March 16, 2020
Video available at: https://youtu.be/w2bLp40RClc
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Okay. As everyone understands, we are in an ever-changing situation. I have no example I can offer you of another situation where, for such a long period of time, we have seen just constant, constant changes. It seems to me we're in the middle of meetings and discussions and, you know, the world is different even in the middle of one meeting than where it started, on a regular basis. And this is going to be going on for quite a while. So, this is really uncharted territory.
What we're trying to do, of course, is constantly consult with people, have the best information and perspective and coordinate across a very, very broad spectrum of agencies while simultaneously working with folks at the national level, state level, regional level, etcetera. Yesterday – I said this this morning – I had the opportunity to speak directly to Dr. Anthony Fauci who I think everyone would agree has been one of the truly coherent voices on the national stage in this crisis, and obviously someone we honor for decades of serving this country effectively. So, I consider him one of the ultimate voices of truth. I also have to say as a New Yorker and a Brooklynite, I'm very, very proud of him and what he has done for this country and what he's doing right now. And we talked about the decision to close schools and then we talked about the things that have to happen next. And he strongly advised the actions related to the bars and restaurants. And then we took those actions later last evening. But also, we got into a conversation about how to guide people in their day to day lives in the crisis that will be with us for weeks and months. And I said to Dr. Fauci, we all agree that those over 50, with serious pre-existing conditions are the people overwhelmingly in danger here. These are the folks that, God forbid we might lose.
I said, what else would you say to guide people beyond that extraordinary danger that those individuals face, how do we create an understanding of people of who is in danger, and who has to take even more precautions? And he said that it's not over 50, healthy, but the area where he starts to get concerned just on an age level is over 70. So, I hope this is a helpful additional piece of information in terms of people trying to make sense of how to live and approach a crisis like this. And we'll certainly talk more about the details in the Q-and-A and my health colleagues will jump in when they come over, but over 50, pre-existing serious conditions – diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, cancer, compromised immune system. Those individuals are in the greatest danger by far. The people in your life, your family, your friends, your coworkers, the people you worship with in, those categories, your neighbors, those are the people we have to go – all of us – out of our way to protect, not let anyone sick near them, make sure they are staying in to the maximum extent possible. If they need food, and the only way they can get it is to go out themselves, let's see if one of us can get it for them. Someone in their life can get them food or get their prescriptions.
We're going to work as a City to try and figure out some bigger systems to make sure people get what they need. But everyone understands that this is an extraordinarily fast-moving crisis and we don't have that capacity today. But we do have New Yorkers, we have New Yorkers' heart and soul and conscience. We have New Yorkers' resilience and strength. You can help your fellow New Yorker. So please, for folks in that category, over 50, pre-existing major conditions, help them not have to go outside, help them get the things that they most need in any way you can. But again, the further guidance from Dr. Fauci, if you're over 70, even if you're healthy, even if you don't have one of those pre-existing conditions, exercise additional caution, don't go out unless you need to. Keep it to the essentials, limit your contact with other people. Everyone's going to have to interpret that for themselves. Obviously, it's a free country, but we are asking people to really be cautious and conservative in the way you interpret this reality if you're in one of those categories that's particularly endangered.
Now yesterday, everyone knows I was very, very troubled to have to close our schools. Our goal again is to reopen April 20 but I've been very honest that that is a goal that will be very difficult to achieve. What I want to clarify, because in some of the covers today, there still seemed to be some gray on this point – remote learning begins Monday, March 23rd. Distance learning, definite, starting Monday. I want to thank all of our leadership at the DOE who's making this happen with lightning speed. I want to thank our educators who are stepping up to meet this challenge. I especially want to thank four groups of workers who are the unsung heroes today, who today are at the front-line helping kids in those schools that are providing the breakfast and lunches on a to-go basis.
Want to thank our school custodians including those from Local 891, our school cleaners including those from Local 32BJ, our school food workers including those from DC37, and the firemen who keep – and this is meaning the folks who run these systems in the building, the fireman who keep the boilers and systems running, including those from Local 94. All of you, I want to thank you all for what you're doing, for your commitment to your city, to your fellow New Yorkers, and to the children of our city. Thank you. Because you're allowing all of them to have food they need today.
So there's a number of actions we're taking today, some of which were announced last night, others of which are new, all contained in an executive order. I'm going to summarize very broadly. Obviously, it will be made public immediately. But the business closures related to restaurants, bars, cafes – now adding other businesses consistent with the State's actions and we are obviously staying in close contact with the State and agree with the actions that the state has taken. The postponing of elective surgeries. And again, that is both in our public hospitals and in our voluntary hospitals. And we've set a 96-hour window for all of those to be shut down, obviously with the allowable exception of something that is life and death or something that it goes from optional to mandatory because of the nature of the health condition of the individual.
Because we need to avoid public gatherings to the maximum extent possible, we're suspending for the time being City Council hearings. We're suspending ULURP rules in terms of the land use process. That means that anything that was going to go through the land use process will simply be frozen in place. It does not mean there'll be an alternative decision making. It means that that application will just have to hold until we are able to get back to normal.
We are suspending visits to inmates at Department of Corrections facilities. And that starts Wednesday officially. But my understanding is there are no visits scheduled for today or tomorrow. So that effectively means there will be no visits from this point on. Obviously we're going to encourage alternatives, more phone calls, potentially video conferencing, etcetera.
We are suspending procurement rules to allow for faster procurement.
And as I noted yesterday, we are officially canceling the special election for borough president in Queens. So, all of this is included in the executive order, which I will now sign.
[Mayor de Blasio signs Executive Order]
This executive order takes effect immediately. As you heard – and again, we're in agreement with the State on all these actions – speeding up the closing on the restaurants, bars, cafes to 8:00 pm tonight. And again, they will be able to be open going forward for takeout and delivery under certain hours, conditions. Other businesses that will be closed – movie theaters, other types of theaters, museums, and cultural centers, concert venues, nightclubs, and commercial gyms. Obviously, we continue to say to all private business that it is crucial to allow telecommuting wherever humanly possible. So that is something we want to continue to emphasize. We've gotten a lot of cooperation from the business community. We want that to be as deep as possible. Anybody who can telecommute, should.
I also want to note there are a host of public recreation centers, youth programs, afterschool programs. These are all going to be shut down for inside activities. We are trying right now to determine if we can re-engineer some of those programs for outdoor activities with appropriate social distancing. Very, very concerned about our young people and what's going to happen to them over weeks and months, potentially. I think they have to have some kind of outlet, some kind of recreation. We're trying to see if we can figure out a model for doing that outdoors with proper supervision and proper social distancing, but we do not have that locked down now.
To working people in the city, and obviously to business owners, including small business owners. Everyone is immediately hurting very deeply. There's a lot of fear. There's a lot of confusion. Immediately, we are seeing working people with much less money in their pockets and tremendous fear about what's going to happen next. There should be at least a little sense of relief that the House of Representatives acted on Friday, but it is not enough. We need more. Obviously, need action on a consistent, ongoing basis from the federal government and we will be fighting for that and working closely with our federal delegation, our senators, and our Congress members to achieve a much greater stimulus and relief package that really allows people the comfort of knowing that they will have some continuity in their lives. They'll be able to afford the basics no matter what their employment situation. They'll be able to stay in their homes and afford food, medicine, all the basics. We have to achieve that, we can only achieve that with federal support.
