Sunday, May 10, 2020

MAYOR DE BLASIO on COVID-19 - May 10 2020

  Mayor Bill de Blasio: Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers of New York City. Right there is a beautiful image of the mother that we are honoring and celebrating in our family today, our First Lady who raised two wonderful children. There are so many mothers all over this city who do extraordinary things every single day. And I want to start by saying, everyone, as you show your love, you show your appreciation, you celebrate the moms of your families and the moms of New York City today, remember, first of all, let's think about the greatest gift we can give besides our love is the gift of keeping them safe. So, if a mom in your life is vulnerable at this moment because of this crisis, if a mom is older or has those pre-existing conditions, remember lots and lots of ways to show love, but let's make sure we keep mom safe no matter what. That's job one today, it’s showing our love and respect by keeping the moms in our life safe. 

Now, there are some moms who deserve particular credit and they are the moms who are on the front lines fighting for all of us, the moms out there who are members of – the doctors, the nurses, the members of the NYPD and FDNY, so many moms who in addition to the everyday heroism, what they do in their families, they've been heroes in this fight against the coronavirus. So, we owe a special thanks to the moms, the essential workers who have been there on the front line while at the same time caring for their families. What an extraordinary thing they have done. Let's give them our love and respect today. By the way, as we say in our household, every day is Mother's Day. So, special appreciation today and then let's continue it the other 364 days of the year.

Let's talk about what it's going to take to get us to move forward here in this city as we fight our way through this crisis and move to a better place. And to get there, we've talked in recent days a lot about what we have to do with testing and tracing. But there's a whole additional piece to this equation and it's the medical side of the equation, the eventual pathway to a vaccine and a treatment. We know right now with the state of medical science that we all need to stay devoted to the things that work now, the social distancing, the shelter in place, using face coverings, while there's time provided to all the people in the medical field to find those bigger solutions and everyone's working hard on them. But in the meantime, there are some new examples of progress. They're important in the here and now. Even though the ultimate goal of course is a vaccine and the treatment, there are some things happening that actually are going to help those afflicted with the coronavirus here now. And some hope this last week when the FDA approved a new drug for treating those with severe cases of the coronavirus, remdesivir. It's a drug that now is being utilized as part of the trials that is going through in some of our public hospitals, Jacobi, North Central Bronx, among others, are starting to use this drug to treat those who are suffering and to make sure that this is hopefully part of the long term plan to help people. 

What we're seeing so far is that this drug has decreased hospital stays for those who have utilized it from 15 days to 11 days. Now that may not sound like a lot to you on first blush, but let me tell you, that means four less days of suffering for that patient, four less days of worrying for their family, four days sooner that each patient can get home to their families and continue their recovery. So, it's a big deal. And I want to tell you the company involved, Gilead, donated over half-a-million doses of this drug to the federal government to distribute. And that's a great thing. So far, however, we've gotten very few doses of the drug provided to New York City. Only 4,000 doses for hospitals here, our public hospitals that particularly need them the most. And we need that number greatly intensified. 

Now, we said many times this is a disease which is so troubling and challenging because it's so new, literally did not exist as far as medical science knew in human beings just six, seven months ago. There's still so many unanswered questions. There are still things we see that confound doctors and scientists. We keep learning every day. And we keep hoping that by learning every day we're going to find solutions. But some of the things we're learning are raising new questions and concerns. And particularly a deep concern is anything that might affect our children who previously have not been affected by this disease by and large anywhere near as much as adults and particularly older adults. But there is a rare condition which we're seeing more of just in the last days and it is causing tremendous concern. I'm deeply concerned. As a father, I am feeling the concern I know other parents are feeling. Our health leadership is deeply concerned. Doctors are now calling this pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome. And what it does is basically in a child's body triggers intensive, almost overwhelming, immune system response. And that actually causes harm to the body. So, as the body is fighting, it fights in such a manner that it actually starts to cause other problems. The symptoms are fever, rash, abdominal pain, and vomiting. 

So, last week our Health Department alerted, doctors alerted the people in New York City that we're seeing cases of this and that we need everyone who experiences this to get help right away, every family that sees a child going through this to get help right away every health care professional that sees anything like this to report it to our Health Department, and we're getting more information now and it certainly is causing us additional concern. So, now as of today, there've been 38 cases detected here in New York City. That's up from 15 at the last count. There are nine more cases that the specifics of the case are still pending, meaning they're still making an evaluation to determine if it is this syndrome or not. Now, of the cases that have been verified, 47 percent of the kids involved tested positive for the coronavirus at that point. Of those who tested negative, 81 percent had the antibody. So, had been exposed at some previous point. So that's telling our doctors and our scientists a lot, this is something we really need to focus on and address. We have lost one child in New York City and previously this is something that we didn't see cases of. Then we started to see a few cases, then we saw more cases. Now, we've actually lost a child to this syndrome and that is deeply, deeply troubling and I want to express my condolences to the family that's lost their child and our hearts go out to you. This is something all New Yorkers are feeling this new threat. 

So, we now are going to make a major priority of addressing this. A set of new actions are being undertaken at our public hospitals, at Health + Hospitals. All facilities will do antibody testing for all children with the symptoms, with fever, with the abdominal pain, gastrointestinal symptoms. That will be done across the board. That guidance is being given to all pediatricians in New York City, calling on all hospitals, not just public, but all private and independent hospitals, to do the same, to start immediately administering these tests when you see these symptoms. Our medical leadership, our health leadership, Department of Health, Health + Hospitals, convening pediatricians from around the city on a video conference to analyze more of this information and learn more together what's going on. We're sending a health alert to the parents of more than one million public school kids to put them on alert of this challenge and make sure anyone who sees these symptoms in their kids gets health care immediately, reaches out to their doctor or gets their child to health care immediately.

