March 20, 2020
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, everyone, we've got a lot to cover today and I'll try and give you quick updates and then we're going to hear from our Police Commissioner and our School's Chancellor, then we'll open it up to media questions. We're going to talk today, of course, about the new measures taken by the State and going to talk about what is still not happening with the federal government and what we need from the federal government and obviously the overall situation in terms of what's happening with the people of this City.
I do want to start by saying that we had a very, very important announcement by Governor Cuomo. I want to thank him and commend him for the decision that he made. I think it is the right decision. It's going to be a new reality in this City and we have to understand that this is something that's absolutely necessary. I want to say to my fellow New Yorkers, none of us asked for the coronavirus to say the least. None of us expected the coronavirus. We are in a whole new dynamic. We're all learning every day how to make sense of it. And when I give you these briefings and just like my colleagues we’ll try and be as blunt and straightforward as we possibly can be, but some of the time the answer will be we don't know because we still don't know. There are so many things we're trying to sort out in a brand-new reality.
What I can say is a lot of the pieces are coming together to make sure that we do everything humanly possible to slow the spread of this disease, to give us a chance to prepare for the weeks ahead when we're going see a lot more cases and make sure our healthcare system will be as strong as it possibly can be. And that's why the Governor's decision was so important to make sure that all non-essential workers go home, that only people who are working are people who are doing something absolutely necessary for our City and our State. To make sure that people had some clear rules about what you can and cannot do. And we want to be clear about how we're going to enforce those rules. And you're going to hear from our Police Commissioner in a moment and clearly the NYPD is going to play a major role in enforcement along with other agencies that we depend on like the FDNY, the Sheriff's Office, many other agencies will be involved. But really, we want to emphasize from the beginning – I want to be clear that we're in a brand-new reality – we have not gone through something like this across our whole City in generations.
And our goal would be every single day to try what we think makes sense, to see how it goes, to listen to New Yorkers to best understand what's going to work and what doesn't. I constantly am listening for the feedback I'm getting. People are reaching me from all parts of the city, are giving me updates, I know my colleagues are too, and we're getting a real sense of what people need and how best we can serve them. But we are all trying to catch up with a new reality. So we will be enforcing the Governor's order, the Governor's order is the right thing to do to protect us all. And particularly to protect those who are most vulnerable, the folks over 50 with those preexisting health conditions and particularly folks over 70, even if they're pretty healthy, those are the people in most vulnerable - those are our loved ones, our friends, our neighbors, the people we worship with that we need to take care of.
So, acting on the State's order, we're going to do all we can to educate people to help them understand how to live with this new reality, how to work together, how to support each other. It's not going to happen overnight. It's not going to be perfect the first time, but we do know that we're going to be able to help people understand how to make it work and that we all have to make it work. We all have to do this together. So, you'll see folks from your city government led by the NYPD out there, reminding people, educating people, warning people to make sure we get this right.
So, let me go over a few other matters, starting again with the State order. Again, starts to take full effect on Sunday night at 8:00 pm, 100 percent of nonessential workers must stay home. But there are a number of industries and businesses that are essential – those that provide food, groceries, obviously food delivery, pharmacies, mass transit, healthcare, that's, those are the areas that of course will be protected – will keep going. But I think it's as simple as this. If you don't need to be out, you shouldn't be out, and if you can be home, you should be home. That's what it really comes down to. Especially for those folks most vulnerable, as I mentioned, you know, folks who at this moment are vulnerable to this disease, let's just think about it, we don't want them to take any chances whatsoever. If anyone in those categories wants to go outside for a little bit, I get it, but please, absolutely distance from anyone around you and as briefly as possible really, really limit the people who come in contact with you. No one should come in contact with anyone over 50 with those preexisting conditions or over 70 in general without checking first to see if you have a temperature, use a thermometer. If you have a temperature over a hundred, you should not be in contact with anyone in those vulnerable categories. People have to be really, really smart about it and always, always practice social distancing. That's six feet apart - wherever you are - except when you're right among your own family members, you go out for a walk, stay six feet apart from people. You go to the grocery store, stay six feet apart from people. Anything you're doing, keep to that rule. Does anyone think it's going to be perfect, no. But if you keep thinking all the time and acting all the time, you'll be able to protect yourself.
