Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces New Hospital Network Central Coordinating Team


  Let me go through where we are today on the numbers. Give these people an update. The number of cases still going up. We're all in search of the apex and the other side of the mountain. But we are still headed up the mountain. Number of people tested last night was a near record amount. We tested over 18,000 people. We're testing more people than any state in the country and I'm very proud of that. More per capita than China and South Korea.

Total number of people tested, 200,000. Population of 19 million, is not going to give you a random sample, but it's been helping us track down on the positive cases. Number of positive cases, 9,298. Total cases 75,000 cases. You see the predominance in New York City, then Westchester, then Nassau, then Suffolk, then Rockland. So you can see it's that area of density. It spreads out from that area of density. The march of coronavirus across the State of New York continues. We're down to just two counties that don't have a case. The overall numbers, 75,000 have tested positive. Ten thousand people in our hospitals, 2,700 ICU patients. Good news, 4,900 - almost 5,000 - discharged. That's up 771. So people come in, they get treated, they go home.

New York is at 75,000 cases. Next state is 16,000. California is at 7,000. So you can see New York, there's a magnitude of difference more than any other state. Fifteen-hundred fifty deaths. That's up from 1,218 yesterday. Again, we're studying the charts. We're trying to study the data, follow the data. The data is uneven. It bounces. Numbers often bounce in any model. There are variables in this model. The hospitals are reporting it, so what every hospital reported, were they busy, are they combining a couple of days in one? It's an imperfect reporting mechanism.

You see the basic line is still up. What the statisticians will tell you is you basically draw the straight line that columns indicate and you see that we're still going up which is what we see on the overall trajectory, that we're still going up. Number of intubations was down, not much, but it was down and that's a good sign. You also see the number of discharges going up and that's consistent. The longer people are in, they either get treated and leave or they get put on a ventilator and the longer you're on a ventilator, the less likelihood you will come off the ventilator. That is the blunt truth of this situation.

We have two missions overall that we are pursuing. One is the front line of this battle is our hospital system. That's where this is going to come down to. The second is social responsibility. Stay at home. Don't get infected in the first place. Don't get infected in the first place because it goes back to you're creating a burden on our health care system that our health care system cannot handle. We're talking about exceeding the capacity of our hospital system by some estimates, 2 times. So what does this come down to besides all the other issues? It comes down to not overwhelming the hospital system because those people who need acute care may not be able to get the acute care. So it's all about the hospital system. That is the front line.

What we're doing is we are following the mathematical projections of the experts. We're speaking to all the health care professionals, all the health care providers. World Health Organization, National Institute of Health, Dr. Fauci, CDC, FDA - the whole alphabet soup of health care experts and the mathematicians who then have different models. We talk about five different models and compared the models and tried to find the median through the models. That's how we plan everything. Follow the data, follow the science. People ask me, "What do you think, what do you think?" I don't think about this. What do I know? I'm not an expert. I'm not opining. I talk to experts and I follow people who know.

But for the hospitals procure equipment, identify the beds, support the staff, that's what it's been all about. Of those priorities number one is support the staff. They are the front line and they need relief. They are physically exhausted even more they are more emotionally exhausted. This is unlike any other disasters. Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods - they happen, they are fast, they're over, you start rebuilding. This is different. This is ongoing and the duration itself is debilitating and exhausting and depressing. I'm speaking to healthcare professionals who say, "Look, more than physically tired I'm emotionally tired seeing the pain and death that they are dealing with every day."

In general, I am tired of being behind this virus. We've been behind this virus from day one. The virus was in China. We knew it was in China. Unless we assume there's some immune system variation with Asian people, it was coming here and we have been behind it from day one since it got here and we've been playing catch-up. You don't win playing catch-up. We have to get ahead of it. The second rule is never underestimate your opponent, and we underestimated this virus. It's more powerful, it's more dangerous than we expected, and the third point is plan forward. Get ahead of it. Get ahead of it, fight the fight today, yes, but anticipate the next battle and plan for the next battle.

And the main battle is at the apex. We're still going up the mountain. The main battle is on the top of the mountain. That's where the main battle is going to be. The apex of the curve and then we come down the other side of the mountain. We are planning now for the battle at the top of the mountain. That's what we are doing. Get a staffing plan ready now for the battle at the top of the mountain. Equipment stockpile now - we're gathering equipment that we don't need today because today is not the day of the battle. The battle is when we hit the apex, depending on who you believe, 14 days to 30 days from today.

And also we need a social acceptance of the time expectation. We're all anxious. We're all tired, we're all fatigued. It's been all bad news for a long time. Our whole lifestyle has been disrupted. Everybody knows wants to know one thing, when is it over, nobody knows. Well, President said by Easter; this one said by this - nobody knows. You can have a hypothesis, you can have a projection, you can have an opinion but nobody knows, but I can say this, it is not going to be soon. If our apex is 14 to 21 days, that's our apex. You then have to come down the other side of the mountain once you hit the apex, so calibrate yourself and your expectations so you're not disappointed every morning you get up.