Okay, want to go back to the topic of social distancing and as we talk about the challenges we face, as we talk about the hope for new medical solutions, we've got to keep coming back to the fact that the thing that has worked, the reason we've made progress and can continue to make progress in this city is because of what all of you have done. The extraordinary effort New Yorkers have shown around social distancing, the extraordinary effort to stay home to the maximum extent possible, to wear those face coverings, all of these pieces, they work and you've done it and we need to keep doing it. Now, generally speaking, New Yorkers have just done the right thing. I mean overwhelmingly New Yorkers have done the right thing. That doesn't mean in a city of 8.6 million people, you don't need reminders, you don't need education, you don't need some enforcement. 

What we don't need is anything that goes beyond the proper enforcement of these rules into something else. And we saw a very troubling video a few days back from the Lower East Side, an instance of the wrong approach to policing that was very alienating to so many people in this city. You know, we've come a long way in New York City to change the nature of policing, to build trust between police and community, to de-escalate conflicts, to train officers to help bring down the temperature. And that has worked in so many ways, but we certainly have seen one video in particular and there have been some others that have raised concern and I think they pull at people in a very real and painful way and remind us of things that were too common for too long that are not acceptable. That's the big story here. The vast majority of the work that's been done by the NYPD and all the other enforcement agencies has been education, going out and reminding people, more and more giving them face coverings for free, which is great, and never wanting to give a summons unless it's absolutely necessary. And in fact, remember the number of summonses given is very, very small throughout this crisis – fewer than 10 a day for the whole city. But that being said, the last thing we want to see is enforcement, if there's any other way to get the job done. 

So to give you the reports from the last couple of nights – on Friday night, our homeless outreach workers and trained NYPD officers who focused on homeless outreach, they engaged 416 homeless individuals coming out of the subway in those early morning hours. 212 of them accepted services. 183 went to shelter, 29 went to hospital. Again, amazing, amazing fact. More than half. We've seen this every night. That's – these are numbers that we have literally never seen in our history happened again on Friday night. So what about Saturday night? 384 people engaged in the subway. 198 accepted services, 175 went to shelter, 23 to the hospital. This is just amazing. I mean, this is about changing people's lives. Think about if someone's life had come apart over months and years to the point they were living permanently on the street. And now in just a matter of days, hundreds upon hundreds of people accepting services, coming into shelter. Now we'll be able to get them the mental health support, the substance misuse treatment. Now we'll really be able to change the lives of so many of them for good. But we have now seen this day after day. We got a lot more to do, but this is an amazing step forward and really, really encouraging what we're seeing. And again, a great thank you to all our partners, the MTA, the State, of course the NYPD and Social Services, Homeless Services, those amazing outreach workers, keep doing this great, great work. It's having a huge, huge impact.

So every day I try and count my blessings and every day I try and remember to be thankful. And I know so many of you feel the same way in this crisis. We've gone through a lot together, but we also remember all the good around us. The people are doing so much good and the people who are trying so hard to help each other. And I like to remember to publicly thank a lot of folks who have stepped forward to help New York City. So a list of thank yous today starting with the skincare company Tatcha and its founder Vicky Tsai, who donated one million non-surgical masks, really amazing donation. Wonderful. Educare, Germany has donated 20,000 KN95 masks. AIG has donated 1,500 N95 masks. Mattel donated 20,000 surgical masks and over 6,000 face shields. Perrigo has donated 50,000 bottles of hand sanitizer. IEDM has donated 50,000 nonmedical masks. The UN Staff Union donated 10,000 nonmedical masks. Project Isaiah donated 400 tablets to H + H. And BNY Mellon donated 150 tablets to H + H. Friends of Rockaway donated 2,000 nonmedical face shields. Center for Professional Education of Teachers donated 7,000 surgical masks and Warby Parker Lab donated 1,900 nonmedical masks. Warby Parker has been amazing, what they’ve been doing for our school kids for years with eyeglasses. Now they are helping in the fight against the coronavirus too. We're thankful to them. We're thankful to all the people and all the companies, all the organizations that keep stepping up. It helps every single time. So thank you from the bottom of my heart and all New Yorkers are thankful to you.

Every day we go over the indicators and what they tell us about the direction we're going in. So this weekend, generally good. Yesterday, very, very good. All three indicators down yesterday. Today, a mixed bag. In terms of the people admitted to hospital with suspected COVID-19, we had a day, a breakeven day, 69 one day, 69 the next day. Now thank God that number is as low as 69. That's a very good thing. But again, we want to see steady downward trends. People currently in our public hospital ICUs with suspected COVID-19, that is down and that is very, very important. Down from 559 to 540. Still too many people, but that's real progress. Now this is the one that didn't go right today – percentage of people tested who are testing positive for COVID-19 citywide, up from 12 percent to 17 percent. So still a much lower percentage than where we were just weeks ago. But we want to get that going in the same direction. So when you take Saturday and Sunday together, a very good weekend. Not yet exactly what we're looking for, but a very good weekend. And you know what I'll say next. Keep doing what you're doing because it clearly is working. We just need to do more of it and keep disciplined and keep strong. 

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