Thursday, October 8, 2020

Mayor de Blasio update on yhr State of the City and COVID-19 Details


Mayor Bill de Blasio: Look, we are going to go through a tough few weeks here in New York City. I want to start with just that obvious truth. We have come so far in the course of these last months, we're dealing with a real challenge now in some parts of our city, and it's going to take hard work to overcome it. And there's a lot of questions that need answers and a lot we have to work through, but I do know for sure New Yorkers have the strength and the wherewithal to overcome this challenge. And, again, the way we do it is with unity, the way we do it is with understanding we're all in this together. We are all going to have to work to get through this challenge to make sure that New York City does not experience what so many other parts of this country have experienced when they had a full-blown second wave of the coronavirus. What we're seeing right now in much of Europe, deeply troubling – full-blown second wave. It can be stopped. We need to stop it together. And that means speaking in a unified voice, respecting each other, working with each other to get done. It won't be easy. There will be things we have to work through. There will be things we're going to have to figure out. That is the truth whenever you're dealing with a crisis. But we can overcome this challenge. The data and the science make very, very clear, we can stop this challenge from turning into a full-blown second wave, and we must – we must. Our businesses have been coming back now, our schools are back. We need to protect this progress all over New York City, and the way to do that is to focus on the areas having a challenge, work with them, support them, work together and overcome it.
So, yesterday, I went over the basic plan of how we're going to begin the pauses and the other activities in the new zones that were determined by the State of New York. And this goes into effect today. I want to go over some of the basics here of how this is being approached. We're going to keep getting people answers as we go along. We want to try and make this as clear as possible and as quick as possible. This is a turnaround that, if we do it right, could only take a few weeks. If we don't do it right, it could go a lot longer. So, let's work together to get it right. Now, there's a lot of questions out there, obviously, and our job is to help people understand the specifics as much as possible. So, let's go over the basics again. The State of New York determined a plan based on three color coded zones, red, orange, and yellow. The red zone is a full pause zone – that means all schools public and non-public are shut down, non-essential businesses are closed, no indoor or outdoor gatherings. Now, the orange zone is a “warning zone.” That means schools are closed, public and non-public, but most businesses can operate but with certain restrictions. The yellow zone is what is called by the State the cautionary zone, and that a situation where those areas are being watched, we're working on it, we want to make sure they do not end up with more challenges. Businesses are open, schools are in session, but there'll be a mandated COVID testing in the schools regularly and a lot of activity out in the communities to provide people education, and support, and free masks, and, obviously, enforcement. Now, the pause period begins today and in effect for a minimum of 14 days, we're going to work with the State at that point to reassess where we stand, if we need to go longer. Again, I've asked the doctors this repeatedly, can this be overcome in 14 days? Yes, with extraordinary effort, it can be, with consistent effort it can be. If we don't have that extraordinary effort, it might go longer, and none of us wants to see that happen. We're going to continue to remind people, it is ultimately all about each and every one of you. So, folks in the red zone in particular – red zones, orange and yellow as well, it is so much about what you do – it’s wearing masks, it's social distancing, it's all the basics that are going to help us come back and we need each and every one of you to be a part of it.
Now, how were these zones determined? They're determined by the data. They're determined by the facts. They're determined by the test results. People have commented on this, but I want to go back to what the doctors tell us. I want to go back to the science. This is based on sheer numbers and facts. And these areas are examples within New York City of the extraordinary diversity that makes up the city. Brooklyn, Queens, two of the most diverse places on earth – a number of areas of Brooklyn, Queens affected. What they all have in common is the numbers told us it was time for real restrictions to turn the tide, and that's what the State and the City fully agree on. Now, how do you know what zone you're in? This is a very fair question. People need answers – where you live, where you work, where you go to school, which zone is it in? So, we've created a new online tool for people to know their status and which zone they're in. The new zone finder online is now live – you can go to, and you simply enter in your personal address, your home address, for example, or your business address, your school address, and it will tell you what is happening at that address, what specific restrictions are in place, what closures are in effect. This was put together really quickly with information we received from the State, so we had to quickly act to make it clear and available to all New Yorkers. And I want to thank everyone at our IT Department, DoITT. I want to thank everyone at Department of Health and at the Office of Operations for their extraordinary work. Congratulations to all of you putting together this so quickly so all New Yorkers could get this clarity.
