Mar 31, 2020

Mayor Bill de Blasio of NYC Press Conference Transcript March 31

Bill de Blasio Press Conference March 31
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsMayor Bill de Blasio of NYC Press Conference Transcript March 31

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press briefing today on COVID-19. De Blasio ordered an Amazon probe after COVID-19 strike organizer was fired. Read the full transcript of his update briefing here.

 

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Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
And we miss it and it’s sad, but we also know that this crisis will not go on forever. It will be very intense, but thank God it will be brief. When I look out here, I see the glass is half full, which is the fact that everyone is rising to the challenge. Everyone is contributing, each in their own way. We have people from organizations all over this city, all over the world, calling literally every single hour offering help. When the folks here at the tennis center heard there was a need, they said yes immediately, and all the people we reached out to to create this hospital said the same thing.

Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
I’m looking forward to the day when this is going to be a place for tennis again, but in the meantime I’m inspired by the fact that people are stepping up. We have set a very, very high bar of what we need to create in the next few weeks in terms of hospital beds in this city, and every time I turn around, I see another person, another organization stepping up to make it happen. That, to me, is inspiring. That speaks to what New Yorkers do all the time, the attitude we have that we will overcome anything and everything. That is on display right here at this tennis center.

Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
We have to, as New Yorkers, deal honestly with the pain we’re experiencing, the grief we’re experiencing; at the same time, keep moving forward. I’ve unfortunately had to liken this to a war. That’s what soldiers have to do in a war. We have to find a way to mourn but never be paralyzed, because people’s lives are at stake and we have to be there always for those we can save, those we can comfort, those we can help.

Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
We are definitely feeling the pain of those we have lost from our own community here in public service. I want to particularly focus on a Department of Correction that’s doing such difficult work right now handling a crisis that’s never been seen before by any of us, obviously, but with the particular conditions that exist in our corrections system. I told you back on Friday that we lost an investigator, David Perez. We’ve now lost a young IT worker, Hunter O’Kelly-Rodriguez, and a beloved longtime officer of 20 years as a member of our correction team, and we’re withholding the name at the request of the family. I know all the correction officers, the staff, everyone at Correctional Health Services, everyone is feeling these losses right now, and they’re resolute that we have to keep fighting to protect everyone, the folks who work in our corrections system and all those who are incarcerated as well.

Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
Now, we all know that we are racing against time right now, and I have felt it is my job to really let people know how intense this battle will be, the fact it’s coming on fast, and it will not be over in an instant. There will be weeks where we are going to have to keep fighting, and every time I’ve heard any projection, “Oh, it’s going to be over soon. Don’t worry about it,” I always say, “No, that’s not the truth, and it’s a danger to tell people something is going to be easier than it really will be.” I’m telling you all it will be tough, but it will be something that we will fight through and we will survive, but it begins with a recognition of just how much we’re going to need.

Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
Again, before all this started, before the coronavirus, in this city, we had about 20,000 working hospital beds in our major hospitals. Public, private, voluntary, independent, whatever phrases you want to use, all the hospitals combined had about 20,000 staffed hospital beds. We now need to, in just the next weeks, triple that number, produce three times that number.

Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
You might say to yourself, “How on earth is that possible?” When I first heard the projections, I questioned it myself. But then look at the facts. Look at how quickly a hospital can be created. Whether it is in a place like the Javits Center or a place like this tennis center or a hotel, we know how to make any number of buildings into a hospital in a matter of days.

Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
Then you’d say, “Well, how does that add up?” Look, the Javits Center alone, thousands of beds will be built out there. The Comfort starts with 750. It can go up to 1,000 beds. Here is 350 beds here. Lot of hotels, hundreds and hundreds of beds each. We’re just going to keep going every single day, adding and adding and adding to get to the point where we have what we need.

Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
This facility will be crucial. The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal is going to be handled by the same company. They’re going to set it up rapidly. We’re then going to go to the next site, the next site, the next site to meet our goal. We’re working with the federal government, with FEMA, with the state. We’re working with the hotel industry. We’re working with folks who own major facilities. Everyone is working in common cause. I have not heard someone say no yet. That’s something New Yorkers should know about and be proud of. I literally have not heard anyone. We say, “We need your building.” I’ve not heard anyone say no. Everyone understands what time it is.

Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
Right here at the Billie Jean King Center, named after someone who’s such a hero to so many of us, well, I think it’s very fitting, and I think Billie Jean would agree, that this place will be a life-saving place. This place will not only help folks afflicted by the coronavirus, help them to survive and recover and go home; it is specifically going to help patients who come through Elmhurst Hospital and can receive care here. It’s going to help take the pressure off of Elmhurst. We all know that, for a variety of reasons, Elmhurst has been the place that has borne the brunt. The staff at Elmhurst, the doctors and nurses, everyone who works at Elmhurst, they’ve done an amazing job, but we want to give them as much relief as possible.

Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
Starting next week, this facility will be able to take people from Elmhurst, not folks who need ICU care, but other coronavirus patients, bring them over here, relieve some of that pressure immediately. 350 beds will be here with all the staffing, the doctors and nurses, all the staffing needed. That’s what the company does that brings all this in, brings in the equipment, brings in the beds. It’ll take three weeks to build out, but as I said, starting next week, patients will start arriving.

Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
I want to thank the folks who made this possible right here in terms of this amazing facility. I want to thank him, he’s with us, the chief operating officer of the U.S. Tennis Association, Daniel Zausner. Thank you, Daniel, for partnering with the city and all of us to make this happen. Thank you and all your colleagues. You said yes, and I thank you for that.

Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
Billy Sullivan, CEO of SLSCO, the contractor that does this work. Billy is over there. Sorry, because of distancing, it’s hard to see people sometimes. They’ll be working with us at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal as well.

Bill de Blasio: (00:00)
And of course, our partners all the time, the Army Corps of Engineers, New York State, and our own Office of Emergency Management. Thank you, Deanne, to you and your team. And a special thanks to our colleagues at the Department of Design and Construction in the city, who do amazing work, and they can do it very quick.

Bill de Blasio: (00:09)
Thank you to Jamie Torres-Springer, the first deputy commissioner, who is definitely… Jamie, no one is going to miss you wherever you walk in that jacket. I want to thank you. You’re very visible right now. Very visible.

Bill de Blasio: (00:36)
We’re going to be joined in a moment from Health + Hospitals, this is obviously the collaboration with Elmhurst Hospital, Dr. Eric Wei. The vice president and chief quality control officer for Health + Hospitals will be joining us, and we thank them.

Bill de Blasio: (01:01)
Now I want to give you some other updates real quick, and then we’ll turn to questions from our colleagues in the media.

Bill de Blasio: (01:01)
A few days ago, we all heard the very tough news about the record number of calls to 911 and the real challenges that our first responders were facing, our paramedics and our EMTs through EMS. We said we’re going to have to make a lot of adjustments, a lot of changes to address the demand, but we would do it. Well, at that point, we were hoping the cavalry was coming, but I have to say, I am so moved and so appreciative to the federal government with how they moved so quickly here and in great number. I give all the credit in the world to FEMA and Regional Administrator Tom Von Essen, who everyone knows was our fire commissioner. I think it’s no accident that Tom is really looking out for us, and he certainly understands how important EMS is to this city.

Bill de Blasio: (01:15)
I want to tell you that we announced this morning formally that 250 more ambulances are coming right away to New York City from FEMA from all over the country to help us address our 911 calls. 135 of those ambulances are here already. I want you to understand how unusual it is to hear something is coming and then it’s here immediately. This is really powerful, and it shows how much the federal government is getting into gear now, full gear, to help us.

Bill de Blasio: (01:32)
We’re going to have approximately 500 more EMTs and paramedics coming in from all over the country. 270 are here right now, and they’re going immediately into action to help our extraordinary colleagues at the Fire Department and EMS to do the work that they do.

Bill de Blasio: (01:32)
I mentioned yesterday that more and more nurses are coming in. 500, on Friday, had already gotten to our hospitals. I said we were going to add another 500 this week. I’m now announcing an additional 1,000 nurses that Health + Hospitals has coming very soon through contracting they’ve done.

Bill de Blasio: (01:32)
We are sounding the alarm in many places and reaching out to many friends and many colleagues to get help, but these numbers now are going to make a huge difference. Imagine just in the last few days adding a grand total of 2,000 nurses to help protect New Yorkers. That’s just in the last few days. More coming. That’s going to mean lives will be saved.

Bill de Blasio: (02:15)
Now, I’ll always tell you good news, but that does not mean that the battle is over and it doesn’t mean we’re not going to need a lot more help. Remember, as we speak now, we have a quarter of all the coronavirus cases in the United States of America.

Bill de Blasio: (02:15)
I have spoken several times to the president in recent days, to the defense secretary, to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and numerous federal officials. I’ve said the same thing to all of them. This coming Sunday, April 5th, is a demarcation line. This is the point at which we must be prepared for next week, when we expect a huge increase in the number of cases. What I asked very clearly last week was for military medical personnel to be deployed here from the permanent military and from the reserves. I had this conversation with all of them. I said specifically 1,000 nurses, 300 respiratory therapists, 150 doctors, and I said we need as many as possible by-

Bill de Blasio: (02:15)
And I said we need as many as possible by Sunday April 5th, and we need to know that any others are going to come shortly thereafter. I have reiterated that need and that request, and I have to say in many ways it’s a demand because this is about saving lives in time, and I’m waiting on an answer from The White House. And I will always give credit where credit is due. The federal government in the last couple of weeks has shown us a much more vigorous approach and is helping us and we are very appreciative. I thank the President, I thank all the cabinet officers who have been a part of this effort, I especially thank FEMA. But we must have that additional personnel to be able to get through next week and the weeks right after that. So I’m going to keep reiterating this specific request and I’m waiting for an answer from The White House. It is a reasonable request, given that we are the nation’s largest city and we are the epicenter of this crises.

