Friday, May 29, 2020

MAYOR DE BLASIO on COVID-19 - May 29, 2020


  Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. What's on everyone's mind all over this city is the restart of this city, taking the first step to getting us back to a better situation. And it's all been made possible by the extraordinary work all of you are doing every single day, and we're going to keep doing it, because that's how we get to that restart. We're talking about, as I said yesterday, 200,000 to 400,000 New Yorkers who can, and will be going back to work in a matter of weeks. We have to make sure it goes well, and that means supporting the businesses, not only listening to them, but helping them in very real ways. So, as I've been listening to business owners, big and small, what I hear from them is they need help making sense of all this. They need help getting off to that strong start. They know it's not going to be business as usual. They know we're in uncharted territory, but they're really clear that they need help to be able to start as well as they want to, and we want them to. So, we've got to make sure that business owners can keep their workplaces safe, that they can get their businesses going. 

So, let's talk about something that is absolutely necessary for every business to succeed and to be safe, and this environment we're in, in this uncharted territory. One thing is simple, straightforward, necessary, and that is face coverings. You need face coverings for all employees. You need face coverings for customers. Everyone understands that for business to work, people are going to have to get into some kind of proximity. We need those face coverings to make sure that everyone's safe, but we don't want businesses struggling to find them. So, what are we going to do? We're going to be providing face coverings for free for all businesses that need them. We'll start with 2 million face coverings that we're getting ready right now to deliver to businesses or have them pick up at sites around the city, whatever works better for them. And that work will be done by our Department of Consumer Worker Protection, our Department of Small Business Services, and our Department of Citywide Administrative Services. We'll put together a plan. We'll make it very public how you get these face coverings, or again, if businesses need them delivered, we'll deliver them. We want businesses to succeed, and having one less thing to worry about will make it a little easier, and it will make sure that health and safety is guaranteed. 

Now, we're hearing a lot from small businesses about other things they need and we're working on that too. And I’ll have more to say in the coming days. A lot of them talked about it's hard to find enough cleaning supplies, and cleaning supplies they can afford. There'll be effective, enough disinfectants. We're working on ways to make sure there is a supply available at a price that businesses can afford. We'll have more to say on that as well in the next few days.

So, the businesses have to restart. They have to restart strong. But now let's talk about working people. Let's talk about the backbone of New York City. The people who do the work. People want their livelihoods back, but they know they have to stay safe, and they especially, I hear it all the time, they want to protect their families. They want to make sure they go back to work, and restore their livelihoods, which their families need, that they don't inadvertently bring the disease home. So, we have to be there for working people, making sure that they have what they need to be safe. Now, this is going to involve, of course, working with the businesses, making sure they're following those rules, making sure the businesses have what they need to keep workers safe. But we want to hear the voices of working people, so we're going to have teams we send out to talk to employees directly, to talk to working people led by our department of consumer, and worker protection. We'll make sure there's signage of at workplaces. Workers have every right to be safe when they return to work. Workers need to know where to turn if there is a problem, and that's what the city will provide. A helping hand to working people to make sure that every business treats them right during this restart.

Anybody who either has a question, a concern, wants to know how to handle a situation at work or see something wrong or that they want to report, and want to see enforcement on, they can call that hotline. We'll announce the specifics next week. It'll be run by our Department of Consumer and Worker protection. We want to make sure that any working person who experiences a problem or a challenge knows where to turn to protect themselves, and their families, and their rights.

Okay. Now, talk about working people. This is part of what makes New York City so strong and so great, and our human services workforce, they've been heroes throughout this crisis, and we have to be there for them as well. So, we have so many different organizations. They work with our Administration for Children's Services, our Department of Health. They work with our Department of Social Services, our Department of Youth and Community Development. All of these homeless, excuse me, all of these nonprofit organizations, what kinds of things they do? They work on mental health, they work on homeless outreach, they work with young people, they do foster care – so many important, and crucial services this city needs. Well, we know that a lot of the people that do this work come from the communities that have been hardest hit by this pandemic. And we want to protect these folks that are not only members of the New York community, but they are people that make New York better, and stronger, and they protect other New Yorkers.

So, starting next week, we will have a testing initiative focused particularly on nonprofit staff. And we have a target of reaching 31,000 nonprofit staff. It's voluntary. People have a choice of if they want to participate, but we'll provide, we'll be providing up to 4,000 tests per day focused specifically on the nonprofit sector. We'll be doing it at Health and Hospitals, community sites. We'll give priority starting Monday. Another priority will be for nonprofit workers. So, anyone who's interested in getting one of those tests, and works in one of our nonprofits, you can go to nyc.gov/covidtest. And we want to make sure that if you need a test, you get a test. I’ll also say that there will be mobile testing sites set up focusing on these nonprofits starting June 15th. So, they'll go right to the workplaces of a lot of our nonprofit workers, and then the nonprofits themselves will start to provide testing in July. We'll provide all of the material they need, the PPE’s, the test kits, and they'll be able to do their own testing starting in July.

