with making sure that working people have better lives and have the ability to really take care of their families in a whole new way.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (49:07)
This is where I think the healthcare disparities have been pointed out here so painfully, our call to arms, that when we come back, when we start our recovery, it has to be also about a redistribution. It has to be about fundamental changes in the direction of fairness and justice and equality.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (49:26)
So I think the first question is about health and safety, is about economic justice, but then talking about how we address the future of the city in terms of sustainability, in terms of transportation, unquestionably, we need to make more changes. I have a real feeling that this horrible, horrible crisis, unprecedented, at the same time as it’s so horrible unto itself, is such a jolt, is the worst healthcare crisis in a century, is the worst economic crisis in 80 years, I think it’s also preparing us for something ahead, and I wish it wasn’t. I really do. But I think, unfortunately, it is preparing us for something, which is the battles we’ll have to face in the future in the fight against global warming. We all understand how dangerous that situation is.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (50:22)
So it comes to your point. To fight global warming, we have to get away from individual automobile use a lot more. We have to build a city that, more and more, will rely on mass transit. We have to double down on everything we’ve done with Vision Zero. I intend to create a plan that will do all of that, because when we finish beating this enemy, we’ve got another enemy up ahead that’s fierce and that is bearing down on us quickly and we’ll all have to work together to fight, and getting out of our cars to the maximum extent possible is part of that fight. So yes, you will see those plans for the future of the city.
Next we have Yoav from The City.
Hi, Mr. Mayor. I’m wondering if you’re can explain the rationale for requiring medical staff at the city’s public hospitals to provide a doctor’s note when they get sick. Relatedly, the NYPD has been releasing daily updates of how many officers get sick, how many are confirmed positive. If the situation at H and H is so bad that you’re requiring medical staff to prove they’re not faking an illness, why can’t we get the same data for H and H?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (51:44)
Happy to get you that data, and I don’t agree with your inference. I look at it the other way around. We need them. We need those key healthcare workers right now. We just need a system that creates consistency and verifiability. In fact, in a crisis, you need it more than ever.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (52:04)
So yeah, we’ll happily get out statistics, but the intention here is one thing. To make sure we can save lives, we need to make sure every available healthcare worker is where we need them. We also need to make sure that anyone who is sick gets the support they need and is not at work, but is at home, getting well.
Next we have Brigid from WNYC.
Good morning, Mr. Mayor, and thank you for the news about testing. It feels a little bit hopeful today.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (52:33)
It is. It is.
I have a question on a different supply chain, related to food security, particularly for our seniors. We are hearing from people who signed up for meal delivery who are getting texts saying a delivery is coming, and then nothing arrives. First, what should a senior do when they can’t go out and they’re not getting what they need? I know you have Kathryn Garcia in this role as the city’s food czar. Does that mean she also has oversight of these supply chains, including these types of meals that they’re supposed to be delivering?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (53:11)
Yes, Brigid. Every piece of the food equation, DFTA has played a historically crucial role feeding seniors at senior centers, Meals on Wheels, that type of thing. HRA has played a crucial role with food stamps and food pantries, soup kitchens. All of that and every other piece that can be brought to bear is under the umbrella of Kathryn Garcia’s leadership now as the food czar.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (53:39)
We are going to present, this week, a much more detailed plan on the work she is doing. There is a lot more ahead. The blunt truth is I’m very worried about the ability of New Yorkers to get the food they need, because so many of them are running out of money, because they’ve been out of work. So what I’ve said is we will not let any New Yorker go hungry. I want to emphasize this. We will not let any New Yorker go hungry, any New …
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (54:03)
… Go hungry. I want to emphasize this. We will not let any New Yorker go hungry. Any New Yorker needs food right this minute, we can get them food. Either of those 435 programs we have through DOE right this minute where any family can go get three meals a day, grab and go, as many family members as they have. All of the soup kitchens and food pantries that we’re supporting in the effort we announced with the city council, $25 million effort, we just announced. All the other ways that we get food out, including the direct deliveries to seniors and vulnerable folks which have been growing all the time. So we’ll have much more to say on that this week, but to your question about if you will quality control, make sure that anyone who signs up gets them right away.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (54:48)
I have been really clear with everyone that it needs to be immediate turnaround and we can’t miss, because people are depending on this. There was a situation, Independence Plaza. I’m glad several of you raised it last week. You were right. I apologize to the folks at Independence Plaza. It should never have happened and I’ve told our team we have to tighten up, that that can never happen again. If there’s individual instances, we need to know about them immediately.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (55:13)
So any journalist or anybody who hears of a situation where someone signed up for the food and didn’t get it, our team here at city hall needs to know that so we can get Catherine and her team to fix it and the fix can be very quick. There’s constant deliveries being made all over the city now and we’ll give you those details. I think you’ll be struck by how much is happening. Quickly making sure that if a delivery was missed it is quickly fixed and gets the food to the person need. We can do that but we need to know where the problems are and if it’s just individual or something more systemic that we need to fix, so please, Rich, if you share that information with our colleagues at city hall and, again, we’ll have a bigger outline for you of everything happening this week.
