Saturday, May 30, 2020

Bharati Foundation Teams with ICNA and AAOHA to Feed Hundreds of People in Soundview

 Saturday Ms. Bharati Kemerj of the Bharati Foundation joined with Shabbir Gul of the ICNA Relief USA, and Aleksander Nilaj of AAOHA to hand out all kinds of food, (including pet food) to hundreds of people who lined up for blocks in the Soundview section of the Bronx. Elected officials and those running for office were on hand as City Councilman (and 15th Congressional Candidate) Ruben Diaz Sr., 32nd State Senate District candidate John Perez, and 85th Assembly candidate Kenneth Burgos of TEAM DIAZ went down the long line of waiting people handing out face masks before joining the food give away.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., City Council members Ruben Diaz Sr (candidate for the 15th Congressional district) and Mark Gjonaj, 32nd State Senate District candidate John Perez, and 85th Assembly District candidate Kenneth Burgos joined the Bharati Foundation, ICNA Relief USA, and AAOHA to hand out food to the Soundview community. 

Above - A group photo of the volunteers, elected officials, and candidates for office.
Below - Candidate for the 32nd State Senate John Perez, and candidate for the 85th Assembly District Kenneth Burgos hand out face masks to those on line.


Above - L-R Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr, Shabbur Gil of INCA Releif USA, Bishop Rosario, and John Perez candidate for 32nd State Senate. City Councilman Mark Gjonaj and City Councilman and 15th Congressional candidate Ruben Diaz Sr, talk in the background.
Below - Ruben Diaz Sr. Councilman and candidate for the 15th Congressional District, John Perez candidate for the 32nd State Senate District, and Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. wait for the next person to give a box of fresh produce to. 

Above - Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. places a box of produce on this woman's cart.
Below - 32nd State Senate candidate John Perez places a box of produce in this woman' wagon.

Above - INCA Relief USA even gave out half gallons of milk.
Below - These women were thankful for the wagon load of groceries, which included the Meow Mix for a cat on top.

Governor Cuomo Announces New York City to Enter Phase 1 of Reopening on June 8 and Five Regions Enter Phase 2 of Reopening Today

Announces Additional Industries Following Strict Safety and Social Distancing Guidelines Can Reopen in Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier as Part of Phase 2 Today

Implements New Early Warning System Dashboard to Aggregate and Organize New York State's COVID-19 Data in Partnership with County, Regional, State and Global Experts

Confirms 1,551 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 368,284; New Cases in 48 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "Phase one should bring about 400,000 employees back to work in New York City. Remember that reopening does not mean we're going back to the way things were. Life is not about going back. Nobody goes back. We go forward. It's going to be different. It is reopening to a new normal, it's a safer normal. People will be wearing masks, people will be socially distanced. It doesn't mean they don't like you, it's not a personal reflection, it's just a new way of interacting which is what we have to do."

Cuomo: "Wear a mask, get tested, and socially distance. It is that simple, but that hard. It is that simple, but that hard. Those simple devices - wearing a mask, hand sanitizer - they make all the difference. You talk to all the experts - what advice, what should we do? Wear a mask. How can it be that simple? Because sometimes it's that simple."

  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York City will enter Phase 1 of reopening on June 8 and that five other regions—Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier—can enter Phase 2 of reopening today. Phase 2 allows office-based workers, real estate services, in-store retail shopping and some barbershop services to resume. Each industry is subject to specific state guidelines to maximize safety and social distancing. Business guidance for phase two of the state's reopening plan is available here.

Governor Cuomo also announced the implementation of a new early warning dashboard that aggregates the state's expansive data collection efforts for New Yorkers, government officials and experts to monitor and review how the virus is being contained on an ongoing basis. It tracks new infections and their severity, hospital capacity by region, and other metrics. The early warning system dashboard was developed in consultation with internationally-known experts who have been advising New York State. The early warning dashboard can be found here.