This is going to be very, very tough for all of us. There's no question about it. There's going to be a lot of sacrifice here, a lot of pain. I hate to say it, but it's true. Lives will continue to be lost. Our job is to try to help people in every way, reduce to the maximum extent possible, the number of lives that will be lost in this crisis. Help people get through it and help people get back on their feet, make sure people are getting the right information so they can make the right choices. And this is something that will evolve and change probably pretty much every hour of every day. And we will be constantly giving you updates. The overall numbers are sobering. As of this hour, and everyone knows that these numbers can change at any moment -- as of this hour, 463 confirmed cases in New York City.
The borough breakout again lags behind — it has not yet been fully cross referenced with the newest number which is that 463 number is from 11:00 am, so we do not have an exact cross-reference. The last best information we have from earlier this morning based on a smaller number of cases was here's the borough breakout — 118 in Queens, 111 in Manhattan, 62 in Brooklyn, 34 in the Bronx, 19 in Staten Island.
I am very, very sorry to say that we now have two additional deaths, or a total of seven people have passed away. The first is a 56-year-old man from the Bronx who worked as an investigator for the City government. This is something we are feeling all personally. One of our own, one of our colleagues in public service has been lost. Investigator for the Department of Correction. We have checked the log books for his work in recent days and to the best knowledge he did not visit the inside of a jail facility. He worked with one fellow employee closely. That individual has been – is self-quarantined. So, to our Department of Correction colleague who we've lost, our condolences to his family. Our hearts are with them. Our prayers are with them and we will do all we can to help them in this incredibly difficult time. We've also lost an 89-year-old man who returned from Italy about a week ago. And we grieve also with his family and loved ones as well. We see consistently that have keep losing people overwhelmingly in those same categories of those who are older, particularly much older, and those who are vulnerable because of preexisting disease.
Now what we are going to do to expand our capacity. We understand that this curve is moving rapidly. We're going to have to radically expand our health care facilities in New York City and capacity. Again, this is going to be a war basis in New York City. I do not believe the United States government is on a wartime basis right now, I think is painfully evident. If they were, we would already have immense support from federal agencies on the ground right now. I do see a beginning of federal support, but nowhere near what it should be at this point. So, we will do it ourselves to the maximum extent possible. And I've ordered all my colleagues to identify all spaces that can be converted immediately to medical use. We're going to start with those that are most obvious, that already are engaged in health care and either being underutilized or not utilized, and then we're going to go much farther. So, I think you have to think of this in a wartime worldview. You have to think of this as something where you're going to see a massive mobilization to save lives, to help people through their suffering with this disease. A lot of people who are hospitalized, the vast majority of people who are hospitalized will survive, but they'll go through a very difficult experience. Again, basically the numbers keep holding. About 80 percent of everyone who gets this disease does not require hospitalization, has a fairly mild experience. 20 percent have a much more serious experience. Overwhelmingly those folks need hospitalization. Ones who end up with the most serious problems in the ICU. And there is the category where we see ourselves losing people, particularly among the older folks with the preexisting conditions. What that says to us with this kind of steep increase in the number of cases is we're going to need massive medical capacity on a scale we've never seen in the history of New York City before.
So, we are going to be constantly building out medical facilities and creating them where they've never existed before and retrofitting facilities that have nothing to do with health care. We will turn them into hospitals so long as we can get the equipment and the personnel, we will keep building our capacity to meet the demand. We've had a lot of conversations internally about how we're going to achieve this. The personnel are the single most crucial element. Thank God we're in a city with a vast amount, number of health care personnel, but still nowhere near what we might eventually need. So, we're going to find many ways to take people who are in other appropriate parts of the health profession, help them maximize their ability to serve. Look for folks who may have retired recently who could come back. Students who could be appropriately credentialed to be brought in.
I predict and this, if it continues to be a situation where our area and others like Washington State are disproportionately suffering in the context of the whole nation, that we're going to ask the federal government to send in health care workers from other places to help. Clearly, we're going to ask for the military's medical units to come in, which are very effective. And that's a substantial amount of military personnel. We're going to need all of that to get through this and we'll have more to say on it as we go along.
Facilities that we are immediately bringing online and this is a combination of some public facilities, some private that we will in this instance, working with their owners. We will put them into public service and obviously we will compensate for it. And we're going to work the same with the voluntary hospitals to maximize their capacity. But I can report four new facilities, being brought online immediately – the Coler facility on Roosevelt Island, an H + H facility that was empty. It is being immediately brought back online. 350 beds. It will be ready in approximately a week's time. There is a recently built nursing home in Brooklyn that had not yet been occupied and again, we'll get you more details as the announcements are ready and final notifications and confirmations are achieved, but this is very likely coming online in the next two weeks. 600 beds. The Westchester Square Hospital in the Bronx has an available approximately 150 beds. And we believe again likely to come online in the next two weeks or so. The North Central Bronx Hospital, part of H + H, has two floors that are vacant with 120 beds. This will be activated immediately within a week's time or so. That gives us somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,200, 1,300 beds that we can immediately say will be activated.
Then when it comes to existing Health + Hospitals facilities and voluntary hospital facilities, a three prong strategy - discharging patients on an expedited basis, obviously in a manner that is still healthy and appropriate, canceling the elective surgeries as is ordered in my executive order under our state of emergency, and building additional capacity within hospital buildings. The example Dr. Katz gave, turning a cafeteria into an ICU, turning a parking lot into an ICU with a tent. Those three strategies between our existing Health + Hospitals hospitals and the voluntary hospitals we believe will net us an additional 7,000 new usable beds. Meaning new because they will be available for the cause of fighting coronavirus. So, with that estimate, 7,000 beds capacity plus the 1,300 almost that we will bring into play from the other four new locations. That will take us to 8,200-8,300 and then we're going to keep going rapidly from there.
But this will be a race against time to create these facilities to get them up and running, to find the personnel and the equipment we need. We have no choice but to expand rapidly and be ready for anything. It would be - I think that my colleagues in health care would agree much better that the facilities are up and ready too early than too late. In terms of space for any individual who needs to isolate or quarantine and or for city workers who we need to keep in that kind of location rather than sending them home, we're getting additional hotel space immediately. We have identified and are acquiring space in five smaller hotels that will amount to 250 hotel rooms, but we'll be building out from that rapidly.
In terms of tents for medical use, the kinds of tents that could be used to set up a medical facility or an ICU, our Emergency Management team has already acquired 11 such temps with another 10 to 20 coming in the coming days and they're working out the distribution of those tents between public and private facilities.
We now have as a result of the President's state of emergency. Again, the real time here, everyone, is just staggering. We had the President's state of emergency just a few days ago, the Congressional vote, the House vote just a few days ago. Everything is really moving fast. But when the President signed the state of emergency that put FEMA into play. And this is crucial, we need FEMA to be part of the solution. Our Commissioner for Emergency Management, Deanne Criswell, was a former senior official at FEMA, understands exactly what capacity and resources they bring. So, this is a very important dynamic to have FEMA involved and they have immediately gotten to work with us. We will be standing up five drive through testing facilities across New York City, and again thank you to FEMA for working with our Office of Emergency Management and our Health Department to do that.
Just some other items I mentioned in our correction system that we will be suspending visits. I want to emphasize this is also the kind of decision that should never be made lightly for those who are incarcerated, it's something they will be lacking and missing greatly. We will come up with alternatives as I said, more phone calls, hopefully video conferencing, but it was absolutely necessary to protect the health of all those who are incarcerated and obviously very importantly our correction officers who we are depending on greatly at this moment. They have a very tough job, their job is crucial. We need to protect their health and wellbeing. That was a driving factor as well in making that decision.