Now, clearly, we need to do a lot of outreach and we need to get out there and explain to people what's going on. So, there'll be a lot of outreach in communities. We want to make sure that even with the challenges we're facing and the valid questions people are going to have, that we get out there in force to help people know what's going on, answer questions, resolve challenges. Look, the goal here is that everyone follows the rules for their zone. As always, when we have to bring consequences to bear, we will. The first thing we want to achieve is compliance. If we get compliance there do not have to be forced closures, there do not have to be a fines and penalties. But if we don't get compliance, then those consequences will happen very, very quickly.
Now, let's talk about school closures. This is a key component of this plan. So, on Tuesday, we closed 108 public school sites in coordination with the State, now closing additional 61 public school sites today. They've been – the families have been alerted as of last night, 61 public school sites, and, again, for a two-week period. The school sites that were closed previously will remain closed for that two-week period. Even if they don't end up under the new state rules, if they don't end up being in the red or orange zone, we're still keeping them closed, because based on our data, it was the right thing to do. So, we'll continue that for two weeks. And, again, same rules will apply to public and non-public schools. After two weeks, there'll be a full evaluation. So, the earliest we could talk about – and I emphasize the word earliest – for the schools that closed on Tuesday, the earliest they could come back is Wednesday, October 21st. But, obviously, we'll be talking about it in advance of that to tell people what direction things are going in, if it looks like a reopening could happen earlier or that will be further delayed. In the meantime, of course, all kids will have remote learning.
Now, testing – obviously, such a crucial piece of this. So, let's talk about testing in schools. For weeks now, we've been preparing for the medical monitoring that will be happening in every single New York City public school. That will be happening monthly. I want to make very, very clear – all staff, all students, we need full participation. It is a requirement of being part of the in-person school community. So, we're sending out additional guidance to parents to make that very clear. And we have sent out the forms to parents, both online and in paper, to sign up to get their children tested. This is good for everyone to know what's going on in each school. And, of course, every family will get the test results. You saw the great video the other day, how easy it is now, these tests are very quick, very easy. They're free. They're at the schools. We're sending out the information, again, urging all parents to sign that consent form, get it back immediately. Lots of parents now are responding. I want to thank all of you. We need everyone to respond. This medical monitoring, the surveying begins tomorrow, Friday, in some schools, and then it will grow out over the coming weeks.
Now, families, of course, have questions. We want to answer the questions. We want to listen to any concern a parent has an answer it. If they need to talk to medical personnel, connect them to medical personnel. We want to make it easy and clear. We're happy to have that conversation, whatever language a parent speaks. So, our job is to make sure the parents really understand why it's important and get their questions answered. And to help parents know that we want to answer their questions and to help give them clarity about this approach, we've put together a new video featuring our very own Health Commissioner. And I like to remind people, he is not only our Health Commissioner, he is a parent himself and his wife happens to be an assistant principal in our schools. So, he knows a whole lot about our schools and kids.