For folks who we know were planning gatherings, obviously we're quite clear and it's tough to say, there's so many gatherings we look forward to each year. Anything non-essential should not happen at this point, just has to be postponed. The core of this crisis will certainly go on for weeks, most likely months. If you have to postpone, you'll be postponing for a while, but it is the right thing to do to keep people safe. And I remind people that's true outside as well as inside, that six feet apart matters in either situation. We want to make sure people remember, even when you're doing those basic things, going to the grocery store, going to the pharmacy, you still need to keep six feet apart. And again, we're going to ask the NYPD and other agencies to keep an eye on places where people are getting a little too crowded and to go in and remind people to separate and spread out. I don't think most New Yorkers need a lot of reminding of what this pandemic means and the dangers it brings, but we're all human beings, we're social, we're used to being close together, especially in this City. I know the NYPD and others will do a great job of making sure we’re reminded to do the smart thing and the healthy thing and the safe thing.
Okay, let me now talk to you about the overall situation. And this is the part of each briefing that I really hate to give cause it's just astounding and it gets worse each time. But my job is to tell you the truth and my job is to tell you the facts that you need to know, so here we go. As of 10:00 am today we can confirm in New York City, 5,151 cases confirmed of Coronavirus and to give you perspective, that is now about one-third of all the coronavirus cases in the United States of America. It is about two-thirds of the cases in the State of New York. I hate to say this, but it's true, we are now the epicenter of the crisis right here in the nation's largest city. And we have so much we have to do.
The City, we are doing everything that we possibly can. People are giving us ideas every day. We're running with those ideas. We're trying to create new things to help people. We're, we're our public servants are doing an amazing job. A lot of people are coming forward from the private sector offering help from the philanthropic center - sector. They're so many people offering help from individuals like those amazing medical professionals who've come forward over 2000 of those retirees who have volunteered to come back to help. Business people big and small, offering to give anything they have to help this City. So many amazing positive stories and that reminds me just how good New Yorkers are and how much we're going to really find a way to get through this together.
So, the City government is doing everything it knows how, New Yorkers, businesses, nonprofit organizations, community groups, houses of worship – everyone's chipping in – State of New York, doing the right thing, the right policy to protect us all and taking a lot of the other right moves to be careful to make sure we all get through this. Everything makes sense until you get to the federal government. And I still can't understand it. Every day that I talk to you, I cannot understand what's going on here. There was another big press conference by the President and his key officials. They were talking about what is undoubtedly one of the biggest crises in this country in generations, one of the biggest threats to our national security in generations, and, yet, essentially, today, the President offered no new evidence of action. I don’t understand why he won’t do the single simplest thing that would help us and help this whole country mobilize our armed forces. We need their ability – their logistical ability, their operational ability, their extraordinary personnel, including their extraordinary medical personnel. We need them here, we need them now, it's as simple as that. And the orders still have not been given, the same with the Defense Production Act. We have been waiting and waiting. The President said today he would utilize it, but there's no specific evidence of that confirming to us any specific supplies or equipment being built manufactured— distributed. We have nothing yet to tell us when we're going to get help and we need it. Continue to appeal to our congressional delegation, which has been very supportive. I'm reaching out to cabinet secretaries. I'm reaching out to the Vice President, anyone who will listen. But we need the President's full authority utilize under Defense Production Act so that it will actually turn into thousands of ventilators, millions of surgical masks, all the things that New York needs.