We are announcing a new emergency rule from our Department of Consumer Worker Protection. I mentioned a few days ago specific actions that were being taken to delineate products that were becoming scarce and to institute anti-price gouging measures. We are taking a much deeper step now, an emergency rule banning price gouging on supplies needed to treat or prevent coronavirus. I'm going to list them for you. And so for all the folks out there who sell these items, we are deadly serious. You need to not only not price gouge, you need to understand you have an obligation to your fellow New Yorkers to make sure that people can get these crucial supplies. It is not time for profiteering. It is time to be a good citizen and help your fellow New Yorker. The items are thermometers, sanitizing wipes and or baby wipes, paper towels, latex gloves, face masks, fever reducers, cough suppressants, zinc oxide supplements, facial tissue, toilet paper, rubbing alcohol and Aloe Vera. And apparently, I did not know this, rubbing alcohol and Aloe Vera can be mixed together to create a version of hand sanitizer. So those two make the list. Retailers cannot increase the price of these items by more than 10 percent. That is the rule. And every time there was a violation, there'll be a $350 fine per instance. And that means it can add up very, very quickly if someone is violating that rule.
Turns to the supply chain. We have been studying carefully. I've asked our Emergency Management Commissioner to constantly reassess the supply chain and update me at this moment. The good news is on food and basic household goods that you would find in a supermarket, there has been actually a very intensive resupply in recent days. That's the good news. The bad news is stuff is being snapped up really, really quickly. I remind people we are going to work to ensure that the supply chain remains strong. We need our federal government to do that in a way that's far beyond what we can do. But while this is all proceeding, we need our fellow New Yorkers to look out for each other. If you're someone who's bought a lot of everything, God bless you. But if there's someone in your life, someone older, someone with one of those preexisting conditions, someone who has a disability that keeps them from getting out and getting supplies they need, either help them by getting what they need for them or share your supply enough to help them out. I know we are in a society where people have been taught too much just to look out for themselves. We're going to enter an entirely different human reality and societal reality. We're going into something that people in this generation have not experienced before, but in previous generations they knew way too well and everyone's going to have to figure out how to work together and share. So, if you have an overabundance and you see someone who doesn't have anything, please help them out.
A few other points. One related to that, we're very concerned about isolated New Yorkers, for the folks who have to stay home because they're vulnerable, for the folks who are in isolation for medical reasons, we want to help them out and communicate constantly with them. And this is whether it's someone who is a confirmed patient with coronavirus or just experiencing sickness but not yet confirmed, and certainly for folks who have to be very, very careful and stay in to the maximum extent. We are going to create what is being called an isolation app. Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications has put this together. It will be up quickly. We'll provide guidance and nine languages. It will ask if individuals need anything and they'll get real time responses and also will give us good information on what challenges people are facing, where we're having particular problems across the city, etcetera. Finishing up obviously now with the action on the restaurants, bars, cafes that serve food. A crucial issue will be food deliveries. I got the question out of the day whether we would suspend enforcement on e-Bikes in terms of deliveries. The answer is yes. We are suspending that enforcement for the duration of this crisis.
Okay. Few more things and then we will start to take your questions. We're going to all of us up here, especially the health professionals, we're going to repeat ourselves a lot over the next weeks and probably months, so let's begin with the most important point, which is stay home as much as you can. That guidance might get a lot sharper at any point. I have been asked repeatedly, are we considering travel restrictions? Are we considering curfews? We are considering everything is the answer. Every option, every tool is on the table. We will decide in turn when we want to employ each, but right now the answer is simple. Stay home to the maximum extent possible. Protect yourself, protect your family. In general, the simple rule is when in doubt, stay home. If you're not sure you should do something, stay home. We're going to talk about some things that if you're healthy are still appropriate to do like getting food and medicine, but again, the simple guidance to all New Yorkers is if you're not sure you need to do it, stay home. If you have any option, then you don't have to go out, stay home. Limit your time outside your home or your apartment. When you go out, be mindful of social distancing and try and distance as best you can. Those are some very simple rules.
For folks who are sick, it's a stronger of stay home, stay home, don't even think about going out.
Try as best you can to get the people in your life to get that food for you, get those medicines for you, obviously there'll be deliveries. Do not accidentally put someone else in harm's way. If you must go out, if you're someone who is sick and there is literally no other way to get food or medicine, you can't find anyone else who will do it for you. You must go out. You should be out for as little time as possible. You should keep your distance. You should help people around you to know to keep their distance.
If you are sick with the symptoms, again, I keep using simple layman's terms. The doctors will always feel free to improve upon them but cold and flu like symptoms. Our guidance has changed the last few days. We are saying stay home for three to four days. If you're getting better after that time, that's fantastic. Stay home until you're well. If you're not getting better, call your doctor and act accordingly. Crucial piece of information. Do not go - now that this crisis has advanced, do not go to the emergency room unless it is actually an emergency. If you are in a absolute dangerous situation health wise right now, that's what the emergency room is still for. Otherwise, if you're just worried that you might be getting sick, I want to tell you more and more what you're going to see in emergency rooms. You're seeing it now all over the country as you will see officials of that healthcare facility outside screening and turning away people who do not need emergency care. So, the better way to do this is to not go in unless you absolutely have to. We cannot overwhelm our healthcare facilities. We have to make sure the folks who need help the most are getting the care.
Finally, just try and give some examples for the many, many New Yorkers who are not in those particularly vulnerable categories. You're not over 50 with the serious preexisting conditions. You're not over 70 and you're a healthy New Yorker and you're trying to figure out what to do. So, when in doubt you still stay home. But we understand that people need to stay healthy. We understand that people under any circumstance, if they have the ability to get a little fresh air and exercise, that's actually quite important to their health. We understand that people need groceries, they need medicines. In these instances, it's okay to take a walk, but practice social distancing. It's okay to go jogging, but practice social distancing. It's okay to walk your dog, but practice social distancing. If you don't need to go get groceries because someone else can get them for you, that's great. If you can get a delivery instead of going out, that's great, but I understand that there's so many people who are healthy who are trying to figure out what to do – some basic simple things like getting some exercise or getting some fresh air. I've spoken with all of our key health officials on this, everyone agrees that's acceptable if you keep it limited and you practice social distancing. That's where we are today. That could change tonight. That could change tomorrow, but that's where we are right now.
So, everyone understands this is going be a very difficult few months. It will definitely get worse. It will get a lot worse before it gets better. I don't take any joy in saying that, but people expect our leaders to talk straight with them. It will get a lot worse before it gets better. We understand that so many people are going to be affected by this. But again, the answer is not fear. The answer is not panic. The answer is not, I'm going to sit around and hope that someone else will save me or the government will take care of everything. The answer is for all of us to work together and support each other. The answer is for us to believe in each other, support each other, look out for each other and understand that everyone has a role to play. Everyone has a chance to do something really important for their fellow New Yorker and for someone in need.
Everyone has a chance to exercise personal responsibility, listen to the guidance and abide by it. But also, listen to the idea that even your city government, your federal government doesn't reach into every nook and cranny of our lives, but people do – our family does, our neighbors do, the people on our block do. And we saw this after Sandy, the people were helping each other before any government agency could arrive. And I was very moved by it when I went through neighborhoods and Brooklyn and Staten Island and saw the amazing things people were doing to support each other. We're going to need that again now and we're going to do everything we can as your city government, everything we could possibly imagine to do, we will expend every youth resource. We'll do things that have never been seen before in the history of New York City. But in the end, New Yorkers will play a crucial role in helping us get through this crisis and in helping us overcome this crisis. And I have absolute faith in my fellow New Yorkers that you are more than up to the challenge.