Yesterday we met with the entire state hospital system, Dr. Zucker and our team - first time they were all in one place. And we said to the hospital system, "Look," what I just said to you, "We are dealing with a war, we are dealing with war we've never dealt with before. We need a totally different mindset. We can't do business the way we have always done business - we need unprecedented sense of cooperation, flexibility, communication and speed." And that's what we talked through yesterday, and we have to do it now. The healthcare system is one of those balkanized systems - it's like our state education system, it's like our criminal justice system. It's in place. It's fragmented. They have their own identities, their own associations, it's regionally organized. That all has to change.
We don't have the ability to meet the capacity of our healthcare system as an entirety. That assumes the healthcare system is working as an entirety. That's not how the healthcare system is organized now. We have New York City hospitals, and then we have Long Island hospitals, and then we have Westchester hospitals, and then we have upstate hospitals -- that has to go. Even in New York City you have two basic hospital systems in New York City: you have the private hospitals, voluntary hospitals, about 160 of them, which are some of the finest healthcare institutions in the United States of America. You know, this is Mount Sinai, Columbia Presbyterian, et cetera. Some of their members are also upstate, but they're the large, private institutions. Greater New York Hospital Association, Ken Raske runs that association of 160. 

You then have in New York City the public hospitals, the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation. They are eleven public hospitals. They are a universe, and then you have the private hospitals as a separate universe. The eleven public hospitals are the hospitals that in many ways have always been under greater stress and greater need. We have to get those two systems, the private system and the public system in New York City, working together in a way they never did before. The distinction of private-public, that has to go out the window. We are one healthcare system. On top of that, it can't be the downstate hospitals, and the upstate hospitals, and the Long Island hospitals. When we talk about capacity of beds, when I say we now have 75,000 beds, that's a statewide number. That means those beds have to be available to the people in New York City or Nassau even if those beds are up in Albany.

So, combining that whole system, and you're no longer just the Western New York hospitals, or the Central New York hospitals; it's one coordinate system. It's much easier said than done, but we have to do it. On top of that, you have to overlay the new federal beds that came in that are an entirely new component. We have Javits Center -- 2,500 beds. We have the USNS Comfort -- 1,000 beds. We're planning other federal facilities. These all have to be coordinated on top of the existing hospital network. So, you see the organizational situation that we're dealing with. And let's be honest and let's learn from the past, we know where we have to focus. We know where we're going to have problems in the next hospitals because the hospitals that have the least capacity that have already been stressed are the hospitals that are not going to be able to handle the additional load. That is a fact. You know which hospitals are struggling. We do reports all the time about the financial capacity of hospitals and what hospital are in stronger versus weaker position.

The hospitals that are in a weaker position are the hospitals that are going to suffer when they then carry an added burden. That was Elmhurst hospital. It happened to be a public hospital. It happened to be a public hospital in a place of density. It happened to get overwhelmed and that's what then you saw the burden on the staff. You saw the emotion. You saw the stress. That can't happen, and that's what we talked about yesterday. And people said, "Well, Elmhurst isn't my responsibility. Elmhurst is a public hospital; the City runs it. I don't run it. It's New York City, its' not a private hospital." I don't care which link breaks in the chain. The chain is still broken. It doesn't matter which hospital, which link. Any link breaks, the chain breaks. The healthcare system is a chain; it breaks anywhere, it breaks everywhere.

That has to be our mentality. We laid out a full plan on how to do facility development, how to move people among hospitals so nobody gets overloaded, shifting patients, shifting staff, shifting supplies. None of us have enough supplies. Okay, then let's pool our supplies and let's put them out for the people who need them. Just because one hospital happened to have found a vendor from China who delivered 5 million masks, let's share those masks. And we talked about that yesterday.

We also talked again at length about ventilators which everybody knows is a key piece of equipment, identifying all the ventilators in the state, who has them, who has them in a stockpile, who ordered them, who expects them to come in and we'll have one stockpile of ventilators that we can distribute for everyone who needs them. We also talked about splitting of ventilators because that's a technology that does exist. It's been used before. It's not ideal. You take one ventilator and it's used for two patients.

The federal government is a partner in this obviously. I spoke to the President again yesterday about this situation. I spoke to the Vice President. I spoke to Jared Kushner. The White House has been very helpful. We have to get the federal agencies on the ground to understand how this operates, especially FEMA, because we have to be coordinated and people have to know what they're doing and this is no time for anyone to be learning on the job. And we're going to be working through that today. PPE, same thing. We want to know what everybody has. One stockpile, we'll distribute it fairly.

Testing, how do we get, when does this end? This ends when we get a fast track test, an at home test, 15-minute test, and people can find out when they can go back to work because they're negative. We're working on additional testing. As I said, the department of health has a new test, but that's when this ends.
We're also working on the new medications. We're leading the country in many of these developments. We have saliva testing. We're working on the antibody testing and plasma testing at the same time.

We put together an essential coordinating team. It's going to be led by the Department of Health. Westchester is on it and Greater New York, New York City is on it, Long Island is on it. If the federal government is going to participate they have to be part of this team because we have to know what we're doing and I don't want FEMA coming in and blowing the coordination of what everyone is trying to do.

The coordinating team is going to organize upstate-downstate transfers, set patient loads for hospitals, so if one hospital gets up near an overload capacity, let's call it, those hospitals start to send patients to other hospitals before they get up to their max. Within the New York City public hospital system, within the Greater New York private system, and then among the different systems. Different mentality. But we have to do it.

