Monday, October 5, 2020

Mayor de Blasio Holds His Daily COVID-19 Update After Governor Cuomo Changes the Plan


Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good afternoon, everybody. Yesterday, I announced a major counter offensive against the spread of the coronavirus here in New York City. Now this is a City that has come so far since the beginning of this crisis back in March and April, and we have shown how tough we can be in fighting this virus. And after all the progress we've made, it's tough to have to think about any rewind, any pause, even if it's in part of our city, but we have to do this now. We have to recognize what the data and the science are telling us and it’s time to move forward and fight back, because a rewind, a pause is all part of fighting back against the disease. It is what worked for us before and it will work for us again.
Now I am very clear after everything we've been through in these last months, that the great lesson is take action as soon as the data and science indicate that it's time, when the data and science tell you something, act on it. The sad reality and so much of the rest of the world, and even the rest of this country, is one of the data and the science were ignored. We are not ignoring it. We're proposing a very tough plan of action right now to address this situation and to ensure that it does not turn into a second wave all across New York City, we still have time to avert that problem, and that's what I want us all to focus on, stopping this problem right now. So, the City of New York has presented a plan to the State on how we address these clusters. We've gone over the plan with the State. I spoke with the Governor earlier today. We've laid out the foundation for how to stop this spread dead in its tracks and it is part of learning from what worked before and applying it in a very pinpoint manner.
Now, the State has agreed on the need to close public and nonpublic schools in the nine highest risk ZIP codes. So that will happen effective now tomorrow morning, that's an update now. The State determined they would rather have the schools closed tomorrow morning. So, at the end of the school day today those schools will be closed public and nonpublic in the nine ZIP codes. And again, we're going to work hard to turn around those nine ZIP codes so that in the coming weeks, kids will be able to come back to school. We've also presented a plan for closing down non-essential businesses in those ZIP codes. We're continuing to work with the Governor's team on that plan. The proposal I put on the table is the basis of discussion, nine ZIP codes, close all non-essential businesses. The Governor's team are considering evasive alterations they want to make to that geography or to the approach, but until we hear otherwise, our plan is to move ahead Wednesday morning with enforcement in those nine ZIP of all non-essential businesses. We will continue to work with the State in the meantime to get to a final resolution. Now, the important thing here is to remember the State has a role to play, the City has a role to play, but the biggest role will be played by all of you, by everyday New Yorkers in these nine ZIP codes and beyond.
So, it goes back to the basics. And I want to really urge people, if you live in any of the areas of concern, the nine key ZIP codes or some of the other ones that are on our watch list, please limit your activity, stay home when you can stay home. Of course, if you're sick, especially stay home. Wear the face coverings. It's just something we need people to do consistently, indoors, outdoors, everywhere, obviously, make sure you honor social distancing, avoid gatherings, real basic things. Wash your hands, use hand sanitizers. We need people do all this. And really, especially at this moment, we've got to get the clearest possible picture what's happening in these nine ZIP codes and literally everywhere else in the city. So I want to redouble our efforts to get people tested, more and more free testing has been made available all over New York City. If you live in one of those nine ZIP codes, imperative that you get tested. If you’ve not been tested recently, if you've never been tested, go out and get tested. It's free. It is quick. It's available all over the city and wherever you live in New York City. If you have not been tested recently, it's so important that we get a clear picture. The more New Yorkers that get tested, the better.
Now in terms of testing, what I've indicated to you, we do not see a citywide resurgence. We see a challenge in certain key ZIP codes. We do see an overall citywide number rising in terms of positivity, but that is largely based on what we see in those keys ZIP codes, not a bigger citywide trend. That said, there is a lot more activity now, obviously, since Labor Day, we've seen a lot more economic activity, more jobs, more travel, schools coming back, there's a lot going on. So it is very, very important that people be tested in the light of everything happening and that's how we will make sure we stay at an acceptable level. Anyone who needs to know where to go to get tested, you can go online, or you can call 2-1-2-COVID19 to find free testing locations and there is definitely one near you.
Now, an update on the areas of greatest concern in Brooklyn and Queens, we still have nine ZIP codes. That number has not changed in the last 24 hours, nine ZIP codes that have been above three percent positivity for seven consecutive days or more. We have a watch list that I talked about yesterday, 11 ZIP codes. We're adding one more to the watch list, and that is ZIP code 11375 in Forest Hills, Queens, because we've seen a rise in the positivity level there. Now, again, those watch list ZIP codes do end up in the category requiring the greatest restrictions in less and until they have seven consecutive days above three percent positivity in their testing, we hope that does not happen. And the best way for that not to happen is to follow all those basic health and safety rules I talked about earlier and again to everyone in those areas, in those 12 ZIP code areas that are not now in the most restricted category, please go get tested so we can get the truth about what's happening in your neighborhood. The more people get tested, the better picture we get.