Bill de Blasio: (02:15)
Now, ventilators which I’m going to talk about constantly. We are grateful, again, in the last week or so, the federal government really stepped it up, 2,500 ventilators came into New York City. That is amazing, but we’re going to need a lot more and we’re going to need them soon. We’re hearing that more help may be on the way shortly, from the federal government. We’re waiting for that to be confirmed. We need it. That number we put forward, 15,000, as the total need, remains the total need. It is a very tight timeframe, because none of knows for sure, is the worst week going to be in one week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, five weeks? We don’t know when it exactly peaks. But we know April’s going to be very tough and I’m trying to gird people for the possibility it will continue on into May. We’re going to need those ventilators. The moment we are done with them, we’re going to send them wherever they’re needed most in this country.

Bill de Blasio: (02:15)
Now, I’m going put out a call now to others who could help us. There are people in our communities right now, and I need them to step up. Some have. I need all of them to. People who are part of the normal fabric of this city. Oral surgeons have ventilators for when they perform surgery. Plastic surgeons have ventilators, wherever they perform surgery. Veterinarians, yes, veterinarians have, in many cases, ventilators that we could use. Every single one of them, if you’ve got a ventilator in your office, in your operating room, we need it now. It should not be sitting there doing nothing. This is a war effort. Everyone needs to contribute. You’ll get it back when this battle is over. To donate ventilators, to find out how we can immediately get your ventilators where they’re needed, anyone can go to NYC.gov/helpnow.

Bill de Blasio: (02:15)
I want to now talk to you about personal protective equipment. This has been such an important topic. There’s deep concern all over the city, all over our healthcare system. Today, our city agencies are distributing to all New York City hospitals. I want to make that crystal clear. Not just to our public hospitals, health in the hospitals, but also voluntary hospitals, independent hospitals, we ensure that supplies go wherever the need is, in an equitable fashion. This day, today, we are distributing three million surgical masks, all over New York City to our hospitals. 800,000 N95 masks, 600,000 paris of gloves, 120,000 face shields, 40,000 surgical gowns. This is one day.

Bill de Blasio: (02:15)
Now, anyone out there who has supplies like this you can donate, or has a truly reliable source for these supplies, we need them. Again, if you can donate to this effort, every bit helps. Go to NYC.gov/help now, or you can call. Obviously, people from all over the country are helping New York City. You can call 833-NYC-0040. And thank you to all who have helped us.

Bill de Blasio: (02:15)
I’m going to give you some other quick updates before we go to questions. An update on our jail system, the efforts that we have made directly and working with district attorneys and the State to ensure that inmates who have the kind of medical problems that would put them in direct danger and those who could be released for other reasons, as well, again, with some very strict guidelines and safeguards, as of the end of yesterday there have been 900 inmates released from our jail system. There will be more ahead. We will give you an update as soon as we know of any additional numbers.

Bill de Blasio: (02:15)
Want to talk about construction. There’s been a lot of concern, obviously. We work closely with the State, to affirm that only essential construction should be allowed at this point. Nonessential, nonemergency construction must end immediately. Our Department of Buildings agents are out, as we speak. Yesterday we gave education and warnings. Today we are starting heavy fines and closing down construction sites that are in violation. They will be not just fined, they will be closed down immediately. If the Department of Buildings has any difficulty from the people out at a construction site who are nonemergency, NYPD will shut down that site immediately. There’s no kidding around here. All nonessential, nonemergency construction must be ended right now.

Bill de Blasio: (19:09)
On tax lien sales, this is a really important issue for some folks. Tax liens, property that was going to be sold by Department of Finance for unpaid property taxes or water bills, or other charges, we understand right now, people [inaudible 00:19:09] your day. Alternate side parking will be suspended for the next two weeks, two weeks, through Tuesday, April, 14th. So, leave your cars where they are. One less hassle and fewer people have to go out of their homes to deal with it. We’ll be looking after the two weeks, to see what’s the right thing to do at that point.

Bill de Blasio: (19:09)
On playgrounds, I have been talking daily, in fact, multiple times a day with Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, to get feedback from his enforcement efforts, obviously, from Parks Department as well. Overwhelmingly, we’re seeing compliance in parks and playgrounds, with some real problem spots too. I’ve been very clear, we see a problem spot that’s recurrent, we are going to shut it down. I have ordered 10 playgrounds to be closed at the end of today. Those are playgrounds that have had crowding, multiple times. They will be shut down. They will be locked. They’ll be signs put up. They’ll be enforcement. My goal, again, is to try to preserve as many as possible if people follow the rules. If people will not follow the rules, we’ll continue to shut them down aggressively.

