Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Mayor de Blasio on FY 21 Budget and Covid-19


  Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, good afternoon, everyone. We’re at a different time today, because this is such an important day for our city – the day that we close down our City budget for next year. The Council – the City Council will be voting later on this afternoon as we prepare for the year ahead. A very, very important day every year, but this day, this year – different than any other way face in decades in this city. In many ways, the toughest budget challenge this city has seen in a long, long time. Remember, we started this discussion with a painful reality. Because of the coronavirus, because of the economic crisis, because of so much that has happened to us – layer upon layer, crisis upon crisis – we have lost so much, particularly in human terms in this city, but we also lost to people's livelihoods. We've lost so any things, including the money that helps our City government to run, including the revenue we depend on to provide basic services to our people. $9 billion evaporated – gone in the course of just a few months. And that's what we've had to deal with here. And it was a challenge when you suddenly are missing $9 billion to come to an agreement to figure out the priorities. It's not easy, but I do want to report that we have reached an agreement with the City Council. The vote is going on later today.

It's been a challenging, but very productive process. I want to thank the City Council. I want to thank Speaker Cory Johnson, the members of the Council, the staff of the Council. Of course, want to thank everyone here at City Hall and our team at the Office of Management and Budget. Everyone worked really, really hard, literally around the clock to get this done and to make sure this was a budget that was, of course, balanced – we were going to live within our means – we were also going to do the things that matter most protect the things that matter most. I always say four things we're focused on now, your safety, your health, putting food on your table and a roof over your head. That's what we need to focus on at this moment of history given all the challenges facing us, that's what this budget does. And this budget also sets our foundation for us to continue the restart of our economy, continue our recovery, but do it in a way that just doesn't bring back a status quo that existed before, but helps us to become a fairer city. So, a lot getting done here, even with the challenges.

So, we're about to start Fiscal Year ‘21 tomorrow, and the Fiscal Year ‘21 budget will be $88.1 billion. Contrast that to the budget that I announced at the time of our annual preliminary budget presentation in February, a time that feels like a long, long time ago. At that point, the budget was projected to be $95.3 billion. We've lost so much for the new fiscal year. We lost so much during the fiscal year ending now, but we're still going to move forward together.

So, how did this happen? With some very, very tough decisions – very deep cuts to city agencies. A lot of savings had to be found. Of course, we drew on our reserves, which we never want to do, but this was the moment in history that we needed to do that. So, we had hoped – for months and months, we had hoped there would be a stimulus bill voted in Washington to help New York City, to help cities and states around the country. We thought it would happen in May. We thought it would happen in June. It hasn't happened. We don't know when it will happen. We have to move on without the stimulus. We've hoped for borrowing authority for all from Albany, did not happen. We had to move on without it. New York City on its own, doing what we could do with what we have – something New York City has had to do before in our history, we're doing again. So, we put together a budget that will work within that budget is a billion dollars in labor savings. And I want to be very clear, we're going to get to work with our labor unions to find that billion dollars. We're going to keep working on trying to get that stimulus in Washington, that borrowing authority in Albany. But if we cannot find a way, then October 1st looms as the day we would have to put into effect layoffs. And that's the last resort, to say the least. We do not want it to happen. We're going to fight hard to make sure it does not, but we did have to include it in the budget as a last resort because we had no other options. So, with all these challenges, we still found a way to get to a budget that, again, focuses on your health, your safety, putting food on your table, making sure you have a roof over your head. That's the focus. And let me give you examples – the expansion of NYC Care. NYC Care, guaranteeing that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who don't have health insurance or can't get health insurance will still have a primary care doctor and will only pay that which they can pay and will have health care available to them across the board – that now is coming to Manhattan and Queens. This year, in just a few months, will be in all five boroughs. The creation of specialized clinics in some of the communities that have been hardest hit by COVID and clinics that will focus on making sure we stop the spread of disease in some of the areas where it's been most prevalent – this includes Jackson Heights and the surrounding area of Central Queens; Treemont, in the Bronx; Bushwick in Brooklyn, those new clinics coming. And then of course the efforts to feed hungry, New Yorkers. I have to tell you, I've talked to so many people who do this important work. Everyone reports to me, those lines, growing, growing for people who need food. Folks who lost their paycheck, lost their livelihood, and now need food. This has been a primary focus in this budget, and I know the City Council feels the same way. The amount of money we are now committing between the efforts in the fiscal year just ending now and the new fiscal year is approaching a half-billion dollars. That's how much we have had to spend to keep New Yorkers fed, to make sure we do not have a hunger crisis in New York City – $450 million so far and I expect that that number will grow. And I'm sorry that number will grow, but we have to keep fighting to make sure people have the food they need. Their families have the food they need until the day that, thank God, one day our economy will come back, people's livelihoods will come back and we'll be able to see people go on to a much better situation.

