Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Mayor de Blasio talks with Schools Chancellor Carranza, and Updates on COVID-19 Numbers


Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, good morning, everyone. I hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend. I hope you had a chance to relax. We had beautiful weather and hopefully everyone got a well-deserved break after everything we've been through. And look, I want to talk today about the ways we to keep ourselves safe, going forward, and that means being really smart about folks who are returning from some of the states where there's a real challenge with the coronavirus, where folks have to quarantine when they come back here in New York City, whether they're folks who don't live here or folks returning from visiting family or whatever it may be. We're going to talk about that in a moment, because I really want people to focus on that reality at this crucial moment. We're going into the fall. We have to really consolidate our gains in fighting this disease.


I'll come to that in a moment, but first let me talk about this weekend in another perspective. Look, this weekend that we just had, usually, in addition to all the other family celebrations and folks enjoying the last weekend – in a lot of ways, we feel, the last big weekend of summer. One of the high points each year is the celebration of Caribbean culture, the parade on Eastern Parkway and the J’Ouvert celebration. This year, we had a very different situation. There was not going to be the big events. It was very important, in fact, to protect people's health and safety and not have those big events and have a clear message to the community that health and safety comes first. And that's exactly what the leaders and members of the community did. You see here pictures of members of the so-called God Squad, an amazing group of clergy and community activists who go out into communities in Central Brooklyn to preach peace and to help avoid conflict. They do amazing work. I want to thank all the members of the God Squad. I want to thank all the community-based organizations that were out over the last few days, keeping the peace in central Brooklyn, the elected officials, the clergy, the Cure Violence movement and the Crisis Management System. And, of course, the men and women of the NYPD were out as well and working closely with community members and community leaders. And that was the key to this weekend. So, a situation where there was a lot of concern given everything that had happened, but, in the end, people did a great job on the ground. We had one incident – and it was a very troubling incident where one individual shot five people in Crown Heights in the early morning hours, Monday. One of those people was a six-year-old boy, and that's deeply troubling. Thank God, none have life-threatening injuries. But except for that incident, overwhelmingly, we had a peaceful weekend in central Brooklyn and it really is because of the hard work of everyone. So, thank you to the community. Thank you to the NYPD. Thank you to everyone for working together in these trying times to protect the peace.


Now, back to the question of how we protect ourselves going forward. So, we're going into the fall, a lot more activity expected, and we have a lot of challenges to face right here in New York City in terms of beating back the coronavirus. But we know travel – all over the world, all over this country, we've seen travel is a crucial part of the equation and being smart about restrictions on people who travel is one of the keys to fighting the coronavirus. So, I want to make sure if you're one of those folks listening to my voice now, or friends, family, coworkers, anyone in your life, if they've come back from one of those 33 states and territories up on the screen now – if you're coming back from one of those 33 States or territories, you’ve got to quarantine for two weeks. It is the smart thing to do. It's the safe thing to do. It will keep you and your family and your community safe, and it is the law. So, again, whether you're a New Yorker coming back, or whether you're someone visiting either coming from one of those 33 places, you have to quarantine. Now, we are doing more and more to make sure people understand that – more and more activity at airports, at highways, bridges, tunnels, you name it. But here's another new piece – and the Sheriff's Office has done an outstanding job. I want to thank Sheriff Joe Fucito and his whole team. They have a new approach at the Port Authority bus terminal, where they will be pulling over buses before they arrive. And this is buses that are coming specifically from states with a high rate of COVID. And they'll be giving out those traveler health forums to get people right away to sign up so we can make sure they quarantine. So, the officers are literally be going on the buses, talking to the passengers, giving out those forms, making sure that people fill them out. This is so important to keeping us safe. Now, again, expect a lot more activity economically going into the fall, school's opening, we are keeping a close eye also, of course, on the flu season – a lot going on. We have to get this part about travelers right. So, again, thanks to the Sheriff's Office and thanks to all of the agencies and all the travel companies that are helping us with this, because they understand how important this quarantine is as well.


Okay, well, as we talk about the fall coming back and school coming back, obviously the particularly crucial piece of the life of this city, this is a time where we see so much happening to get ready for the school year. You have educators going back today to their schools, getting ready for the school year. But throughout these last weeks, in fact, going all the way back to June, you've seen hardworking folks getting the school buildings ready, whether they're folks from Department of Education, school facilities, School Construction Authority, the custodial teams in each school – everyone's been working hard, they've been working nonstop. And now, the ventilation inspections we've talked about over the last few days, they've been completed for all 1,485 public school buildings. Again, 1,485 buildings fully inspected. And that includes 64,550 classrooms. And what we can say today is 96 percent of those classrooms have passed and are ready to go. Work will continue on the classrooms that need a little more to be done before school opens. There's time, obviously, to make the improvements before school. And this morning, we will put the inspection data up on the Department of Education website, so you can see exactly what's going on in your school. And again, I'm going to affirm what the Chancellor and I have said many times, if any classroom is not ready, it will not be used. It would only be used when it's ready. But, thank God, the overwhelming majority of classrooms are ready right now.


So, as we've said, this is all about health and safety first. The approach we're going to take to reopening our schools is to be there for our kids, be there for our families, give them what they need, but always do it from the perspective of health and safety first. Here to talk to you about these inspections and all the work that's being done to get school ready, our Chancellor Richard Carranza.


Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Let me just say that September is my favorite time of the year. And you can feel that energy of the new school year and getting it going again. No doubt this year will be very different in so many ways, but I know that today educators, students, and families across the city are getting ready for the school year to begin and across the city teachers and staff and principals are in their buildings, bringing those buildings to life. We've been busy in buildings as well. We've completed ventilation inspections in every single New York City public school building. And because – and you've heard us say this – the Mayor and I say this before – health and safety comes first, always. Today, we are not only telling our families that, but showing them that fact. Every family will be able to see the results of the inspections that we have done in their child's school. Just visit schools.nyc.gov and you'll be able to see the list for each school.


Here's what we found overall. Of over 64,000 classrooms surveyed, we found that the ventilation is 96 percent in good working order, in 96 percent of those classrooms. Where we need to take a little more action on the ventilation issues, we are. And, in fact, repairs are being completed on an aggressive timeline. In fact, many buildings that were surveyed – remember, that was just a moment in time have already been fixed. So, rooms in need of repair are safe for one individual, and that's important to understand as well. Any repairs that aren't complete before the first day of full-time teaching and learning will not be used. It's as simple as that. Now that there are 10 buildings that we've identified as needing repairs across the board, we're prioritizing these buildings to get all systems up to par by the 21st of September, meanwhile, staff at those buildings will be temporarily working from home.


Look, I've been a teacher, and I've been a principal, and I'm a parent. We're leaving no stone unturned to protect our students and our educators and our families. That's why we're being tremendously aggressive in all of our health and safety protocols from ventilation to face covering, to physical distancing, to nightly cleaning and frequent hand washing and sanitizing. It's why we will reinspect and make all information available to the public as well. These next few days are about getting everything ready for the incredible school year that lies ahead. So, we're happy to have people back in the buildings today, preparing for this new school year.

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Now, let's go over our daily indicators. Okay. Number one, daily number of people admitted to New York City hospitals or suspected COVID-19, threshold is 200 patients – today's report, 56. And the percentage confirmed positive, 11 percent. Number two, new reported cases on a seven-day average, threshold, 550 cases – today's report, 231. And number three, percent of people tested positive citywide for COVID-19, threshold five percent – today's report, 1.49 percent. 


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