And by the way, I've warned people in two or three weeks at this rate, we're going to run out, but that's the beginning of the crisis. Later in April, into May, it gets worse. So, we need the Federal Government to act. Senator Schumer to his credit is playing extraordinary role. He has offered this Marshall Plan for hospitals. That's exactly what we need to give our health care community what they need, the supplies, the equipment, everything they need. But listen, it also to his great credit, recognizes that States and Localities are right now bearing massive new expenses and are stressed in huge ways and we need the financial relief to so we can help our people and our people need money back in their pockets and the federal government can do that. So again, thank you to Senator Schumer for all you are doing. I want to give a number of updates about actions quickly that the City is taking. And then I'll turn to our police commissioner and then our School's Chancellor.
Let me just say, I mentioned earlier of the sheer number of cases, again, 5,151 – an astounding number – 29 people in this city have passed away because of coronavirus. We've lost 29 New Yorkers and that number is sure to keep growing very, very sadly. In terms of the boroughs, we have 1,406 cases this as again as of 10 am this morning. 1,406 cases in Queens— 1,518 cases in Brooklyn 1,304 – I'm sorry, 1,314 cases in Manhattan, 667 cases in the Bronx and 242 cases in Staten Island. Let me tell you about some of the things we're going to do. — Chancellor will go into more detail on the question of our enrichment centers. These are the new centers we've never had them before, this is a brand new thing. And I want to thank everyone at the Department Education. Everyone, our educators, our staff, our – senior leadership, everyone, these, these folks have been working nonstop to get this ready. This, these are the enrichment centers to provide education and to give a safe place to the kids have, are absolutely essential. Workers are our healthcare workers, our first responders, and our transit workers. We know we need all of those workers at the front where they're needed most and they need to have their kids someplace safe. So, they will open up on – Monday morning, there'll be 93 to begin, but we could well be adding more. A 76 of those will be a K to 12 education centers – 17 will be early childhood grades only. And these sites can handle well over 50,000 students. It's not going to be anywhere near that number to begin but it could grow much more as we go along and we want to be ready for anything.
The first group, of course again, is health care workers, first responders, transit workers, I've identified them before. All of them will be able to once confirmed, of course we'll be able to have the kids— go to these schools and centers during the school day. For the department education staff who will be working at the centers and the food— distribution locations, I'll be talking about those in a moment. Of course, their children as well we'll have that opportunity, for the frontline investigators and child protective workers in the Administration of Children's Services who protect kids against child abuse. The same for Department of Corrections essential staff, the same for Department of Homeless Services and Human Resources Administration shelter staff and key contracted staff, the same and for sanitation essential staff. And that obviously means in case of corrections and sanitation, our frontline workers as well. So – we will be getting all the details out on the different categories of City workers and – other workers who qualified to have this opportunity for the kids. Those categories are not a final, meaning, we will reserve the right over the next few days into next week to add as we see what's going on, as we hear from additional folks what they need. I mentioned the feeding sites – we're going to be doing a lot of work in these next weeks and months on new ways of feeding New Yorkers. – In terms of feeding, in this case we mean grab and go meals. So this is not people sitting down, of course we're trying to enforce social distancing in every way we can. So, the grab and go meals would be for any young person under 18, whether they go to a public school or any other kind of school. 435 sites we'll be opening on Monday, they will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. A young person can come and get all three meals at once or any combination – for limited hours and a day on the early part of the day. Details will all be posted – we've got – this is based on sites that were either part of our summer food program from last summer, about a hundred of those sites are being used here. A number of other sites where we see a very high level of kids who during the school year get school meals at a reduced rate or free because of their status economically. We're also to have a special initiative to get food to the homes of medically fragile students. Those are students who really need particular help the Department of Education is going to have a special plan for them. And we're working with Door Dash and we want to help them, excuse me, we want to thank them for their help in making this possible. Everyone who stepped up to make these feeding sites possible, I want to thank all of you. There are a lot of public servants, everyone out there I just want to say a lot of public servants who know it's a tough situation. There's a lot of fear, there's a lot of anxiety, but they're stepping forward anyway to help their fellow New Yorkers, and I want to commend all of them.