Bill de Blasio: (19:09)
Another issue’s come up and it is an issue that’s causing us real concern. We heard from Staten Island, from the Amazon Fulfillment Center, a specific charge that a worker raised health and safety concerns, raised social distancing concerns, was fired. The allegation is because he spoke up for the safety of his fellow workers, he was fired. I have ordered the City’s Commission on Human Rights to investigate Amazon immediately, to determine if that’s true. If so, that would be a violation of our city human rights law. We would act on it immediately. I should also note that the Sheriff’s Office did an inspection of the facility to ensure that social distancing is being observed and they will continue to inspect, as needed.

Bill de Blasio: (19:09)
I’ll conclude. Again, we’re going to see a lot of things we’ve never seen before. I know everyone of us has walked down a sidewalk and looked up ahead, the whole block is empty. We can’t remember when that ever happened. I was driving on the FDR the other day, looked ahead, for a mile it seemed like, on the FDR, there was no other car on the road up ahead. We’re seeing things that are just strange and in so many ways troubling, to us as New Yorkers. Some of these are going to be painful. Some of these things are going to be hard to make sense of. But some things we’re going to see, like this tennis center, are going to be signs of the fightback, the fact that New Yorkers don’t take this crisis laying down.

Bill de Blasio: (19:09)
New Yorkers are not people who get defeated easily. You go all over, and you see this fightback, you see a place being turned into a hospital that wasn’t a hospital. You see people providing food for their neighbors. You see people helping in so many ways. You’ll see unusual things and some of them will be things we wished we’d never seen. You’re also going to see things that are going to tell you that New Yorkers are not going to accept defeat.

Bill de Blasio: (25:00)
I’m very, very proud of all of you, for the way you’ve handled this extraordinary crisis, something we’ve never experienced in our lifetimes. I hope we never do again. But I have faith in New Yorkers. I have faith in New York City. We will see this through.

Bill de Blasio: (25:00)
A few words in Spanish. [foreign language 00:22:55].

Bill de Blasio: (25:00)
With that, again, a thank you to all our colleagues here. Everyone who’s doing so much work, so quickly, thank you, all. Thank you to the amazing team at Emergency Management, at HNH, for all you’re doing. And with that, we welcome your questions. Dave.

Dave: (25:00)
Mayor, you said that this location will eventually, in about a week, start taking non-ICU coronavirus patients from Elmhurst.

Bill de Blasio: (25:00)
Correct.

Dave: (25:00)
But is there a master plan in the City of, “Oh, this person goes to Mt. Sinai, this person goes to the Javits, this person goes to the Comfort?” I mean, is there a master plan, or is it each doctor decides, or what?

Bill de Blasio: (25:00)
No. There actually is a master plan that’s being built as we speak, in a cooperative effort between FEMA, the State, and the City, led by Emergency Management.

Bill de Blasio: (25:00)
Job One, Dave, is to build out the space immediately and to make sure as each space comes online, that there’s a clear protocol. Again, I’ll start and if my colleagues want to jump in at any point, just start walking toward me and I’ll get out of the way, because of social distancing. Stay there, Deanne. But, no, in fact, the idea is to knit all this together into a coordinated effort. But I also want you to be clear Dave, we have to immediately start building out the space first, because to meet these deadlines, before you work out all the protocols of how it’s going to be staffed and where the patients are going to come from, you got to get the physical part moving instantly. That’s been an extraordinary effort, but every day, more and more is going to be started and gotten online. Ultimately, yes, you have to get the right people in the right place.

Bill de Blasio: (25:00)
But remember, the hospitals right now are being converted to all-ICU, or maximum ICU, but they still have a long way go before they get to that point. A lot of the hospital can handle, of course, other types of cases right now. What’s going to happen over time, every day each one becomes more and more ICU, more and more COVID-related. So it is literally, a day by day evolution.

Bill de Blasio: (25:00)
Deanne, I’m moving.

Deanne: (25:00)
I don’t need the step thing.

Bill de Blasio: (25:00)
Okay, no step for you. I’m going to go over here. Now I don’t know what to do. I’m going to go here. Okay.

Deanne: (25:00)
Yeah, the coordination piece is a really big piece. What we have set up is the healthcare evacuation coordination center, which is going to be run out of the Javits. It’s actually a system that’s been in place and it’s run by the State, that was set up for coastal storm evacuations. That just being put in hyper-mode in being able to do that for this type of an event. What they’re going to do is, they are putting out protocols to all of the hospital across the New York City area, on how they request patient transfers. That coordination center will match the acuity of the patient with the acuity of the bed, as these beds continue to standup.