A few words in Spanish –
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
Okay, we covered a lot there. Let us open up now to your questions. My colleagues will join in as we go along.
Question: Mayor, so I just looked it up. Anthony Fauci is 79 years old.
Mayor: Yes, he is.
Question: So, has he [inaudible] you in a sense if he is fearful about himself?
Mayor: No, he's been quite clear about that. He said, he was asked, has he been tested? He said, no, I'm not sick. I think he's exactly what we should be looking to as a role model. Amazing story – I was looking it up the other day and here's a kid who grew up in Brooklyn. His family had a pharmacy. He used to deliver, you know, the prescriptions to people's homes in Brooklyn. And boy, when he talks you know where he's from and what an admirable guy and someone we should be proud of, but he was quite clear. People need to take common sense precautions, especially those in greatest need. But right now, I think – look, Dr. Fauci is in the same situation we are in. We have to – all of us have to serve the public. We are not going to be able to look at things the same way everyone else does. On one level we are supposed to put ourselves in a harm's way, not to be reckless obviously, but we're supposed to stay in our post no matter what. Just like our first responders, our health workers. So, this is a situation where public servants are in a very different category than everyone else. We are supposed to do everything within our power. A number of us may get sick. That's the price of admission we're asking every day new Yorkers to really be cautious and careful. But we are holding ourselves to a different standard, a higher standard because we signed up for putting ourselves in harm's and that's fine. No one has a problem with that.
Question: Mayor de Blasio, given your own guidance that you just gave to new Yorkers about stay at home to the maximum extent possible, receive a lot of [inaudible] that you were going to the gym today.
Question: Do you want to explain your thoughts? And then if Dr. Barbot or a medical professional wants to weigh in on how safe that was?
Mayor: Absolutely. I knew in advance that it was a very socially distanced situation. There was almost no one there. I hadn't heard that information prior. I suspected that we were all going to be about to close them down and this week the last chance to get some exercise, I got no exercise whatsoever over the weekend I was in this building a huge percentage of the time. I need exercise to be able to stay healthy and make decisions. I'm going to figure out some new way to do it going forward. I did not for a moment think there was anything problematic because I knew the dynamics and again, I have to stay healthy so I could make the decisions for the people of the city.
Question: Other people [inaudible] you've asked people to make sacrifices. You're not the only person in New York that needs exercise to stay healthy, other people have found other ways to adapt. Do you think it was irresponsible for you –
Mayor: Now, you can ask a hundred different ways. I'm very comfortable. They're all closing down today anyway.
President and CEO Mitchell Katz, Health + Hospitals: I'm a practicing doctor. I support the Mayor's decision to get exercise today.
Question: I know some people who have already been laid off from their jobs, what steps should people in that situation [inaudible]?
Mayor: When they've been laid off? Look, this is something, you know that obviously there's actions being taken on unemployment insurance, for example, but we're going to need something much deeper from much deeper than that. From the federal level, we're going to need direct income replacement. So, I use the example earlier today about the new deal and it's a very different physical reality, but just play it out in your mind for a moment. Remember, as soon as the new deal, excuse me, as soon as the great depression hit a previously prosperous country with very low unemployment went in short order to 25 percent unemployment. My grandparents were among them and the stories I heard, they had a small business in the garment district and it was wiped out very quickly and the stories I heard from them, from my grandfather about the ways people came together to help each other and support each other were very, very powerful. Just everyday people helping each other survive. But then very soon after, once Franklin Roosevelt became president, these miraculous things started to happen like massive numbers of government jobs. Now, coronavirus is different because we can't create massive employment when people can't gather, obviously, but the notion is the same. The federal government did something unheard of. There was no precedent whatsoever for it. It was night and day from what had been known a year earlier even, and they created a massive infusion of money into people's pockets through government created jobs and it saved America literally saved America from falling apart. Right now, I'm asking this administration, this Congress, to create today's version of that replace people's incomes, not just unemployment insurance, which is nowhere near what people made, but replace their incomes to the maximum extent possible. I'm sure it may not be exactly the amount that everyone makes, but it has to be enough for people to afford the rent. Food, medicine, the basics. If we don't do that, you're going to see a tremendous amount of pain and a danger of a further collapse in this country. Let's be blunt. They have the money. They just did, you know, a trillion and a half, one point $5 trillion tax break for the wealthy a few years ago. Endless expenditures on the military with very little assessment of whether that's the best use of money. Endless Wars that are getting us nowhere, there's money, it's going to the wrong place, it should be going to the American people in a time of crisis. So, I take to heart what Senator Schumer said right here on Saturday that this bill is going to be followed by another bill. That next one needs to get to direct income replacement.
Question: Have there been higher up ranking Department of Health officials ready to resign in recent weeks over disagreements with you and your staff about [inaudible]?
Mayor: I was – I don't know about the multiple press accounts. If someone wants to bring me specifics, I know nothing about that. I know people have had serious conversations, trying to make citizens decisions together. I know when someone comes up to me and says, I want to resign, that has not happened.
Question: Mayor on the expansion of hospital capacity can you –
Mayor: Just a little louder.
Question: The expansion of hospital beds. Are there other facilities that you're looking at? Are you looking at expanding beyond health care facilities?
Mayor: Anything and everything, but it will be, look, anything health care related, obviously Erin, is better, because there are certain advantages to a facility. It was built for something like that. But we're going to look at anything and everything. Again, it will be very much related to the extent of the mobilization we can achieve depending on the personnel available, the equipment available and the federal presence. If the military will come in, in a big way, with their medical capacity that would help immensely. If we're able to get, if we get to this point, healthcare professionals from other parts of the country brought in on a systematic basis. So, look again, I don't understand what the federal government is doing. I cannot believe what I'm seeing should be a full national mobilization. Look, I've had my differences with certain decisions our military have made over the years. But I come from an army family. I would trust the Pentagon right now a hell of a lot more than the White House to figure out how to sort out this crisis and address it. I wish the President would just call up the Secretary of Defense and say, you take over, I don't know how to do this. But if we could put this on a war footing and you have states in the union that have very little presence of coronavirus, we need health care professionals here. So, those are my thoughts about the expansion. If we have the personnel, if we don't have the personnel, you can only expand so much. If we don't have the equipment, you can only expand so much. But if we have those things, we can keep expanding constantly into any and all types of appropriate buildings and creating what we need. It's never going to be perfect, but it's, again, these are battlefield conditions.
Question: What type of response have you gotten to request for a military assistance?
Mayor: Nothing to speak of. FEMA, different from the military, obviously. FEMA is actually now truly engaged and I'm, I'm saying some of this is obviously strong opinion and other things I'm reporting to you are updates and my colleagues can jump in at any point and put more sharpness to it. But FEMA is now here. That is really good. That's really helpful. And we're engaging the veteran's administration and that's really helpful. But we're still, we have some more work to do to get to specifics. There's no military presence at this moment. There should be. We're one of the epicenters. I mean I don't check the morning state facts against each state, but I'm looking at my health collies I believe we are still the leading state in terms of cases. What do you got to do to get prioritized around here? This should be where, I think, Washington state has gone through a horrible experience. Absolutely horrible. But in terms of sheer number of cases, this should be where the first aid goes and I don't see it. Anyone else, I'm going to keep moving this way. Go.
Question: Oh, mindful of what you said about having everything on the table [inaudible]. Is there a threshold or a trigger for doing that?