Some other quick updates – there’ve been real questions about the small business grants and loans that we announced over a week ago. Want to make sure we're clear about how that works and I want us to do a better job of keeping this information straight forward and clear for a small business folks who need them going forward. The grants for businesses with five or fewer employees who have lost 25 percent or more of revenue, that application has been online and live since last Tuesday – and we have now 466 applications, they will all be processed by Monday and money will go into people's bank accounts on Monday. For the businesses with fewer than a hundred employees, and those that also lost 25 percent or more of their revenue, there’s a huge demand for those loans. We are not going to be able to meet the full demand immediately. We'll do our best to reach as many as we can initially, that's about 400 businesses as well. Those businesses will be able to process their applications tomorrow, beginning tomorrow and the money, the loan money will be in their bank accounts by the end of this coming week. So that one we're still playing some catch up on, but we should have money in people's hands by the end of this coming week.
On our City Parks, this is another one that pains me again. I'm a parent, I love our parks for my own experiences with them, but also all of the time I spent with my kids in our parks. It pains me to tell you we have to cancel all field permits— we cannot allow any events, we cannot allow any team sports. And I'm someone who loves team sports in every form. And it really, I'm very sorry I have to tell you that. But, it's just unfortunately pretty much all team sports come with people getting in close proximity and that's how this disease spreads. So, we're not going to be able to allow any permits for that. We're going to urge everyone to exercise on their own and socially distance to the best of their abilities. And parents are going to have a tough time with this and kids are going to have a tough time with this and it's not going to be perfect. But do the best you can to live in this new reality. Again, is it going go on forever? No. It will be a certain number of weeks, a certain number of months. We don't know exactly what it will be, but it will not be forever, we know it will be finite. We know this crisis will end. So, it's – we had tough, tough adjustment, but we have to be clear about keeping people safe. There's been real good questions about bike lanes and bike usage, so it seems to be a real surge in bike usage, that's fantastic. We want to support that; we're going to begin by installing temporary bike lanes hopefully by the end of next week. First of all, in an area very, very important Second Avenue, Manhattan between 34th and 42nd street, a temporary bike lane. They're also on Smith Street and Brooklyn, part of Smith Street that does not have a bike lane. We'll put in a temporary one there. We’ll be looking for other areas all over the city that need them. Certainly, want to encourage people to use bikes as much as they can at this moment. And we'll have constant updates on that.
Now, when it comes to another way that people get around our ferries, we do have, unfortunately, we do have to reduce some of our ferry service because there simply isn't a ridership to you know, justify the kind of frequency we have now, and we have to be smart about that. Every resource right now has to be used best to fight coronavirus. Every part of the city government has to support every other part. So, we will have to reduce frequency because we just see many fewer people. Staten Island ferry ridership is down 70 percent compared to the same point last year. We will still have ferry service, but we need people to, of course, be smart about social distancing and they will have fewer trips. And so, we have to be really smart about keeping an eye on that, keeping that balance. It will not be a huge change. We'll be reducing weekday schedules from four to three boats during rush hours. So, you'll still have regular service, it'll just be somewhat less. And that will go into effect this Sunday at midnight. The same for New York city ferry. NYC ferry reductions will begin next week. We'll get the exact details. Obviously, we will be careful to protect the times that people need the ferry the most during morning and evening rush hour. But there will be reductions as service details to be announced.
So, concluding and then a few words in Spanish. Look, just to say, anyone out there is confused, you're not alone. If you feel afraid, you are not alone. If you're anxious, you're not alone. Everyone is – all of us are trying to make sense of this. But I'll tell you something – and I really, really believe it New Yorkers are so strong. There are other places in this country – and I love this whole country – but there are other places in this country this may be a particular shock to the system, but here New Yorkers have dealt with every single thing ever thrown at them, and we've had a lot thrown at us. We are a tough people by nature and that's something to be proud of. So, everyone, you know, lets depend on that. Let's believe in that. Let's believe in also the compassion in New Yorkers, that ability to help each other out no matter what. We've seen that time and time again. Let's depend on that again. Let's be there for each other. A few words in Spanish.