Deanne: (25:00)
Right now, the only places that are open…

Bill de Blasio: (25:00)
… as these beds continue to stand up. Right now the only places that are open are the Javits Center and the Comfort and so they’re matching patients to those two facilities. But as we continue to stand up facilities, and depending on what level of treatment we’re going to be able to give, they will match those patients with the proper space.

Speaker 2: (26:00)
Okay, just while you’re there, so it is up and running?

Bill de Blasio: (26:00)
It is up and running, it’s over, it’s located at the Javits Center.

Speaker 2: (26:00)
Okay, and just between Comfort and them?

Bill de Blasio: (26:00)
Because those are the only two that are open right now to move patients to.

Speaker 2: (26:00)
Right, and a quick followup, we were told we had to ask, or wait on this, there is a large tent set up in the parking lot of Citi Field, is that somehow, what is that?

Bill de Blasio: (26:00)
Yeah, the tent was originally set up at Citi Field to support the drive through testing clinics that were going to come in from FEMA, but we, through this process, as other clinics were set up, we co-located the FEMA operations with our health and hospitals. And so we left the tent up there right now to determine if we needed an additional use for it, so maybe it can be used for some of our food access distribution points. So we’ve been in contact with Citi Field, I’m leaving it there for right now, until we determine if we have a use for it there. So right now, it’s just staged for us to use for something that we might need because the changes, or the requirements continue to change every day.

Bill DeBlasio: (27:23)
You go around this side, here we go, we’re getting organized. So, I want to note, with real appreciation to [Deanne 00:27:23], that she brings an extraordinary background to this work in emergency management because she started as a firefighter, she served in the Air Force, then served at FEMA, so, what is amazing is watching everyone be able to work with Deanne, military folks, immediately, feel comfortable with Deanne because she was in the military, firefighters, of course, she’s one of them, FEMA folks from Washington, she knows all of them, including the national administrator. So, I really want to give credit where credit is due, not only to her team, which is great, but Deanne herself has been really one of the pivots here because she brings a wealth of experience and relationships and it’s really helping New York City right now.

Bill DeBlasio: (28:09)
It’s not a surprise that those ambulances, for example, showed up in record time, that’s a lot of her doing and Tom [Von Essen’s 00:28:09] doing. Yes?

Speaker 3: (28:09)
Can you give us a update on Elmhurst Hospital and where that stands and what’s the number of fatalities that have come through there?

Bill DeBlasio: (28:18)
Dr. [Way 00:28:18] will join me, I just want to say to preface, and then we will artfully, in a ballet-like fashion, go around each other. It’s been a really tough time for Elmhurst, but I want to note, and I give Dr. Mitch [Katz 00:28:33] and the whole team at health and hospitals at Elmhurst credit, they continually made the adjustments, we talk about how the NYPD, for example, constantly make strategic adjustments through [com-stat 00:28:45], you saw that at Elmhurst.

Bill DeBlasio: (28:18)
They surged doctors there, nurses there, equipment there, four times they sent more ventilators, to ensure they could save lives. And also moved patients off to other places who could be. So they got some of the very toughest cases in the city, and in a sudden surge, and that has a lot to do with where the hospital is and how few public hospitals are in that area, for so many people, but they really dealt with a sudden onslaught very, very powerfully. With that, in terms of the overall situation, Dr. Way, why don’t you come over? You go that way, I’ll go this way.

Dr. Way: (28:18)
All right. So, thank you for that question and thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of health and hospitals in Elmhurst. First and foremost, my heart breaks for all of the patients and the families who been inflicted with this terrible, terrible virus. I’ve practiced emergency medicine for a long time and I’m seeing things that I could never have imagined in terms of what this virus can do to all ages, people who were previously healthy, people with comorbidities. So, our thoughts and prayers are with everybody who’s lost somebody, as well as everybody who’s in the ICU, and especially to our healthcare workers who have fallen ill.

Dr. Way: (28:18)
Elmhurst Hospital still continues to make all of us very proud, all the doctors, the nurses, the leadership, everybody is moving heaven and earth to do everything they can to take on the onslaught of COVID-19 patients. And so, over the past two weeks, it’s gone from more than double the volume of people coming to the emergency department, to now the volume’s actually down, but the people who are coming in are so much more ill and so much more critically ill, with shortness of breath and respiratory failure.

Dr. Way: (30:51)
And so what we’re seeing is more and more ICU type patients. And so I was just on the phone with the emergency department chief, Dr. Stew [Kessler 00:30:51], to get a better picture, I speak to him every day, we have a ED action team that meets at six PM every night, I’ve also spent a lot of time at Elmhurst myself over the past two weeks, and intubated 19 patients in the past 48 hours, 42 patients in the past four days. And that is way more than normal for an emergency department, even an level one trauma center like Elmhurst.