Well, I really appreciate Dr. Chokshi making that video and making it so clear. And he is the City's doctor. So, I think for all parents to hear directly from him is so important. And, look, this is for the regular testing, we'll be doing every month, every school within the Department of Education. And the State will be putting out their plan as well for a different approach. And that is the weekly testing for the schools in the yellow zone that the State determined. So, those schools that fall within those yellow zones, we'll have weekly testing. It's a different effort entirely from what we just described, the ongoing monthly in every school, all over the city. The weekly testing just in the yellow zone schools will begin next Friday, not this Friday, next Friday, the 16th. And that is going to be another crucial approach to help us know exactly what's going on and how to address things best. So, again, it all comes down to testing. And I want to keep emphasizing this for all New Yorkers – remember, remember the single biggest challenge we had in March, in April was lack of testing. In fact, we now know what we didn't know in March, that the virus had already spread widely in February. We couldn't know it because there was no testing in the amount we needed in New York City. We didn't have the ability to provide our own tests to people. There's plenty of time to talk about that history in the future. But what we do know is, where there is a lot of testing, it helps our health leadership to pinpoint the response to act quickly. The more people participate in testing, the more impact we can have. So, this is why as we have added more and more testing over the months, it directly correlated with our ability to turn around the situation and all those months where we've kept the positivity level for this virus so low. We need more and more testing than ever. And, in fact, even amidst the challenges we're facing now, some good news, that last week we conducted the highest number of tests since this crisis began. Last week in New York City, the most tests given to New Yorkers since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis – 250,000 tests for the whole city. We need to keep going. We need to keep making sure more and more people in every neighborhood participate in testing. Now, the good news is, the turnaround time for the results has now become the shortest we've ever seen. For citywide average turnaround, including for urgent care facilities, we're now at around a two-day turnaround. With results on average for test taken at Health + Hospitals facilities and Health Department facilities, meaning all public facilities, that turnaround is down on average to one day. So, that's a great improvement. So, everyone, testing, testing, testing – if you have not been tested, get tested. If you haven't been tested in a while, get tested. If you're living in one of the areas most affected, get tested. And if you need to know where, go to or call 212-COVID19 to find those locations.
Now, let's talk about another crucial piece of fighting back against this danger of a second wave. And what we're seeing in these areas, we need, of course, in addition to clarifying rules and educating people and providing masks, we obviously need enforcement. So, we had teams out in the red and orange zone areas, 2,000 inspections yesterday, 36 summonses, 7,000 inspections since last week that led to 104 violations being given. Now, again, where we need to shut something down, we will. We've done that even before the State's declaration, we've shut down the stores when needed, we've shut down schools, both public, and non-public when needed. Wherever we need to, we will. And the rules now and the restrictions are even more clear. We're not looking to do anything painful for people. We know this is tough. We want everyone to work together and cooperate. We know for small business owners, particularly, it's going to be a really tough time, but we have to follow these rules and we will enforce them.
Now, before we go to our daily indicators, just an important note on another topic, but this is a deadline I want to make sure everyone is aware of, because so much is happening nowadays, but, obviously, one of the most important things will determine so much of our future is the election in 26 days. And, in fact, the deadline for registering to vote is right upon us now. So, with everything else going on, if you have not registered to vote and you want to participate in this election this Friday is your last chance. You have just today and tomorrow to get registered if you are not already registered. And, again, the election, of course, is November 3rd, but early voting begins as early as October 24th. So, it's right around the corner. Three ways to register to vote if you're not registered – in-person or online through Department of Motor Vehicles. And, reminder, if you do it online, you print out the application and you have to get that application postmarked by tomorrow, October 9th, when you mail it in. You can also download a registration form at Or, of course, you can register in-person at any local Board of Elections Office or any City agency with voter registration forms. So, the bottom line is – literally, the most important election of our lifetimes. Everyone's voice should be heard. Register to vote by tomorrow so you can be a part of it.
Okay, let's go over the daily indicators. Number one, daily number of people admitted to New York City hospitals for suspected COVID-19, that threshold is 200 patients – today's report, 89 patients with a confirmed positivity level for COVID of 22.7 percent. Two, the new reported seven-day average for new cases, and that threshold is 550 cases – today's report, 526. And three, percentage of people tested positive citywide for COVID-19, threshold five percent – today's report is 0.33 percent. And on the seven-day rolling average, today's number for the seven-day rolling average is 1.56 percent.

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