Tuesday, May 26, 2020

MAYOR DE BLASIO on COVID-19 - May 26, 2020

  Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. I hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend, a chance to relax a little, breakout of some of the challenges that we've been facing over these months. I hope you had a chance to spend time with your family, your friends, relax, reflect.  As we get ready for the next phase of this fight, I again offer my thanks to all of you, because New Yorkers have done so much, have been so exemplary. We've got a lot more to do, but you should be very, very proud of how far we've come and look from the beginning to this very day, the fight has come down to first and foremost, one thing, one piece of the puzzle that defines all possibilities. It's the same thing it's been from the beginning, it's testing. So, I want to talk to you now about where we're going with testing in the city of New York.

So, now we're at situation where we're able to get more and more people tested than ever before, and we want to get the word out. It's important for people to understand, because for months the message was there wasn't much testing, and that was the sad truth. But now there's more, and more every day. And I think a lot of folks weren't sure what to make of testing, and so I'm going to keep saying from now on, testing is simple, it's easy, it's quick, and it's free. And I want everyone to that, and to make sure everyone understands that. We're going to do a huge advertising campaign, TV, radio, digital community, newspapers, billboards, you name it. We're going to get the word out all over this city in multiple languages to let people know it is now time for more and more people to get tested. And with every passing day, every passing week, we're going to expand the amount of testing, and who can get tested. So, right now, we want to focus in addition to all the folks who originally were getting tested, we want to focus on people who have symptoms. We want to focus on people that are in close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, and folks who were in facilities like nursing homes, adult care facilities, shelters. That's where the focus is now, but it's going to continue to grow from there.
We've already talked about folks who are older, folks who have preexisting conditions, folks who live in the hardest hit neighborhoods, all of those New Yorkers we're encouraging already, now these new groups of New Yorkers. More and more, the messages go out there to get tested. It's good for you. It's good for everyone, and if you want to know where to go, you can call 3-1-1 or go online nyc.gov/covidtest.

Now, over the next five weeks, we will be opening more and more testing sites. So, first of all we'll be opening 12 new testing sites through our public health system, Health and Hospitals. This week, one will open in Queens. In the week of June 1st, five more will open in Queens and the Bronx. The week of June 8th, two more in Brooklyn. And then after June 15th, four more will open in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. And we have a new partnership to announce today. We've had really wonderful examples of folks from the private sector stepping up. We had a great announcement a few days ago with City MD, now another private health care provider stepping forward and I'm very, very grateful. Advantage Care Physicians. Advantage Care is stepping up, joining the fight, and we are so thankful to them. Locations across all five boroughs. We're going to start with 16 more sites that will be opening on June 1st through Advantage Care. Now, appointments are encouraged, but if you walk in, that's okay too. If you have insurance, it can be charged to your insurance, if not, the test will be provided to you for free. So, thank you to everyone to Advantage Care. This is another great step forward, making testing easier, making it more and more available, and I'm going to keep saying that word free.
And if you want to make an appointment with Advantage Care, call 866-749-2660.

We're going to have over 180 sites available for testing New Yorkers by the end of June, and now we are already well above our testing capacity that we hope to hit by this point of 20,000 tests per day. That is growing all the time. By August 1st, our goal is to be at 50,000 tests per day, and we feel confident about our ability to get to that number. So, testing is what gives us the ability to know what's going on person by person, and in the whole city. And now, we're going to have something on a vast scale we didn't have before, which is tracing. Tracing allows us then to follow up on the contacts of everyone who has been tested, the close contacts, the people they had real connection to, and then make sure each of those folks gets tested and is followed up on, and anyone that needs isolation or quarantine gets it. So, this is a huge new piece of the puzzle. This is when we go on the offensive and we put into place something that really changes our whole fight against the coronavirus. This is a big muscular effort and the goal we had set was to have a thousand tracers available by June 1. As of today, I am pleased to say we have hired over 1,700 contact tracers, and they will be trained and an action by June 1. So, surpassing the original goal by quite a bit. 1,700 tracers will be on duty and during their good work by June 1st, just a few days from now.

Dr. Ted Long, Health + Hospitals: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. The test and trace core set out to hire a thousand tracers by June 1, and I'm proud to sit here today and tell you that as the mayor said, we already have 1,700 on our team that will be starting by June 1. Now, the test and trace corps believes that the best tracers are people from our communities who truly understand our communities. There's two different types of tracers. We have our case investigators and we have our monitors. The case investigators are the tracers that call people that have a positive coronavirus result, talk to them about it, make sure they're safe, and then trace or track down the contacts that they've been in with. The monitors then call those contacts, bring them in for tests, but also call everybody every day to make sure that people diagnosed with Corona virus are safe. Among our case investigators, more than 400 are from our hardest hit communities in New York City. That's almost half of them. They speak more than 40 languages. Among our monitors. More than 300 are from the hardest hit communities in New York City, almost half, and 40 percent of them speak Spanish. As we sit here today and are moving the program forward, we have an additional 100 tracers that are already doing the work in target ZIP codes in New York City right now.

