Wednesday, June 10, 2020

MAYOR DE BLASIO on COVID-19 and the State of the City June 10, 2020

  Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. We're in a very powerful moment in history and yesterday, a watershed moment, truly historical moment in Albany. The repeal of the 50-a law, a law that had held back transparency, and openness, had created a horrible block really, in the ability to build trust between police and community. This law was in the way for a long time. And for years I've been calling for a change. Police leaders have been calling for a change. Activists have been calling for a change. Elected officials have been calling for change. And often seemed like it was beyond our reach, but yesterday in Albany, that change happened. And that will change everything, because now there will be the ability to have the openness, the transparency, the ability to see what's really going on that I think is how you build faith and trust. So, I want to thank Majority Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins. I want to thank Speaker Carl Heastie. The sponsors of the legislation, Senator Jamaal Bailey, and Assembly Member Danny O'Donnell. 

So, that is such an important building block, but I want to talk today about the larger solutions. Transparency matters deeply, but the truest solutions come from the grassroots. The truest solutions come from the people. The way we're going to move forward, both in terms of safety, and peace, and justice is by the empowerment of grassroots leadership. The empowerment of organizations that authentically represent the people of our communities, that create change that government alone could never create. And that's where I want to talk about today. I want to talk about the crisis management system, the Cure Violence movement, the way that government has recognized, and I have recognized personally that if we actually invest in people, if we invest in communities, we make a change that’s much, much deeper. You're going to hear also from the leaders of the Black, Latino, Asian caucus of the City Council who have been leading the way for months now, in terms of the kinds of changes we need in this city. Who are not only demanding change, but putting forward the tangible proposals that will bring us change.

There were people in communities who were stepping up, owning their streets in a whole different way. And it was not just about the fact that they stop violence – they did, in an amazing fashion. This is a story that should be on every front page. And I hope today will help put it on the front page. A movement that stopped violence before it happened. A movement that stopped shootings, that stopped violence, that stopped people from dying. A movement that reached young people, and gave them hope. That's what I came to understand more and more, a movement that created actual grassroots leadership that could build a future. A future on the ground in community, something we have needed more and more of. I've seen it with my own eyes that this is now happening in our city, but it's happening without I think the full understanding and support that this movement, this system deserves. This is a group of human beings who made a difference. They decided to own. They decided to create. They decided to break cycles that were only hurting their own people and do something about it. It's incredibly noble. We need this movement to keep growing. Today, I'm going to announce an expansion of the crisis management system and the Cure Violence movement. We will add four additional neighborhoods – Soundview in the Bronx, Jamaica, Queens, Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and Canarsie in Brooklyn as well. With that expansion, the Cure Violence movement will now be active in 20 precincts, all 20 precincts with the highest gun violence levels in the city, that means lives will be saved, period – lives will be saved, violence will be reduced. We will also be increasing the budget for all existing crisis management system organizations. So, between these two initiatives, we will be adding in the upcoming budget over $10 million for the crisis management system, cure violence movement. This is now an additional investment on top of the tripling of resources that has been achieved since 2014. We need to bring in additional sites, additional staff, we need more and more people at the community level hired into this work to achieve peace in a way that we have now seen with our own eyes works like nothing else.

Now, everything we're dealing with against the backdrop – again, I cannot believe what the last hundred days has done to all of us, to so many families. And we grapple every day now with how we overcome that. And we’ve got to figure out, to make all other things possible, a way to finally contain this disease and then painstakingly, purposefully address the disparities one after another, after another – this has to be our constant commitment. But we first, as we do all this work, must stop the ravages of this disease. It's phase one now, and we've waited for this day, but of course this day comes with more and more people coming in, more and more contact with each other. We must keep to those standards, those rules that keep us safe, because they've gotten us this far. And then, we've got to focus on the ability to reach people and address them through test, trace, take care – test, trace, take care. I want to go over it again, because it's so important – everybody who test positive, we reach all their contacts. Anyone who needs testing, gets it. Anyone that needs to safely separate in a hotel room, gets it. Anyone needs support at home – if they're isolated from their family at home, they need food, they need medicine, they get it. It is all for free. It is an extraordinary effort. It is growing all the time, but for this to work the way we want it to, we need everyone to get a test. So, I'm reminding all New Yorkers, as you prepare, as these phases begin, as life starts back towards something better, get tested. We think about the school year ahead, I want everyone tested. As you think about going back to work, I want everyone tested. We're making it more available than ever. We had a day last week where 33,000 New Yorkers got tested on a single day. We want that number to keep growing, I want to hit 50,000 and more soon. Anyone who wants to test go to test or call 3-1-1. We have that test for free. It's simple. It's fast. It's free.