Mayor: It's a constant conversation of what we think makes sense to do all things considered. This is how all the decisions have to be made. We have to factor, it's not one thing, it's everything and what it means, you know, obviously, look who wants to compromise the employment of everyone who works at bars and restaurants and cafes. That was not a lightly taken decision, but it was at least somewhat mitigated by the notion we could do take out and delivery, keep a certain amount of them employed and obviously a lot of people depend on them for their food and that's their reality, um. So that was where we struck, you know, a balance of how you figure out how to do something in a sensible manner. We're going to be looking at all of this. If you do a curfew. If you do travel restrictions, there are real ramifications, so we have to process that, and come to a decision quickly, but each in real time.
Mayor: Go ahead.
Question: Mr. Mayor, you announced the new rule on price gouging.
Question: A couple things. What should people, what should New Yorkers do if they see price gouging? Um.
Mayor: Call 311
Question: Okay. The second thing is –
Mayor: I'm sorry to interrupt. Call 3-1-1 and be specific.
Mayor: I really urge people, a lot of times New Yorkers come up to me with a complaint or they call WNYC, whatever it is, it is very fair. I always say, please get us all the information you can get. If you go into a store and you say, you know, a store price gouge me, I want to know the name, the address, what item it was, take down the price, if you can take a photo, whatever they can get, the more the better.
Question: And then, do you know how many fines the city's issued in recent days on price gouging?
Mayor: I don't, but we can get that to you.
Question: Okay. and then, I'm Morgan correct [inaudible] from New Yorkers that they think we're cash strapped at this point, that they think 10 percent is just too much of a markup, are you considering lowering it? [Inaudible]
Mayor: I think we assume some variation is normal in a free enterprise economy and [inaudible] on a surface doesn't, you know, seem to be necessarily unfair. Your point is well taken though. If we, I think 10 percent is also consistent with the current legal guidance, but we'll reassess that in light of the emergency to see if we can go even farther.
Question: And then I have another quick question for Dr. Barbot.
Question: Dr. Barbot, off of Sally's question, there's been multiple reports that there's a toxic relationship between you and the Mayor, that there's a log jam in getting out guidance because the Mayor is micromanaging the process. Can you speak to those reports?
Commissioner Oxiris Barbot, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: I think it's been clear from the beginning that we are, and the Mayor has been very clear, we all wear the same uniform, we're all on the same team and we share the same goal of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and reducing the potential harm to New Yorkers. My team and I have been working 24/7 since this began and nothing has changed nor will anything change going into the future.
Question: Mr. Mayor just a couple of questions, just – Dr. Barbot, has she threatened to resign?
Mayor: I just answered the question like a minute ago.
Question: No, I asked her directly.
Mayor: But you called on me. You said, Mr. Mayor.
Question: Mr. Mayor, can you ask Dr. Barbot if she has resigned?
Mayor: I don't understand your question. I was asked the question, has anyone resigned? No. Has anyone threatened to resign? No. Do you want to ask her if she's resigned or threatened to resign? Feel free, but ask her, don't ask me. I'm confused by your question.
Commissioner Barbot: I have no intentions of resigning. I'm very honored to have this position at this time in history and I am honored to be working with the Mayor closely, along with my colleagues to, again, ensure that we have one goal, which is to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the harm to new Yorkers.
Question: So, you never threatened to resign?
Commissioner Barbot: No.
Mayor: Guys, you can print what the hell you want in the middle of a crisis, but when we tell you it's false and we confirm to you, it's false it would be really, really nice if you would acknowledge it. This is a crisis. This is not personalities and games. This is a crisis. It did not happen. It just didn't. It's like the day a few months ago where someone said, I had a lunch with Eric Adams and we came up with a grand plan and we agreed. We had not even seen each other in person for months and yet it still went in the paper. I don't know what you guys think are the right standards, but I would hope you would raise them a bit in the middle of a crisis. We have been discussing decisions every single day. Does everyone agree on everything all the time? No. Are there different factors? Does health think the same way as education? Guess what? No. They have different imperatives and we have to make sense of them for example, but no one threatened to resign. Period. What else?
Question: Just a follow up.
Mayor: Go ahead.
Question: There was – you talked about over the weekend how you had to, you wanted to see the models and the paperwork and I've heard you've asked very detailed questions about those things. Can you talk a little bit about how you take advice from people like Dr. Barbot and Dr. Katz?
Mayor: The same way I take advice from the Police Commissioner, the Schools Chancellor, and every other leader of every agency. And if you think that a responsible elected official is supposed to just take whatever people say period and implement it without any discussion, without considering the impact on all the different pieces of the equation, guess what my friend-if I asked five different agency heads what they want to do about the same situation, I will get five different answers. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with that. Did Richard Carranza want to close schools? Of course not. Of course not. If he said, oh geez, yeah, shut him down, no big deal, I would not think that's a very devoted educator. He hated it. I hated it. But we have to think about the health considerations first while balancing all the other pieces of the equation. And there were public safety elements. I'm going to try to articulate how this works, but I'm also going to beseech you guys, you better start searching for truth, not scandal, not headlines, not clicks; truth. This is a crisis. Real decision makers have to factor in everything, everything because the ramifications of people's lives are that great. Unfortunately, on Sunday I had to do something which is really going to take away the chance for kids to get educated as well as they might have. It's going to take away a chance for a lot of kids to get meals. We're going to try our damnedest to find an alternative. There are many, many other points. These things are not easy.
Question: Circling back to the question from Friday about the potential of reopening health enrollment. I've spoken with a number of New Yorkers that have concerns associated with the potential loss of jobs and the various factors that might go into healthcare in this crisis. [Inaudible] or otherwise. Have you had that conversation with the Governor about reopening the health care enrollment period?
Mayor: I have not amidst all these other things. That's a great question. I will guarantee you'll get an answer very quickly.
Question: Hi. So –
Mayor: And everyone, we're doing first round for anyone who hasn't gone, we're going to go one round through and then we'll see if we do any other, depending on however long that takes. Go ahead.
Question: Senator Zellnor Myrie today called to suspend the detainment of people on technical parole violations to police, elderly, sick, and those [inaudible] released from prison to suspend arrest for low-level offenses, and basically things like that. Currently there is video conferencing, video visitation suspended at Rikers and –
Mayor: I'm losing you. Nothing wrong with your question, it's just a lot of pieces. Help me out with where you want to go here.
Question: What is the plan to actually implement some of the safety precautions by or allowing prisoners to communicate with outside people?
Mayor: Well, to increase the number for inmates in our correction system to increase the number of phone calls and to implement wherever possible video conferencing is the simple answer.
Question: Are any of these other measures that the Senator suggested, for instance, like releasing the elderly or not detaining people on technical parole violations? Are any of those going to be taken?
Mayor: It's a [inaudible]. Anything that might go in the humane category, someone who there might be an argument particularly with these healthcare dynamics to reconsider? That's a fair question. I don't have a firm answer for you. I think it's a fair thing for us to reassess and come back with an answer. That is a different question than how we are going to police. We still have to police consistent with what we do, historically. I am concerned that you have to, again, in real decision making by real people in real conditions, by serious people having to make decisions for 8.6 million New Yorkers-such as myself-you have to think about the ramifications for public safety. The healthcare crisis is extraordinary and is the first consideration, but we do still have to think about public safety because that also affects people's lives. It can literally mean life or death for people in a different way, let alone all the other forms of challenges that we have out there. So, we're not changing our basic public safety strategies in light of the situation right now. We will assess as we go along.
Question: How are you communicating to every single police officer the new rule on not enforcing violations on the E-bikes?
