Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Mayor de Blasio on Measures Being Taken to Keep COVID-19 Cases Low


Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. Something all New Yorkers should be proud of – people all around this country, all around this world are looking at New York City right now. And New York City is regarded as a major success story in the fight against the coronavirus. We were down for the count, we were the epicenter, and we have come back in a remarkable fashion because of you. I want to always be clear. The credit goes to New Yorkers. It goes to every single one of you who did the hard work of fighting back this disease. And we have been, throughout, guided by data, guided by science. We've done this the right way because we actually paid attention to the facts. We've talked to you about the facts and you listened and you acted. So, this is what we need to keep doing. We need to be vigilant. We need to be focused on continuing this fight until it's done.


Now, what I want to talk about today is a new phase that we're announcing, in the way we're going to provide you with the information to keep fighting this fight, to give you the best, most accurate information about what's happening, and to do it in a way that helps you recognize what you have to do because that's what's been the key ingredient. Now, the success we've had is absolutely connected to the level of testing that we've achieved. And it's been hard work. And it's often been lonely work for New York City because we haven't gotten the support we needed from the federal government. But New Yorkers have been getting tested and we want to double down on that because it's been crucial to our success. So, we need everyone to go get tested and we are today doing a special effort, a special outreach effort, a special blitz – Get Tested Tuesday. Everyone who has not yet got tested, especially who has not been tested at all, please get tested. If you haven't been tested in a long time, it's a good time to get tested. We have testing locations available at, check this out, over 200 sites across the five boroughs. There are lots and lots of options. Every single one of them will give you that test for free. It is easy. It is safe. So, we want to get this word out in every way we can. I'll be out there flyering today to let people know how important it is, to engage my fellow New Yorkers. But today, Get Tested Tuesday, a great day, if you haven't done so, to go out there and get that test.


Now, we, obviously, are focused every hour, every day on keeping the infection level low in New York City. That's what's been working for us and New Yorkers are doing great, but we have a real concern about travel. We have a concern about people coming in from outside, from the states and the areas that have been most deeply affected. We have a concern about New Yorkers going to those places and then coming home. So, look, let's start at the beginning. We've come so far and we need to, once and for all, defeat this disease. I'm going to urge all New Yorkers at this point to avoid travel to any of the states that are having a particularly bad problem with the coronavirus. Now, again, I understand for some people there's an emergency situation, a family crisis, or something they have to do for business, and they don’t have a choice, but I just want to urge people, if you have a choice, go to a place – if you're going to travel, go to a place that is not on the New York State list of states that are experiencing a profound coronavirus problem. If you have a choice in travel, don't go where the problem is for your own safety, for your family’s safety, for all New Yorkers’ safety because, of course, if you go there, there's a chance you bring that disease back. Now, if you do go, take the law seriously. You have to quarantine upon your return. So, we're focused on New Yorkers who travel and come back and we're obviously focused on folks who come in from outside New York City for whatever reason, that everyone has to focus on the mandatory 14-day quarantine.


Now the Sheriff's Office, as a lot of you know, has been doing extraordinary work to address this law, to make sure people know it is their obligation, been out there at checkpoints around the city, reminding people that it is the law to fill out that questionnaire about their travel, to give us a way to contact them and then to comply with the quarantine. And I want to remind everyone that failure to comply with the quarantine is a Class-B misdemeanor. It's serious stuff, but clearly, it's been talked about a lot in recent days. A lot of people haven't gotten the message. A lot of people don't necessarily take it as seriously as they need to. So, we're going another step today. Today I'll be signing an executive order and that will require hotels and short term rentals to have travelers from the restricted states fill out these forms before giving them access to their room. So, I want to be very clear about this – under this executive order that I'm about to sign any hotel, any short term rental must get that form from the traveler complete with the contact information and if they don't have that form from the traveler, they should not give them access to their room. Period. This is going to be now a rule here in New York City, because we have to get serious about the fact that there's a real danger here. We have to confront it. We have the right tool to confront it, which is the quarantine, but now people have to take that seriously. So, this executive order would be another step to make clear to everyone how serious it is. And there are real consequences for those who don't comply.


[Mayor de Blasio signs executive order]


Okay. Now, the executive order will add another tool to our arsenal, the ways we are going about making this very clear to folks. And, again, this is going to be part of a series of stepped up actions to make clear just how serious this quarantine is. And you're going to see the sheriff and his team out there a lot around New York City. They're doing an extraordinary job. Here to tell you what else we'll be doing to make sure that people quarantine appropriately, Sheriff Joe Fucito.


New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I wanted to make a very brief statement. Keeping New York infection rates low is one of the most critical public safety and health initiatives facing the city, and we must continue to do our part, to keep each other safe. For New Yorkers, I offer simple advice, avoid traveling to areas with high rates of coronavirus and if travel is necessary, comply with the quarantine requirements. For travelers to New York City, the new executive order is designed to safeguard the health of all residents. The Sheriff's Office in coordination with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene wants to have a measured response that gives visitors all the convenience to complete the state travelers forms and comply with the quarantine and all the authority of law to ensure it's obeyed. Failure to comply with the Mayor's emergency order is a Class-B misdemeanor and noncompliance with completing the form or following the quarantine mandate is a crime. In addition to criminal penalties and monetary fines, you may be subject to civil commitment until you comply with these important provisions of law. For travelers, this is a threshold moment. What you do and how you act can save someone's life. So, please take a moment and put a stranger's needs before your own desires. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation and please be governed accordingly. Now, the Mayor has asked me to describe a little bit of what our enforcement actions will consist of. We are going to continue to have checkpoints throughout different entry points into New York City. And we're also going to investigate large gatherings that are illegal even before COVID-19 hit New York City. It is important to note that we must work together to stop the coronavirus and that means following social distancing mandates. Thank you.


