Thursday, April 30, 2020

Attorney General James Calls on Cable and Satellite Providers to Cut Fees and Provide Financial Relief to Consumers

AG Sends Letters to Seven Major Cable and Satellite Providers in New York to Reduce High Fees Until Live Sports Return

  New York Attorney General Letitia James today called on seven major cable and satellite television providers in New York to provide financial relief for consumers amidst the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic by reducing or eliminating fees attributable to live sports programming. Despite the fact that all live sporting events in the United States have been cancelled, cable and satellite television providers continue to charge and collect high fees for live sports programming and refuse to reduce the cost of packages that normally include live sports programming. In letters to Altice USA, AT&T Inc., Charter Communications, Comcast Cable, DISH Network, RCN Corporation, and Verizon Communications, Attorney General James requested that the companies immediately prepare and provide plans to the Attorney General’s Office for how they will provide financial relief to consumers until live sports programming is resumed.

“At a time when so many New Yorkers have lost their jobs and are struggling, it is grossly unfair that cable and satellite television providers would continue to charge fees for services they are not even providing,” said Attorney General James. “These companies must step up and immediately propose plans to cut charges and provide much needed financial relief. This crisis has brought new economic anxiety for all New Yorkers, and I will continue to protect the wallets of working people at every turn.” 
Cable and satellite television subscribers pay up to $20 a month in extra fees to access live sporting events, but even with the cancellation of all live sporting events in the United States, cable and satellite television providers are still charging consumers the same amounts and refusing to provide refunds or cancellations. 
In her letter to these cable and satellite television providers, Attorney General James requested that these companies prepare and provide a plan for “appropriate refunds, discounts and reductions of charges and fees, payment deferrals, and waiver of termination fees, at least until live sports programming is resumed.” 
With more than 1.2 million New Yorkers losing their jobs and countless more in financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Attorney General James urged these companies to act to minimize the financial burdens on consumers.   


Governor Andrew Cuomo: I think we have the Mayor, who is on the telephone or some electronic means – there he is. Mayor Bill de Blasio, welcome to Albany.

Mayor Bill de Blasio: It’s a pleasure to be with you. Governor, I want to add to that point you made about all of us, together, doing something different, doing something necessary, and being willing together to go someplace we've never been before. You and I have talked about this kind of idea a lot over the years. You know, I think when we first met each other, the word disruption was considered a bad thing. In recent years, it's taken on a very positive connotation, that when we disrupt something that isn't working or has been thought about in a very narrow way and we go someplace new and better, that's a positive. And I think what we're talking about today is exactly that, and I commend you and everyone at the MTA. And I want to talk about why I think this plan is so important in terms of our essential workers, our first responders, our health care heroes, why I think is so important in terms of also addressing homelessness in a new and powerful way.

But I first want to say, I want to express my appreciation along with you. Really appreciate – back on one of your previous topics – the contact tracing. Really appreciate that my predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, is stepping up in such a big way for New York City and New York State. And the contact tracing, the test and trace approach is going to change everything. You and I are united in that as well, the aggressive approach. In fact, Governor, New York City, right now, is hiring a thousand contact tracers with health care backgrounds to supercharge this effort. And I think we are going to be able to show this country a model that's going to be extraordinarily effective in beating back this disease. So, I look forward to that partnership as well.

But right here on the issue of the MTA, we've all been throwing the biggest curve ball in our lives with this pandemic. But look at the consistent heroism of the health care workers, the first responders, the grocery store workers, the pharmacists, everyone who came forward. And Governor, I know you feel it too, it’s probably the proudest moment we've had as public servants in this state, in this city, watching the heroism of these New Yorkers who have stepped up. Now, we owe it to them to understand their lives and the notion that they have a daily routine where they go into battle, they go toward the danger, they go where they infection is, which so many people couldn't even imagine, but that's what these heroes are doing. We owe it to them to support them in every way possible. You and I have talked many times about the PPEs and the basic protections, but we also owe it to them to be safe on the way to work, on the way back home to their families. So, I think what we're doing here in partnership is exactly the right thing, to say we're going to find a way to make our subway system cleaner than it's probably ever been in its history, honestly, and address this crisis in a whole new way. I agree with that and I commend you for it. And yeah, it took some disruption to say we're going to do something there in this pandemic we've never done before, but it makes sense when it comes to protecting our heroes.

The second point, homelessness – look, another issue you and I [inaudible] decades. While we know it's been in many ways an intractable issue, because there wasn't always an impulse to disrupt, and here is an example of saying, look, we now have found new ways to get street homeless people off the street. And I want to commend Commissioner Dermot Shea and everyone at the NYPD who's really focused on how to help the homeless; Commissioner Steve Banks, everyone at homeless services and social services; and all those – also, those heroic outreach workers. Governor, you know about this work – we go out there day after day to engage homeless people on the streets and the subway, get their trust and get them to come in to shelter and ultimately to permanent housing. This work has always been in some ways stymied by the reality of a homeless person who is struggling with everything they're dealing with – a mental health challenge, a substance abuse challenge, riding the subway all night long. We're New Yorkers, we know about this reality, and it's been put in a stark light by this crisis like so many other challenges and disparities have. Well, it's an unacceptable reality and this new plan will disrupt that unacceptable reality and allow us to actually get help to people more effectively, because if you're not going back and forth all night on a train, then you actually are coming above ground where outreach workers are there to help you, where NYPD officer's training in the homeless outreach are there to support homeless people and get them to a better situation.