So, this budget is about all those basics. And it's also about change, it's also about progress. It's about ensuring that we act in the spirit of social justice. I hear the voices all over the City, calling for justice. I know the City Council does too and we're acting on that call for justice. I believe it is our mission to redistribute resources, to those who need them the most, to act on our values, to say that the community has been hardest hit by the coronavirus and so many other challenges need more. And the truest act of equality is to take resources and give them to those who have the greatest need. And it's time to do the work of reform, to think deeply about where our police have to be in the future, where the NYPD has to be in the future, how we reimagine what the NYPD does to make it ever more connected to the communities it serves. We have done that with neighborhood policing and we need to go farther now in new directions that will keep the City safe, but also really create the trust that we need between the NYPD and our communities. So, look, as we've looked at the question of public safety, I had three ground rules, when we went through all these discussions with the Council to figure out the right way forward. I said, we have to keep the City safe. We have to protect the levels of patrol strength throughout our communities. And we had to make sure that we were really doing something to refocus resources on young people and on communities hardest hit, that we were reinvesting in ways that would help us address a lot of the root causes of the problems we face. I am confident that this budget does exactly that. $1 billion is shifted away from the NYPD in a variety of manners. We will be canceling the upcoming recruit class that would have started in July. And we're going to make sure that patrol strength is consistent by reassignments from administrative duty to patrol duty, by ensuring that the NYPD will make revisions in some of the functions it performs, ceding certain functions to civilian agencies. We're also going to focus on overtime. This has been an area of real concern with many agencies, but obviously with the NYPD. And so, we're going to make sure there are major reductions in overtime expenditures, use that money for other important needs. And we'll be reducing non personnel costs and contracts. All in all, a variety of actions to take a billion dollars and move it to other needs, other approaches. Now, where are we going to focus those reinvestments? Well, particularly on young people. So, summer youth programming – this has been an issue – such an important issue. Look, back in April, we didn't know what the future would bring. We didn't know whether the City would be able to reopen. We didn't know what things would look like. Now, we know that we can really energetically recreate a variety of types of summer youth programming, whether it is online or in-person, summer youth employment, or community centers and youth centers. So, we're going to ensure summer programming for over 100,000 New York City young. That's going to be an investment of $115 million. Another $116 million will go to education. Another $134 million will go to social services and family services in the communities hit hardest by the coronavirus. And another crucial piece – so, this is something I felt very deeply about. You remember back in my State of the City of remarks in February, before the coronavirus. I said, let's focus on young people, let’s focus on community centers, recreation centers for young people, let's invest in a way that gives young people more positive options. This is why I think it's so important that we take money from the NYPD’s capital program and put it into the needs of our young people and our communities, and particularly young people who are in public housing.

So, $450 million, will go to youth centers and recreation centers focused on communities of greatest need. And this will include money redirected from the plan for a 100th – excuse me, for a new 116th Precinct in Southeast Queens, that money will be redirected to a new Roy Wilkins Community Center in Jamaica, in Roy Wilkins Park. Also, $87 million will be moved to create widespread broadband service in NYCHA for families that don't have it now, that don't have access to the internet. We want to make sure that families and particularly young people are able to bridge that historic digital divide. We're going to invest to answer, to give young people and families the service they deserve in that developments that don't have it now. So, this is real redistribution. This is taking resources and putting them where they're needed most with a particular focus on our young people. 

So, the very important while we are doing this work, many, many New York City graduating high school seniors have a whole different thing on their mind. Their families are thinking about tonight, the virtual graduation ceremony, never before done, obviously nothing on this scale is ever been done before. And we want to honor the class of 2020 that have gone through so much, fought so hard, fought their way to graduation, no matter what was thrown at them, we want to honor them tonight. There will be that extraordinary citywide telecast to show our graduating seniors we care about them. There'll be a number of special guests and performers, and there will also be two keynote speakers and I'm going to announce them now. One deserves the title legend in New York City legend the pride of the Bronx, she makes us proud with everything she has achieved in her career. And the other is famous for his achievements on the baseball diamond, not someone we think of first and foremost coming from our City, but he had the wisdom to become the fiancé of the New York City legend from the Bronx, J-Lo and A-Rod will be our keynote speakers for the virtual graduation. We thank them both, and it's going to be exciting to not miss it tonight at 7:00 PM. We want to thank PIX channel 11 for a broadcasting live. Thank you so much. And you can also watch online NYCclassof2020.com. And again, congratulations graduates, we are very, very proud of you.

