Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, good morning, everybody. New Yorkers have been nothing short of heroic in fighting back against the coronavirus. In fact, when you think about what you have done in the last few months, people all over this country look at and they honestly are amazed, and I think it is a statement on the ability of this city, the ability of the people, the city to do extraordinary things. Now we have so many challenges that this crisis has brought forward, but that same spirit of doing what others may see as impossible or very, very challenging, we New Yorkers take on challenges all the time and we overcome them. So I want to talk to you today about the challenge we're seeing and it's been made so stark by the coronavirus. The challenge of disparity, the challenge of income inequality, it has come up so sharply in the course of these last few months, but it's something we've been grappling with for a long time, and this needs to be a moment when we resolve to make more fundamental changes. The coronavirus itself and the economic crisis that's come with, it has hit so hard in communities of color. It's hit immigrants so hard. It's hit small businesses so hard. We have so much work to do to create something better and fairer, and that's what we're going to do. We are committed to a just and fair recovery. So today in a moment, we're going to talk about a very important piece of that recovery, a very important piece of an effort to do things differently, and it is exciting because it has to do with a brand new approach to supporting businesses in the Black community and providing the support they need to really come back stronger than ever.
So we're going to go over that in just a moment, but first I need to give you an update about the situation, a couple of neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and this goes back to everything that we are doing with the Test and Trace Corps, everything we're doing when we identify a problem, how we address it rapidly, another thing that New York City is doing on a level unlike any other city in America, we now have the capacity through Test and Trace, when we see a problem to address it fast and with a lot of energy, a lot of personnel, a lot of impact. So last week I alerted everyone to the situation in Sunset Park. I was out in Sunset Park, Brooklyn yesterday [inaudible] Tuesday, and I was out there with a lot of volunteers. Some of whom you see here reaching out to people, telling them how important it is to get tested. And this outreach effort has been going on for a while, but intensely over the last week. Now what the Health Department saw in the last week or more was an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases. The outreach effort meant to get ahead of that, to instantly ensure that more and more people got tested, that we found where there were specific problems and address them, obviously, by making sure people safely separated and the situation was contained. The increased testing gave us more information, more data to work with, more contacts to follow up on.
What we know so far, thank God, limited community spread and not a cluster situation in a Sunset Park, and we'll talk more about that – I also want to mention a situation in Borough Park, Brooklyn, that we're focused on as well, because we've seen an uptick in just in the last few days and particularly a group of 16 cases that came out recently that we see as an early warning sign. Again, we want to be always acting out of an abundance of caution, and we saw this in the Sunset Park situation by assuming there might be a problem getting in there fast with a lot of energy, a lot of personnel, it makes a lot of difference. So we're taking the same approach with Borough Park. Some of these 16 cases are linked to a recent wedding, a large wedding, in fact in the community. So, we are working immediately to galvanize community leaders, to work with Test and Trace Corps, had a good call last night with a group of community leaders from Borough Park. They certainly understand the urgency of situation. We want to get the message out that people need to be tested, that people need to wear face coverings, that we need to avoid those large gatherings that can cause a bigger problem. We're also mobilizing a large response, mask distribution to houses of worship, engaging community organizations, whatever it's going to take, helping people understand that if they do test positive, they can safely separate and get a lot of support to do it. And anyone who's concerned that if they test positive, what's going to happen next, we want them to know that there'll be a lot of support for them to get through what really is in the end, a brief period of separation, and we're going to have community members and community organizations that are going to play a big part in that.
So, again, overall New York City is doing so well and you'll hear today's indicators are pretty extraordinary as an evidence of what all of you have achieved, but we've got to stay vigilant about the basics, the social distancing, the face coverings, obviously avoiding large gatherings. This is really important that we take seriously that reality because that will help us stop the spread of this disease. Now I want you to get an update on all of these kinds of outreach efforts because they're so crucial to our success and I want you to hear from the Chief Equity Officer of Test and Trace, she was with me in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, yesterday and did a great job engaging residents directly.
Okay, I'm going to go back where I started that again, this is not just a health care crisis. It's an economic crisis. It's a disparity crisis. And we are dealing with challenges that we haven't seen literally since the Great Depression in this country or this city, but the disparities are now being talked about rightfully in the bluntest possible terms and this fight against income inequality, this has been exactly what this administration has been focused on for the last seven years, but when it comes to the Black community, listen to this fact, it is a deeply troubling one, first of all, in this epidemic Black businesses, twice as likely to close for good as white businesses. But you also have to think about the racial wealth gap at its foundation, and listen to this fact, here in a city that's about – has about 22 percent African American population. So, about 22 percent of all New Yorkers are people of African descent, but only two percent of New York City businesses are owned by members of the Black community. Something's wrong with that picture to say the least. We need to do things differently. And our Department of Small Business Services is leading the way and they've put together a roadmap to help advance Black entrepreneurship in New York City. This is something that you don't just say, okay, the private sector is going to take care of this. No, the public sector needs to get involved to do the most we can to help Black businesses move forward, especially with the challenges going on now. So, Small Business Services launched Black Entrepreneurship NYC last year. The simplification of that phrase is BE NYC – 1,500 Black business owners and community leaders and academic leaders came together to put together a vision of what would actually work on the ground for community businesses. And the idea is to do something profound, to start to close the racial wealth gap. Now, what do we do?
Well, we know there's three big areas of concern that came out of this process, obviously, access to capital and trying to right the wrongs of the past where that capital was not available to Black entrepreneurs. Marketing, helping businesses, smaller and bigger, to have more access to the digital marketplace and more connection to new sources of revenue like government contracts that obviously connects to everything we've been doing with the M/WBE program of the city, minority and women-owned businesses. And then mentoring, getting folks who have been successful and have great networks to share that success, share those networks with up and coming businesses. So, the BE NYC partners have come together with a number of leading New York City businesses to do this work. I want to mention a few and thank them in the process. Ernst & Young will be providing free one-on-one consulting to businesses to work on their business plans. Goldman Sachs will be providing access to affordable financing. Mastercard will help business owners to set up virtual storefronts. Major, major firms committing to this effort in a tangible way. And very importantly, a new BE NYC accelerator at the Brooklyn Navy Yard – a $3 million effort to provide the space and the support and the knowhow to help these businesses to move forward rapidly in one location where all that help is there to energize the efforts of entrepreneurs.
Now, number two, the new second indicator, new reported the cases on a seven-day average basis, threshold of 550 cases, today's report 320. Number three, percentage of the people testing positive citywide for COVID-19. Again, we have moved the threshold now from 15percent to five percent, as we continue to tighten up, we continue to fight back this disease. We now told you we're doing everything down to the decimal points so you can see more specifically what's happening with the testing. The number I'm showing you here today is the lowest number we have had since this crisis began. This is the lowest infection rate in New York City since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. Today's number is 0.24 percent. This is extraordinary. Now, we all know every day can vary. We all know there's no single perfect measure, but the fact that with expanded testing and more and more outreach all the time, you now see a number as low as 0.24 percent for the New York City infection rate. This is striking and this should be a clarion call to all of us to double down and go farther because the more we can do to beat back this virus, the more we can bring back this city. So, congratulations to all of you, because this is your achievement.