No. 202.35: Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency

No. 202.35
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 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 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 June 28, 2020:

  • Executive Order 202.34, which extended the provisions of Executive Orders 202.3, 202.4, 202.5, 202.6, 202.7, 202.8, 202.10, 202.11, 202.13, 202.14, 202.28, and 202.31 which each closed or otherwise restricted public or private businesses or places of public accommodation, and Executive Order 202.32 as modified by Executive Order 202.33 which required postponement, cancellation, or restriction on size of all non-essential gatherings of more than ten individuals, and which together constitute New York On PAUSE, is hereby continued until and unless later amended or extended by a future Executive Order, provided, however
  • That effective at 1:00 p.m. on May 29, 2020 that the reductions and restrictions on the in-person workforce at non-essential businesses or other entities shall no longer apply to Phase Two industries:
  • Professional Services, Administrative Support, Information Technology,
  • Real estate services, Building and Property Management, Leasing, Rental, and Sales Services,
  • Retail In-store Shopping, Rental, Repair, and Cleaning,
  • Barbershops and Hair Salon (limited services), and
  • Motor Vehicle Leasing, Rental, and Sales.
  • Businesses or entities in industries open in Phase Two must be operated subject to the guidance promulgated by the Department of Health.
  • As of May 29, 2020 the regions meeting the prescribed public health and safety metrics required for Phase Two reopening are: Finger Lakes, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier, and the North Country. Any additional regions which meet the criteria after such date will be deemed to be incorporated into this Executive Order without further revision and will be permitted to re-open Phase two industries, subject to the same terms and conditions. 

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 May in the year two thousand twenty.


Secretary to the Governor

No. 202.34: Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency

No. 202.34
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 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 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 June 27, 2020:

  • Business operators and building owners, and those authorized on their behalf shall have the discretion to ensure compliance with the directive in Executive Order 202.17 (requiring any individual over age two, and able to medically tolerate a face-covering, be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place), including the discretion to deny admittance to individuals who fail to comply with the directive in Executive Order 202.17 or to require or compel their removal if they fail to adhere to such directive, and such owner or operator shall not be subject to a claim of violation of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, or frustration of purpose, solely due to their enforcement of such directive. Nothing in this directive shall prohibit or limit the right of State and local enforcement authorities from imposing fines or other penalties for any violation of the directive in Executive Order 202.17.  This directive shall be applied in a manner consistent with the American with Disabilities Act or any provision of either New York State or New York City Human Rights Law, or any other provision of law.
  • Executive Order 202.31, which extended the provisions of Executive Orders 202.3, 202.4, 202.5, 202.6, 202.7, 202.8, 202.10, 202.11, 202.13, 202.14, 202.28 which each closed or otherwise restricted public or private businesses or places of public accommodation, and Executive Order 202.32 as modified by Executive Order 202.33 which required postponement, cancellation, or restriction on size of all non-essential gatherings of more than ten individuals, and which together constitute New York On PAUSE, is hereby continued until and unless later amended or extended by a future Executive Order, provided, however:
  • As soon as a region meets the prescribed public health and safety metrics, as determined by the Department of Health, they will be eligible for Phase One reopening.
  • Businesses or entities open pursuant to Department of Health guidance must be operated subject to the guidance promulgated by the Department of Health.
  • As of May 28, 2020 the regions meeting the prescribed public health and safety metrics required for Phase One reopening are: Finger Lakes, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier, North Country, Western New York, Capital Region, Mid-Hudson, and Long Island. Such regions include the counties of Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, Yates, Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, Oswego, Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, Schoharie, Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara, Albany, Columbia, Greene, Saratoga, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Warren, Washington, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk. Any additional regions which meet the criteria after such date will be deemed to be incorporated into this Executive Order without further revision and will be permitted to re-open Phase One industries, subject to the same terms and conditions.

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

Secretary to the Governor

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 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.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. Give out 500 Boxes of Food

  In what he called 'Throw Back Thursday' Bronx Borough President  Ruben Diaz Jr. joined with his father Councilman (and 15th Congressional candidate) Ruben Diaz Sr. at the Moore Houses on Jackson Avenue to hand out five-hundred boxes of various foods provided by Fresh Direct.

  The Moore houses is where young Ruben Diaz Jr, lived. He went to the public school across the street up to grade two, when young Ruben Diaz Jr. was placed in a gifted and talented program in another school. The rest is history as he married his high school sweetheart, became the youngest member of the New York State Assembly, and then Bronx Borough President. The borough president said this was not an endorsement of his father for congress, as he had done the same with one of his father's opponents at another location. In all there were five-hundred happier people thanks to former tenants of the Moore houses Ruben Diaz Jr. and Ruben Diaz Sr.

Above - Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. hands this box of food to a woman.
Below - The borough President outs this box of food on this woman's cart.