Finally, I do what we do every day, our indicators. And as we're dealing with the budget and so many other challenges, this is a great day in terms of our indicators. And it's attributed to all of you for the hard work you have done. So, indicator number one, daily number of people admitted to hospitals for a suspected COVID-19 threshold is 200, today it is 40 patients. Number two, daily number of people in Health + Hospitals, ICU threshold of 375 today's report, 301 patients. And most important, percentage of people testing citywide positive for COVID-19, threshold to 15 percent, today down to one percent, which is wonderful. Congratulations, New York City. A few words in Spanish –

MAYOR DE BLASIO EXPANDS ANTIBODY TESTING FOR NEW YORKERS - DO NOT GET TESTED BY BIOREFERENCE SEE WHY BELOW


Bioreference appointments can be made on this site or by calling 1-888-279-0967 
(DO NOT GET TESTED BY BIOREFERENCE - SEE WHY BELOW)

As the City continues to expand antibody testing for New Yorkers, Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that free antibody testing is now available at NYC Health + Hospitals Gotham Community Health Centers across the city. Through a partnership with BioReference labs, the City will also conduct its second antibody survey at community testing sites in the five boroughs. Tests will be available by appointment through Friday, July 24th, expanding on the 47,000 New Yorkers who were tested in round 1.

"So many New Yorkers are wondering whether they've had the virus, or if they've exposed their own families," said Mayor Bill de Blasio "While antibody tests are not a fix-all solution, they will give our communities the knowledge they need to help us safely reopen our city.”

Antibody testing will be offered on an appointment-only basis from Monday, June 29 to Friday, July 24. Tests are free for all City residents over the age of 18, and available at the below sites Monday- Friday from 12:00 PM-8:00 PM or Saturday through Sunday 8:00 AM-12:00 PM. Appointments can be made on this site or by calling 1-888-279-0967:

Brooklyn
Brooklyn P.S. 12
430 Howard Avenue

Queens
Queens High School of Teaching
74-20 Commonwealth Blvd

Manhattan
Gregorio Luperon High School for Science and Mathematics 
501 West 165th Street
 

Bronx
James Monroe HS Campus Annex
1551 East 172nd Street

Staten Island
Former St. John Villa High School
57 Cleveland Place

Free, walk-in antibody testing is now available at H+H Gotham Community Health Centers across the city. Additional information, including hours of operation, can be found here.

Brooklyn
Cumberland, 100 North Portland Avenue
Ida G. Israel, 2925 W 19th Street
Jonathan Williams Houses, 333 Roebling Street
East New York, 2094 Pitkin Avenue

Queens
Woodside, 50-53 Newtown Road

Manhattan
Gouverneur, 227 Madison Street
Dyckman, 175 Nagle Avenue
Sydenham, 264 W 118 Street

Bronx
Belvis, 545 East 142nd Street
Morrisania, 1225 Gerard Avenue

Staten Island
165 Vanderbilt Avenue

EDITOR'S NOTE:

Here is the reason not to get tested by BioReference.
I took an anti body test from BioReference on May 16th. I still do not have the results of my test because I would not agree to the very long list of terms one has to agree to when you try to get your results. It states that you become a patient of Bioreference, that your information is not secure because BioReference uses third parties which are not mentioned, the agreement can be changed at any time, and there is a paragraph about payment of services. The anti body test is priced at $82.00 on their website.

I told this to Mayor de Blasio during a press conference, and he said his office would get me the results. The mayor's office tried, but could not unless I agree to BioReferences terms, which I will not. 

People are getting rich off the testing, and the CEO of BioReference has been accused by the SEC of dumping stock two tears ago when the company stock he owned went up in price.

MAYOR DE BLASIO ANNOUNCES JENNIFER LOPEZ AND ALEX RODRIGUEZ TO GIVE KEYNOTE SPEECH AT CITYWIDE GRADUATION


Event will air on June 30 at 7:00PM on PIX11 and online

  Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza today announced that Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez will give a keynote address at the citywide graduation celebration of the Class of 2020 at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, June 30. The Bronx and Washington Heights natives join other celebrities including Lin Manuel Miranda, Tina Fey, and more to honor this year’s graduating class. 

"Jennifer and Alex are great New Yorkers. They’ve inspired young people throughout their careers, and we’re thrilled they’re stepping up to inspire our 2020 graduates,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Our seniors persevered through extraordinary challenges this year, and I thank Jennifer and Alex for giving them a sendoff to remember.”

“The Class of 2020 has experienced a Senior year like never before, and we’re so excited that we can give them the celebration they deserve featuring Jennifer and Alex,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “Our students will be so moved by these native New Yorkers, who are role models to young people all over the city.”

Ms. Lopez and Mr. Rodriguez are deeply moved by the role the Class of 2020 has had in fighting for justice in the city they were born in, while persevering through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. They want to make this celebration a fitting tribute to the hard work and sacrifices of the Class of 2020.

Jennifer Lopez is a global superstar who has seen unprecedented success in her longstanding career across the music, film, television and fashion industries. Alex Rodriguez is a 14-time MLB All Star and World Series Champion with the New York Yankees.