Governor, you know, for decades in this city, somehow homeless encampments were actually tolerated. People thought, oh, it's the kind of thing – what can we do about that? I'm proud to say, in the last few years, homeless services, NYPD, nonprofit organizations, we got together and we said we're not allowing that anymore. We shut them down and we found it actually helped us to get the homeless to the help they need. This is another example of that. So, I want to let you know that as we all talked about this idea – and I commend you, your team and Albany, and, obviously, the team at the MTA, Pat Foye, Sarah Feinberg – it's been a very productive conversation these last few days. And what I think we've come to, to get there is, yeah, we're going to do something unprecedented, we're going do something because of an emergency, but we're also going do something that's going to protect people and offer a new way to get people help who never got enough.

And so, Governor, thank you. I think this is a partnership – you're right, it's not going to be easy. No one said it was going to be easy, but you have my full commitment, the commitment of the City, the commitment of the NYPD, and all of our agencies. We're going to make this work together and we're going to be able to look back and say we did something that actually changed people's lives for the better. And as long as it takes, we're going to stand with you and get this done.

Governor Cuomo: Thank you. Thank you very much, Mayor de Blasio.

State Senator Gustavo Rivera Introduces Legislation To Further Reduce Insulin Cost Sharing

New bill caps New Yorkers cost-sharing to $30 per type of insulin per month to further protect New Yorkers from having to ration the life-saving medication

This week, State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chair of the Senate Health Committee, introduced a new bill in the State Senate as part of his Insulin For All package, (S.8255). This bill will further reduce the cap on cost-sharing for insulin from the current $100 per type of insulin per month to $30 per type of insulin per month.  

This new measure builds on the important step taken by New York State to enact a $100 cap on each type of insulin per month during the 2020-21 New York State Budget. Yet, people with diabetes often rely on two or three different types of insulin, which could result in a $200 to $300 out-of-pocket monthly expense. This legislation caps insulin copays and deductibles to $30 per insulin per month, which is more in line with Senator Rivera's original legislation, S.6492A, as well as similar measures initiated by several states across the country to address skyrocketing insulin prices. For example, Utah recently adopted a $30 copay cap while states such as New Mexico, Virginia, California, and Connecticut are all in various stages of passing and adopting copay caps ranging from $25 to $50 per insulin type. 

"The high cost of insulin is putting the lives of diabetic New Yorkers at risk, especially of those who are financially strained," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chair of the Senate Health Committee. "While we took a very important first step during this year's budget, it is certainly not enough. This bill, along with the rest of the Insulin For All legislative package, will make insulin more affordable and accessible for diabetic New Yorkers, while moving New York State in the right direction." 

According to the American Diabetes Association, the average cost of insulin tripled in less than a decade and New Yorkers with diabetes face medical expenses approximately 2.3 times higher than those who do not have diabetes. Consequently, this has led to patients rationing the small amount of medication they can afford. Unfortunately, complications from rationing insulin are extreme and in some cases result in amputations, diabetic ketoacidosis, and even death. The skyrocketing cost of insulin is not related to advances or changes to the drug, only to enhance profit margins in this country despite drastically lower prices in other countries for the same products. To further increase access to affordable insulin to diabetic New Yorkers who are insured, underinsured, and uninsured, Senator Rivera sponsors two other bills under his Insulin For All package:

- S.6492A:  Ensures access to insulin for New Yorkers by creating a drug assistance demonstration program and allowing for emergency refills of expired prescriptions in certain cases.

S.7771Creates an Emergency Insulin Program so uninsured or underinsured New Yorkers can get analog insulins at certain pharmacies when in need. 
"New York #insulin4all applauds the work of Senator Gustavo Rivera's Office to ensure that insulin, a life-saving and life-sustaining medication that costs just dollars to make, is affordable to every New York state resident who needs it to live during this exceptional time. The list price of insulin has increased over 1200% in the last two decades causing as many as 1 in 4 people with type 1 diabetes to ration insulin in the years leading up to this crisis, putting them at increased risk for potentially fatal complications including DKA. Lowering the copay price to $30 per prescription brings us one step closer to #insulin4all. However, not every New York State resident has the private, employer-sponsored health insurance that this important law regulates. We will continue partnering with Senator Rivera to ensure the passage of progressive legislation including the Insulin Drug Assistance Demonstration Program which paves the way to financially assist all uninsured and underinsured diabetics in New York State afford insulin. We work across city and state to make sure all people living with insulin-dependent diabetes, including those who are currently uninsured after losing their job amidst Covid-19, are able to afford the medications they need to survive," said Karlynn Holland, Chapter Leader, New York #insulin4all



  Today, franchise new car auto dealers in the Bronx, working through the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association (GNYADA), delivered a donation of 50,000 face masks to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s office.