Dr. Way: (30:51)
And so, many patients are boarding, meaning they’re admitted and waiting for space upstairs in the emergency department. Health and hospital has been acting like a system in terms of literally flattening the curve, everybody should be familiar with that term, of all the public health information about flattening the curve. What we’ve been doing is we’ve been transferring patients, both medical surgical acuity as well as ICU acuity, out of Elmhurst, Queens Hospital, Lincoln Hospital, King’s- King’s County Hospital, to our other hospitals that have not been, are surging, but not nearly as much as Elmhurst and others.

Dr. Way: (30:51)
And so we’ve moved almost 200 patients in the last week and a half across the system. But the indicators I’m looking at are flashing red, all right, the number of patients that are boarding in the emergency department, the number of patients that are filling our medical surgical units in our ICUs are surging well beyond our traditional ICU units into step-down units, the operating rooms, medical surgical units.

Dr. Way: (30:51)
And so this space is exactly what we need, we need to look outside of the four walls of our hospitals, not just tents in front of our hospitals. But where they can take admitted patients. And so, the Javits Center, the Comfort are welcome reprieves, we have teams pouring over every patient in our hospitals, matching it to the inclusion exclusion criteria to see who we can get to Javits Center, which we’ve sent multiple people today, as well as to the Comfort.

Dr. Way: (30:51)
And so I want to thank the Mayor, OEM, the Governor, FEMA, everybody, for stepping up and helping us.

Bill DeBlasio: (30:51)
Stay there if you would, Doctor, I just want to see if there’s any other questions about either Elmhurst, specifically, or [Pelton 00:33:06] Hospitals. Anybody else have questions about that? Yes, way back there.

Speaker 4: (30:51)
I just wanted to ask, I know you said other hospitals are surging, which in the system do you say, especially here in the borough in Queens, which is the epicenter of the city’s epicenter, could you specifically talk about Queens hospitals and go through more, you know, the other hospitals here and how they’re doing and which ones are an area of concern for HHC?

Dr. Way: (30:51)
Yes. So, Queens Hospital is surging as well, they’re about four or five days behind Elmhurst, in terms of where they are on the curve, but it’s a much smaller hospital and, therefore, we’ve been putting a huge emphasis on getting ICU patients out of Queens Hospital, to Bellevue, to Harlem Hospital, to Metropolitan, to North Central Bronx. So, the borough of Queens is clearly on the front edge of this pandemic, but we’re seeing it in Brooklyn, we’re seeing it at King’s County, Coney Island, [Woodhall 00:34:07] are all surging, as well, [Jacobi 00:34:12], in the Bronx, and Lincoln, in the Bronx, are right there as well.

Dr. Way: (30:51)
So, like I said, it went from being relatively easy to flatten the curve, in terms of moving and shifting the surge across the system to now it’s much more difficult. But I just really want to give the credit to the H&H leadership, especially the CEOs of all these other hospitals. Every time I pick up the phone and call them, and say, can you take ten med surgeons to ICUs? They say, of course, let me figure it out on my end, but send those patients please.

Bill DeBlasio: (30:51)
Anybody else, yeah, please.

Speaker 5: (30:51)
This is a, understanding about Elmhurst, at this point, is it still receiving heart attacks, broken legs, standard ER visits? Because from what we saw from the inside, there were people at Elmhurst saying, we need this to be, essentially, COVID triage right now, we can’t deal with all these other folks, has that been straightened out?

Dr. Way: (30:51)
Yes. So, we, I was on the phone with FDNY leadership yesterday, Hospital Special Surgery has made a generous offer to take all ortho related EMS runs there. So we are setting up a call with city hall, with FDNY to figure out how to operationalize this, because this is not normal operating procedures, you take, you know, within ten minutes of where you pick a patient up.

Dr. Way: (30:51)
We are stabilizing traumas and immediately putting them in a ambulance, if safe, and transferring to a ICU elsewhere in the system. So, yes, we are doing everything we can. Memorial Sloan-Kettering is offering to take our cancer patients, I mentioned Special Surgery for our ortho patients, we’ve also created a capacity at Roosevelt Island Medical Center to get other patients.

Dr. Way: (30:51)
So we’re making space, we’re making space for COVID patients and especially ICU COVID patients.

Bill DeBlasio: (30:51)
Anything else on HHC, please.

Speaker 6: (30:51)
Just, is it possible that patients that you have, or are generally at H&H hospitals, that are not being treated specifically for COVID-19, who might nonetheless be infected?

Dr. Way: (30:51)
Yes. I think that was one of the initial most surprising things for us, that some of the positive tests that were coming back were from those that we least expected it. We thought travel, we thought fever, cough, right? All of these respiratory symptoms, but some people have just diarrhea and upset stomach, right? We had traumas come in, so people who got hit by cars or got beat up on the street, and we put them into the CT scanner, you see ground glass opacities, which show pneumonia, that’s consistent for COVID-19.