We set two missions. One was hospitals. Second was individual responsibility. The individual responsibility is about discipline. It's about selflessness and being informed. The basic point is stay at home. Stay at home. I know it's hard to stay at home and I know everyone thinks, you know, I can go out, I can be smart, and I won't get infected because it's me. I'm a superhero. It's not going to be me. That is not true.

And it's not just about you. It's not just about your health and your life that you're playing with here, my friend. You can infect other people. So I've been trying to communicate this many different ways for many days. We still see people coming out who don't need to be out. Even for essential workers, people have to be careful. And again, I've been trying to communicate that. Everyone, everyone is subject to this virus. It is the great equalizer. I don't care how smart, how rich, how powerful you think you are. I don't care how young, how old. This virus is the great equalizer.

My brother Chris is positive for coronavirus - found out this morning. Now, he is going to be fine. He's young, in good shape, strong, not as strong as he thinks, but he will be fine. But there's a lesson in this. He's an essential worker. Member of the press. So, he has been out there. The chance you get infected is very high. I spoke to him this morning and he's going to be quarantined in his basement at home. He's just worried about his daughter and his kids. He hopes he didn't get them infected.

You don't really know Chris. You see Chris. He has a show at nine o'clock on CNN. But you just see one dimension, right? You see a person in his job and in his job he's combative and argumentative and pushing people - but that's his job. That's really not who he is. He is a really sweet, beautiful guy and he's my best friend. My father was always working, so it was always just me and Chris. He's a lawyer, also, Chris. He is a lawyer because growing up the decision point came to what do you want to do after college? And my father was very strong personality, and my father basically suggested forcefully to Chris that he should be a lawyer. It was a different time and a different place, you know? Now, my daughters, Cara, who's here, they all follow their individual stars. This is their destiny, which is right. If you had said to my father, I want to follow my individual star, he would say, you're going to follow your individual star right out that door, you know? That's what he would have said.

So, Chris went to law school but he never really had a desire to practice law. He calls me when he is about 26, he is at a law firm and he said, you know, I don't want to be a lawyer. I said I know but you are now a lawyer. You are. He said, but I don't want to be a lawyer. He said I want to be a journalist. I said you want to be a journalist? I said, too late. You're a lawyer. You have to pay law school bills. You didn't go to journalism school. It is too late. No, no, I think I can do it. God bless him. He quit the law firm, went to work for Fox TV, which is a whole separate conversation in the house, and then worked his way up. He's at CNN. He does a beautiful job, but a sweet guy and now he is quarantined in the basement but he's funny as heck. He said to me even the dogs won't come down stairs, he says. But he is concerned about his wife and his kids.

But the reason I raise this is he's smart. He's social distancing, yes. But you wind up exposing yourself. People wind up exposing you and then they find out they're positive a couple of days later. And I had a situation with Christopher two weeks ago that I even mentioned my mother was at his house. And I said, that is a mistake. Now, my mother is in a different situation. She is older and she's healthy, but I said you can't have Mom at the house. And he said, no, no, no, Mom is lonely. She wants to be at the house. I feel bad. She is cooped up in the apartment. I said, yeah, I feel bad she is cooped up in the apartment too. But you expose her to a lot of things. You have the kids there, your wife there. You're coming and going. Your wife is coming and going and you could expose mom to the virus. And love is sometimes a little - needs to be a little smarter than just reactive. And we had a whole discussion. And truth, now, he is informed. I'm informed. Was that dangerous? Was that not dangerous? I went back to Dr. Zucker and I said look, we have to tell people, what are the rules? How does this work? That's when I came up with Matilda's Law, and I said I named it for my mother. And it was very clear about people who are older and what they should be exposed to. My brother, it was two weeks ago, if my brother still had my mother at his house, again out of love and comfort, and my mother wanted to be at eth house anyway, by the way, she didn't want to be sitting at home in an apartment. So she would have been doing what she wanted to do, he would have been doing what he wanted to do. It would have seemed great and harmless, but now we'd have a much different situation. Because if he was exposed, chances are, she may very well have been exposed, and then we would be looking at a different situation than just my brother sitting in his basement for two weeks. So think about that, right. My brother's smart. He was acting out of love. Luckily we caught it early enough.

But it's my family, it's your family, it's all of our families. And this virus is that insidious. And we have to keep that in mind. Keep in mind Matilda's Law. Remember who is vulnerable here. And protect them. You want to go out and act stupid for yourself, that's one thing. But your stupid actions don't just affect you. You come home, you can infect someone else, and you can cause a serious illness or even death for them, by your actions. And people have to really get this, and internalize it, because it can happen to anyone. Two weeks with my mother and Christopher, today is a very different situation.

Last point, there is nothing that I have said different since I started these briefings. And there's nothing we have learned that is different since I started these briefings. We know what to do. We just have to do it. It is individual discipline to stay at home. That's what it is, it's discipline. No social distancing. It's discipline. Well, I'm bored. I know. I'm bored. It's discipline. Making this healthcare system work, that's government skill, that's government performance. That's saying to that healthcare system, I don't care how it worked yesterday, I don't care whose turf this is, I don't care whose ego is involved, I'm sorry, we have to find a way to work, a better way. Time to say to that federal government and to FEMA and HHS, you have to learn how to do your job, and you have to learn how to do it quickly. Because time is not our friend. It's about a social stamina. This is not one week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, five weeks, six weeks, okay? This is not going to be an Easter surprise. Understand that and have the stamina to deal with it. And it's unity.