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, I'm going to turn to our Police Commissioner. I'll just say this, Commissioner Shea and I have been talking over these last days. This is going to be a new reality for the NYPD. There's no force on earth more effective, more capable than the NYPD. There's no group of professionals, more agile, more sophisticated than the men and women of the NYPD. But there's an added positive reality here. And Dermot Shea is one of the people that created neighborhood policing from scratch over these last six years to really connect our officers more deeply to their neighborhoods, to build personal relationships to really understand what was going on block by block, to get to know the people who run those grocery stores and those pharmacies that are so crucial right now. So, our officers, kind of, in a way had a head start on this crisis and with the neighborhood policing strategy. We'll have a real understanding of where they need to be to help educate people to help people remember to keep moving on and dealing with these new rules. So, the NYPD is going to be absolutely crucial in this crisis, but I am convinced they are more than ready to meet the moment.
With that, I turn you to our Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I'll give you a brief overview of what we're seeing throughout the city as it relates to the Police Department. In terms of crime in the city, we've seen a downturn and then about the last week since as with dealing with this crisis, as you see crowds disappearing on streets and other areas, that has translated to a decrease in crime. We've also seen a decrease in calls to 911 for service throughout the city. With one notable exception, calls for service regarding sick patients and that has seen obviously an increase as expected.
I want to thank the public and all the other city agencies, some of whom are sitting here, for the cooperation that has really been seamless as we've all come together to deal with this crisis, really as one city. Men and women of the Police Department, uniform and civilian, the message to the public is they are out there, they are out there in force, and they are there to keep people safe. Whether it's at a school for kids to pick up lunches, whether it's traffic agents, expediting ambulances to get to a hospital, the men and women of the Police Department remain committed to being out there. There has been a toll to this. As we look at the Police Department’s sick, we've seen a notable increase the last four days picking up. That is something that we are watching closely, but I will tell you that at this point we remain very well resourced to handle any and all obstacles that come our way. But we are watching that closely.
As I sit here, the number is probably changing and it has changed throughout the last 24 hours. But we have at this point in time, 52 members of the NYPD that have tested positive for coronavirus. That ranges from civilian members to the executive level. The very good news is, only 1 out of 52 is hospitalized at this time and that's hospitalized with pneumonia like symptoms. So, our hearts and prayers go out to the members and their families with that respect.
What are we doing now? We are paying extremely close attention, as the Mayor said, to areas where people are gathering for good reason. Grocery stores are at the top of our list. Grocery stores, hospitals, the schools and the many facilities in the board of ed that will be open for both children and for picking up breakfast and lunch. So, that remains a focus point in the next period going forward. In terms of the grocery stores and the bars and the restaurants with these new orders of closings. Certainly the, the food establishments and the grocery stores remain open, but we also ask for continued cooperation in terms of just managing any volumes of people.
The good news is we consider about 500 locations that I would categorize as large establishments throughout New York City. We have been to them all and we have not seen any major problems. We have issued very few summonses to any establishments because of the level of cooperation that we've seen. so it's about education, it's about working with each other, and it's about the social distancing that Dr. Barbot has been preaching now, seems like years, but it's really about weeks. So, we will continue to work with the communities that we serve every day to keep continuing to spread that word. We ask for your continued cooperation at this time of certainly stress for all New Yorkers, but again, thank you for all the cooperation.
Mayor: Thank you, Commissioner. I just want to thank you. Again, the men and women of the NYPD have been outstanding in this moment and really want to thank you for reminding people, again, this is one of the leading – I would argue, the preeminent public safety official in the United States of America. And what he's saying here is, that in fact, what the NYPD is finding, is the vast majority of New Yorkers are abiding by the new rules even before today, are being clear about their responsibilities to each other, the responsibilities to their community, and are listening to the constant information that they're getting about coronavirus and taking it seriously. So, I actually think as we go into this new phase with the new plan put forward by the state, that New Yorkers are going to adapt to it quickly, and the NYPD will be there to help. And if anyone needs a reminder, they'll get that reminder. If anyone needs to be reminded that you got to stick to the rules and keep moving along, the NYPD will do that. But I think new Yorkers are ready to listen, and their respect for the NYPD is great, and for all the other agencies that will help with the enforcement. So, thank you very, very much, Commissioner. Appreciate it. And we all share for you – with you, I'm sorry – the thoughts and prayers for your members who are ill, particularly the member who's hospitalized. And that's true for all of our public servants who are dealing with these challenges now and all their families.