Manhattan Doctor Sentenced To Prison For Illegally Distributing Oxycodone And Other Drugs

  Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JOSEPH OLIVIERI, a physician who practiced in Manhattan, was sentenced to 40 months in prison for participating in a scheme to illegally distribute oxycodone and other controlled substances.  OLIVIERI previously pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty, who also imposed today’s sentence.  Matthew Brady, OLIVIERI’s co-defendant, was previously sentenced to 36 months in prison for his role in the same scheme.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Joseph Olivieri hid behind his medical license to sell addictive, dangerous narcotics.  In doing so, he violated his oath to practice medicine for the sole purpose of improving his patients’ health, and put peoples’ lives at risk to line his own pockets.  He now will serve time in prison for his crimes.”
According to the Superseding Indictment, public court filings, and statements made during court proceedings:
OLIVIERI, a physician who practiced in New York, New York, participated in a five-year-long scheme to illegally distribute oxycodone and other controlled substances.  OLIVIERI was one of the top 15 prescribers of opioids in New York State during much of the scheme.  He prescribed over 250,000 pills of controlled substances, including highly addictive opioids such as oxycodone, oxymorphone, and morphine sulfate, to individuals he knew did not have a legitimate medical need for them.  OLIVIERI was paid in cash for these prescriptions, often by other individuals, including co-defendant Brady, who arranged with OLIVIERI for individuals posing as “patients” to obtain the prescriptions from OLIVIERI, and then collected the pills for their unlawful re-sale.  OLIVIERI deposited more than $1 million in cash into his bank accounts during the scheme.
OLIVIERI, 73, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.  In addition to the prison term, OLIVIERI was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $500,000.
Brady, 35, of Staten Island, New York, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute controlled substances.  In addition to the prison term, Brady was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $100,000.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York City Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Office of Inspector General of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Governor Cuomo Issues Executive Order Authorizing Businesses to Deny Entry to Individuals Not Wearing Masks or Face-coverings

Partners with Rosie Perez and Chris Rock to Foster Communication and Education on the Importance of Wearing a Mask, Testing and Social Distancing

Announces State Will Distribute 1 Million Masks to New York City's Hardest-Hit Neighborhoods Today

Announces MTA Will Pilot the Use of UV Light Technology to Kill COVID-19 in Subway Cars and Crew Facilities

Confirms 1,768 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 366,733; New Cases in 38 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "Today, I'm signing an Executive Order that authorizes private businesses to deny entrance to people who do not wear a mask or a face covering. I have been working to communicate this message about masks and how effective they are. They are deceptively effective. They are amazingly effective. We've made them mandatory in public settings, public transportation, et cetera. When we're talking about reopening stores and places of business, we're giving the store owners the right to say if you're not wearing a mask, you can't come in."

Cuomo: "I want to thank very much two great New Yorkers, two great performers, Chris Rock and Rosie Perez who are going to join us and I want to thank them very much. They're going to help communicate this, they're going to do advertisements for the State and they're going to help communicate this message that it's important for an individual's health, for a family's health and it's important for all our health. We're one family in New York. One family in Brooklyn. One family in Queens. One family New York City. And do it for the good of the family."

  Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued an Executive Order authorizing businesses to deny entry to individuals who do not wear masks or face-coverings. The Executive Order builds on the state's ongoing efforts to protect New Yorkers and slow the spread.

Governor Cuomo also announced a partnership with Rosie Perez and Chris Rock, who will help New York State build communication and education on the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing and the availability of testing and healthcare in the state.

The Governor also announced that New York State will distribute 1 million masks to New York City's hardest-hit neighborhoods today. The state has already distributed more than 8 million masks across New York City, including to NYCHA developments, food banks, churches and homeless shelters. New York State maintains a comprehensive testing network throughout the state, including more than 225 sites in New York City. New York's extensive testing—the state currently conducts tens of thousands of tests per day—now allows the government to pinpoint the state's hardest-hit neighborhoods for additional supplies and other aid.

The Governor also announced that the MTA will pilot the use of proven UV light technology to kill COVID-19 in subway cars and crew facilities. The MTA currently cleans and disinfects trains every day.

Senator Rivera on Emergency Rent Relief Act Vote

"Clearly, this is not a vote I took lightly and ultimately I am accountable for it. I understand and accept the disappointment among advocates or constituents, but I do believe it was necessary to avoid a first wave of evictions.