Speaker 4: (55:57)
Next we have Juliet from [inaudible 00:01:59].
Yes. Good morning mister mayor, good to talk to you.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (56:04)
Good morning, Juliet. How are you doing?
Hi fine, thank you. So my question is this. Now that you have this capacity to do a lot more testing, do you think there will come a time when every New Yorker should or needs to be tested? And I’m asking because there were concerns that there are people that are asymptomatic that may not know that they are carriers. So what happens? How would people know when they’ve had it with mild symptoms or they’re carrying it or they have an immunity? How would that work and how would you go about doing that?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (56:40)
Great, great question, Juliet. I’m going to start as the layman. Dr Barbot will jump in, but I’m going to … She’s been teaching me, so I’m probably going to immediately summarize some of what she would say. Look, again, we’re fighting an enemy that we never even heard of six months ago. I mean, let’s be clear about this. A coronavirus did not exist in human beings to the best of human knowledge half a year ago. And there’s literally no one in the world who understands it enough. The entire international medical community is still trying to understand it. I have talked to every health expert I could find from Dr. Fauci on down. And what you keep hearing is that honest hesitancy about what they know and what they don’t know. So this gets to your question. First of all, now we don’t even know for sure if someone has had it and they can not get it again in the near term.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (57:35)
We think you can’t get it again. And this goes to the antibody testing, which is its own topic. We think that would tell you something valuable, but it’s not 100% clear if it is the final word. The same on the other side with the main coronavirus testing, the PCR testing, it tells you at that moment if you have it or not, it doesn’t tell you if you’re going to have it tomorrow. So some groups obviously are getting people who are negative one day and a couple days later, they’re positive. That whole point about asymptomatic transmission, which is still not sufficiently clear. You could even have someone somewhere on the pathway to infection, but it doesn’t necessarily show up in the tests. I’ll let Dr. Barbot speak to all of this, but the point is we’re dealing with imperfect knowledge of the disease and imperfect tools to fight it, but they still give us something.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (58:33)
So to your question. I think what I would say is the first thing we need is testing for everyone who needs it. Obviously we have struggled to just have the testing for patients who are really sick, for healthcare workers, for first responders. That situation’s getting better and now especially that we’ll be able to have our own supply. Then of course we wanted to target communities that are hardest hit and the most vulnerable individuals specifically, not just everyone, but the most vulnerable specific individuals in those communities. but when you go that next phase, you need testing all the time to make sure that you know exactly who can work, who can’t, who should be contained and isolated or quarantined, who shouldn’t, who’s coming out of quarantine. It’s like a constant assembly line, if you will, where you’re constantly having to test lots of people to know exactly where they are and make sure they get the support they need.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (59:28)
I don’t know, and I don’t believe in the many, many conversations we’ve had here at city hall with all the health experts. I don’t believe I’ve heard the idea of every single person, 8.6 million people needing to be tested. But I don’t rule that out either. I’m thinking of this in stages where the greatest concern is to have the testing to actually keep track of the people who need testing and and have that kind of dynamic situation where anyone needs isolation or quarantine, we can get it to them. Anyone who’s ready to come out of it, we can confirm they’re ready to come out of it, that kind of thing. Dr Barbot, take it from there.
Dr. Barbot: (01:00:05)
Thank you sir. And so I’ll build on what you have just laid out and I want to just sort of back up a little bit to remind folks about what I’ve said in the past regarding testing. The reason to test is because we want to be able to then use that information for decision making. The second thing is that the importance of testing depends on where in the curve you are, and then what decisions it’ll help inform. So right now when we have widespread community transmission, what we have said to individuals, to all of our fellow New Yorkers is assume that if you’ve got these symptoms you have COVID because it’s so widespread and whether or not you get tested is sort of secondary because we want to make sure that people stay home. We want to make sure that people pay attention to their symptoms.
Dr. Barbot: (01:01:03)
If they are getting worse, we want you to reach out to 911. That being said, as we start seeing a decrease in the number of new people being effected with COVID, that’s where having more testing available really makes a difference because it then helps us identify who are those individuals that have COVID, and how can we then move more quickly to slowing the spread of COVID by ensuring that not only do we make sure that these folks stay home and isolate, but anybody who’s come in contact with them also then self isolates. And so right now I think it’s premature to think about the value of every single New Yorker being tested. I think it’s a combination of ensuring that, as we’ve been saying all along, the folks who are at greatest risk for poor health outcomes as a result of COVID-19 get tested, meaning the intersection of age and underlying illnesses, as well as individuals who may be in particular communities where we see ongoing high levels of transmission so that as a city we can start cutting off those chains of transmission.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:02:35)
Speaker 4: (01:02:35)
Next we have Erin from Politico.