Dr. Way: (30:51)
And so we’re operating under the understanding that anybody could have COVID at this point, any patient that we see.

Speaker 6: (30:51)
And noting that, when they are sent away from the hospital, to the other facilities, including here, what kind of precautions have to be taken just because of that?

Dr. Way: (30:51)
Absolutely, and so, droplet precautions, for anybody who is a suspected, what we call, a person under investigation, so they have a test pending, anybody who has a confirmed, if they have-

Speaker 6: (37:24)
[Have to have a mask 00:37:24].

Dr. Way: (37:24)
Yep, that means a mask, that means eye protection-

Speaker 6: (37:29)
[inaudible 00:37:29] proper protection means a mask.

Dr. Way: (37:29)
Yep, yep. But if they have, if they’re intubated, then we take even further precautions called airborne precautions. So, that’s a N95 mask, that’s a face shield, eye protection, gowns, gloves, hat. And so, for both our EMS and ambulance personnel who will be transporting these patients, they will all be in protective, personal protective equipment, as well as the receiving providers at each of these facilities and we will keep these patients in those isolation, you know, precautions.

Bill DeBlasio: (37:29)
Anything else, Health & Hospitals or Elmhurst? Okay, I’m going to go around-

Dr. Way: (37:29)
All right, thank you.

Bill DeBlasio: (37:29)
… you go here, I’ll go here. We’ll switch around. Okay, let me get other questions, go ahead.

Speaker 7: (37:29)
On the-

Bill DeBlasio: (37:29)
No, over here first.

Speaker 7: (37:29)
Thanks. On the released inmates, can you say which agency, or agencies, is responsible for them, and also are any staff or other resources being allocated in addition in terms of finding them housing, supervising, and support programs?

Bill DeBlasio: (37:29)
Yeah, so I’ll give you the broad answer and then we’ll get to more followup. There’s definitely a followup effort between the Department of Corrections, Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, NYPD, and then also some of the times, other agencies, some of these folks are homeless, they’re going into a hotel setting, for example, that could involve the Department of Homeless Services, or sometimes, Department of Health, and definitely Health & Hospitals, because they do correctional health. So-

Bill de Blasio: (39:00)
… definitely health and hospitals, because they do correctional health. So [inaudible 00:39:00] a lesson in how to address any potential health concerns, they can call correctional health any time and get support. So there’s actually a pretty elaborate follow-up schema, but we’ll get you exactly the details of it.

Speaker 8: (39:00)
Any more staff being involved?

Bill de Blasio: (39:00)
I think given everything that’s happening, we’re drawing on staff that already exists.

Speaker 8: (39:00)
[inaudible 00:39:00] happened this year. We’ve already seen the Olympics postponed for an entire year, so that’s a July event. We’re talking about late August, early September. Can this event happen, and when would that decision need to be made, and what plan might exist to augment it?

Bill de Blasio: (39:00)
Before Danny comes over, and I want him to speak for himself about their plans, I’ll only say … I mean, look, I think time horizon that’s of deepest concern to New York City is April, May. I think thereafter, we pray that we start to come out of this, but it won’t be instant. It’ll be going up the mountain, and you come back down the mountain. It’s going to take time. Remember it was weeks ago that our health commissioner said her best estimate was we would have a chance to return to normal around September, but that’s an ever-changing realty. August may be a very, very much better time, or we may still fighting some of these battles. We don’t know yet. For things that are coming up much sooner, I think it’s very tough. By late summer, we may get some good news. Come on over.

Speaker 9: (39:00)
Ironically today is March 31st, and five months from today is August 31st, which is the first day of the main draw of the U.S. Open. We still plan accordingly, but it seems so trivial in light of what’s going on in the city and the state and the government right now, so we want to be as supportive as we can. We will continue to plan every single day as if the U.S. Open is being hosted, and hopefully we’ll be in a position five months from today to see players actually practicing on the courts right behind us and playing in Arthur Ashe Stadium and all the other courts on the site, but way too preliminary to be thinking about that right now.

Bill de Blasio: (39:00)
Amen. From your lips to God’s ears. Okay. That would be a nice part of our comeback, wouldn’t it?

Speaker 8: (39:00)
Mr. Mayor?

Bill de Blasio: (39:00)
Yes?

Speaker 8: (39:00)
There’s a report today that Rikers inmates are being offered $6.00 an hour to dig mass graves on Hart Island.

Bill de Blasio: (39:00)
I have not heard that.

Speaker 8: (39:00)
Apparently, it was on the Intercept. Apparently, they’re using mass internment methods.

Bill de Blasio: (39:00)
No, that doesn’t sound right at all.

Speaker 8: (39:00)
Okay.

Bill de Blasio: (39:00)
Yeah. Really doesn’t sound right. We’ll have someone get you all the details, but let’s proceed with caution on assuming that is right. Okay. Anyone else over here? Yes, please.