The borough president will distribute the supply of 3-ply paper masks to Bronx residents who need them most, including seniors, essential workers, and other vulnerable populations.

It is part of a donation of half a million masks GNYADA is making to 12 downstate counties, including New York City.

“The Greater New York Automobile Association has ensured that thousands of Bronxites will be safer from the spread of COVID-19 infection with their generous donation of 50,000 face masks,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “We thank them for their support as we continue to work to meet the urgent needs of all Bronxites struggling with the tragic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are determined to persevere through this unprecedented public health crisis collectively as a united caring community, and this essential partnership with GNYADA will help us do to just that.”

“When New Yorkers are in need, time and again, franchise new car dealers and their employees are always there for the communities where they live and work. Auto dealers are the brick-and-mortar backbones of Main Streets and neighborhoods throughout the region, supporting little leagues, hospitals, schools, senior centers, and many charities large and small,” said GNYADA President Mark Schienberg. “During this extremely challenging time, when so many New Yorkers are suffering, losing loved ones, losing jobs, and struggling, car dealerships are once again here to contribute.”

Franchised new car dealers collectively are the fifth largest retail employer throughout the downstate region, helping to support 71,280 jobs, contributing $2.5 billion in local and state taxes, and supporting a total payroll of $4.5 billion, according to an economic impact survey conducted in 2019.

Above, and Below - As quick as the face masks were unloaded into the basement of the Bronx Courthouse, they were loaded into a van for delivery.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020


City will offer free antibody testing to first responders and healthcare workers through two partnerships with NYC Health + Hospitals, CDC, and U.S. Dept of Health

  Mayor de Blasio today announced antibody testing for first responders on the frontlines of the COVID-19 epidemic. NYC Health + Hospitals will begin offering free COVID-19 antibody tests to all of its healthcare workers across its 11 hospitals. Through a partnership with the US Department of Health and Human Services and CDC, the City will also offer testing for any healthcare worker or first responder across the FDNY, DOC, NYPD, and hospitals citywide. 

"Our first responders have worked around the clock to keep New Yorkers safe from the virus,"  said Mayor Bill de Blasio.  "While antibody tests are not a fix-all solution, they will give our heroes the knowledge and confidence they need to help us defeat the virus."
We are committed to the health and wellness of our heroic workforce during this public health crisis, and antibody testing provides our employees with additional information about their potential exposure to Covid-19,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “This new program complements our existing system-wide employee testing program, and all tests results will be completely confidential.”

Testing through NYC Health  + Hospitals will be prioritized for those working in high-exposure environments such as ICUs, emergency departments and labor and delivery departments. Tests will be offered on an appointment-only basis,  and available across 11 NYC Health + Hospitals locations and 7 community-based Gotham Health centers by mix-next week. Employees can schedule an antibody test appointment through a dedicated employee hotline. 

Antibody testing will not be used to determine whether employees can work. Test results are confidential and will not be shared with an employee’s work supervisor or Occupational Health Services (OHS) unless employees choose to disclose this information. At full capacity, approximately 400 employees can be tested at each acute hospital each day.


City to provide additional emotional and mental support for frontline healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19

  Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray today announced a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), NYC Health + Hospitals, and Greater New York Hospital Association (GHNYA) to provide mental health programs to support health care workers and first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new program will tailor elements of the US DoD’s combat stress management and resilience program for military personnel into needs assessments and a webinar training series to be used in civilian healthcare and first responder settings across the city. Trainings are expected to be available by the end of the month.

“Our frontline heroes are fighting a war on two fronts,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “They have been through so much to protect their fellow New Yorkers, and we will not allow them to shoulder the mental toll of this pandemic alone. To those who are struggling: your city hears you, we see you, and help is on the way.”

"Our city's medical professionals are laboring long days and nights under extraordinary circumstances, caring for our families and loved ones. It’s a different kind of war, but they are truly soldiers," said First Lady Chirlane McCray. "As they continue caring for New Yorkers, we must care for them and their well-being. Their service goes beyond anything we could have asked for, and their mental health needs should not be overlooked. This partnership will ensure our healthcare workers on the frontlines have the support they need, now and after this crisis."

Behavioral health and staff support leaders at local hospitals will receive formal training from military subject matter experts. Those who receive training will facilitate trainings to mental health specialists, spiritual care and second victim program leads at their respective health care systems. The ‘Train the Trainer’ education will be available virtually on GHNYA hosted webinars for all participating NYC healthcare systems. To better support health care workers, in-person and virtual training sessions can be customized based on targeted needs assessments. 

The US Department of Defense-led webinar trainings will begin late next month for health care systems. NYC Health + Hospitals will begin to deploy trainers for facility-based trainings in early June.

This work builds upon NYC Health + Hospitals’ established “Help Healers Heal” program. The program offers frontline health care workers direct mental health support in the form of a dedicated, 24/7 behavioral health helpline staffed by psychiatrists/psychologists; peer support champions for one-on-one or group support; and 26 wellness areas across 11 hospitals and five skilled nursing facilities for staff to take a break from patient care areas. The program also supports wellness rounds at all facilities to actively engage employees working in areas heavily affected by COVID-19. Wellness rounds focus on identifying and supporting employees showing symptoms of anxiety, depression, fatigue and burnout, and connecting them to services if requested—including one-on-one telephonic, in-person debrief, or anonymous counseling.