Now, we're going to do more to make testing available to people. So, I have three announcements today. First, we have launched two mobile test trucks. They were out yesterday in Soundview, in the Bronx, at the Monroe houses. We're going to just have the trucks going around to different neighborhoods, making testing as simple and available as it possibly could be. 10 trucks will be on the ground by next month, 800 tests a day, and the more it works, the more we will do. The focus of beyond the hardest hit communities. The testing comes right to your doorstep.

Second announcement, we have six new community testing partners, and these are organizations that people trust. And we're going to start investing more and more in community-based clinics, because they have the trust of the community, the knowledge of community, they know how to reach into community, they speak the language of the community. This is a big part of what we're going to do is we build out more and more testing and more and more health care to the grassroots. There'll be 15 to 20 new sites coming in the next few weeks through community-based clinics and that will take us over 200 sites all over New York City, where people get tested for free, and that is just going to keep growing. The goal is to constantly make testing more local, more available, and I'm going to say it again – fast, easy, free.

Third point, we're going to provide the full test kits to all the hospitals and hospital systems in New York City. Any place in New York City, any place in health care that needs them, the hospitals are going to get them. Whether they are public, private, independent – if they need test kits, we will have them for them. There has been a particular request from Borough President Oddo in Staten Island to get more test kits to Staten Island immediately. We have these made in New York test kits – another one of the great innovations that came out of this crisis, creating our own here in New York City – 3,000 test kits now being sent immediately to Staten Island. We will keep resupplying tens of thousands more not in Staten Island, but all five boroughs. Whatever it takes, we're letting our health care institutions know that if they need test kits, we will have them for them, because we need testing to grow and grow and grow.

And I said, test trace, take care – let's talk about the tracers. This team now, growing all the time, over 2,500 at work now, and building. We're going to keep taking that number to 5,000 or as many as 10,000 if we need to. The biggest effort in the history of this country, right here. You heard earlier with our colleagues from the crisis management system, Cure Violence movement, that in the globe, this is the single most important place on earth for that movement. This is the place where it's supported the most. It's grown the most. When it comes to test and trace, we are going to show this nation how it can be done on a vast, vast scale. So, thousands and thousands of tracers out there right now. On Monday, June 15th, we will give you an update. The people of the city will get an update on the work of our Test and Trace Corps. So, you're going to see the sheer reach that they have been able to achieve in terms of making sure that folks get the support they need. And I always think of it this way – this is not just about testing people, it's about making sure that anyone who needs help to safely separate, gets it; anyone who needs help to isolate at home. It is about making sure that the disease doesn't spread, because people get the guidance and support to not be in a position to spread that disease. It doesn't happen accidentally. It happens with painstaking work. We will have a report on Monday, June 15th of those results.

Let's talk about today's indicators and thresholds. So first, daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19 – threshold is 200. Today's report, 67 patients – well within the threshold. Daily number of people in the Health + Hospitals ICUs – that threshold, 375. Today's report, 341 – that's also well within the threshold. And percentage of people test citywide positive for COVID-19 – that threshold 15 percent. Today’s report, three percent – excellent number, also well within the threshold. So, another very good day for New York City. Let's keep focused – as we go through phase one, and it starting really well, let's keep focus of the social distancing, the face coverings, and when you don't need to be outside, don't be outside. It's working.

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