Mayor: The same way we do everything else. It will be guidance given in every precinct. It'll go out to every officer's device and the NYPD can get that kind of instruction out very quickly. Go ahead.
Question: A budget question. Scott Stringer today called for your preliminary budget to be cut by $1.4 billion because we may be entering a recession. I just wanted to get your reaction to that. Also, just on the Council side, you're not the Council members' boss, but what's your understanding of what they're doing? What would be your guidance to them on the budget process?
Mayor: Right now, I think both as a matter of statute and as a matter of trying to keep this city functioning, I intend to keep to the budget process on calendar. That might change at some point. I mean, we are, you know, a month or so out. I think we have a very real possibility of keeping it on track. So, until I feel otherwise, I'll stay there. I don't want to predict the number. I could be up or down. I mean we first of all have to look at the revenue we had before all of this hit and then we have to look at the revenue impact of this. And that's going to be ever changing. I think it's way too early to determine how we're going to adjust the budget.
Question: [Inaudible] your reference yesterday?
Mayor: Which reference? I'm sorry.
Question: Regarding the [inaudible] dynamic [inaudible] coronavirus [inaudible] can you expand upon that?
Mayor: So right now, and again, my colleagues in health care who I've been listening to every day and trying to glean information and use it in what I say to you. And they'll jump in if there's anything that they want to add or subtract. And obviously Commissioner Criswell in terms of who comes out of the federal government understands these issues as well. So, right now, we're dealing with, if you think between cities, states, et cetera, it's like every man or woman for themselves. There's almost no semblance of federal command and control, federal coordination, federal prioritization. We saw a glimmer with the state of emergency declaration by the President. We saw a glimmer with the action taken in the House. Those are steps forward undoubtedly. But the crisis, I mean if we all had a press conference on January 24th, which meant, you know, the thing had already been growing to the point that we finally said, we got to speak to this and we got to put some rules to this and we got to tell people where we're going.
I think it's fair to say the federal government has essentially had two months to put itself on a war footing, which means you look at every element of solving the problem. What are those elements? We need the hospital facilities, we need the testing, we need the personnel, we need the supplies. Ventilators are a great example. You know, we are struggling right now to increase the number of ventilators in New York City. We're having some success. But we're trying our best to find new ventilators and competing with all sorts of other localities. And yet our need is much greater than many other places. Why is it catch as catch can? Why is it, you know, survival of the fittest instead of the federal government says, hold it everyone. One, the following companies that produce ventilators, you're going on a 24/7 production line. Okay? These companies over here, you could be producing ventilators. Now you're producing ventilators. It's a state of emergency. Whatever it is to maximize the supply to a national level. And now here's, you know, we've got 100,000 units, okay, this many go to New York, this many go to Washington State. This many go to California, according to need. And that gets adjusted all the time.
The military should be on the ground in the key impacted areas with their medical personnel. They have fantastic medical personnel, trained for emergencies. These are some of the people who deal best with a crisis. They're not here. I'm sure they would love to be here. And I said earlier, the idea of any member of the United States military working on that border wall right now, when we're in the middle of a pandemic is idiotic. They should all be relieved of that responsibility. And every one of them should be thrown in the effort to address coronavirus because I'm not just talking about medical personnel, the sheer logistics. The military is brilliant at moving material where it needs to go. And they should be mobilized to ensure that every -- we need ventilators, we need masks, face guards, right on down to more mundane things like hand sanitizer. So it's just left now up to -- not only is it left up to the private market, but the private market will be the first to tell you they're overwhelmed. I've been talking to some of the companies that we are depending on, and they are the first to say their supply chains are beginning to be disrupted. And there's no one in charge in Washington stepping in to fix it. It's, I don't think there's a precedent. I mean, look at many presidents of many different stripes. Do you believe John F. Kennedy would not have already mobilized this nation to address this or Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Dwight Eisenhower? It's unbelievable.
Question: Yeah. Just talk about daycare centers. Should they be closed? And what percentage of the City's workforce is working remotely and have you maxed out on that percentage?
Mayor: Yes, very, very sadly, daycare centers should be closed and we're working with them now on that. It's a very painful situation. Again, for folks who are those essential workers, the first responders, the transit workers, the health care workers. We're going to set up not only 3K to 12 education, we're going to find a way to also reach if they have even younger childcare needs because we need them freed up and able to do their jobs. But this is a work in progress to put that up to the level we need it to be really quickly. But that's the answer on the centers for sure.
On the telecommuting. Our goal right now, let's again be very clear. All essential personnel cannot telecommute period. I mean first responders, health care workers, you know, there's so many people who cannot -- we need them at their post. For the folks who can, which will now in effect be the vast majority of educators except for those in the learning centers for the essential workers. You know, a lot of our educators will be telecommuting now and doing distance learning with their kids. And a lot of our personnel who are deemed non-essential but still play important roles will be. So, separate from the educators we were trying to get 10 percent of the workforce. And I believe we made real progress, but I don't have a specific number. We can get that for you.
Question: A follow up on that, on those are teachers who have expressed concern that they have to physically be there for the remote learning sessions. Why not just do those also remote?
Mayor: I'll start and the Chancellor will jump in. We answered this yesterday, but I think you weren't here. Because we are asking them to do something they've never done before. The vast majority of them in their life. And on a total battlefield training basis, we're saying to a teacher who spent, in most cases their life traditionally teaching, we're going to give you three days to figure out how to do distance learning with us, with all the training we can give you. Then we need you in play on Monday because we're in a full mobilization and we cannot train them as well from afar. And we can't give them all the materials they need from afar. It's just the truth. They will not have kids in their presence. We will socially distance them while they're getting that training. But if we're going to serve a million kids by Monday with something that's never been done before on any scale in New York City, we need to train them effectively.
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza: Yes. To add to what the Mayor has said. What's important to understand is that every one of our buildings today was deep cleaned because there was no one there. So, the Mayor's thanks to our custodial staff is heartfelt. They were there cleaning our buildings. I'm going to reiterate what our Health Commissioner has said. If you're sick, we do not expect to see you there tomorrow or Wednesday or Thursday. If you're sick, stay home. There's processes for letting your principal know if you're sick. Those two things being taken into account, we have a vast array of educators that are prepared on different levels. We have some educators in some schools in the New York City Department of Education that have been doing distance learning, had been doing virtual learning, have been doing all different types of learning using Google classroom and different platforms that are very proficient. And yet we have other educators that have never even touched this kind of learning before. So the differentiation that we have to do to bring an 80,000 teacher workforce up to a minimal level, yet some that are already advanced, not bring them down, is just something you cannot do virtually right out of the gate. So we have to be in those classrooms with them in those schools. There are some teachers that are going to show us what they're doing. We're going to take what they're doing and wrap it into what we're going to provide for the rest of the teachers. But there are some teachers that have never even been in a Google classroom environment. We have to literally help them log in, create their profile, help them understand how they post things onto that platform, where you find resources. So, the variability is so much that it's impossible to do that in a virtual way. Now that being said, with these three days of training and teachers having the opportunity uninterrupted to be able to create materials and create different kinds of learning experiences, they will be ready and up and running and even more importantly, know who to call to get assistance when they hit the ground running on Monday. The other thing that I think is really important for New Yorkers to understand is this isn't a four-week vacation. This isn't a five-week vacation. Our teachers are working, they're working in a different environment. They are telecommuting to the greatest extent of that definition. So, we need to make sure they're prepared to be able to do that work.
Mayor: Okay, who's not gone over here?
Question: I want to ask about the homeless population? What's the City doing to help them out? [Inaudible] outreach workers are discouraged to give out sanitizer, [inaudible] things like that to encourage homeless people to go into the shelters. Is that different now [inaudible]?