I believe the vote today needs to be only the beginning of structuring a subsidy program that will prevent evictions in our state. There are many more steps we must take to protect tenants and keep every New Yorker in their home during and beyond the pandemic. I recognize that even if every penny of this fund were to come to my district, it would not be enough to meet the need. I also recognize that the Emergency Rent Relief Act is imperfect and insufficient. However, I voted in the affirmative to ensure we start allocating federal funding to eviction prevention efforts for tenants who are facing mounting pressure and anxiety as the end of the eviction moratorium approaches.

I am committed to continue working with my colleagues for bolder, more inclusive solutions that keep a roof over every New Yorker's head. We must push for higher taxes on wealthy New Yorkers and I will not relent on this demand. We must also provide long-lasting protections for tenants that will address the homelessness and eviction crisis now as well as the structural inequities facing our state, which this crisis has only brought to the surface."

Thursday, May 28, 2020

MAYOR DE BLASIO on COVID-19 - May 28, 2020

  Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. We've asked you now over the last two months to shelter in place to practice social distancing, to wear face coverings. It's a lot, and it hasn't been easy. It hasn't been easy for a single day. Everyone's been making huge adjustments and I've talked to so many New Yorkers who have told me it's been a struggle, but despite that you've done it. You've done it to a remarkable degree, and because you've done it so well, we're now actually in a position to start talking about opening things up step by step, phase by phase. You've proven it through your actions that we are getting to the point very, very soon where we can take the first step to restart in phase one. So, you have earned it. Everybody's thinking about it, everybody's talking about it, now we can really get ready for the real work, the tangible work of taking that big first step. So, I want to talk to you today about what that's going to look like and how the city of New York's going to help people into this first phase and through this first phase. And then if we keep doing things right, well beyond that to more and more reopening, and more and more steps towards a better situation for all of us.

So, first of all, it's important to remind everyone, we say restart, we do not mean rushing back to something that we used to think of as normal. We do not mean flicking a switch and suddenly everything's where it was again, of course not. We have to make sure this virus is in check. We've come a long way. We're not going to blow it now. We've talked in recent days about our test, trace, and take care effort. That is central to this, because that is the offensive. That's how you make sure you're pushing back the disease on top of everything all New Yorkers have done. Now a systematic effort based on examples from around the world, but bigger than anything we've ever seen in the history of this city or this country, a systematic effort to trace every single case, follow through, make sure people have the help they need to separate safely. This is a game changer, because it's going to be done on a vast scale and it's going to keep constraining the disease. Doing that is part of how we restart smartly, and that test, trace, and take care initiative grows with every week ahead so it gets bigger and bigger, more and more impact reducing the spread of the disease.

But now, we should talk about what restart looks like on the ground and phase one, and I want to say, I really give a lot of credit to the state of New York for a clear articulation of what is, what are the industries that are part of phase one, and then how each industry should think about the practicalities of reopening. The fact is the State gives out this guidance, and anyone who hasn't seen it, I really want to encourage you to look at it. It's written in a very helpful, straightforward manner. And this is for all of the industries that will restart in phase one. As I said, based on what we know today, that will be in either the first or second week of June. Anyone looking for this information can go to the State website And it lays out very practically what you need to do if you're a business owner, what you need to do to actually make it come together.

First of all, they tell us what we need to know about which industries. Construction, all the construction that's not going on now, that restarts. Manufacturing restarts, wholesale work restarts, and retail that hasn't been in that essential category. So, we know what essential has been, it has been pharmacies, grocery stores, supermarkets, but now we're talking about a whole range of other retail clothing stores, office supply stores, furniture stores, you name it, but restricted to curbside pickup or in store pickup. That means not wandering the aisles shopping or lingering or comparing things, but you know, placing an order and coming and getting it. So, it's a quick transaction with limited contact between people.

So, what does it mean? We think a minimum of 200,000 New Yorkers will be coming back to work, a maximum of 400,000. That's quite a range. A lot of other parts of the country that would be their entire city. But here, because we're in the great unknown, we've never been through a pandemic like this. Certainly not in the last hundred years. We can only give you a range to begin, but we're going to know really soon what the truth is. But even if you say 200,000 people, that's a lot of employees coming back to work. So, we want to make sure it's done the right way, and we want to emphasize safety throughout.