“We are in the epicenter of this pandemic and our heroic healthcare workers are on the front lines providing lifesaving support to New Yorkers. Our providers are experiencing an immense amount of emotional-psychological trauma and stress, especially at our hardest-hit hospitals," said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “At NYC Health + Hospitals, we value each employee and we are grateful to the Mayor and DoD that we will able to support our workforce as they began to process, heal and move forward.”

“As our healthcare workers and first responders continue to battle on the front lines of our fight against COVID-19, we want to make sure we can take care of their emotional and psychological well-being. This program will be a cornerstone in helping them to navigate these traumatic events, and we are thankful to the DoD for lending their expertise to support the mental health of our heroes,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell.

“Paramedics, EMTs, and all healthcare workers in New York City have been on the frontlines of this pandemic for weeks now. Though they have seen so much pain and loss, they continue to answer the call by caring for their patients every single day,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “This partnership with the DoD will provide important additional mental healthcare and support for those heroic men and women bravely going into harm’s way for our city.”

No. 202.25: Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency

No. 202.25
E X E C U T I V E  O R D E R
Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency

WHEREAS, on March 7, 2020, I issued Executive Order Number 202, declaring a State disaster emergency for the entire State of New York; and
WHEREAS, both travel-related cases and community contact transmission of COVID-19 have been documented in New York State and are expected to be continue;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Section 29-a of Article 2-B of the Executive Law to temporarily suspend or modify any statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation, or parts thereof, of any agency during a State disaster emergency, if compliance with such statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation would prevent, hinder, or delay action necessary to cope with the disaster emergency or if necessary to assist or aid in coping with such disaster, I hereby temporarily suspend or modify, for the period from the date of this Executive Order through May 29, 2020 the following:
  • Subdivisions (a) and (e) of section 401.3 and section 710.1 of Title 10 of the NYCRR, and Part 709 and 710 of Title of the NYCRR, and any other applicable regulation, to the extent necessary to allow for the approval and certification by the Commissioner of Health of temporary dedicated birthing sites operated by currently-licensed birthing hospitals and currently-licensed birthing centers;
IN ADDITION, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Section 29-a of Article 2-B of the Executive Law to issue any directive during a disaster emergency necessary to cope with the disaster, I hereby issue the following directives for the period from the date of this Executive Order through May 29, 2020:

  • The directive related to support persons for birthing patients contained in Executive Order 202.13 and 202.12 is hereby modified to require any article twenty-eight facility, shall, as a condition of licensure, allow any patient giving birth to have present with them: a support person, who does not have symptoms of COVID-19, for the labor, delivery and also the remaining duration of the patient’s stay; and/or a doula, who does not have symptoms of COVID-19 for the labor, delivery, and the remaining duration of the patient’s stay. The presence of a support person and/or doula will be subject to exceptions for medical necessity determined by the Commissioner.  

  • The directive contained in Executive Order 202.10 authorizing the Commissioner of Health to direct all general hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, office-based surgery practices and diagnostic and treatment centers to increase the number of beds available to patients, including by canceling all elective surgeries and procedures, is hereby modified only to the extent necessary to authorize general hospitals to perform elective surgeries and procedures so long as the following criteria are met:  within a county, the total available hospital inpatient capacity is over thirty percent and the total available hospital ICU capacity is over thirty percent and the total change, from April 17, 2020 to April 27, 2020, in the number of hospitalized patients who are positive for COVID-19 is fewer than ten; for each hospital within county that has met the eligibility criteria, the available hospital inpatient capacity is over thirty percent and the available hospital ICU capacity is over thirty percent and the change, from April 17, 2020 to April 27, 2020,  in the number of hospitalized patients who are positive for COVID-19 is fewer than ten.  The Commissioner of Health is authorized to issue guidance with respect to the implementation of these criteria.  General hospitals that are authorized to perform elective surgeries and procedures must report, at a minimum, the number and types of surgeries and procedures performed to the Department of Health, in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner.  General hospitals that do not meet the criteria to perform elective surgeries and procedures contained in this directive may seek a waiver from the prohibition, by submitting a plan that includes, at a minimum, their facility capacity, physical configuration, infectious disease protocols, and staffing capacity, including any applicable employment hardship information that includes any reductions in workforce, including furloughs, that have occurred due to the inability of such facility to perform elective surgeries or procedures, or any reductions in workforce, including furloughs, that may imminently occur due to the inability of such facility to perform elective surgeries or procedures, to the Department of Health, in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner.  General hospitals shall not perform any elective surgery or procedure for patients until each such patient has tested negative for COVID-19 through an approved diagnostic test, and the hospital and patient have complied with the pre-operative and pre-procedure guidelines in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner.

G I V E N   under my hand and the Privy Seal of the State in the City of Albany this twenty-ninth day of April in the year two thousand twenty.