The COVID-19 crisis disrupted the traditional celebrations honoring the Class of 2020, and this special program will be broadcast to all of New York in recognition of all they have achieved. The graduation celebration, produced by the City in partnership with New York’s Very Own PIX11, will air live on PIX11’s TV channel, website, and social media channels. It will also be livestreamed at NYCClassof2020.com.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Governor Cuomo Announces State to Decide Wednesday Whether to Slow Reopening of Indoor Dining in New York City


Announces Western New York Cleared by Global Public Health Experts to Enter Phase 4 Of Reopening Tomorrow

Calls on President Trump to Issue Executive Order Requiring All Americans to Wear Masks in Public

Announces 2020 MTV Video Music Awards to Be Held with Limited to No Audience at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Sunday, August 30

Announces Large Malls Will be Required to Adopt Air Conditioning Filters Capable of Filtering COVID-19

Directs New York State Police to Form Temporary Fireworks Enforcement Detail

0.84 Percent of Yesterday's COVID-19 Tests were Positive

7 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

Hospitalizations Down to 853

Confirms 391 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 392,930; New Cases in 35 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "One of the issues we're working on in New York, indoor dining has shown that it has been problematic. That a virus spreads in closed, indoor areas that have air conditioned systems. We know that indoor dining has been problematic. Outdoor dining has worked very well all across the state, New York City included. The state's going to be reviewing the data and consulting with stake holders in New York City."

Cuomo: "We're not going backwards, we're going forwards. Lot of these other states have actually had to go backwards. They started to reopen and they had to stop. But, we want to study this issue primarily New York City on indoor dining and we'll have a final decision by Wednesday so people who operate those types of businesses will know what we're doing."

Cuomo: "There are air filtration devices— air filters that can actually help with the COVID virus, and NASA has studied these. There are HEPA filters, which are High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters that can actually filter out the COVID virus... So any malls that will open in New York— large malls— we will make it mandatory that they have air filtration systems that can filter out the COVID virus."

Governor Cuomo: "The President can do two things. First, sign an executive order directing everyone to wear a mask... Then let the President lead by example and let the President put a mask on it because we know it works. We've proven that it works in the State of New York."

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the state will decide on Wednesday whether to slow down the reopening of indoor dining in New York City as part of Phase 3 of reopening. Indoor dining has been shown to pose risks in other states, and outdoor dining has been proceeding well. New York State will review data, consult with stakeholders and make a final decision.

The Governor also announced that the global public health experts advising the state on reopening have cleared Western New York to enter Phase 4 of reopening tomorrow, June 30, 2020.

Governor Cuomo also called on President Trump to issue an executive order requiring all Americans to wear masks in public and to wear a mask himself.

Governor Cuomo also announced that the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards will be held in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Sunday, August 30, with limited to no audience.

The governor also directed the New York State Police to establish a new temporary Fireworks Enforcement Detail to prevent illegal fireworks being brought to New York from Pennsylvania. The Detail's establishment is in response to a spike of illegal firework use throughout the state, which has generated widespread complaints and media reports. The detail will be in place until July 3.
The governor also announced that air conditioning filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating capable of filtering COVID-19 particles or similar air exchange measures will be mandatory for large mall reopenings.  A COVID-19 particle is approximately 0.125 microns in diameter. Filters with a high MERV, such as High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, have been shown to help reduce the presence of COIVD-19 in air filtration systems.


  Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, a lot is going on and I want to start today with the most important underlying foundation of how we are approaching this moment in our city's history. Everything we are doing as a City government to serve you is focused on four things. It's focused on your health, your safety, keeping a roof over your head, and keeping food on your table. This is about what we've been doing, what we've been talking about now over the last four months, because this crisis has caused us to focus on the basics, to make sure that every New Yorker knows that we're going to protect them, protect their safety and health, make sure they have the basics to get by, their families have the basics to get by. While we restart our recovery, our economy, while we bring our livelihoods back. We have so much to do in this city to help people and bring back the vibrant life of this city. But right now, our singular focus has to be on those four basics.

So, I say this in general, and I say it because today is the day before our budget deadline. And we have been working for weeks now with the City Council on next year's budget. And to say the least, this has been the toughest budget that we've had to do as administration here at City Hall. We're in a whole different situation, in fact, than New York City's ever faced in our history, a health care crisis, an economic crisis, a disparity crisis, a budget crisis all wrapped into one and on a massive, massive scale. So, we keep coming back to the fact that we've got to focus on those basics – health, safety, food, shelter. But, while we've been trying to do that, we have been dealing with an extraordinary loss of revenue. $9 billion has evaporated in the course of the last few months, revenue that used to be plentiful because of such a strong economy, it's gone. What does that mean? Billions of dollars of cuts have happened already in our City budget, more cuts coming because we have to live within our means.

