Thursday, May 14, 2020

MAYOR DE BLASIO on COVID-19 - May 14, 2020


  Mayor Bill de Blasio: Today is the 26th anniversary of my marriage to Chirlane. And Chirlane, I think you're watching right now, so I just want to say – 26 years later, you are my best friend, and I am madly in love with you, and I look forward to celebrating with you this year and many years ahead. So, thank you to all the people in New York City for giving me a moment to send out that anniversary message. We didn't know in those years that horrible things were up ahead like 9/11 or Hurricane Sandy. When you think about the city's history, the strength of New York City, the strength of New Yorkers has been tested so many times, but what has been clear throughout is that what we have here is eternal. What we have built here in this city over generations is much bigger, much stronger than is ever realized, because each time, and you've seen it in recent days, you may have seen different people theorizing, different people starting to talk about New York City's demise after the coronavirus, and I want to say up front, they've got it all wrong. This was predicted even going back to the depression, but certainly predicted after each of the things I mentioned, the fiscal crisis, 9/11, Hurricane Sandy that somehow New York City couldn't come back. Each and every time New York city has come back and come back stronger, literally come back stronger.

So again, what are those symptoms for the coronavirus, cough, fever, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell and again that those symptoms and remember those symptoms that are particularly of concern if someone's older or has those preexisting healthcare conditions or both. But what we're saying is, even if you're not older, even if you don't have those preexisting conditions, if you have the symptoms, we want to see you get tested, and more and more testing will be available to you. Second group, anyone who was in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient. Now, this is the work that the test and trace initiative will be doing systematically as it grows all over the city. But right now, people know in many cases, if someone in your life has tested positive, and you know you've been in close contact with them, well right away. If they're a household member, they're an intimate partner and you know they tested positive, we want you to get tested as well, regardless of whether you have symptoms or not. And number three group, and these are folks who do such important work. They work in congregate residential settings, they take care of others. Folks who work in nursing homes, folks who work in shelters, folks who work in adult care facilities. Again, whether you have symptoms or not, we want to make sure you are tested.

So, the testing is going to be built out more and more. We're welcoming more and more people that take advantage of it as priority groups of people we want to see tested. And that of course is now bringing to your mind the question, how do I get a test? So, we are building out the locations. We now have 23 walk-in sites through our Health and Hospitals facilities. 23 sites that are open, five more through the collaboration of a one medical and local 1199. So that's 28 sites, more sites coming online quickly. You can call 311 to find a testing location or you can go online nyc.gov/covidtest.

I've said our goal was to get to 20,000 tests per day by May 25th. We are now confident in that goal. In fact, we want to beat that goal, and I will be giving you updates as we go along on how we're doing, but we believe that more and more testing capacity can be put into play quickly, and that's going to allow us to then test people, do the follow up tracing, contact tracing, and for those who need to be in a hotel, make that hotel available to them. We welcome more and more people into this. So, sky's the limit so long as we can keep getting more and more lab capacity. But knowing that this month we will get to 20,000 tests a day and I think surpass that number, that is a great start on the road to a truly widespread testing approach for this city.

So, opening the week of May 18th in Manhattan the Highbridge Rec Center in Washington Heights. In Brooklyn, 1223 Coney Island Avenue. Those two sites will bring our overall capacity up to 6,300 tests a day at Health and Hospitals, facilities. And then the following week, week of May, 25th. Two sites in the Bronx in Fordham Manor and Melrose. Three sites in Brooklyn, Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, and Canarsie. A site in Manhattan in East Harlem. A site in Queens in Woodside. Three sites in Staten Island, Princes Bay, Concord, and Port Richmond. Those are the specific addresses and that capacity will bring us up to 10,700 tests a day. It's going to help you, your family, the people in your life, but it's going to help us as well as we fight back to the coronavirus in this City.

We keep learning about this disease, and it is always challenging to be dealing with something new that medical science still doesn't fully understand. We noticed consistently that children seem to have very little effect from this disease until what we've seen in recent days, and this is really troubling and I say it as a parent, it's really troubling to see now after we thought we understood a consistent pattern, something new has been happening and the pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, P.M.I.S this is a deep concern and we're going to throw everything we've got at it. The number of children affected, continues to grow. It is still in the scheme of things a rare condition, but it is something that we take very seriously and we're now on high alert and addressing because the numbers have grown. We now have a hundred confirmed cases in New York City, 55 of those cases again have either tested positive for COVID-19 or tested for the antibodies, tested positive for the antibodies. I told you yesterday we're launching an ad campaign that's up and running and more coming on that quickly. But again, I'm going to keep reminding you of the basics, if the child in your life has persistent fever, rash, abdominal pain, vomiting, or especially any combination of those afflictions, call your doctor immediately. Do not hesitate. If you don't have a doctor that you need to talk to, a clinician, call 3-1-1 and we'll connect you to a Health and Hospitals clinician. It is so important to start that dialogue immediately, if you see these symptoms and then working with a healthcare professional, they can decide with you if the child needs to get to medical care immediately. But the early detection makes all the difference, with early detection, we can save the lives of these children and that's been what we've seen also from the evidence of these cases so far.

We want to welcome as many health care providers to join that tomorrow as possible, particularly obviously focused on pediatricians. And then in the coming days, a special webinar that we put together by the Health Department with all 23 pediatric ICUs across New York City, making sure that the doctors and nurses, everyone in those pediatric ICU has the latest information and all sharing together what they're seeing and what they're experiencing and how best to help our children. And then, every day going forward the Health Department epidemiologists will reach out to all 23 pediatric ICUs on a regular basis following up on literally every case, even new or suspected cases to check on what's happening. 

