Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. We are at a crucial moment in this city, crucial moment in our fight against the coronavirus. Now for seven months, the city's waged a battle and I want to say to all of you, New Yorkers have been heroic in this struggle, fighting back against the coronavirus consistently. Now we have a challenge. We see a rise in cases in certain parts of our city, and we have to get ahead of this. We have to bring everything to bear we can. We’re going to have to be tough about it and that's why I put forward a plan to address the situation and yes, it involves tough restrictions, nothing we want to do, but the kind of thing we need to do and do quickly to get ahead of the problem, to keep this problem limited, to address it in a matter of weeks and not let it spread further.
So, look, we know so much more now than we did at the beginning of this struggle back in March and April when we had so little testing, when we had so much less knowledge about this disease, our fight was very, very difficult, and yet this city did fight back and get to a much better place. Now we have the advantage of much more knowledge, much more testing, and much more understanding amongst the people of the city of what they have to do and they've shown it time and time again. These realities should be great advantages as we fight back these specific problems in specific areas. But again, it will all come down to you, to everyday New Yorkers doing the right thing for yourselves, for your families, for your communities, by practicing the basic rules, basic vision that has worked for us over and over again, the wearing the mask, the social distancing, just doing the smart, basic things that have everyone does together, we turn the tide in our favor.
So let's give you a picture now of what's happening right now in this city. We have a new map that provides a sense of where the challenges are, where the hotspots are, and right now, again, we have nine ZIP codes where we have seen the positively level for the coronavirus above three percent for seven consecutive days. It remains nine ZIP codes. Then we have our watch list and that's tier two where we're watching areas that are in danger of entering that top tier of a particularly troubled ZIP codes. We have a new ZIP code we're adding to that watch list and that is 11206 South Williamsburg, that brings the watch list total to 13. So, again, we're staying stable with nine in the top category where we need the most action, the most restrictions, 13 that are being watched, and those 13 do not need to end up in that top category. They do not need to experience those deeper restrictions. So, you can see the number of days consecutive over three percent, thank God, not yet into that category, but we're warning people in those communities to really buckle down, to take all the right precautions, to take it seriously. You do not want to see these restrictions in your community. You can do something about it. You don't want to see small businesses closed in your neighborhood. You can do something about it. Right now, there is time to turn things around. That's why we're providing this information to the public in an urgent manner.
So, in terms of the nine ZIP codes I've proposed, I think the way forward, clear sharp restrictions applied quickly. Now obviously with our schools in the nine high risk ZIP codes, those schools, both public and non-public are closed as of this morning. This will be for several weeks, the faster we address the problem on the ground, the faster the community participates, the quicker we can get those schools open again, and as little as two weeks, hopefully no more than four weeks, but we all have a lot of work to do. Now, again, we chose to close the schools out of an abundance of caution, thankfully in our school system, including in the effective ZIP codes, tier one, tier two, we are not seeing any unusual problems, anything out of the ordinary in our schools, thank God. And we continue to do testing outside of schools and in schools, in those effective ZIP codes, testing teachers, staff, watching for problems. I'll give you example, just the last few days we've gotten 1,351 test results from 35 schools in those nine top ZIP codes and only two positive tests among the 1,351 results we've gotten so far.
So, get – excuse me – our educators, our staff school communities are doing a great job. They're doing the right thing. They're being smart about things. Folks understand the hand-wash and the hand sanitizer, the social distancing, the face mask. If sick, they're staying home, people are doing this the right way and it's proven by the testing we're seeing at our schools. So we're going to keep that testing going in the 13 ZIP codes on the watch list, constantly moving from school to school each day, to keep a clear picture on what's going on. Now, the plan related to the nines ZIP codes, obviously presented at the State. We had conversations yesterday morning. I spoke with the Governor and our teams have been talking throughout the day yesterday, constructive conversations, productive conversations that are going to continue into this morning, and we need obviously a clear decision in the course of today. So, we can move forward. The plan I've presented is the template to address this. The State is looking at that template. We understand is their ultimate decision. They can modify as they see fit, but the important thing is to come to a decision quickly so we can get going. We are prepared to implement as soon as tomorrow morning in those nine ZIP codes once we have the sign off from the state.
Now, in the meantime, again, what everyone can do, you're going to have this constant question, how long do these restrictions have to be in place? And I'm going to be talking to a lot of people in the community, I have been already, and my message is the same, you can keep it to a matter of weeks, but everyone has to participate. Everyone has to be part of the solution. If we all do this right, which we did before in much tougher circumstances, we contain this problem to a limited part of the city for a limited period of time, then we reopen in those places and keep moving forward. If we do it wrong, it keeps spreading into surrounding ZIP codes and that endangers the whole city. We cannot let that happen. So, everyone has to be part of the solution.