Mayor: Thank you very much, Sheriff. Again, thank you to you and your team. The work you're doing literally is life saving and we're so appreciative for it. Now, everyone, again, what's important is to use the laws, use these rules to fight back this disease, keep the infection rate low. That’s what's going to save lives, that's what's going to allow us to bring back New York City, to give people back their livelihoods. It all connects. So, we are doing all this to get us to a better place. What we're absolutely certain of is that the information we share with the public has been crucial. The public, in this case, has been so deeply desirous of more and more information, more clarity. People all over New York City want to know what's going on, they want transparency, they want clarity. It's helping them make the right decisions. So, one of the things that we've been focused on throughout this crisis is how to present the best possible information to all New Yorkers.


Starting today, we're going to provide a bigger timeframe for the information we provide. We're going to show the last four weeks of data together. It'll be broken out into categories that make it a lot clearer what's going on and where we stand in the battle against the coronavirus. Now, right now, New York City makes more data available in a more transparent fashion than any city in America. And I think that is directly related to the success we've had. The fact that people take that information and they act on it. So, we will continue to improve it and update it. And one of the areas we've looked at is our indicators. Now, basically from the beginning of this crisis, we've used more or less the same type of indicators. But as we've looked at the situation, we recognize that there is a changing reality. Some of the thresholds we have set in the past, need to be tightened up because we need to go farther. It's great that we fought back the coronavirus this far, but we're not done. We want to push it down even more. So, we're going to be changing some of our approach to the indicators to make clear what we need in this moment and to give you the most accurate information. Here to tell you about the changes, our Health Commissioner, Dave Chokshi.


Commissioner Dave Chokshi, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. From the beginning, core components of our response have been transparency and data. We set indicators that we have watched like hawks. However, thanks to what New Yorkers have done the context has changed. With lower transmission we need more precise indicators that allow us to zero in on how COVID is spreading. So, we will be making changes to the data on the Health Department's website starting today. First, we will keep hospital admissions for COVID-like illness on our dashboard as a general marker of disease activity. But we will add the percent of patients with COVID-like illness who actually test positive to make this indicator more precise. As we head into flu season, we need to be able to distinguish flu patients who often have COVID-like symptoms from COVID patients to have an accurate read of what is happening in our communities. Precision is the name of the game. And so, we will also change reporting of the percent of COVID tests that are positive to include two decimal places. For example, you'll see 1.80 percent rather than two percent. And we'll lower the threshold for positive test results from 15 percent to five percent. The higher threshold was an appropriate benchmark for reopening as we transitioned to lower levels of disease transmission. The new lower milestone will alert us earlier if we need to be concerned. We will also add an indicator on new daily cases reported in the city. We'll use a seven-day average to smooth out day to day fluctuations in this new indicator. Along with the percent positive results, this will give us a more complete view of COVID circulating in our city. We want to see the absolute number of new cases remain as low as possible. Other indicators do not have the utility that they once had, like the Health + Hospitals ICU capacity.


I do want to take a moment to emphasize how much removing this indicator means to me. Having served at H + H during the peak, I remember how tested our ICU capacity was. It's a marker of our progress that we're able to change out this indicator. The current context is also informing updates to our website. To date, we have shared aggregate numbers that span the duration of the pandemic, which we will continue to do, but we recognize that there's interest in knowing what is happening in the more recent past, both at the city, as well as the neighborhood level. So, we will present case and fatality numbers and rates for the most recent four-week period. Our website will also soon feature antibody test results by ZIP code, with the capacity to organize the data by age, borough, neighborhood, poverty, and sex. We will be the first jurisdiction in the nation to present our antibody data this way. While there is still much to learn about the science of COVID-19 antibody testing, it is an important element to consider when understanding the epidemiology of COVID.


Finally, I just want to recognize the staff at the Health Department who work incredibly hard to make this data available to New Yorkers. Sound data is the lifeblood of our response and it can save lives. So, thanks to my staff and thank you to all of you for getting this information to New Yorkers.


Mayor: Thank you so much, Dave. And Dave, to you and your whole team, thank you. This is really good work and I know work you've put yourself into immediately to figure out what is the best way to give information to all New Yorkers and the best way to present our reality as it continues to evolve. And thank God it has been evolving in a good direction because everyone's hard work. So, here are our newest indicators.


Indicator one, daily number of people admitted to New York City hospitals for suspected COVID-19 – so, again, the threshold remains 200 patients, today's report only 44 patients. That's great. And now we'll be talking every day about the actual percent testing positive for COVID-19. That is 13.3 percent. So, again, folks come into the hospital, present symptoms, might be COVID, we're using the overall number of the people who present symptoms, but then we're also giving you the updated number once the tests are provided to see what we came up with. So, 13 percent actually testing positive for COVID-19 within that group.


Okay. A new metric now, number two, new reported cases over a seven-day average. Okay, so this is brand new. We're setting a threshold here of 550 cases [inaudible] over time, of course, daily counts of how many new cases of people testing positive for COVID-19. This one works simply, we take seven days of data and divide by seven, come up with a daily average and report the most recent daily average. So, threshold of 550, today's report 328 cases.


And then finally, percentage of people tested positive citywide for COVID-19, new threshold, five percent. So, again, we've gone from 15 percent down to a much more stringent five percent. We think this is now the right threshold for our current condition, where we want to keep beating this disease back even more. Happy to say today's report, 1.56 percent. So, these new indicators I think will give us a really good clear picture. And today that picture is a very positive one thanks to all of you.

No comments:

Post a Comment