I keep reporting on the results in terms of homeless outreach, the results continued to be striking. Last night, 328 homeless individuals were approached for help by our outreach workers and by the homeless outreach members of the NYPD. Of the 328 approached, 182 accepted help, so again, a very, very striking number of very positive number. 149 accepted help to shelter, 33 accepted help by way of getting them to a hospital. Well, it's only been a little over a week, but still first we know in the first week, 824 individuals accepted help at one point or another. That's a huge number, when you think that the federal assessment of the number of homeless people in this City is somewhere between 35,000 and 4,000 the street homeless people. If 824 individuals accepted help in one form or another, that's of truly historic figure that says more and more of the homeless individuals are starting to experiment with what it would be like to come in and get off the streets. 201 of them made it to shelter and that might've been for only hours or that might be for a few nights and we'll get more details on that as we do the analysis. But again, 201 staying in shelter for a period of time, that's a big deal because it's the first step towards change. But the number that we should dwell on the most is the 103 who have stayed in shelter. It's not easy, but both the homeless outreach workers and the NYPD officers of this work, they're doing something so important and so meaningful and I thank them all.

It's a tough atmosphere for everyone and we're asking our police officers to figure out how to address all the normal challenges, address quality of life, address crime, assist people in a variety of ways. Every day is different from a police officer, we're asking them to do all that, but also figure out how to play the role we need them to play in making sure the rules are followed so we can beat back this disease. Remember, the rules are to fight this disease, the rules are to reduce the number of people get this disease and the number of people die. There is nothing more sacred than that in terms of thinking of what people in the line of public safety do. So, it's such crucial work and yet there's no playbook we're making up each day. We're trying to figure out better approaches, better ways to figure out how to train officers and how to listen to communities about what's working, what's not working, trying to figure out what that balance should be between what our police do, versus our civilian employees, versus community members, houses of worship, community organizations. We've got to strike that balance and we're not there yet.

So, I want to put this on me and Commissioner Shea that we have to figure out how to strike that balance. We have to figure out a plan and a protocol that works. What we've been doing up to now is trying to address situations as they emerge, particularly the situations that are most dangerous, which are large gatherings, but it's clear we have to improve the supervision, the training, the protocols, the game plan for a very complex situation and not create unnecessary tension between our police and our communities. And you know, some out there raised concerns and I value the concerns and have worried that we might in some way take a step backwards or race so much of the progress we've made over six plus years and bring police and community together. I can tell you I won't let that happen. I can tell you Commissioner Shea won't let that happen. There's more and more mutual respect, more and more communication. But the coronavirus has thrown us a curve ball and created situations that no one's trained for and that are really complex and very emotional. And we have to figure out how to deal with those better. So, certainly for all the folks out there have said, can we make sure that in the first instance, the education and the giving out face coverings and the efforts to try and remind people the right way to do things, that those are first and foremost done by civilians and by community members. Yes, that's what we absolutely want, that’s the direction we’re moving in, and enforcement needs to be with a light touch and overwhelmingly it has been, but we've seen a few situations where that wasn't the case and were deeply troubling. We saw another video last night and like every human situation there are complexities, but what was not complex at all was it shouldn't have gone down that way, period. It does not reflect our values. It's not what we want to see in this city. I know for Commissioner Shea and I, we talked about last night, it's painful for everyone involved. No New Yorkers want to see something like that. For us it is painful because it means something is still not working the way we need it to and to say the least whatever else was going on in that video, whatever else was happening in that moment, we should never have a situation where a mom with her child ends up under arrest for that kind of offense. It's just not right.

Now, if you look at the whole story, unfortunately there are problems in the whole thing including, I want to remind everyone, no one should be disrespectful to police officers. No one should ignore the instructions of police officers, particularly when they're trying to protect people's safety and trying do something for the health and safety of all of us. So, we have to work together in this city to try and get everyone to play their role respectfully of each other. But what we saw there did not reflect our values. It did not reflect our goals of de-escalation and we have to do better, and it's my responsibility and the Commissioner's responsibility to find that path forward and we will, and I feel very confident about that. 

But the point last night that was even more poignant was that people have suffered discrimination while losing their livelihoods, think about this for a moment and let's put ourselves in the eyes and in the shoes of people who worked all their life to create something for their families, created these beautiful small businesses all over New York City then suffered discrimination and then saw their business fall away because of fears that people had. unfortunately fears stoked by misunderstanding and bias that caused everyday New Yorkers not to want to go to a Chinese restaurant. I remember going to Chinese restaurants in Chinatown and in Flushing, Queens to make the point that there was no bias that should be accepted or perceived from one community to another, and what I heard last night was about the pain of a community that has lost his livelihood, not when most others did, but a month earlier, two months earlier than so many other people in the city, many other small businesses in this city.


Okay. It's time for what we do every day, our daily indicators and in terms of getting out of this crisis and moving forward this is the main street right here. This is what matters most and my friends today is a very good day and you deserve the credit because it's because of your hard work that I get to tell you this good news. Every time you stay home, every time you socially distance, every time you use hand sanitizer even, every time you put on a face covering, you're helping to drive these numbers down and get us closer to a better place. Indicator number one, daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19 is down from 78 to 59 that's wonderful. Number two, daily number of people in ICUs across Health + Hospitals for suspected COVID-19 down, markedly down from 561 to 517 so that's a big movement there. That's a big jump in the right direction, bigger than we've seen most days, even when things go in the right direction so that is really important, and that means you're talking about fewer and fewer people fighting for their lives. More and more people being saved. That is a very powerful number, and number three, percentage of people tested who are positive recovered 19 down from 13 percent to 11 percent three for three, a perfect day, New York City. So, let's now put together a bunch of them and that's what's going to help us take the next big step forward. Okay. A few words in Spanish

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