Now, I want to note that while we, New York City, has been doing everything possible to address this pandemic, to protect people's lives, to keep our hospitals together, to maximize testing, to get people food – 1.5 million meals being delivered every single day – all the things that this city is doing, we're doing it alone. We asked repeatedly for the federal government to help us with the stimulus. It hasn't come and there's no sign when it will. We have been the epicenter of this pandemic, and yet the federal government cannot manage to get New York City the help it needs nor so many other cities and states. So, the federal government side has been, in so many ways, missing an action. I went to Albany over the last few weeks, asked for help to help us through this incredibly difficult time with long term borrowing. I want to thank the State Assembly. They were ready, willing, and able. The State Senate, however, has not acted. And I'm certainly disappointed and I think New Yorkers are as well. But we're going to persevere.

Now, at the same time, we have an unprecedented opportunity to change some things. And there has been a very intense, detailed, focused discussion over the last month on how we change policing, how we focus more on young people and the needs of communities, how we address disparities, how we redistribute. And I have to tell you it's been a very productive conversation. So, over this weekend, City Hall – here at City Hall, my office presented to the City Council, a plan that would achieve a billion dollars in savings for the NYPD and shift resources to young people, to communities in a way that would help address a lot of the underlying issues that we know are the cause of so many problems in our society. I am excited to say that we have a plan that can achieve real reform, that can achieve real redistribution, and at the same time ensure that we keep our city safe, and we make sure that our officers are on patrol where we need them around this city. So, that's something that I think is so important for the future, to strike that balance the right way, reform, justice, redistribution, but always safety.

At the same time, we want to shift resources more and more into young people in particular, into youth centers. We want to shift resources more and more into public housing. So, the plan we presented has over a half-billion dollars in the shift in capital funding to youth recreation centers, to NYCHA developments, to help where the need is greatest. Look, we can do this. We can strike the balance. We can keep the city safe. So, negotiations continue. I think they've been very productive. I'm very hopeful where we're going, but I wanted the people of this city to know where I stand and what we believe we can do for the future of this city. And while we're talking about reform, while we're talking about the future, I want to talk about a very troubling situation, and one that reminds us of what we need to do more in the future. We have to look at the entire criminal justice system, and that means our jails as well. That means our Department of Correction.

You know, we've made a lot of changes. We have the lowest level of incarceration since the 1940s. I want people to understand that. There are fewer people in jail in New York City today at any point since World War II, and that's something everyone should be proud of. We had 180,000 fewer arrests in 2019 than the last year of the Bloomberg administration. By driving down unnecessary arrests, we're driving down incarceration. And, of course, we're going to close Rikers Island and end that bad history. But there's still an outstanding issue, and it’s solitary confinement also known as punitive segregation. Look, we ended it already for young people and New York City led the way in this nation in addressing the fact that we should not have young people in solitary confinement. We all remember the tragedy of Kalief Browder and we acted on the lesson of that tragedy. He did not die in vain. But then we saw another tragedy recently. Layleen Polanco. Layleen Polanco should not have been in Rikers to begin with. Layleen Polanco should not have been in solitary confinement. And Lord knows she deserves justice. Her family deserves justice. The transgender community deserves justice. We have to right the wrong. We can't bring her back, but we can make change so that no one else goes through such a tragedy.

There has been accountability. Seventeen Correction officers have been disciplined, four suspended without pay. And this is just the start of the disciplinary process. But we need to make changes immediately in how people who are incarcerated in our jail system are handled and we need to make sure they are safe. So, effective immediately, people with underlying medical conditions will not be subject to punitive segregation or solitary confinement. There already had been some prohibitions in place, for example, for serious mental illness or pregnancy. We're expanding the list. There's a list on your screen right now. Every medical condition you see on your screen will be a cause for a prohibition of any individual being put into solitary confinement. That's important. We're doing that literally starting today, but we have to go farther.

So, let's take the next step. Let's end solitary confinement all together. We have proven that we can keep jails safe with much less use of solitary confinement, punitive segregation. Now there's a lot to do because the jails are still not safe enough. Let me hasten to make the point. We have a lot to do to create more safety for people who are incarcerated and for our Correction officers and employees alike. But we know there are ways we can do this without punitive segregation. So, I'm appointing a four-person working group and they will get to work on a plan to end punitive segregation, to end solitary confinement in New York City once and for all. The four members of that group will be the Vice Chair of the Board of Correction, Stanley Richards; the Commissioner of Corrections, Cynthia Brann; the President of Just Leadership USA, DeAnna Hoskins, and there will be a representative from the union that represents our Corrections officers, COBA. This group will have a simple mission, a simple mandate – find a way to end solitary confinement and tell us all the things it's going to take, because it will take other measures and new approaches and innovations to keep everyone safe. I'm expecting to report back in the fall with whatever recommendations are there. And then we get to work on making it happen because we can make this change in New York City.