Speaker 10: (39:00)
We heard from many families that their loved one died, and the ME took up to 24 hours to get the body out of the building. The ME’s office said they weren’t backlogged, but the families tell us that they told them that they were.

Bill de Blasio: (39:00)
Yeah. Look, there’s a lot going on, and we have to make sure, one, that families are treated with respect, no matter how intense this crisis. What a painful moment for families. They need all the help and support they can get. Two, everyone’s trying to make sense of a new set of ground rules, and it’s going to take a little time to get it right, but what I assure you is, God forbid someone lose a loved one. We want to make sure that the medical examiner gets over there quickly. We want to make sure if it involves a police matter, the police get over there with proper protective gear, everyone.

Bill de Blasio: (39:00)
And we are getting help from the federal government. It’s a topic, as I’ve said, scrupulously, I don’t get into the details of, but we are getting help from the federal government. More help is coming to expand on what the medical examiner does. I think we’re going to need a little time to get it to be the way it should be, as quick and respectful as it should be, but that’s what we’re going to do. See if there’s anything else. Yes?

Speaker 8: (39:00)
On Samaritan’s Purse, which is opening this Central Park facility, do you have any personal concerns about their organization, and did you choose not to attend because of that?

Bill de Blasio: (39:00)
Well, when I heard originally, Andrew, that there was an organization that was going to help Mt. Sinai address COVID-19, I thought that’s fantastic, and the fact that it was moving so quickly was something that I found positive. Then when I heard more about the organization and particularly some of the things that Reverend Graham has said, it was very troubling to me. I said immediately to my team that we had to find out exactly what was happening, was there going to be an approach that was truly consistent with the values and law in New York City that everyone would be served and served equally.

Bill de Blasio: (39:00)
We have received those assurances from the organization. I spoke earlier today with the CEO of Mt. Sinai system, Dr. Ken Davis, who was adamant that they will only continue their relationship with the organization if those rules are followed, that they had a written agreement that would mean discrimination whatsoever, going to send people over from the mayor’s office to monitor. So I’m very concerned to make sure this is done right, but if it is done right, of course we need all the help we can get. Katie?

Speaker 10: (39:00)
I wanted to ask, I know you had mentioned that the city would be releasing more detailed data. I wanted to ask for an update on that and when it will-

Bill de Blasio: (39:00)
As I’ve said, and thank you for the question, I’m comfortable on the raw material that you indicated yesterday. I’m comfortable with its release. I want the health department to come up with an answer if they haven’t already, I guess, so Freddy will follow up today. If there’s some specific concern, I want to hear it, but otherwise I think it should be released. We’ve given you the disclaimers, and my goal is to get more accurate information that we could actually feel comfortable that in releasing it publicly, you would scrub it and find it to be scrupulously consistent. That’s what I want to get us to the point of. It’s been, as you can imagine, very hand to mouth the first few weeks getting set for this kind of onslaught. But I think soon, we should be able to have much more detailed information we can put out consistently that we can have confidence in.

Speaker 10: (39:00)
Did something change for you? I know last week you were reluctant to release the data. You were concerned that it might not be accurate.

Bill de Blasio: (39:00)
Yep.

Speaker 10: (39:00)
Was there a shift or change that changed your mind?

Bill de Blasio: (39:00)
The change was, I have been shown more and more information that I believe is getting to the point that it will be consistent and accurate. Early in the crisis, we were dealing with very specific cases. Do you remember those days? It seems like a long time ago. And I was able to get very specific information when I put people through their paces, it came back consistently. I said, “Great, that’s information we can put out.” Then as things intensified greatly, I saw too many things where things were changing every hour, and I didn’t feel it was right to give out information that was so quickly changing. Now, I think I’m getting a flow of information that’s ready to be made public more and more. As soon as it is, we’re going to put it out.

Speaker 8: (39:00)
Mr. Mayor?

Bill de Blasio: (39:00)
Yeah?

Speaker 8: (39:00)
Do you want to see anything more from President Trump? He’s having his news conference later today. What do you want to hear from him about New York City in his news conference later?

Bill de Blasio: (39:36)
I’ve said, I’ve expressed my appreciation for the USNS Comfort, for FEMA being here in force, for the ambulances and the first responders who’ve arrived, for the ventilators. This is all moving in the right direction. But this is still the calm before the storm, and so the request I made directly to the president and other top officials in the administration, for 1, 000 nurses, 150 doctors, 300 respiratory therapists to arrive beginning as early as Sunday, for the next particularly intense week or two, that’s what I need a response to right now. That’s the urgent need for New York City, and I’m going to update what we need next. As soon as it becomes clear, I’m going to tell the president directly. But I need an answer to that question right now. Okay, everybody, thank you very much, and we will see you again soon. (silence)