Let's help one another. New York needs help now. Yesterday I asked for healthcare workers from across the country to come here because we need help. We will pay you, and more importantly, we will return the favor. This is going to be a rolling wave across the country. New York, then it'll be Detroit, then it'll be New Orleans, then it will be California. If we were smart as a nation, come help us in New York. Get the equipment. Get the training. Get the experience. And then let's all go help the next place, and then the next place, and then the next place. That would be a smart national way of doing this. And showing that unity. And, unity meaning, we're not, I know this is a political year, and everything is a political backdrop, and Democrats want to criticize Republicans, Republicans want to criticize Democrats. Not now. Not now. There are no red states, there are no blue states. The virus doesn't attack and kill red Americans or blue Americans. It attacks all Americans. And keep that in mind, because there is, there is a unifying wisdom in that.

NYPD and New York City Police Foundation Announce the Purchase of 150,000 units each of Masks, Gloves and Packets of Hand Sanitizer for the New York City Police Department


Provides Critical Protection for Police Officers on the Front Lines During the Coronavirus Pandemic

  The NYPD and New York City Police Foundation today announced the purchase of 150,000 masks, 150,000 gloves and 150,000 packets of hand sanitizer for police officers on the front lines of protecting the public during the coronavirus pandemic.
These resources – which cost $500,000 and were supplied by Winbrook – were purchased by the Police Foundation thanks to generous donors. The supplies are expected to ship in the coming days. As part of the Police Foundation’s efforts to secure supplies, Sony will also be immediately donating masks, on top of the 150,000 that were purchased.
In addition to the supplies that were just purchased, the Police Foundation is actively raising more funds and seeking donations to continue to meet its mission of supporting the NYPD. For others who would like to contribute to the Foundation please go to https://www.nycpolicefoundation.org/donate/.
NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said: “This equipment will help keep our officers physically safe. But beyond that, it sends them a clear message - that their unwavering commitment to protecting people is deeply appreciated. Amid all the challenges of this crisis, I’m struck by all the ways it has brought out the best in New Yorkers. On behalf of the entire NYPD family and the city we serve, thank you for the generous gift to the men and women in uniform.”
“When things are at their toughest, New Yorkers always step up to the challenge,” said Andrew Tisch, Chairman of the Board, New York City Police Foundation. “It’s amazing to see the tremendous outpouring across New York City and beyond to help protect our officers on the front lines.”
“Despite these unprecedented times, the men and women of the Department will continue to answer the call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Susan Birnbaum, President and CEO of the New York City Police Foundation. “The NYPD’s commitment to the city and its residents is unwavering and it’s essential we support them.”
The Police Foundation is the only organization dedicated to raising funds for NYPD public safety programs. It provides the Department with strategic resources beyond their normal budget to help innovate and strengthen police services. The donation announced today will help meet the immediate needs of the NYPD and is in addition to the Foundation’s ongoing support of numerous public safety initiatives.
These supplies will go to the NYPD's Quartermaster Section which has remained open 24/7 since March 13 and has streamlined distribution of critical COVID-19 related supplies and equipment. Quartermaster monitors inventory and requests in real time, communicating with Bureau points of contact on specific supply needs and making mass distributions of key items based on current stock and anticipated need. To date Quartermaster has distributed over 260,000 pairs of gloves, 550,000 masks, more than 150,000 individual disinfecting wipes and nearly 68,000 liquid hand sanitizer bottles. The Department is committed to ensuring all employees have all that they need to stay safe.
About the New York City Police Foundation
The New York City Police Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization established in 1971 by business and civic leaders to promote excellence in the NYPD and improve public safety in New York City. All donations support the efforts of the NYPD and the brave women and men who serve. Our unique public-private partnership continues to keep the NYPD at the cutting edge of innovation.
Some of the Foundation's programs include:
  • Neighborhood Policing: The Foundation supports efforts to strengthen the relationship between the police and the public through community-based initiatives in all precincts and neighborhoods across the City.
  • Crime Stoppers: The Foundation pays the rewards for Crime Stoppers which offers up to $2,500 for anonymous information that leads to the arrest and indictment of a violent felon. To date, calls to Crime Stoppers have helped solve more than 5,600 violent crimes including over 1,400 murders and attempted murders.
  • The International Liaison Program: Through the stationing of NYPD officers in 14 international cities and two domestic posts, the International Liaison Program is a counterterrorism initiative that allows Intelligence Officers to gather critical information and work with local law enforcement to provide firsthand, in-depth analysis to New York City.
  • NYPD Professional Development: The Foundation provides support for professional development programs and training that helps to prepare officers for the complexities of policing, increasing the effectiveness and efficiency in police services.
  • Improved Technology: The Foundation has provided seed money to pilot and support new technologies that help expand the capabilities of the NYPD.

MAYOR DE BLASIO TO CREATE HOSPITAL AT BILLIE JEAN KING TENNIS CENTER TO RELIEVE NEED AT ELMHURST HOSPITAL


New hospital will hold up to 350 patients and begin seeing people next week

  Mayor de Blasio today announced a new temporary hospital facility at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow, Queens. The facility will treat COVID non-ICU patients beginning next Tuesday, April 7th. The hospital will reach its full capacity of 350 patients over the next three weeks. These additional beds will help relieve some of the current need at Elmhurst Hospital.
  