Now I'm going to switch gears in a very big way. I want to go back to the health front. I want to go back to talking about the coronavirus, the issue that pervades everything we talk about. So, we're going to go over to the indicators in a moment. And the good news is our indicators our health indicators continue to be strong, continue to be positive. Phase two has been going very well in New York City. And that means, as we see progress, we're able to do more and more things to help New Yorkers. And here's a nice one – we're going to be able to open up the barbecue areas in our parks for this coming weekend, for the July 4th weekend. So, folks can enjoy barbecuing. I want everyone to remember to be safe, still practice the appropriate social distancing, still wear the face coverings, but it's time for barbecuing to come back in our parks and they will be opened in the coming days for this weekend. And again, that's because of the hard work that so many of you have put in. The New York City story is pretty damn good when it comes to the comeback we're making from the coronavirus, the continued progress in fighting back to the virus and keeping us healthy. The rest of the nation, I don't need to tell you, is looking more and more troubling, and that is causing us to think about each step we're taking and to examine what we're seeing from around the country. So, a number of cities and states, unfortunately, have been moving in the wrong direction and we do see a nexus to a particular problem. We all love indoor dining, but we also see problems related with indoor dining. So, in East Lansing, Michigan recently 85 patrons tested positive for the coronavirus, all linked back to a single restaurant. In Texas and Florida, we've obviously seen, has gotten a lot of attention, record number of cases, clusters being tied back to bars and restaurants. California had made great progress, they’re now unfortunately slipping back and they are changing the rules regarding bars and restaurants. So, we're paying attention to this lesson. My team spoke with the Governor's team yesterday, said we're increasingly concerned. I know they are as well. We are now going to re-examine the indoor dining rules for phase three. The rest of phase three is moving on pace for Monday, July 6th, this coming Monday. But the indoor dining element is now in question. We're going to work it through with the State, figure out how we want to approach it, if we want to pause that piece for a while or modify it – we'll have more to say in the next couple of days, because we want restaurant owners to have that information right away.

But the most important thing is to keep us healthy and safe and not allow resurgence. So, I've said all along, there'll be ups and downs, there'll be modifications. This is now after steady, steady progress, a point where we're saying, look, on this one piece, we may need to slow down and think differently and approach it differently. But what is clearly working is outdoor dining. And I think the big message I keep getting – I've talked to our health care people about it – is outdoors is working across the board, meaning the disease does not spread anywhere as much outdoors, face coverings are working, outdoor dining is working. We want to double down on outdoor dining. So, we talked about the outdoor dining that we'll start to open up on our open streets. Now, we want to go farther with the Open Restaurants program. Right now, we have 6,100 restaurants who have already applied and gotten that certification to go over just the last two weeks so they can do the outdoor dining. It's been such a hit. It's been so positive. It's bringing people back to work. We want to go a lot farther with it. So, we're going to reach out to every single restaurant that qualifies, but has not yet applied, and help them to apply. We're going to work with BIDs. We're going to work with the Hospitality Alliance, chambers of commerce, everyone – let's get every restaurant into outdoor dining. Let's maximize their revenue, bring back their workforce, but keep it outdoors primarily while we figure out the indoor piece. We also want to remind all the restaurant owners – please, it's been a great success so far, but be careful with the outdoor dining areas along the street, there are specific rules of how to keep them safe and a specific approach you need to take to make sure there's separation from the traffic. We're going to send inspectors around and ambassadors around to talk it through and make sure that restaurant owners really get that part right, because it's going great. People love it. It's super productive, but we have to keep it safe.

Okay, let's talk about our indicators. Number one, daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19. The threshold is 200 – today's report, 51. Daily number of people in Health + Hospitals ICU’s, threshold of 375 – today's report, 297. And, most important, percentage of people testing citywide who are positive for COVID-19, threshold of 15 percent – today, again, two percent. So, we're holding at that number, which is really, really good.

City of New York and New York Power Authority Seek Developers to Install Rooftop Solar Arrays at Dozens of New York City Schools, Manhattan Wastewater Treatment Plant




NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services to Generate Up to 16 Megawatts of Solar Power, Including Energy Storage, Helping Accelerate New York City and State Clean Energy Goals

NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) Commissioner Lisette Camilo and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) today announced the planned installation of up to 16 megawatts of solar energy on the rooftops of 46 New York City public schools and several New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sites, including its Wards Island Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility.

“The climate crisis is real and it's urgent, that is why the City of New York is taking bold steps to generate solar power on city buildings, including some public schools,” said Lisette Camilo, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services. “Solar installations on the roofs of schools and other city facilities is a common-sense way to generate green energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.”