Mayor: I don't know if I agree with that assumption at all. It's a fair question. But no, remember the strategy we use. the HOME-STAT strategy as a, you know, we're playing a long game. That's a whole strategic assumption is not hi, I know you're homeless, come with me. First contact, you know, you're going to suddenly want to just come in period. No, it is literally dozens or hundreds of conversations before a homeless person who's street homeless, permanently homeless, often agrees to come in. So, there's all sorts of instances of providing support. Not sort of saying, oh, we can't help you until you come in. No, no, that's not the ethic at all. I've talked to the outreach workers. They try to help people in the here and now. Even if they're not ready to come in. That would certainly be true now. The outreach workers have been trained on mass to go out and engage, look for people with symptoms, offer them a chance to get, which has happened in some cases so far. And I've heard it's all been voluntary so far. But we're trying to continue to deepen that because we're very concerned about homeless folks and getting anyone to health care who needs it. So, so far, I'm hearing there's a lot of outreach and it's having a good effect.
Question: On that point, is there anything being done at homeless shelters given that you have a lot of people living in close proximity?
Mayor: Everyone, as far as I know, everyone in the government facilities, all the types of government facilities and then everyone that we contract with has been given the same guidance about constant cleaning, deep cleaning, social distancing. I can get you more on if there's specific guidance that's been given to shelters and how we're following up on it. Shelters by definition are going to be harder in some cases to deal with physically than others. But the basic approach, not only do we give them the guidance, I think the vast majority of people get it now and are trying to honor it for their own reasons too. So that's the approach, but I'll try and get you more on the specific numbers. Please.
Deputy Mayor Raul Perea-Henze, Health and Human Services: Just to supplement what the Mayor just mentioned, we also have identified several locations for isolation rooms in case that people either have been exposed and need to be isolated or if they actually have the symptoms and they cannot be in a congregate setting.
Question: Okay. Just the one quick one. Do we know if street cleaning and enforcement or alternate side, tomorrow –
Mayor: Under discussion, it's a rolling list of agenda items and as we make each decision, we're announcing them. So that's still being discussed.
Question: I think maybe best for the Health Commissioner -- in terms of the overall numbers. 463 total positive cases. But there's been [inaudible] and obviously we have people who are showing symptoms but they're not in the risk and the high-risk category, they're staying home and not getting tested. So presumably the real number is much, much higher. So talk about what -- that must present a huge challenge for the Health Department just in tracking this and what is the real number? Are we assuming this is in the thousands?
Mayor: Can I just help the Health Commissioner before she begins. If we had a real perfect number, we'd be sharing it with you [inaudible]. And trying to do our damndest [inaudible] help share with the New Yorkers a sense of projection. But that's what we're still working on all the time all the time to get right. The last thing we want to do is be premature about that number.
Commissioner Barbot: Yeah, and to build on what the Mayor said, I think part of the, what we're learning about this illness is that people can present with the spectrum of symptoms. Typically, people will have fever and a cough, fever and shortness of breath, but they may also present with other symptoms that they may be very mild and so not even realize that they had COVID-19 and thought maybe I have a cold. And so, that's why as we have already documented that we have community transmission, which means that, as we speak, New Yorkers are more likely to contract COVID-19 from someone who's already in New York City than someone who's traveling in, our messaging is changing. So, that's why we're so focused on making sure that anybody who has those symptoms stay home, right? Because we want folks to realize that whether they have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed or whether they have been in contact with someone who has symptoms, like maybe they had COVID-19, the important thing is if you're symptomatic, stay home. And especially if you are someone who is 50 and above with those five chronic conditions, we want you to be especially mindful of developing these symptoms and staying home early. The other thing that I will add is that as we've had been mentioning from the beginning, we are learning more as we go through this experience, learning more about how the virus behaves, learning more about what groups might be at potential risk. I think today you heard one of those fine cuts in terms of, yes, people who have chronic illnesses and are above 50, we're paying us especially close attention to them, but even folks who are older, 70 above, and may not have chronic illness, simply because of the of their age, they may be at even further risk. So, as we learn about more chronic conditions, as we learn about more situations that might transmit illness, we will share that with New Yorkers. But I think the important thing to note is that the guidance doesn't change, which means don't go to school, don't go to work. Now we want you to limit your outside exposure, right? It's something that we haven't necessarily talked about, but during this time of having the schools close, imploring people to work from home, we want New Yorkers to limit their outside exposure. If they don't have to go out, don't go out. But if they do have to go out, either because they have to get groceries, they have to do the laundry, they have to go get medications, we want them to be smart about it and to limit the time that they spend outdoors. I guess the last thing I will say, because it hasn't come up, but we've been having internal conversations about it – you know, we want – clearly people need to walk their dogs. Clearly for mental health purposes, people will want to be outdoors, get some fresh air, do some exercise. We want them to do it, but what we're seeing with regards to social distancing is the ideal is to be six feet apart from someone else, especially if you're not sure about whether or not they may have symptoms. It doesn't mean be six feet apart from a family member that you live with and doesn't have symptoms. Right. We want people to be smart about the facts. We want them to use their best judgment. This is a time where yes, we're at asking New Yorkers to have a physical distance, but certainly a time where we're asking New Yorkers to come together emotionally, spiritually, because we're going to be in this for the long haul and we need one another to get through this.
Mayor: Okay. Anyone who's not gone? Yes?
Mayor: To me, again, we've absolutely feel for them, but this is what the federal government is for. And to some extent the State government, the State has limitations too, obviously. This is just a nature of reality. The federal government prints money. The federal government has a limitless credit line and the federal government has been the place that is turned to in a national emergency to cover those costs. And by the way, in fairness to the administration, they said from the beginning they would cover the necessary reimbursements, which will be vast for cities and states. But on this matter, there needs – the money has to come from the federal government, because, you know, we would never be in a position to cover the amount of money it would take. I mean, we literally would not have the physical money to cover what it would take. We can't front that amount of money. And we're not – just aren't – we don't have it without taking away from everything else that people need us to do. But the federal government could do it in a heartbeat. So, that's just the reality.
Mayor: We're going to have to give you all those details when they solidify. We know there'll be five in New York city, FEMA working with Department of Health and OEM, but details to be announced. And again, by priority and reservation, not just anyone walks up or drives up.
Okay. Who has not gone at all? Okay. I'm going to do a few more – wait, someone who's not gone at all? I'm sorry, go ahead.
Mayor: I don't have justified – or, what's the word I'm looking for? Consistent with the latest number I just gave on cases on waiting for those numbers to be checked so we can get that to you later in the day.
Question: And just related – and recognizing how quickly this has been moving, but we – the topic of a hospital bed and ventilators, you know, was asked about last week and there certainly wasn't kind of this crisis mentality and urgency –
Mayor: Right, and I agree.
Question: [Inaudible] wondering, I guess, what projections are you basing your current action?
Mayor: Yeah, there's that constant discussion and updating. Look, I remember I mentioned to a lot of you the World Health Organization study that came out Thursday, Friday – I'm not sure – the 65,000 cases in China, that was a really important new piece of information. Every day, the whole thing is changing, the understanding of what other countries did, what we're seeing in our own numbers, what we're seeing around the country. I wish – I think – I don't blame anyone for liking static, clear answers. This is kind of an American reality. We're used to instant gratification. We're used to certitude. We're used to things that we think are, you know, yes or no. This ain't that. This is a whole different reality. It changes constantly. There was no human being on earth who fully understands the coronavirus – that is a fact. And we're all trying to make sense of it constantly. So, projections are even changing, but what is clear is just our own number of cases. You can see immediately that thousand number that I told you we would hit this week, I was hoping and praying and I was wrong. There's no question, tragically, I was right. So, it is enough to tell us how much faster we're going to have to move up schedules and you know, that ventilator thing – we have a very substantial supply right now. I'm not worried about right now. I'm worried about, you know, a month from now.