So now, let's talk about how we make it work, business by business. Every business has a set of rules that fit it's reality, the nature of its business. And so, there are very specific, you know, nuts and bolts rules that people can follow and make sense of. Now, let's talk about some of them so you get a grounding of what it means, physical distance to begin with. The whole concept here is you have to keep that six-foot difference. Distance, I should say. Look, there may be moments where people have to come closer together. Sometimes it's just the nature of the job. Sometimes there's an immediate situation that people have to deal with, but the goal is as much as possible, keep people six feet apart. On top of that, keep the occupancy in each location. Think about a manufacturing plant, keep it to under 50 percent of its normal capacity so you have room for people to spread out. If there's tight spaces, elevators, an area around a cash register, keep it to one person at a time to the maximum extent possible. These are sort of common-sense rules, and that look, it's all about limiting contact, limiting the potential spread of the disease. Obviously, PPE’s, some companies need more advanced PPE’s, but the vast majority just need a simple face covering for their employers. Employees, I should say, but it's crucial that every company makes sure every employee has one. They need to provide them for free to their employees. They need to make sure they're wearing them. Hygiene, cleaning, regular cleaning of any shared surfaces. 

We're all going to learn together that, you know look, our business community is extraordinary in this city when you're talking a mom and pop store, bodega, right on up to the biggest businesses. One thing businesses do is they adapt, they create, they move with the times, they move with new conditions. That's the nature of business. Our small businesses know that better than anyone. So, I am convinced our business community will work it out, but now I think it's important that there are city government give them a helping hand. So, I want to talk about the ways that we're going to help, and also the ways that we have to make sure the rules are followed.

We're going to provide a lot of support, of course, all support we provide to businesses will be free and it will come from different city agencies for construction. The support will be primarily from our department of buildings for the other sectors, primarily from our small business services department and from our department of consumer and worker protection. So, what are we going to do? First, we're going to publish industry guides, we've got the guidance from the State that's really helpful. We're then going to add to it with simple, plain English examples of how people can do this work, how they can implement these rules. What you do in a clothing store is different than what you do on a construction site, we're going to try and make it plain and easy to use examples. We're going to get that out next week and provide it to every business, that's a part of phase one.

Second, we're going to start a business restart hotline and the restart hotline is going to be real human beings who know the rules and know how to facilitate and help businesses think through it, that starting next week as well. Any business that's trying to understand the rules can't quite figure out how to implement them is confused about how much is good enough. How many times a day do you have to clean? How do you create the right line for customers waiting to buy something? We will work with each and every business through this hotline. If there's something that they need resolved, it could maybe be done right over the phone, if we need to send out a city official to work with them to come up with a solution. For example, if they're trying to figure out how to do a line outside their store the right way and socially distanced and they're trying to figure out how much of the sidewalk they can take up, we'll work with them on that right there in person to sort it out. So, that hotline will start next week as well. In the meantime, as we've said, many times, any small business owner dealing with any problem we talked about those loan programs from the federal government or any other challenge of course can call 3-1-1 for help. We'll have a specific hotline though that'll be all about restart and how to navigate it.

Third, we're going to have a team of small business advocates and compliance advisors. So, we're going to send a team of city personnel out to businesses to check in to make sure they understand, to see what kind of help they need sorting out. So, we'll do some of over the phone, but we want the ability to immediately, if people need in-person help send teams of city officials to do that, to work that through. We want this to work, and so if someone needs help in the business, we want to see businesses succeed, we want them to start and start safely. If they need someone to come through and literally do a walk through with them, we'll send out help to do that.

And then finally, our sector councils have been amazing. These advisory groups, we're going to keep that going through this phase one, but through all the phases and beyond, they're going to be crucial to us understanding what's working, what's not, what needs to be adjusted. We're going to be able to explain, you know, what's going on with the health situation and figure out if we have to make any adjustments. They're also going to help us figure out the long-term efforts to help small businesses and larger businesses come back strong. Again, no lack of confidence in our business community that they can take the skills they've always relied on and bring them to bear here and come back strong. But they need to know the city is going to be with them every step of the way and we will be.