“With this significant solar project, all at New York City-owned facilities, we will, together, boost the renewable resources in the city’s energy supply and move the city and our state closer to accomplishing the ambitious clean energy goals we have set for ourselves,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “Integrating solar systems into community facilities throughout the five boroughs and turning underutilized spaces into green opportunities is a smart way to practice sustainability and push forward our long-term commitment to help build a cleaner, greener energy system for all New Yorkers.”

The City of New York sought NYPA’s assistance with the installation of approximately 16 megawatts of power generated by solar installations on rooftops of some of its facilities. The city enlisted NYPA’s support on this initiative to help achieve Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal of installing 100 MW of solar power on public buildings by 2025 and reducing citywide emissions 80 percent by 2050. The initiative will also help achieve Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s statewide goal of having 70 percent of New York’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030.

NYPA is asking developers to submit proposals to design, construct, and own solar PV systems at 50 city-owned sites. NYPA will select the developers, manage the project, and arrange 20-year power purchase agreements for DCAS and DEP to buy the electricity output from each of the projects at competitive prices. The due date for responding to the request for proposals (RFP) is August 7, 2020. 

The solar systems, which have the option of including energy storage, are planned to be constructed on 46 schools run by the NYC Department of Education and account for approximately 11 megawatts of new power generation. Several sites managed by DEP, including the Wards Island plant along the East River in upper Manhattan, will account for the additional five megawatts. 

At Wards Island, a combination of ground mounted, carport, rooftop, and elevated canopy solar PV systems will be installed throughout the eight-facility complex, totaling up to 4,843kWDC of solar PV capacity. Power generated will serve the loads of the plant and a potential battery energy storage system which could reduce demand charges. 

As part of the overall project, more than one megawatt of solar arrays will also be installed at the Catskill/Delaware ultraviolet light disinfection facility in Valhalla and at wastewater resource recovery facilities in Pine Hill and Margaretville. 

The project will incorporate a new power source into the school district's infrastructure and allow the city to purchase power generated on-site instead of purchasing power from a utility, which may or may not be from a renewable source. In total, the project is estimated to offset more than 4,500 metric tons of CO2 equivalent each year, which is equivalent to removing more than 950 cars from the road for one year.
 
The solar systems will accelerate progress under the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), the most ambitious emissions-reduction legislation in the nation, which calls for 6,000 megawatts of distributed solar by 2025 and 3,000 megawatts of energy storage by 2030 and also support the state mandate for a 100 percent carbon-free electricity sector by 2040.

The city and the Power Authority conducted site assessments to identify the most feasible and appropriate locations to install solar PV systems to help the city achieve its renewable energy goals. Selected locations also support the city’s efforts to advance environmental justice as many of the sites are in areas with poorer air quality and lower median incomes. The project sites are anticipated to be interconnected behind the meter to buildings’ electrical systems. 

Development work on the projects is anticipated to commence later this year when a developer(s) is selected. Operation of the systems is expected to come online throughout 2021 and 2022.  

NYPA has completed several solar projects at public school districts through a joint program with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Arrays were constructed for the Somers Middle School and Tarrytown school district, both in Westchester County, Hudson Schools in Columbia County, and the New York Institute in the Bronx.

Department of City Planning (DCP) Director Marisa Lago on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Executive Order suspending zoning regulations that govern (POPS) and (WPAAs):


“This Executive Order means that hundreds of gracious open spaces that dot our busy commercial districts and our waterfront are now available to help New Yorkers physically distance as we get back to work. The order also means that our local eating, drinking and retail establishments can temporarily expand into these spaces – all of which were created for the public’s enjoyment by our zoning rules,” Director Lago said.
Provisions for the Mayor’s Executive Order on Privately Owned Public Spaces – or POPS:
POPS are public spaces that are owned and maintained by private property owners pursuant to various zoning regulations. First introduced in the 1960s, the nearly 600 POPS that exist today provide opportunities to sit, relax, people watch, eat, meet others – in other words, to partake in and enjoy urban life. Coming in all shapes and sizes, these spaces are aimed at ensuring that the busiest areas of New York City offer indoor and outdoor atriums, plazas and walkways to the public.
Temporary uses that will be allowed within POPS via the Mayor’s Executive Order include dining areas, health screening stations, bikeshare docks, kiosks, retail stands and space for New Yorkers to line up safely to enter adjacent buildings.
An interactive map of all POPS is available here.
In order to add any of the temporary uses outlined by the Executive Order, POPS owners must submit a description and site plan that details their changes to POPSCOVID_DL@planning.nyc.gov.
Outdoor and open-air POPS must remain open to the public during their approved hours of access. While indoor POPS can be closed, access to subway stations, through-block connections and sole connection to a lawfully operating business must be maintained. Outdoor POPS will be able to separate or close off some seating to promote distancing.
Once the Executive Order is lifted, all uses that it temporarily allowed must be removed from the POPS.
Provisions for the Mayor’s Executive Order on Waterfront Public Access Areas – or WPAAs:
WPAAs offer public open space where New Yorkers can connect with and enjoy their shoreline. First introduced through the 1993 waterfront zoning text, these publicly accessible spaces are required by zoning for waterfront sites. The public areas must be improved with landscaping and trees, seating and other amenities. WPAAs can also include walkways, green spaces or other improved spaces for public use.
Temporary uses that will be allowed within the City’s nearly 40 WPAAs via the Mayor’s Executive Order include outdoor dining areas, retail stands and shade structures.
An interactive map of WPAAs is available here.
In order to add any of the temporary uses outlined by the Executive Order, business owners using WPAAs should send a basic site plan and description of the proposed changes to WPAA@planning.nyc.gov.
Once the Executive Order is lifted, all uses and modifications that it temporarily allowed must be removed from WPAAs.
Department of City Planning
The Department of City Planning (DCP) plans for the strategic growth and development of the City through ground-up planning with communities, the development of land use policies and zoning regulations applicable citywide, and its contribution to the preparation of the City’s 10-year Capital Strategy. DCP promotes housing production and affordability, fosters economic development and coordinated investments in infrastructure and services, and supports resilient, sustainable communities across the five boroughs for a more equitable New York City.
In addition, DCP supports the City Planning Commission in its annual review of approximately 450 land use applications for a variety of discretionary approvals. The Department also assists both government agencies and the public by advising on strategic and capital planning and providing policy analysis, technical assistance and data relating to housing, transportation, community facilities, demography, zoning, urban design, waterfront areas and public open space.