“We’re approaching the toughest weeks of this crisis, and our City is rising to the challenge,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are increasing hospital capacity at breakneck speed to ensure that every person in need of care will get it – no questions asked.”

Citywide as of 6:00 PM on March 31st, there are 41,771 positive cases of COVID-19 and 1,096 fatalities. There are 7,814 confirmed cases in the Bronx, 11,160 in Brooklyn, 6,539 in Manhattan, 13,869 Queens, and 2,354 in Staten Island.

As of 6:00 PM on March 31th, there were at least 8,400 people hospitalized. Of those individuals, at least 1,888 were in the ICU. 

Hospital Capacity Update
NYC Health + Hospitals has now added 1,000 contract nurses to support existing staff system wide. To support the continued surge of patients, Health + Hospitals will also add an additional 1,000 nurses in the coming weeks. The City has also asked the federal government to supply 1,000 nurses, 3,000 respiratory therapists, and 150 doctors to support hospital staff across the City.

Critical Supply Update
Today, the City distributed 800,000 N95 masks, 3,000,000 face masks, 120,000 face shields, 40,000 gowns, and 600,000 surgical gloves to hospitals citywide.

The City has put out a call to oral surgeons, plastic surgeons, and veterinarians across the City to donate ventilators that are currently not in use. More information on how to donate is available here.

The City has now received and is working to dispatch all 2,500 ventilators received by the federal government. To date, the City has distributed a total of 3,056,000 face masks, 3,287,880 N95 masks, 65,470 gowns, and 1,305,940 surgical gloves to hospitals across the City.

City Jail Update
Through a combination of efforts by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and the District Attorneys and the State, as of today, the City has released at least 900 people from our jails.  

Playgrounds
Parks Department Staff has noticed a consistent lack of social distancing with children’s play equipment at 10 playgrounds across the City and will close them by the end of today, Tuesday, March 31st. The playgrounds include:

Brooklyn:
  • Middleton Playground
  • Fort Greene Park – 2 playgrounds
  • Brighton Playground

Bronx
  • Watson Gleason Playground

Manhattan:
  • Fort Tryon - Jacob Javits Playground
  • Raoul Wallenberg Playground (in Highbridge Park)

Queens
  • Mauro Playground (in Meadows Corona Park)

Staten Island:
  • Clove Lakes Park - 2 playgrounds

The City will continue to closely enforce social distancing rules and close additional playgrounds as necessary.

Protecting Amazon Workers
The Mayor has directed the Commission on Human Rights to investigate Amazon for the alleged firing of a Staten Island Fulfillment Center worker who organized a strike over the company’s health and safety practices.

Alternate Side Parking
Alternate Side Parking (ASP) citywide will be suspended for an additional two weeks through Tuesday, April 14th. Any New Yorker under isolation who has received a ticket can appeal to the Department of Finance and should provide medical documentation or testimony, which will be taken into consideration when their case is reviewed. For additional questions call 311.

Enforcing Closure of Non-Essential Construction Work
Following new State restrictions temporarily halting all non-essential construction, the Department of Buildings formulated specific guidance and agency operating protocols to implement these new emergency orders. Moving forward, only emergency construction work, essential facilities construction work, and work that is performed by a sole worker on a job site is permitted in New York City until further notice.

Emergency Construction Work includes the following:

  • Projects necessary to protect the health and safety of a building's occupants
  • Any emergency work ordered by the Department
  • Restoration work for essential services such as heat, hot water, or electricity
  • Work necessary to repair a condition that severely affects life, health, safety or property
  • Any work where it would cause an unsafe condition to halt the project before it is finished
  • Essential Facilities Construction includes:
  • Roads, bridges and transit facilities
  • Utility work
  • Hospitals or Health Care Facilities
  • Transitional or Homeless Shelters
  • Affordable Housing
  • Other essential facilities as directed by the Department

All other work regulated by DOB, and not covered by the above, is required to suspend operations until further notice. In addition, DOB will be rescinding all previously issued After Hours Variance (AHV) permits. Going forward AHV permits, required to perform any work at night or on the weekend, will only be issued for approved essential or emergency work. Non-essential construction sites must submit a request to continue work and be approved by DOB. Requests can be submitted at www.nyc.gov/dobnow.

Department of Buildings inspectors will be regularly inspecting construction sites citywide to ensure that they are complying with the emergency order; that non-essential construction operations have been suspended where required, and proper safety measures have been implemented. All sites, essential or non-essential must maintain appropriate social distancing measures, including for elevators, meals and entry and exit. Violations of social distancing or non-essential construction work will lead to enforcement actions from the Department, and subject to fines of up to $10,000 starting on Tuesday, March 31.