Question: Well, I guess I just want to know as far as the projections, are you mostly relying on internal numbers? Are there specific external sources?
Mayor: It's a lot of different pieces. It is the – everything we're learning, most, especially from our own cases and our own experience. It's constant information from World Health Organization, CDC, research papers. I mean, the medical folks here are constantly being briefed. They're reading, you know, everything that's coming in. It's just ever-changing. We're even learning, of course, about other countries' experiences, which is ever-changing, and things that are working – you know, we've seen some places that are having some surprisingly good dynamics, some places are having horrible dynamics. It is daily, hourly.
Chancellor Carranza: Yeah. So, we are solidifying those plans as we speak. We're working with our union partners as well. We're also working with other city agencies. We're looking at third-party support systems. We have a list of every one of those students. There are some things that you can provide via virtual reality. So, for example, speech therapy – we can provide that. Even some occupational therapy we can provide, but physical therapy, how do you do that? So, we're working to provide that kind of support for students and families. We are reaching out to every single one of those families. We've already started reaching out to them and we'll do that via their IEP. But it's going to be critically important. I want to remind all New York Department of Education families, you need to create your account on MySchools. That's critically important. That's how we're going to blast information. Go onto our website and there'll be a link there and it's really simply sign up, give us your information. You'll get real time information. Also look at our New York City schools Twitter account. We just tweeted how to do it in a link. I retweeted it and there's a link there as well. But we are actively working on those plans right now.
Mayor: Let me challenge you – I'm sorry, I'm going to challenge you at one point. For folks who are less computer savvy, and I don't know if you have this yet or you're about to put it together, but what about a human being struggling to figure out how to get their accounts [inaudible] –
Chancellor Carranza: They can call 3-1-1 and 3-1-1 will patch you right into our call center as well. Also, on the website, there's a phone number as well. People can call.
Question: You mentioned third parties. What would that necessarily [inaudible]?
Chancellor Carranza: There are different kinds of companies that provide mobile services like that. So, what we're trying to do, and the Mayor has given us very clear direction, there is nothing that is sacred. So, if you need to go and get a third party and augment what you have in your school system, do it. There is no excuse for not serving our students. So, we're taking that to heart and exploring every possibility.
Mayor: Okay, we're going to do a few more because we have a lot we have to get back to.
Chancellor Carranza: Yeah. So, they also are one of the groups of students that are referred to as our high-priority students – so, students with disabilities, students in temporary housing. So, we're prioritizing them in everything that we're doing. So, they're at the top of the list for devices. If they're homeless, chances are they probably don't have a device, chances are that they probably don't have internet connection or connectivity. So, as we're working with Spectrum and other providers, we're prioritizing internet and Wi-Fi connectivity for those students. In particular, we have 30,000 iPads that we have in our possession right now that are Wi-Fi equipped. The prioritization is for students that are in these kinds of most fragile – we call them our fragile students – most fragile circumstances. We are going to be receiving shipments every single week until we ramp up to 300,000 iPads that we will be distributing. Part of the work that'll happen in this week in our schools is actually getting an accounting of who are our students, because teachers and principals know who are the students that either don't have Wi-Fi or don't have devices, etcetera. So, we're trying to be very strategic, very, very specific about who those kids are and then prioritize them.
Mayor: Okay. We're going to have to go fast because we're running out of time.
Question: And FDNY fire marshal [inaudible] coronavirus the union just announced. Were you aware of that? Does that make account eight in the city?
Mayor: I want to – no disrespect to the union, I want to confirm everything before commenting. That's the first I'm hearing of that being confirmed, so let me make sure we do that.
Question: And I know you said you're working on the details for the drive through testing center, but can you give us any kind of flavor of what they look like in an urban area? We know what they look like in suburbia.
Mayor: No, it's brand new. It's just gotten agreed to. We'll get you as soon as we have it, but this is a moving situation. We just got the agreement to do it.
Question: News just broke about 10 minutes ago, six counties in California have a shelter-at-home order. Is that different from the strong advice that you and your [inaudible] –
Mayor: Again we're –
Question: Is that something that you're considering or talking about?
Mayor: We're looking at everything in anything and we're going to announce as we go along when we think the next step up the ladder is. So, some places are doing curfews – that's a new thing – the shelter in place. We're going to make decisions as we go along.
Question: [Inaudible] the Governor asked for contingency plan for daycare and, you know, the learning substitutes for schools [inaudible] 24 hours. Have you turned that in? Or is it going to be ready?
Mayor: We're looking at the details of what the State needs, but we've obviously announced clearly that on Monday there will be for the children of essential workers for the children of the folks we need to deal with this crisis. There will be that in place. We've obviously announced a distance learning plan, so, you know, a lot of pieces are already on the table. We're happy to go through all that with the State.
Question: Just to clarify –
Mayor: Okay, we've got to go fast, seriously, I have a lot of work to do. So, go fast please.
Question: The 1,200 beds, you've got Coler, you've said – is that a vacant –
Mayor: Coler was an active H + H facility. You want to jump in quick and explain?
President Katz: Because, as the Mayor has said, Coler was previously used as a hospital, it has all of the right ingredients such as hookups for water, hookups for oxygen, electricity. Likely we will use it to take patients who are not intensive care level but who need a hospitalization, put them there so that our active hospitals are able to take care of people with ICU conditions.
Mayor: [Inaudible] Central Bronx. There's a nursing home facility that's private that we are going to be able to contract with and take over. And then there's Westchester Square Hospital, 150 bed capacity. That's a voluntary hospital.
Question: [Inaudible] How did it go today? How many kids showed up?
Mayor: I don't know if we have it already with just early in the day, but, if you have it, let's talk about it.
Chancellor Carranza: Sure. So, we had a little over 14,000 students that showed up and picked up a breakfast or lunch, or breakfast and lunch. I just want to remind everybody, this is the very first day, we made an announcement yesterday. So, if parents are still figuring out their situation, their circumstances, we're expecting that number to continue to increase over the course of the days and weeks.
Question: The NYPD's and enforcement, I guess it's going to be a short-lived rule at 50 percent capacity in bars and restaurants. You just get a sense of how that –
Mayor: There will be a lot of enforcement. I don't know about last night, I haven't gotten a report on that, but there'll be a lot tonight because we obviously need to make sure that people still respect the 50 percent up until the point they closed and then that they actually close. So, there'll be a lot of enforcement out there.
Question: [Inaudible] recommended today that people of 10 not gather in the same spot. Dr. Barbot was saying six feet of distance. How much of that is your administration adopting for its own workforce? You know, there's 30 or 40 of us here in this room.
Mayor: Yeah, I think this is the last time we'll be gathered. It's been great, but I think this is it. We're either going to go to a much bigger room where we can spread everyone out a whole lot and scream across the room at each other, or we'll just do everything through a conference call or some other form. But look, everyone's adapting in real-time. It's strange for all of us here. We're used to nonstop activity in this building. You know, all of us here for more than six years. It's really hard to suddenly turn all that off. But we're going to make major adjustments and we're trying to do that all throughout our workforce. It won't happen instantly, but that's, we're trying to get everyone to be.