So, as I've gotten to know the cure violence movement, I've been so impressed by what it means not only for stopping violence, but what it means about communities creating their own leadership to solve their own problems. And the City of New York needs to support that because it's the right thing to do and it works. Well, right now, in the middle of this horrible challenge with the coronavirus, it's become clearer and clearer that a cure violence movement can be such an important part of fighting back this disease cure violence is the original concept, but it also has so much to say about community leaders and community members coming together to solve a range of problems. It's not that cure violence can share the virus, but cure violence can help to contain the disease, can help to push it back in neighborhoods by educating people, giving them the tools they need, helping people to hear what's the right thing to do from trusted community voices. So, our racial and include racial equity and inclusion task force, which has been set up inside the city government representing a whole range of city agencies has been working on the issue of what's the fullest use we can make of the cure violence movement. We have now 20 or so community partner organizations we'll be working with in this effort, and one example was on Monday when I went to Queensbridge houses, largest public housing development in New York City. Here is a place, again, biggest public housing development in the city and has had an extraordinary turnaround in terms of reducing violence and that shows us how much more could be achieved by this movement. Right now, we've got 150 cure violence organization workers out in communities, educating people, reminding them, giving them warnings about issues like social distancing, face coverings, giving out the face coverings for free. We're now going to more than triple that, we're adding 375 more cheer violence workers to this effort. The title they will be given is social distance enhancers, it's a great phrase, social distance enhancers. They'll be starting in the next week or so, building out through June, and this means 10 to 15 new staff at each site deep into communities and having a big impact through the summer into September. We're also going to do a great a public awareness campaign at the same time or partnering with an extraordinary organization called Art Not War. And they have done a really profound work on, many of you may have seen the work they did related to the people's climate March. 

We know that our seniors have been the most vulnerable in this crisis and we know that folks who are lower income and have had less access to healthcare because tragically healthcare has been about how much money you have, not about your humanity, that's the history of this country. The coronavirus has been a particular threat to you, and all of those realities come together with our seniors who live in public housing in NYCHA. We made a commitment that we were going to help a number of seniors in addition to their health needs, keeping their buildings clean, getting them face coverings, doing everything we could to protect them where they lived. We wanted to also enhance their life because a lot of them are feeling really isolated, we want to connect them to the world around them to make sure that during this crisis they were getting the help they needed. So, 10,000, 10,000 internet enabled tablets have been sent out to NYCHA seniors. 10,000 seniors will benefit because they will now be able to get the information they need, the support they need, the connection to their families delivered to over a hundred sites across the five boroughs and this is not just about that human connection in that way of fighting isolation. It's also about telemedicine, so important to making sure that our seniors get supported by clinicians without having to leave their home. The tablet is a lifesaver. Being able to see family and talk to them, that's really exciting. At least I know everybody is okay and they know I'm okay. Isn't that the most basic that every family wants to feel, I know it as a parent. All of us know it. The first thing you want to know is, is your family okay? And these tablets are helping our seniors to feel that comfort and move forward through this crisis.

There's other things happening and one of them is there's an election coming up. This is a big important election year and there's an election coming up in just a matter of weeks. The New York primary is happening at toward the end of June and today is the last day to register to vote for the New York primary. 

Finally, let's turn to the indicators and thresholds. So, number one, daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19. So, remember, need that threshold to be under 200 patients admitted per day today, 61 patients, very good number. Now on the daily number of people in health and hospitals, ICU threshold needs to be under a hundred, excuse me, under 375 this today is really good news. Congratulations cause again this is all your hard work paying off, we needed to get below 375 as of today, 391 we are on the gateway to getting below that threshold and staying there. So, this is really fantastic news and as they say on the late-night advertisements, but wait, there's more. This is the best of all, I would say the percentage of people tested citywide who are positive for COVID-19 we have to stay under the 15 percent threshold. Everyday we've seen progress in recent weeks today, the lowest we've ever seen, 5 percent testing positive. And how profound that is when you think about the fact that testing is growing and growing and growing all the time, we're getting more and more New Yorkers tested and the percentage is going down, what a good sign this is. So, congratulations everyone, this is putting us well on the way to our goal of in the first half of June. Well done, New York City.

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