Now, today is a Tuesday and as always, we talk about testing on Tuesday, get tested Tuesday, look again, what works? Testing, testing, testing, we can say it so many times. You cannot say it enough times, because there's still a huge number of New Yorkers who've never been tested even once. It helps this whole city to get tested because it gives us a picture of what's going on and helps us understand where our challenges are and what to do about them. So again, if you have never been tested, please go get tested right away. If you haven't been tested a long time, please go get tested. It is fast. It's easy. We need New Yorkers, not just in those nine ZIP codes or those 13 on the watch list, but everywhere to get tested. The faster we get the truth, the faster we can act. Now, everybody we're expanding testing capacity throughout the city, constantly getting it where it's needed most, but remember we have over 200 sites all over the city. Everyone has a place near them. Always free, always quick. If you want to know where to go, just go online, nyc.gov/covidtest for locations or call 2-1-2-COVID19, and again, all tests is free.
Now I mentioned the importance of testing at the schools. We've been doing the testing of staff and educators outside schools, and in schools. Starting later this week, we're going to be starting the systematic medical monitoring of schools all over the city. We'll be doing that for every school once a month for the duration of this crisis and it's a way that we get more information, get to watch carefully what's happening. Keep everyone safe. This begins in some schools this Friday, we want to make sure that everyone is participating, that means educators, staff. It means students, everyone. Now, obviously educators and staff are overwhelmingly, ready, willing, and able to get tested, but we need a sign off form. We need a consent form from parents to get a kid tested at their school. So families can now complete the consent form online. You go to your NYC school account and you get that at mystudent.nyc. So just go to mystudent.nyc, your own account, enter in the information on the consent form that automatically makes sure the school knows that your child can be tested.
And look, to all the parents out there. I'm a parent. I want to say this to all of you. This is such a good and smart thing to do. The school community is working very closely with the Department of Health and the Test and Trace Team to make sure everyone is tested, tested quickly, safely, obviously for free. It's a great way to know what is going on in the school and keep everyone safe. You will get the results for your own child, this is a random sample in the sense of it's not every child every month, certain children some month, other children another month. But whenever there is a test of your child, you'll get those results quickly and that's important for your peace of mind. So, all families should participate and sign up on that consent form. The school will be reaching out to you about it as well. If you have any questions or concerns, and obviously we'll talk to people in whatever language they speak to help them understand how this works and to encourage them to sign that form.
All right, well, thank you, first of all, to Dr. Katie and all our colleagues at Health + Hospitals and everyone who's going to be part of the school testing program. That video really says it all. And look, parents, I want to say to you, as you can see, are very energetic, young volunteer there, had a cool hairstyle too, that he did not have a problem with that test because it's not the long instrument they used to use. It is the much shorter, simpler, just a quick rub around the inside of the nostril and it collects the sample really easily, really quickly. I've had this newer kind of test. It is much better, much simpler. That's what we'll be providing the kids and its as quick and easy as you just saw there.
Now let's talk since we're talking about kids, we're talking about schools, let's talk about what we need to do to make sure that kids continue to be educated during this pandemic. Now that we have our whole school system open, our buildings open, we have kids in classrooms, we have kids obviously in the blended approach where they're in class part of the week at home, working online for the rest of the week and other kids in all remote, but what does it require? It requires every child has the technology they need. Now in the spring there was an absolutely astounding effort to get technology in the hands of kids who needed it, an emergency effort that was really admirable, and I commend everyone at the DOE and all the partners in the private sector who helped make that possible, 350,000 iPads were distributed beginning of March, and it was one of the greatest efforts to address the digital divide in this city's history. Overall, the Department of Education has 950,000 remote learning devices available for students, some obviously are kept in schools, others are given to kids to take home. That supply has been extraordinary and has reached so much of our needs, but we still have additional need for 100,000 more iPads according to the surveys we've taken from parents and families. So, the additional 100,000 iPads are being procured, now they will be provided to students starting next month. Again, any student who still needs an iPad will get one, or if their iPad broke or there's any problem, we'll replace it. We need the remote learning, whether it's part of the week or all week for a child to work, we need them to make sure they get the technology they need, and we will.
Okay, let's go to our indicators now for the whole 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 is 70 with a confirmed positivity rate for COVID of 21.4 percent. Number two, new reported cases on a seven-day average, threshold is 550 cases, today's report 501 cases. And number three, percentage of people testing positive citywide for COVID-19 threshold is five percent, today’s report 1.90 percent, and the seven-day rolling average today is 1.65 percent.