For other sectors, it will be our office of special enforcement and depending on the issue, sanitation department, department of consumer and worker protection, small business services, or it could rise up to something that involves the police department, Sheriff's office or the FDNY. So, what we will do is what we normally do, but modified for this crisis there'll be random inspections, there'll be agencies going out, checking on the businesses, looking for how things are going, but with a supportive attitude. I want to be clear about this. This is not gotcha, this is not something where we want to find a problem, we're not intending to give fines in the first instance. This is, hey, you got an issue here, let's fix this issue together and every employer who works with it, great, we will be supportive. If department buildings goes out to a construction site and workers are not wearing face coverings. They're going to say, let's get the face coverings on right now, and if they see it happening, there's no problem, we move on. If we don't see compliance, of course we reserve the right if we need to use fines, if we need to take even more aggressive actions we can. That's not what we want to do, we just want to solve problems. We just want to get these businesses up and running. We want to protect health and safety and we can do that together, the right way, that is absolutely the goal and I believe overwhelmingly that's going to be what will happen.

Okay, that's phase one. We're going to have a lot more to say on it, I assure you over the next days, because we're still not there yet. I believe all indicators suggest it'll be announced in the first or second week in June. All businesses are paying attention, they're hearing from the state, they're hearing from the city, they're seeing that this is all coming down to this, so they have time to get ready, but we're going to work very closely with them to make sure all the details get worked out. But some of them will only get worked out once businesses are actually on the ground and open and that's okay. We know we'll work it through in practice, that's phase one.

Now, at the same time as we're getting ready to begin phase one, we're already looking ahead to the phases that will come thereafter. And one of the things I'm hearing the most from business leaders about is they're paying a lot of attention to what will happen with our schools because that will say so much to them about obviously how the city is doing in general, but also if their employees can depend on sending their kids back to school in September and that will tell them a lot about their business planning as well. We are doing work every single day and I've said it really clearly, it's going to be a plan A to reopen school as normal, but with lots of other alternative plans, depending on what the healthcare situation is, there'll be a plan B, C, D I assure you, we are adamant though we want to work with the hope that we can get as close to a normal school reopening as possible for September 10th. We had a great conversation last night with our education advisory council. Now this involves a lot of key stakeholders in our public schools, folks in the department education the unions who represent the people who do the work of education parent organizations, but also beyond our public schools, religious schools, private and independent schools. Higher education is represented by some of the leaders of the great higher education institutions in this city. We're all talking together about what it's going to take and many, many organizations as well that provides support for our kids and our youth in a variety of ways. 

We know some people are particularly vulnerable and certainly every day, but particularly in a crisis, homeless New Yorkers are vulnerable. So, let's talk about what we have learned about this new effort in the subway system, the nightly cleaning and the impact it has had on our ability to serve the homeless. We now have three full weeks of data, three full weeks of evidence, and it's pretty striking. So, I want to give you an update since the beginning of the nighttime cleaning shutdowns, we have had 1700 individuals except help 1,700 encounters that led to a homeless person accepting help. 506 unique individuals, so that means not multiple times, but people who specifically took help, 506 unique individuals, accepted placement and shelter for some period of time, 281 are still in shelter right now. Now again, for all of us who have worked on these issues for a long time, 281 people have come off the street and just the last three weeks and staying off the street is a remarkable number and that is a beginning of something much bigger as we seek to end permanent street homelessness in this city. Very importantly, another 432 accepted hospital care to address medical situations, that's huge. So something in the midst of this crisis, in the midst of all the pain, all the challenges, something actually good has happened here where we're finding a new way to serve homeless New Yorkers and a lot of them are accepting the offer and hopefully are well on their way now to changing their lives and never living on the streets again.

Some kids deal with particularly tough circumstances, some kids have to deal with in their own homes, threats to them. And this is where our administration for children's services comes in and they do amazing work. And I want to highlight them today because they don't get enough attention, they don't get enough appreciation in any time. But I got to tell you how hard it has been for our ACS workers who go out there. Our child protective specialist, the folks who focus their lives on protecting the lives of kids and under very complex circumstances. Imagine what it takes to understand if a child is in danger in their own home and how to navigate that and how to protect that child. Very complex work, very trying, difficult work, and it's been made more difficult by the pandemic. People can't get out to homes the same way, and obviously home life has been disrupted and it's become very tense in many homes. We've got 3,000 child protective specialists at ACS, they do the Lord's work, they do amazing work. And thank you to all of you. Thank you to everyone at ACS because whatever your job is, ACS, it is about protecting and uplifting children. So, I want to thank everyone at the administration for children's services and a particular appreciation to those protective workers. This is an important time to take stock. May is national “Foster Care Month,” it's a time to thank all of the folks who work in foster care as well; the caseworkers and the folks who choose to be foster care parents, really crucial role in our society. Everyone in this, everyone in this area is unsung. We don't talk about the incredibly important role that foster parents play in the lives they have saved and turned around. We don't talk about the workers who make it possible. We should more often because it's an area that really, really matters to a lot of kids who found themselves in a tough circumstance, but there are adults who are there to pick them up and help them move their lives forward. So, thank you to all.