Any construction site that has been halted due to this emergency order must be properly secured and maintained at all times in order to safeguard the public throughout the duration of time while operations at the site are suspended. The owner of the site is legally responsible to ensure the sites are kept safe. See below some of the requirements for suspended construction sites in the city: 
  • Weekly safety inspections of the site by the owner, or an individual designated by the owner
  • Accurate logs of each of these required safety inspections must be kept at the site at all times
  • All public sidewalk and walkways adjacent to the sites must be maintained in a safe condition
  • All garbage, debris, and standing water must be removed from the site

Helping NYC’s Small Businesses
The Department of Small Business Services started the NYC Employee Retention Grant program as an immediate response to the economic setbacks small businesses were facing because of the coronavirus outbreak. The City moved swiftly to provide service to businesses that have up to 4 employees with this grant and has been successful in serving over 1,200 businesses with the allotted $10 million for the grant program, an average of $7,800 for each grant. This grant program will officially close to applicants on Friday at 5pm, and the City will continue to serve small businesses through the Small Business Continuity Fund, which is also first come first serve. This loan gives up to $75,000 to businesses with up to 99 employees. Businesses can use this loan to supplement their payroll costs, for working capital, inventory, and other investments. Eligible owners who would like to learn more about the loan program should call 311 or visit nyc.gov/covid19biz. The City is also working to connect small businesses to the programs and loans offered by the United States Small Business Administration. SBS will be offering technical assistance to ensure that NYC small businesses are best prepared to fully access business assistance programs funded by the federal stimulus.

Postponing Annual Tax Lien Sale Until August
The City will postpone its annual tax lien sale until August, as residents continue to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Property owners who are facing hardships making their property tax payments can take advantage of several existing Department Of Finance programs. These include exemption programs to lower the amount of taxes owed, standard payment plans, or a new Property Tax and Interest Deferral (PT AID) program, for those who qualify. More information on those programs can be found on the agency’s website.

Stay Informed
Nearly 800,000 New Yorkers have signed up for the City’s COVID text notification system to get regular updates on the latest developments with coronavirus in New York City text COVID to 692-692.  New Yorkers can text COVIDESP to 692-692 for updates in Spanish. You will receive regular SMS texts with the latest news and developments. If you have any questions on finding medical care call 311.

  

Daffodils and Squirrels were out on Pelham Parkway For April 1st




 Taking part in Project Daffodil 2020, the Friends of Pelham Parkway planted thousands of Daffodil bulbs on the north parkway island. During March the Daffodil bulbs began to sprout, a sign that warmer weather was coming. Tuesday April 1st the Daffodils were out in full force, by the Wallace Avenue Walkway. Even the squirrels stopped to pose for photos. Click on any photo to enlarge it.



Above and Below - Other areas around the Wallace Avenue Walkway where the Daffodil bulbs were planted are in full bloom.
Below - In the background on the right behind the Light Brown SUV you can see the Daffodils in the garden also in full bloom.




Above and Below - These two squirrels came out to see the Daffodils, and pose for photos


MAYOR DE BLASIO, COMMISSIONER CRISWELL AND COMMISSIONER NIGRO ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP WITH FEMA TO BRING 250 ADDITIONAL AMBULANCES TO NEW YORK CITY


FEMA additionally bringing on approximately 500 personnel

New Yorkers should only call 911 for life-threatening emergencies; call 311 to be connected to a doctor

  Mayor Bill de Blasio, Fire Department Commissioner Dan Nigro, New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell and FEMA Region II Administrator Tom Von Essen today announced a partnership between FEMA and the City to bring 250 more ambulances and approximately 500 more EMTs and paramedics to New York City. These resources will help the City increase capacity for medical transport in between medical sites and assist the FDNY with responding to a record number of medical calls. These ambulances come fully staffed by paramedics and EMTs from around the country.

"Our EMTs and paramedics are doing unbelievable work under the toughest of circumstances," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "This week, I promised them help was on the way, and today it is. Our partnership with FEMA will give our first responders the help they need to continue being the heroes of our city." 

“We are proud to support the first responders and people of New York as we all work together to help guide our city, our state and our country through this difficult time,” said Tom Von Essen, FEMA Region II Administrator.

“Our EMTs and Paramedics are facing an unprecedented number of medical calls each day. There has never been a busier time in the history of EMS in New York City,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “We are very grateful for this assistance from FEMA that will make an immediate impact to the 911 system and greatly assist our men and women on the frontlines of this pandemic.”

“These resources will make an immediate impact for our first responders who are on the frontlines of fighting COVID-19, and we are extremely thankful to FEMA for providing this support,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell.  “I also want to remind New Yorkers that they can also assist those most in need by only calling 911 in an emergency.”

During this crisis, EMS has been responding to a record number of medical emergencies each day – a 50 percent increase over normal daily call volume. FDNY is urging New Yorkers to only call 911 if is a true medical emergency. Those who are sick should call a doctor, and can call 311 for help getting connected with a doctor.

An Update for Seniors, about DFTA Meals - Council Member Ruben Diaz Sr.


  During the last week DFTA has been phasing out “grab and go” meals and ramping up a centralized program of meals delivered directly to the homes of clients of congregate sites. The direct delivered meal system that began last week as a pilot will expand to serve all clients in all five boroughs starting today, Monday March 30, 2020.
  
DFTA's congregate meals clients will receive direct delivery, which includes a five-meal package delivered to each older adult every week. DFTA has contracted with several vendors to deliver to these senior center participants directly. Because of this, Grab-and-Go meals will no longer be offered starting tomorrow.
 
The most direct path to access direct delivery meals is through the senior center. Older adults can do this by connecting with their local senior center. They can also call DFTA's Aging Connect at 212-AGING-NYC (212-244-6469) or call 311
 
Senior centers that have capacity to deliver existing frozen or shelf-stable food directly to the homes of their members are free to do so. However, senior centers will cease this service upon depletion of current stock and revert completely to the centralized meal delivery service.
 