Secretary to the Governor

Governor Cuomo Announces 35 Counties Approved to Resume Elective Outpatient Treatments

  Hospitalization rate ticks down, good news. Net change, down, that's good news. Intubations down, that's good news. COVID hospitalizations, new ones per day, just about flat, that's not great news. Actually up a tick. So that is not good news. What we're watching now is how fast the decline, how low does it go? We don't want to see 1,000 new cases every day. We'd like to see that in the low hundreds, ideally, of new cases every day. Death rate, terrible news. 330. You see the decline has been slow at best and still disgustingly high. So we're making progress, that's for sure, but we're not out of the woods yet. And we're proceeding with caution.

And there are caution signs out there that we should pay attention to. Singapore is talking about a second wave with 900 new cases. This is after they controlled the beast, they're on the decline. They're now looking at new cases. Germany is a situation that we should also watch and learn f from. They relaxed and started to reopen. they're now seeing an increase. These are interesting, the rate of infection, which is what we watch, was at .7. One person infecting .7 percent, obviously less than one person. 1 percent infection rate is one person infecting one person. They were at .7. They started to reopen. In 10 days they went up to a one on the infection rate. That's troubling. Shows you how fast the infection rate can increase if you don't do it right on the reopening. So proceed with caution.
Our reopening is different. We don't have a conceptual plan. We don't have an abstract plan because there is no conceptual plan, there is no abstract plan. You have to have a plan that is based on facts, based on specifics. This is not about politics, this is not about spin, this is not about emotion. There are no conspiracy theories at work here. We outlined a 12-step plan that is factual, that is based on numbers, based on data and then it has a numerical circuit breaker that is not subject to personal emotion or desire, but just checks and monitors that infection rate that we just saw in Germany and is watching for those increases. And if there's an increase, circuit breaker stops the reopening at that point. Some of the specifics we're looking at, you must have 30 percent of your hospital beds available.

We can't go back to where we were where we overwhelmed the hospital system. We have to have a 30 percent buffer. We have to have 30 percent of ICU beds. We have to have that buffer before we start bumping up against total capacity, and we have to watch the hospitalization rate and the diagnostic testing rate, how many are positive, how many are negative, which we'll take on a continuous basis. You see that number start going up, worry. But it's all based on the data and the numbers. I'm sorry, and the rate of transmission, RT, rate of transmission, our road and track, rate of transmission has to be 1.1 or less. We just said Germany is at .1. The 1.1, that is textbook outbreak. So watch the numbers and watch the transmission rate.

Where we are now, you should know, is New York State is doing more than most countries are doing so we have been very aggressive in testing and we have made great progress. New Yorkers should feel good about that but we have more to do.

We've been worried about front line workers because they are the heroes who are out there every day so everybody else can stay home. Somebody asked me yesterday on a radio interview, well, you're out there every day. Are you taking care of yourself? I'm out there every day. Forget me. I'll tell you who is out there every day. The nurses who are in the emergency room, the doctors in the emergency room, the police officer who is going into homes and apartments because there's a domestic disturbance, the EMTs, the Fire Department, the delivery worker who goes to 50 doors a day and gets paid. Those people are out there every day. They're the ones who are really doing the work. Compared to them, what I do is de minimis. They're doing it not because they get paid a lot of money, not because people say thank you, God bless you. They're doing it because it's their value, their honor, their pride, their dignity, and they show up. Even when it's hard, they show up. My hat is off to them.

I want to make sure we do what we need to do to protect them, that they have the equipment, they have the PPE, they have our respect, they have our gratitude. I also want to make sure we're testing so we get them the results of tests so they can be taking care of themselves.

I also want to see if we have a significant problem in any of those front line workforces. So we're doing testing. We started with the New York City Fire Department and New York City Police Department. What we found so far, the Fire Department which also has the EMTs, tested 17% positive, NYPD 10% positive. Number much higher in the FDNY, EMTs. We believe that's because the EMT number is driving it up, but we have to do more numbers and more research to determine that. Remember, the EMTSs, they are the front line. They're the ones who are there assisting the person in the closest contact in many ways. FDNY, also. But we want to find out exactly what's going on. They compare to a downstate average of the general population of about 18%. Again, we'll do further research, further surveys to look at it by race and gender, also.

We're also going to do the same thing with the transit workers, the people who drive the buses, the subways, who clean the buses and the subways. Without those buses and subways, the essential workers couldn't get to work. Why didn't we just close down subways and buses? Because you close down the subways and the buses in New York City, don't expect the nurses and the doctors to be able to get to the hospital. Don't expect the delivery worker to be able to deliver food when you ring on your telephone. We need that public transportation to transport the essential workers. Those front line workers are at risk, so we're going to do additional testing for the transport workers.

Letting them endanger their own life and endanger the lives of others is not helping anyone. I told the MTA yesterday, in two days, which means tomorrow, I want a full plan. How do we disinfect every train every night, period. Any essential worker who shows up and gets on a train should know that that train was disinfected the night before. We want them to show up. We don't want them to stay home. We owe it to them to be able to say, the train you ride, the bus you ride has been disinfected and is clean.