Hi mister mayor, I’m wondering, have you asked for authority? We reported that your administration was considering borrowing for the operating budget because of the budget crunch that you’re in currently. Have you asked yet for the authority to do that, begun that process in any way?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:03:02)
Thank you for the question, Erin. It’s something we have to think about. Obviously we’ll be presenting the executive budget soon and we’ve had to go through a really tough process around cuts to the budget and savings and peg program, but we’re going to have to look at everything to figure out how we get through this. There’s been a lot uncertainty, we’ve had a revenue we’re seeing everywhere going down very painfully. More and more expenses. Look, protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers, that’s the priority. We’ll throw everything we got at it, but it is obviously costing a lot of money. The state budget situation is real bad. So it’s a tough, tough time ahead. So we’re going to look at all options, but I’ll have more to say when we do the budget presentation, and we’ll talk about if and when we’re going to seek any formal authority to do that.
Speaker 4: (01:03:56)
Next we have Kathleen from Hatch and we’ll take one more after that.
Hi, mister mayor, can you hear me?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:04:03)
Oh, great. So I’m following up on a question from my colleague on Sunday. Maya asked about your blanket policy across city agencies to protect essential workers with preexisting conditions. She wondered if you had a follow up on that and what’s been instituted.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:04:23)
Yeah, it’s a great question. Thank you and I have … I appreciate the question. It turned out it was a very good question because it did point out that different agencies had somewhat different standards, all pretty much pointed in the same direction, but somewhat different standards. We’ll be issuing guidance this week for a uniform standard for all city agencies and basically it will be that the first consideration is to protect those with really serious health challenges, and we want to be clear that anyone whose particular health reality would put them at serious risk, we want to keep them home. Some of them can work from home, some of them can’t, but whatever the case, the number one thing is to protect our city workforce. If someone by coming out of their home and going to work, even if they’re doing essential work, if it would endanger their health, if they have the kind of serious specific conditions where it would endanger their health, we don’t want them to take that chance.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:05:24)
So we’ll clarify that. Thankfully there are other folks who you know are not in the same kind of risk category. Of course, anyone who can work from home, we want working from home, but there’s other people who would not be running the same kind of risks. That’s a different story, but we’re going to send out guidance defining that if you have those serious risks, we do not want to put you in harm’s way and we will of course continue on the payroll. Keep anyone like that on the payroll. So that guidance will be coming out soon and it will be made public.
Speaker 4: (01:05:53)
Last question for today. Alejandra from AM New York.
Mister mayor, can you hear me?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:05:59)
My question has to do with the announcement from the DOE yesterday that at least 50 staffers have passed away due to coronavirus and I’m just [inaudible 01:06:13] when you were first made aware that it was at least 50 and how much of a role did that news play in your decision to keep New York City public schools closed a few days ago?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:06:23)
Thank you, Alejandra. I had been hearing honestly day by day the updates. So long before it reached a painful number, I was hearing each day when we lost any member of a school community. And that definitely is something that I had in mind and the chancellor had in mind, the chancellor talked about this when we announced that we keep the schools closed, that school communities are hurting right now. There’s a lot of pain, there’s a lot of trauma. It’s something we’re going to have to address now and it’s something we’re going to have to address very deeply and intensely in September, you’re going to have kids coming back who have lost people in their families in their neighborhoods and even of course in their own school. And that’s going to be really, really difficult. We’ve not faced something quite like this in a long, long time in this city. It’s going to be very, very painful, and pretty much every neighborhood and every school will be affected in some way.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:07:20)
So yeah, that is a painful, awful number that we’ve lost so many people who were devoted to uplifting our kids, and absolutely weighed on not only the decision that chancellor and I had to make, it’s weighed on our hearts. My life, public life has been very, very focused on education and Richard’s whole life has been focused on education and it’s horrible. But I do think it puts a point on the fact that it just is not safe to bring back our schools until we are absolutely certain that we have moved out of this crisis. We’re talking about places where you bring together a lot of people, and the safety and health of our kids and our parents, our families, our educators. That’s what we should be focusing on and making every decision we make. And it certainly was paramount in why the chancellor and I decided to keep our schools closed for the school year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:08:17)
So everyone, I’ll conclude the saying yes, we had a big breakthrough today. Really exciting news. And again, I’ve said many times the heroes are the New Yorkers in this fight, starting with our doctors and nurses and healthcare workers and our first responders, everyday New Yorkers who the whole nation, the whole world is watching, as you do heroic work. The heroes are all of you who every day, no matter how tough it is in the biggest city in the country, you’re practicing the social distancing, you’re doing shelter in place.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: (01:08:49)
It’s making a big impact, but now we have a new set of heroes. Folks in all these companies, all these innovative, creative people, including the folks on our government team who said, “You know what? It doesn’t matter. It’s never been done before. We’re going to do it here in New York city. We’re going to make something happen. We’re going to make something out of nothing. People said, there’s nothing here to work with. We’re going to still find a way.” And they’ve actually figured out now how to make us self-sufficient in face shields, how to make a big step forward in those surgical gowns that protect our healthcare workers, and most notably, most powerfully, how to create our own test kits, how to make up for all the mistakes that we’ve seen from our federal government by taking matters into our own hands more and more, and starting to produce test kits on a mass scale here in New York City. It’s very powerful. It’s very exciting. It’s going to help us save lives and it’s a tribute to all New Yorkers. Thank you everybody.