Okay, it is time today to look at our indicators and thresholds and number one, the daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID- 19 - good number today – congratulations, New York City, we have to stay under 200 we’re at only 59 today. So, we're showing some real consistency there. That means what you're doing is working. Daily, number two, daily number of people in our Health + Hospitals ICUs - so we want to get under 375 or 421. We're getting closer. You see that trend line, we are getting closer every day. We're very confident we can get to where we need to be, but we've got some more work to do. And then indicator number three, the percentage of the people tested citywide positive for COVID-19 the threshold is 15 percent. That we stay below 15 percent we can make it work, we can protect lives, we can keep the city moving. Here is a number that I am really happy to see – happens to be my personal favorite number – number six, and we have never been that low in these reports. This is a very good day, six percent positive and we're doing more and more testing. I told you about 27,000 tests per day and growing constantly. Here's the interesting thing a lot of folks have asked as you do more testing, do you expect the numbers to go up or down? To date as we do more and more and more testing basically the numbers are going down. The more New Yorkers we're reaching, the better picture we're getting at what's happening in the city; the fewer people were finding tests positive as a percentage. That's a great sign for the future of the city. So, congratulations, really good news on that number – a very good day.


  Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined additional guidance and support for the industries permitted to restart in phase one of the City’s reopening. With the Test and Trace Corps set to launch June 1, and the number of positive cases, hospitalizations, and cases in the ICU in continuous decline, New York City is moving closer to the day when construction, manufacturing, wholesale suppliers, and non-essential retail including clothing and electronics stores can reopen with some restrictions.

“New Yorkers have worked so hard for this progress, but we must remain vigilant in this fight. I know we are all eager to return to normal, and the guidelines for phase one are the first step on that path,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We will support business so they can reopen while staying safe.” 


During phase one, the City estimates 200,000 to 400,000 employees may return to work. To ensure this is done safely and without causing a resurgence of this virus, all businesses must adhere to specific hygiene, distancing, and health protocols. Full guidance can be found here.

Basic rules for all sectors include:

-       Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfecting of any shared surfaces
Health Screenings
-       Implement mandatory health screenings for employees, such as questionnaires and temperature checks
-      create distance markers and post signage throughout the workplace reminding personnel to adhere to phase one guidance and rules
-       Employers must conspicuously post completed business safety plans on site
Social Distancing
-       Require six feet of distance between people unless safety or core function of the work activity requires less
-       Tightly confined spaces must reduce occupancy to under 50% of maximum capacity with all employees wearing face coverings
-       Limit occurrence of all in-person gatherings and meetings, and only hold them in large, well-ventilated areas with social distancing and a maximum of ten people  
Personal Protective Equipment
-       Provide employees with free clean face coverings and, if the nature of the work requires, stricter personal protective equipment like face shields
-       Encourage the use of face coverings at all times and require them if employees cannot keep 6 feet of distance due to safety or core work function


The Department of Buildings, Department of Consumer and Worker Protection and Small Business Services will educate and conduct outreach to businesses as they reopen for phase one. To support businesses and workers through this transition, the City will:

-       Launch a business re-start hotline that will be available for any business that needs additional support or clarification about regulations or resources
-       Release simplified industry guides to help educate businesses about proper protocols 
-       Train teams of City officials that will to go out to businesses and provide on the ground assistance
-       Continue to meet with the Sector Advisory Councils to gather feedback on reopening progress and address industry wide concerns and issues 

To ensure businesses are complying, enforcement agencies will conduct random visits to sites that are reopening. They will review reopening safety plans and provide guidance regarding best practices and applicable regulations. Summons or fines will be issued in the case of egregious or repeat violations. New Yorkers can call 311 to report a business that is violating the guidelines.

The City is expected to reach the threshold for phase one in the beginning of June. Businesses outlined in phase one cannot start to reopen until an exact date to do so is announced.