Mayor: Thank you very much, Ted. Well done. Thank you to you and your whole team for this amazing effort. And everyone, look, this has been put together with lightning speed, literally a matter of weeks. So, this is an extraordinary effort. I'm so thankful to everyone in the test and trace core for the amazing job they're doing. So, it's so important that 700, over 700 of the tracers come from the very neighborhoods that have been hardest hit, and will understand what needs to be done to reach people, to communicate, people, to change this reality that we are facing. Annabel Palma is someone I have gotten to know very well over the years, worked closely with, we both served in the city council together.

We've talked about testing so many times testing the big constant word, the constant idea we talk about is testing. Well that's the kind of testing that tells you if you have a disease or not, but you know, there's been another test running through this whole crisis and that is the test of faith. In terms of day to day life, the ability to have the services that are so important to every faith tradition, that ability to go to a church or a mosque or a synagogue to be together, to pray together. So much of what has made up the life of this city and the strength of this city and right in the middle of this crisis, three of the most important holidays in three great faith traditions, Easter, Passover, Ramadan, and each faith tradition had to find a way to somehow make sense of these holidays without the benefit of all the people who are used to all the support that they give each other. It's been very, very hard, I have to put on the table a challenging reality. The idea of people coming back together and full services, large numbers of people congregating, it's not that time, that would endanger everyone. And we have to be smart, we're really making progress when it comes to this disease. But it is not time for large gatherings, it is not time to take the risk of going in the wrong direction. So, I want to thank all our partners, our faith leaders, we're going to keep communicating constantly. We're going to look for every opportunity to support your efforts to restart the right way. 

So, that is about something truly sacred, the faith communities in New York City. But now, I want to talk about something that may feel sacred to a lot of New Yorkers and that is, it's a much more mundane matter, it's a much more pedestrian matter. But when I say feel sacred, I mean it, it brings out a lot of feeling and a lot of emotion in New Yorkers and that is any time that alternate side parking is canceled. So, I'm happy to say that alternate side parking is suspended again, and we'll be through Sunday, June 7th. Last week – did a clean sweep of the whole city, catching up after weeks and weeks where we didn't have alternate side parking effect.rough this crisis as well. Remember, this city is not clean, it doesn't function. In fact, they've had to deal with more and more trash in a lot of places because people have been home, but they've been there keeping things together in a city and then have gone the extra mile playing a major role. For example, in our effort to set up feeding stations all over the city and making sure that people have enough to eat, our sanitation department has been there every step of the way. So, thanks to the men and women who do this great work at the New York City Sanitation Department. 

Okay. Every time we get together, we talk about where we stand in this crisis and on Friday talked about the indicators we had been using previously and now the new focus on the thresholds, which make a lot of sense now given the way things have evolved. So, what does it tell us, it tells us exactly where we stand in the open, transparent manner and it tells us when we're ready for restart. So, remember when the restart comes, it's going to be in phases by the State. Phase one is the first phase. We're taking the steps to be ready for phase one. We're getting the enforcement in place that will be needed from city agencies. When we talk about the sectors that will be reopening manufacturing, construction, wholesale, retail with certain restrictions like curbside pickup, we need to make sure the support is there, the protocols are there. What kind of precautions need to be in place? How do we monitor it? How do we inspect it? How do we make sure everyone's doing what they're supposed to be doing? We're also thinking about the fact that hundreds of thousands more people in coming back to work, well that means hundreds of more thousand people close together. Even with the social distancing restrictions, we're still concerned when you see a lot more people coming into circulation. Obviously, a lot of them will be taking subways and buses, that's a concern we're going to be working with the MTA on that. So, the work of preparing for the restart is going on every single day. But it's led again by the indicators, by the thresholds telling us if it's that time.

So, let's go over today's results. So, indicator one daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19, so again that threshold we're looking at staying under 200. 200 is a level that our healthcare leadership leads— if the daily number coming in is under 200, we can handle that, we can keep people safe. Our hospital system can handle it today only 63 that's very good news, only 63 new patients, so that's well below the level we need to be at. Now daily number of people in our health, and hospitals ICU, that's a threshold of 375, Now that's a level of, we're below that level, we're certain we can handle anything that's thrown at us. A lot of work is going into making sure that we are redoubling our efforts to strengthen our ICUs. I know it's happening in our public hospitals; I know it's happening in our voluntary hospitals as well. We're going to be working with the state to make sure that everyone's ready on this front. So today we're want to get below 375 we're at 423 but again, that number has been moving in the right direction overwhelmingly, we're confident that it will come together. And then indicator three, percent of people tested citywide tested positive for COVID-19 – that threshold is 15 percent – and today's report seven percent, an excellent number and we've seen really, really great progress on that front, so a very good day. We're moving in the right direction steadily. We're getting ready for that restart in the first half of June we'll be watching the numbers and I'll do the disclaimer the numbers have to keep moving right direction. Stay in the right direction. That's what tells us when it's time, but very much like the direction we're moving in and it's all because of your hard work. So, I know you want to get to that restart that phase one, keep doing what you're doing so we can get there together.

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