MAYOR DE BLASIO AND BOARD OF CORRECTION CHAIR JENNIFER JONES AUSTIN ANNOUNCE WORKING GROUP TO END PUNITIVE SEGREGATION


Department of Correction and Correctional Health Services implement new medical restrictions to preclude certain individuals from punitive segregation 

  Today Mayor Bill de Blasio and Board of Correction Chair Jennifer Jones Austin announced the formation of a working group to eliminate punitive segregation in the New York City jail system. The working group’s recommendations will be incorporated into the Board's broader rule package on restrictive housing and voted on in the fall. The Department of Correction and Correctional Health Services will also, effective immediately, implement new restrictions that will preclude individuals with certain medical conditions from restrictive housing. 

"From closing Rikers Island to banning punitive segregation for people under the age of 22, we have reoriented our correction system to value human life and rehabilitation,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "Now with Jennifer at the helm of the Board and Stanley leading the working group, we will chart the course forward with the Board to ban punitive segregation altogether, making good on our commitment to creating jails that are fundamentally smaller, safer, and fairer."

Effective immediately, the Department of Correction will also exclude individuals with several key medical conditions from being placed into any form of restrictive housing while in custody. Conditions include individuals who are diabetic, individuals on asthma medication, on antiepileptic medications for seizures, on blood thinners, or have any history of organ transplant. Individuals who have a diagnosis of heart disease, lung disease, or kidney disease will also be exempt. A full list is available here.

The working group to end punitive segregation will be led by Board Vice-Chair Stanley Richards and include Department of Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann and Just Leadership USA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins. We have reached out to Benny Boscio, President of the Corrections Officer Benevolent Association, to invite him to join the working group as a key partner in this work, which will prioritize safety for both officers and detained persons. Guided by the principles of safety, support and accountability, they will work over the coming three months to produce recommendations to be presented for inclusion in the proposed restrictive housing rule.

“Punitive segregation has been proven over and over to be an inhumane practice resulting in debilitating trauma that endures, often for the remainder of a person’s lifetime”, said Board of Correction Chair Jennifer Jones Austin.  “City plans to overhaul our jail system, inclusive of reducing incarceration, closing Rikers Island, and locating detention centers in four boroughs must also incorporate the ending of solitary confinement and developing alternative means of accountability with a focus on safety for both staff and detained persons, mental health, effective and robust programming and education, and investment in training and the well-being of employees.”

"As an African American man, who spent time in jail and prison including solitary confinement, I know firsthand the harm extreme isolation can cause,” said Stanley Richards, Board of Correction Vice Chair. “The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement of this time calls for the Board of Correction, City of New York and Department of Correction to act with urgency to stop the harm of solitary confinement. I am pleased to work with Commissioner Brann and DeAnna Hoskins to meet this moment of importance with action to end solitary confinement."

 “New York City is a national leader in correction reform and we are proud of the progress we’ve made towards safely and humanely housing people in custody. We have done more to limit the use of punitive segregation than almost any jail system in America, including eliminating it entirely for anyone under 22, as well as for seriously mentally ill individuals,” said New York City Department of Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann. “We have worked tirelessly under this administration to create a correctional system that is safer, more humane and fair while fundamentally reforming and significantly reducing the need for punitive segregation, and look forward to joining our working group partners as we continue to develop safe alternatives to its use.”