He went so far as to say, well he'd be in favor of the states going bankrupt. First, states have never gone bankrupt. States can't go bankrupt. There are serious Constitutional questions about whether or not a state can declare bankruptcy and you need a federal law that would allow the states to declare bankruptcy even if you got around the Constitutional question on bankruptcy. If he believes that, if it wasn't just political rhetoric and personal vitriol, then pass a law that allows states to declare bankruptcy. He would have to do that. I dare him to do that and get that bill signed by the President.

America was when I said we need help in our emergency rooms and hospitals and 95,000 nurses and doctors from across the nation said we will come to New York to help. We'll come into the emergency room. We'll come into the hospital. I understand it's COVID I will leave my family, and I will come to help yours. That's America. That's who we are and that's who we have shown ourselves to be in the middle of this crisis. The crisis brings out the best and the worst, yes. And the best of America is beautiful and that's what we've seen. Because, yes, we are tough. Yes, we are smart. Yes, we are disciplined. Yes, we are united. Yes, we're loving, loving, because we are Americans. And that's who we are and how we are as Americans. And I just hope the political leadership of this nation understands how good we are as a people.

And the textbook says politicians lead, elected officials lead. No, sometimes the people lead and the politicians follow, and that's where we are today. Follow the American people. Look at what they're doing. Look at how they're reacting. And politicians, try to be half as good as the American people. I want to show you a self-portrait that was done by American people. This is a self-portrait of America, okay? That's a self-portrait of America. You know what it spells? It spells love. That's what it spells. You have to look carefully, but that's what the American people are saying. We received thousands of masks from all across America, unsolicited, in the mail, homemade, creative, personal, with beautiful notes from all across the country, literally. Just saying, thinking about you, "We care, we love you, we want to help." And this is just people's way of saying we care. And we want to help. This is what this country is about. And this is what Americans are about. A little bit more of this and a little bit less of the partisanship and the ugliness, and this country will be a better place. Thank you. Thank you, guys.


  Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, good morning, everybody. All of you should be very proud of how this city has handled this horrible crisis, and you should be proud of the heroism of so many in this city. I've said before, it's those who we honor so deeply, are health care workers and our first responders. It's also everyday people, who have found ways to get through, to be there for each other, to deal with these new tough rules, but find a way to make them work for the good of everyone, for the good of their own families and the good of everyone. New Yorkers have been absolutely remarkable in this crisis, and I think one of the ways that people have excelled is in a very quiet way that needs to be talked about more, and needs to be understood better, which is the way people have just been there for each other. The way people have remembered that the person they're with, a loved one, friend, a neighbor, a coworker, someone from the neighborhood that everyone's going through so much, and sometimes what's so important is just to be there for someone, just to listen to them, just to see how they're doing.

New Yorkers have always been incredibly social people. And it's true, we have tough exterior's, but behind those exteriors beat hearts of gold. That's what I've seen for decades and decades. How good, and compassionate, and kind New Yorkers are. And New Yorkers look out for each other, and we know it from our buildings where we live or our neighborhoods. So many ways New Yorkers have each other's backs, and in a crisis, it really comes through. So, just those little things, when you say someone, how are you doing? Are you okay? How are you feeling? People need that, they need that moment of empathy. They need to hear that someone's concerned. Sometimes they just need a chance to unburden themselves, all the stress they're going through. Just ask a simple question, how are you holding up? Can mean so much to someone, and I see it all the time, and I appreciate it. I appreciate all of you for having that spirit. For understanding people need that chance to be heard, and just to express what they're going through. And that compassion matters, especially when it comes to people's feelings, when it comes to their mental health, because it's still an area as a, as a society, we're still grappling with how to talk about mental health, how to act mental health. It's still an area where there's so much stigma. It shouldn't be, it's part of human life, mental health’s no different than physical health. It's part of who we are as human beings, and yet that stigma still pervades in so many ways. And so just that act to asking someone how they are and inviting them to speak openly is powerful.

Now, the idea of providing access to mental health services, it's been a core notion for this administration for the last six years. That's why Thrive NYC exists, to break down the barriers and open up access to mental health. And that initiative was for all New Yorkers of all kinds, but we've also had specialized initiatives for our heroes, because we've known they've dealt with challenges before. No one could have imagined this pandemic, but they were already dealing with challenges. There's two programs I want to mention that are particularly good examples, the Health and Hospitals, the Helping Healers Heal program. And a lot of our health care workers are leaning on this right now. It's a 24/7 helpline for doctors, nurses, staff, any Health and Hospital staff can call it 646-815-4150. And the FDNY has had a counseling services unit. It's renowned, it's gold standard for the whole nation. In fact, other cities have sought out the FDNY’s guidance in how to set up a similar approach. A very poignant example and a painful one was after the Parkland shootings in Florida. Folks in Florida turned to the FDNY to know how to provide that ongoing support to first responders. And our paramedics and our EMT’s have been right there at the frontline of this crisis. They need that help. And so, I want to make sure FDNY members know you can call 212-570-1693. So, these initiatives are up and running, but we need something even more in this moment of crisis, and that's where our military come in. And what they have been doing these last weeks, the military has been helping us in so many ways. I want to thank all those who have come in to help in our hospitals. The extraordinary contribution they've made to fighting back the coronavirus. Now they're going to play a crucial role in addressing the mental health challenges as well.