Homebound older adults already receiving home-delivered meals through DFTA’s case management agencies will continue as usual. Those interested in signing up should call to see if they are eligible for home-delivered services by calling DFTA's Aging Connect at 212-AGING-NYC (212-244-6469) or calling 311.
 
In addition to helping ensure DFTA clients receive a daily meal, senior center providers are also making thousands of social engagement calls daily to ensure senior center members are not socially isolated during this crisis. Moreover, DFTA’s in-home services (including friendly visiting, case management, geriatric mental health, and others) have transitioned to a telephonic or virtual approach in an effort to combat social isolation.
 
For information about additional programs and resources, please visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/em/index.page 

I am Council Member Reverend Rubén Díaz, Sr. and this is what you should know.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces Statewide Public-private Hospital Plan to Fight COVID-19


  Let me thank them all very much for being here. We just had a great meeting, which I'll refer to in a moment. Let me also wish everyone a happy National Doctors Day. This is a day that doctors are truly busy and truly stepping up to their oath and their passion, and literally saving lives. So, we honor the doctors in the State of New York today. Let me also than the people from the Javits Center. Alan Steel, who is the director here. The Javits center has done many magnificent exhibitions and transformations, and they never cease to amaze me. But this is a transformation that I don't think anyone could ever anticipate. 2,500 beds as an emergency hospital. It is a partnership between state and federal government. I want to thank the federal government very much for what they have done. The Army Corps of Engineers did a fantastic job moving in here and getting everything set up as quickly as possible. Itwill become operational today - receiving the first few patients. We will start to run the facility and then we will take it from there. 

Let me go through a couple of facts to give you an update on where we are today, and then we will take your questions. In terms of the number of cases, you see the curve continues to go up - 7,195. You see the number of people tested continues to go up. This state is testing more people than any state in the United States - more per capita than China or South Korea. That is a good thing. We want to test. We want to find the positives. And we want to find the positives so we can isolate and stop the transmission. We tested 14,000 people yesterday. The number of cases continues to go up - 6,984. Total number of cases is 66,000 and those numbers are daunting to be sure.

You see it is continuing to move across the State of New York. There is only one county now that does not have a COVID case. Anyone who says the situation is a New York City only situation is in a state of denial. You see this virus move across the state. You see virus move across this nation. There is no American who is immune to this virus. I don't care if you live in Kansas. I don't care if you live in Texas. There is no American that is immune. What is happening to New York is not an anomaly. There is nothing about a New Yorker's immune system that is any different than any other American's immune system. So, in many ways New York is just a canary in the coal mine. What you see us going through here, you will see happening all across this country. 

So, part of what we doing here is not only serving New Yorkers, but we believe we are dealing with this pandemic at a level of intensity and density that no one has seen before, and hopefully we will learn lessons here that we can share with people across this nation. In terms of the overall numbers, 66,000 tested positive. 9,500 people are currently hospitalized. 2,000 ICU patients. 4,000 patients are discharged, that is an increase of 632. You don't often focus on this line when we have these conversations. But people go into the hospital and people leave the hospital, and that is important to remember.

We have dealt with some really deadly viruses before. We dealt with the Ebola virus and that is not what this is. Most people will get sick. Most people will get sick and stay home and have some symptoms. That's 80%. 20% will get sick and need hospitalization. They'll feel better and they'll leave. It tends to be those who are acutely ill, have an underlying illness, who have the most problems. 
The most impacted states, New York is at 66,000, New Jersey is next with 13,000,California is at 6,000. So, we have ten times the problem that California is dealing with. 1,218 death in the State of New York. Total of 148,000 cases. 1,218 deaths,that is a lot of loss. That is a lot of pain. That is a lot of tears. That is a lot of grief that people all across the state are feeling. 1,200 is up from 965 deaths. Yesterday, what you are seeing is people who have been on ventilators for a long period of time. The longer you are on a ventilator, the less likely you will ever come off that ventilator. And as we have now some period of time when people first entered the hospital and were first intubated, we are seeing that death number go up as the length of time on the ventilator increases.

To keep it in perspective, the Johns Hopkins numbers are still instructive. We have been studying this since China. So, 732,000 cases and 34,000 deaths worldwide. Total hospitalized, we are still looking for a pattern on these cases that are coming in. We are still looking for a pattern in the data. The number goes up. The number goes down. There is no doubt that the number is still increasing. There is also no doubt that the rate has slowed. We had a doubling of cases every two days, then a doubling every three days, then a doubling every four days, then every five days. We now have a doubling of cases every six days. So, while the overall number is going up, the rate of doubling is actually down. The daily intubation rate is way up. Again, sometimes it is just an anomaly. There is no clear pattern as you can see from those past several nights. Discharge rate, again that by and large is going up. People come into the hospital, stay for a period of time, number of days, and then they move on.

But the big picture is the situation is painfully clear now. There is no question what we are dealing with. There is no question as to the consequences. There is no question as to the grief and loss of life. And there is no question about what we must do. There are only two missions. There are only two operations that we need to perform. First, the public has to be responsible. Stay at home, when I issued the stay-at-home order, it wasn't "it would be nice if you did." It is a mandate. Stay at home. If you are a non-essential worker, stay at home. if you leave the house, you are exposing yourself to danger. If you leave the house, you are exposing yourself to danger. If you leave the house, you are exposing others to danger. You could get infected, go home and infect whoever is at home. So, stay at home. I know the isolation can be boring and oppressive. It is better than the alternative. Life is options, right? Stay at home, that is the best option. If you are out, no proximity, six feet distancing. You don't want proximity to other people and you want to stay away from places that are dense.