Okay, speaking of testing, there's an extensive effort right now, moving testing resources into all the affected areas that will continue to grow every single day. I want you to hear about this specific effort to mobilize testing resources and to get them where they're needed the most. I'm going to turn to the Executive Director of our Test and Trace Corp, Dr. Ted Long.
Executive Director Ted Long, Test and Trace Corps.: Thank you, sir. Testing is important because it gives us a line of sight into exactly where the coronavirus is and it gives us an opportunity to intervene to stop its spread. Now in New York City, we've built a massive testing system. We per capita test more people today than European countries like Germany and Asian countries like South Korea. We're leveraging and focusing our testing system in on the ZIP codes, the communities where we're seeing these clusters. If you look last Friday alone, if you look at our nine tier one ZIP codes, the baseline level of testing that they had before, on Friday in a single day, we doubled the number of tests being done in those communities. We're going to keep doing that and that's been a critical way that we've achieved the success that we have in communities like Sunset Park and like Soundview, where we've been able to drive down the percent of people testing positive by more than two thirds.
Our numbers over the last three days are, we did 1,900 tests, new tests on Friday and then over the weekend we did an additional more than 1,500 tests. Now I want to tell you a little bit about how we've been able to build up our testing resources so quickly because we have a few innovative and novel strategies. First, we've brought in our 13 mobile units and put them in strategic locations. Next, we've created six block parties, which is where we cordoned off part of the sidewalk, bringing a large team, and then we can test 500 people at each site per day in those instances. Next, we built out for rapid testing sites where you can come in and get a test result back within 15 minutes. We also created a new type of model, we call it the microsite model. In this model you come, pick up a self-swab kit, do the self-swab yourself, hand the kit back in, and you're done in a matter of minutes. You can go on your way. In addition, we're doing testing specifically at our schools. We've done eight schools a day since last week and today we're ramping up to test – doing testing at 12 different schools. We're going to keep doing that. Finally, we're building out rapid testing at eight additional sites, but this is a special effort. What we're doing in our additional sites is we're working with community providers in our high-risk communities. So, if you are going to your trusted doctor, we want your doctor to have one of our machines so that you can get a test done and a result back in 15 minutes. Now we're going to continue building up our testing resources as we move forward so that we can have the same success we did in Sunset Park and Soundview working together with our communities. We will suppress the coronavirus. Thank you, sir.
Mayor: Thank you very much, Dr. Long, and everybody look, this is going take an intense effort by all New Yorkers, but I want to remind you again, what we went through before we saw tremendous sense of unity and teamwork from New Yorkers. We saw everyone working together, want to emphasize we are all in this together. Every one of these ZIP codes and in the whole city, we all have to work together. That's what's going to get us through this and it starts with everyone getting tested.
Okay, let me turn to another matter, which is very much related to new developments that has a huge impact on this city's present and future – that's the census. We have very important news that the higher court circuit court of appeals federal court ruled that the Census Bureau must continue to count until October 31st. We are pushing to ensure that actually happens. There is a possibility the Trump administration will appeal this to Supreme Court. In fact, unfortunately it's probably a likelihood, but we're working on the assumption we could have as many as four more weeks to do this work. So, want to emphasize everyone how important it is to respond to the census now – it is still alive, it is still happening. New York City now has a self-response rate of 61.1 percent, very close to where we were in 2010 without a pandemic, but we want to get that number up quite a bit. Please go to It is so important that you get involved and you get your whole family involved. Everyone involved. We need this and also want to remind everyone while you're thinking about the important things to do for today and for the future, 29 days, till the election, the opportunity to register to vote. We have only a few more days want to remind people how important it is. If you have not registered, get out there and register to vote, be a part of determining the future of the city, state and nation. All of these things we're talking about now are things everyone can do. Every single New Yorker can participate in the census. Every single New Yorker can sign up and vote, who's eligible to vote, and of course, everyone who needs a coronavirus test can get a test. All those actions are things that you can do that will make a big difference for this city right now and well into the future.
Okay, so now let me talk about our indicators. Give you the overall picture for New York City. Indicator number one: daily number of people admitted to New York City hospitals for suspected COVID-19 – threshold is 200 patients – today's report: 67 patients with a 13.4 percent confirmed positivity rate for COVID-19. Number two – new reported cases on a seven-day average threshold is 550 cases – today's report 490 cases, and number three, percentage of people testing citywide positive for COVID-19 – threshold five percent – today's report is 1.83 percent, and the seven-day rolling average is 1.75 percent.

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