Now, to tell you about this extraordinary partnership with the department of defense with our armed forces, I'm going to turn to the first lady. And I'm going to say it this simply, she is devoted her time as first lady to breaking down the stigma that stands in the way of people getting the mental health services they need. She's really helped this whole city to have the right open conversation about what's going on inside all of us, and how we have to bring it out in the open and ask for help, and how help needs to be there for everyone with no stigma, no barriers. In this pandemic, she's taking that same impulse, those same lessons, and working to make sure we reach more and more New Yorkers who have gone through so much. And I want to thank her for that, and particularly for the work she is doing to bring these extraordinary military professionals in to help us further.

So, antibody testing brings a lot to the table and our goal is to reach a lot of people who would like to take advantage of on a voluntary basis, of course. But I'm talking about our health care workers, I'm talking about our police officers, our firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, Correction officers, so many who would like to have this opportunity and now it will be provided for all who want it. So, thinking about our health care workers, thinking about our first responders; we are initiating a plan to reach 150,000 of our heroes and give them this antibody testing to give them that knowledge and that peace of mind and to ensure that they are also helping us take the next step in fighting this disease. We have agreed to a partnership with the federal government, with the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and more details will be announced in the next few days, but the plan is to begin as early as next week to offer the tests in hospitals, at fire houses, at police precincts, at correction facilities, wherever our health care workers and our first responders are to make the tests readily available. Again, this will be provided for free. The federal government is covering the cost and it will be provided to all who want to take advantage of this test. Now I mentioned that I'm going to say the antibody tests - no one is claiming it is perfect. It does not tell you the best of I understand from all of our health care leadership and from listening to Dr. Fauci and others, it does not tell you if you're entirely immune in the sense we all think of that word. When we hear the word immune, we think you just can't possibly get something again. There is not yet confidence that having been exposed to the coronavirus once means you can never get it again. Now, common sense tells us if you’re exposed once and you made it through, you're in very good stead; you're in a very good situation to make it through again if you ever were exposed again, but we don't know for sure if anyone can contract this disease the second time. The good news is honestly, there's not a lot of evidence that people have, but we don't know for sure. So that's a limitation that we have to be clear about and it's also important that even folks who get a positive result do not think that means that they can let down their guard. I'm not saying people would think they're invincible, but they have to be really clear that they still are dangerous because we're dealing with an unknown disease. We're dealing with so many questions. So, for health care workers and first responders, they would still continue in their work to wear the PPEs just as they were previously. And we still need to practice the same concepts of social distancing and we still have to be watchful for symptoms even if someone has tested positive. But again, it's not a perfect test, but it does give real information. It is helpful, tells you something very important and its part of solving this bigger puzzle of the Coronavirus and fighting it back. So, this again, more details to be announced, but a wonderful step forward and a huge initiative. The goal is to reach 150,000 of our heroes.

Now, let me talk about another effort to protect people and this is now about how we protect some of the very most vulnerable in New York City – homeless New Yorkers. And again, the compassion I talked about earlier; New Yorkers feel tremendous compassion for folks whose lives in some way came unraveled and they ended up on the street or they ended up in shelter. So, a few weeks ago I told you we had a goal of having 6,000 homeless in hotels rather than congregate shelters to make sure that people were safe and that goal has been reached and now we are going to go farther. This week we will move an additional 1,000 homeless individuals from congregate shelters to hotel facilities. The priority will be on folks in those larger congregate shelters that are having more trouble with social distancing. There's going to be a constant effort to evaluate all shelters and wherever there are social distancing problems continue to take people out of the shelters into hotels. One thousand this week, we are prepared to do a thousand more each week going forward as the need indicates, because we want to make sure people are safe and again, there are real reasons for people to be in shelters who need the services and shelter. So, for some people that actually can be much, much better to stay in the shelter setting, but we've got to make sure there's enough space. We've got to make sure that we strike that balance. We're also going to provide additional medical oversight; our Health + Hospitals team is going to work with the Department of Homeless Services to bring additional medical oversight to all homeless services sites. The goal is to constantly be vigilant for anything that might pose a danger to homeless New Yorkers and starting this week we will begin a program of testing homeless individuals at homeless services sites. Of course, anyone who tests positive will be isolated. This initiative will begin this week and expand over the next couple of weeks. The goal is to reach across the entire shelter system by the middle of May.