Still, in New York City, you have too many places with too much density. I don't know how many different ways to make the same point. New York City parks, we made the point there is too much density. If you want to go to the park, go to the park, but not in a dense area, not in playgrounds where you are playing basketball with other people. I have said that New York City is trying to reduce the density in those playgrounds. Thus far, they have not been successful. If that continues, we will take a mandatory action to close down playgrounds, as harsh as that sounds, but it can actually save peoples' lives. That is mission one.

Mission two, and this will be more and more clear as we go on. The frontline battle is in the health care system. The frontline battle is going to be hospitals across the city, across the state, and across this nation. That is where this battle is fought. It is that simple. You know exactly where it's coming. You know exactly where the enemy is going to attack. They're going to infect a large number of people. That number of people descend on the health care system. The health care system can't deal with that number of people. You overwhelm the health care system. That's what's happening. 

First step was flatten the curve, reduce density, keep people home. We've done everything we can possibly do there. Second step is, don't let the hospital system get overwhelmed. The soldiers in this fight are the health care professionals. It's the doctors, it's the nurses, it's the people working in the hospitals, it's the aides. They are the soldiers who are fighting this battle for us. 

You know the expression, save our troops. Troops, quote, unquote - in this battle the troops are health care professionals. Those are the troops who are fighting this battle for us. We need to recruit more health care workers. We need to share health care professionals within this state and within this country. As Governor of New York, I am asking health care professionals across the country, if you don't have a health care crisis in your community, please come help us in New York now. We need relief. We need relief for nurses who are working 12-hour shifts one after the other after the other. We need relief for doctors. We need relief for attendants. If you're not busy, come help us please. We will return the favor. We will return the favor. 

New York, yes, we have it now intensely. There will be a curve. New York at one point will be on the other side of the curve and then there will be an intense issue somewhere else in the nation. And the New York way is to be helpful. Help New York, we're the ones who are hit now. That's today, but tomorrow it's going to be somewhere else, whether it's Detroit, whether it's New Orleans, it will work it's way across the country. And this is the time to help one another.
We need supplies desperately and we're working on that. We just had a very good meeting where we discussed supplies. I want to thank Michael Evans from Ali Baba who is here with us today. I want to thank Elizabeth Jennings who is here with us today. They are helping us source supplies, because we're in a situation where you have 50 states all competing for supplies. The federal government is now also competing for supplies. Private hospitals are also competing for supplies. So we've created a situation where you literally have hundreds of entities looking to buy the same exact materials, basically from the same place which is China, ironically enough. We're fighting amongst ourselves. We're competing amongst ourselves. 

When we started buying ventilators, they were under $20,000. The ventilators are now over $50,000 if you can find them. The ventilators didn't change that much in two weeks. The prices went up because literally we are driving the prices up. But we need to give our front line, our health care professionals, the supplies they need and we need to do it now. Our rule here in New York has been plan forward, to get ahead of the problem. The old expression is don't fight the last battle. This virus has been ahead of us since day one. We have been playing catch-up from day one. You never win playing catch up. Get ahead of the problem. Don't fight today's fight. Plan for two weeks, three weeks, four weeks from now when you're going to have the apex, and make sure that we are in a position to win the battle when the battle is truly drawn, which is going to be at the apex. That's why we are preparing stockpiles now. We're building a stockpile. The word stockpile, by definition, means not for immediate use. It means you are preparing for a battle to come. And you have to have the equipment, and you have to have it now.

I have done disaster work all across the nation. I can tell you this, if you wait to prepare for the storm to hit, it is too late, my friends. You have to prepare before the storm hits. And in this case, the storm is when you hit that high point, when you hit that apex. How do you know when you're going to get there? You don't. There is no crystal ball, but there is science, and there is data, and there are health professionals who have studied this virus and its progress since China. We now have months of data. Listen to the scientists. Listen to the healthcare professionals. Follow the data, and that is what we're doing here in New York.
We just had a great meeting where we brought the healthcare system from across the state of New York together to come up with one coordinated plan. Not private hospitals and public hospitals, not New York City hospitals and Long Island hospitals or Westchester hospitals, Upstate hospitals, not big hospitals and small hospitals, the entire healthcare system convened, coordinated, working as one for the first time in decades. No one can ever remember the way we have deployed and coordinated like this. Why? Because this is a statewide battle. And we want to make sure that we are all coordinated and we are all working together. That is exactly what we have accomplished at this meeting.

No politics. No partisanship. No division. There is no time for that, not in this state, not in this nation. This is a deadly, serious situation. And, frankly, it is more important than politics, and it is more important than partisanship. And if there is division at this time, the virus will defeat us. If there was ever a moment for unity - this, my friends, is the moment. In this situation, there are no red states, and there are no blue states, and there are no red casualties, and there are no blue casualties. It is red, white and blue. This virus doesn't discriminate. It attacks everyone, and it attacks everywhere. The president said this is a war. I agree with that. This is a war. Then let's act that way, and let's act that way now. And let's show a commonality in a mutuality and a unity that this country has not seen in decades, because the lord knows we need it today more than ever before.