Okay, let's now talk about what we talk about every single day, which is the daily indicators. So, as I go into them, I can say we've had a good day, not a perfect day, but a good day and we got to keep pushing and we got to keep doing better. So, the first indicator unfortunately is up. The daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19 went up from 112 to 136, but the other indicators going in the right direction. Daily number of people in ICUs in our public hospitals for suspected COVID-19 - down from 745 to 734. Percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 citywide – down from 27 percent to 23 percent. Public health lab tests – down from 56 percent to 29 percent. That's great. So, progress like most days we've seen progress, but not what we still need fully to get everything going down in the same direction. Now, we’re going to talk I am certain about the challenges of maintaining social distance. I can tell you we have to stick to it and yes, we're about to have warmer weather and yes, everyone's going a little stir crazy, but we have to stick to it because every time you see these indicators going the right direction, that's because of the work you've been doing. But if we loosen up these indicators, we'll start to go in the wrong direction. Now unless there's someone out there that wants to delay the restart and wants to see this horrible crisis continue, I think we can all agree we got to buckle down and beat this disease. And every time you're socially distanced, every time you stay home, you're helping to fight back the disease and save lives. We got to stick with it.

I'll just close before saying a few words in Spanish and then we'll open to our colleagues in the media; that you know, we're going to be spending a long time trying to figure out everything that happened here in terms of the human impact over these last months and certainly the months ahead and the mental health piece of this is in some ways probably going to be the hardest to make sense of. As we always say, it's different than the physical reality or the physical scars; the mental scars take longer to uncover and process and make sense of. But so many people are dealing with these challenges in one way or another. The bottom line, as you heard from the announcement today, whether you're one of our heroes, whether you're an everyday New Yorker, practicing social distancing, whether you're a parent trying to support your kids, whoever you are, you're not alone and we're going to be there for you and 24 hours a day, seven days a week, multiple languages, and for free. Anyone who needs help can call 888-NYCWELL and get a trained counselor and get that support. Lots of people are doing that and it's helping them through. I want to invite anyone who needs that help to take advantage of it. 


  Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza today announced an adjusted K-12 citywide grading policy. The policy maintains a high bar for student achievement, gives flexibility to families and students grappling with the COVID-19 crisis, and provides targeted support to students who have fallen behind.

“Our students, educators, and families are going through a lot right now. I know our students are capable of excellence, and we will continue to hold them to that high standard while adjusting our grading to reflect the unprecedented challenges created by this crisis. We will give every student the support they need to bounce back and continue on their path to success,” said Mayor de Blasio

“We recognize that parents and students alike are experiencing anxiety and trauma in the midst of the pandemic, and we have continually evolved our policies to meet this moment. Our adjustments to grading maintain clear expectations that acknowledge each individual student’s experience, while creating a consistent, equitable system across all schools,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “Our priority is to minimize stress on families and students, while still providing next year’s teachers with the information they need about an individual student’s progress toward achieving standards.”

"We needed a grading policy that captures the work students have done this year, both in the classroom and during distance learning, while not punishing students for things outside of their control.  We think this policy strikes that balance by incorporating the concerns of parents, teachers and stakeholders," said Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers.

This new grading policy still requires students to meet the DOE’s high standards, but also provides flexibility, where needed, given the extraordinary circumstances families are in because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy reflects the input of teachers, students, and parents from across the City. The new grading policy for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year is effective immediately:

·    Grades 3-K and Pre-K: There is no impact as these students do not receive report cards or grades.
·    Grades K-5: Schools will award grades using a binary “Meets Standards” and “Needs Improvement” scale to ensure students are demonstrating mastery of the learning outcomes for their required courses.
·    Grades 6-8: Schools will award grades using three values: Meets Standards, Needs Improvement, and Course in Progress. 
·    Grades 9-12: Schools will continue with the same grading scales they had before remote learning with the addition of a “Course in Progress” rating for students who cannot submit work or demonstrate mastery. Failing grades will be considered “Course in Progress.” Students will be given the time and support they need to complete coursework and earn credit through January 2021. In alignment with CUNY’s COVID-19 flexible grading policy for their 2020 Spring Semester, high school students who have successfully completed and earned credit for a course will have the option to convert a passing grade to a “Pass” rating that preserves their existing GPA, but will still count as credit toward graduation.

All students who do not demonstrate mastery or complete required work will be given the support they need over the summer and fall to get back on track. All students receiving “Course In Progress” who have not yet completed required course work will be enrolled in summer programming. High School seniors and current 8th graders who receive “Course in Progress” will be prioritized for support to keep them on track for August graduation and promotion. When students complete the course, their grade will be changed from “Course in Progress” to the appropriate passing grade. 

Schools are expected to take into account the full year of work and current circumstances when making assessments for grading. Assignments and evaluations are intended to measure a student’s mastery of coursework and understanding of the core concepts and standards needed to succeed in the following grade. We are asking our teachers to make adjustments that acknowledge the impact of remote learning on the ways in which students complete their assigned work, such as expectations for due dates.

The DOE is supporting every high school senior on the path towards graduation through one on one counseling support and opportunities for schools and families to get students on track. In accordance with the State, students are still required to meet their credit requirements for graduation, and must earn a passing grade to receive credit for their courses. Students who receive a “Course in Progress” in a class they need to graduate will have the opportunity for an August graduation after completing coursework over the summer.

Attendance for the 2019-20 school year may not be used as a factor in screened admissions during next year’s admissions cycle, and we are in the process of developing additional guidance on admissions processes for the fall given the change to grading. Guidance will be issued after further community engagement.