I want to turn to our School's Chancellor now to give an update on what is starting Monday. And as he comes up, Chancellor, I have to commend you again and your team. You were asked to do something that's never been done in the history of New York City before, and you were asked to do it in a week's time. And I know it won't be perfect, but you and your team have really done an extraordinary job moving mountains here. And a lot of kids and families are going to benefit and a lot of kids are having, are getting food right now because of what you and your team have done.
Thank you. Please.
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. So, I want to echo what the Mayor has talked about, what our Police Commissioner has talked about, what Dr. Barbot has talked about. This is a time to be aware and it's not a time to be panicked. It is a time to follow instructions. And I've been so inspired, Mr. Mayor as I've been out in the city looking at the professional development, but more importantly speaking virtually with many of my colleagues across the system. When you think about in a matter of days, the largest school system in America is going to completely switch its instructional delivery method in a matter of three, four days. That's unheard of and it's only possible because of the incredible educators that we have in our schools and leaders that lead as principals and the support team that we have in place. I've also – I'm also going to take just a moment here to say thank you to our custodians, our school safety agents, our school food and nutrition workers who have all shown up every day without fail to make sure that our students have what they need, whether it's food, but that we have clean facilities that are disinfected and deep cleaned every single day, and keeping our building safe and secure as well. I want to thank them. I haven't heard one complaint from them to say they don't want to come in, so I want to thank them for what they do.
Our school teachers and administrators as well. We're about to go into the very big unknown, but we're excited because there are many schools in New York City that have already had some version of virtual learning, distance learning, remote learning, but this is an opportunity for us to take this to scale. So I'm thankful that on Monday we will switch to a remote learning model where our students will continue to be able to get the instruction they need over the next few weeks, hopefully not months, but whatever the time period is we will be able to continue to have them engaged academically. It doesn't mean that there won't be hiccups, and Mr. Mayor, I appreciate that you have said we are in uncharted waters and there will be hiccups. But the good thing is that we all recognize that a good is not going to be the opposite of a perfect, and we're going to continue to work through those hiccups as we build this new –
Mayor: Perfect is the enemy of good.
Chancellor Carranza: Perfect is the enemy of good. Yes, sir. So, there will be hiccups, but we're going to keep the lines of communication open. But not only will students be transitioning to remote learning on Monday, but across the city, and you mentioned this, sir, 439 buildings will serve three meals a day to any student that wants one. No identification is required. No identifying what school you come from. If you show up, you will be able to get not only breakfast and lunch, but also dinner, all at one stop. Now you mentioned that these sites were specifically chosen. 100 of sites were chosen because they were high participation sites in summer of 2019 and the remaining sites are schools where more than 50 percent of the students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. So we're trying to be very strategic in terms of where we locate these sites. To find a site near you, it's very easy. Just search free meals on the DOE website, free meals, or you can call 3-1-1. Or starting Monday, you can text food, F-O-O-D, or comida, C-O-M-I-D-A to 8-7-7-8-7-7, that simple.
Mayor: Say the name of the DOE website.
Chancellor Carranza: It’s www.nycschools. So, please it's that simple. 3-1-1 or texting 8-7-7-8-7-7, food or comida. We're also opening 93 regional education enrichment centers serving up to 57,000 students whose parents are on the front lines serving our city, including first responders, health care workers, transit workers. We will also be serving the essential staff – other essential staff including sanitation workers, DHS and HRA, shelter staff, ACS staff, and obviously the DOE staff that are reporting to the regional enrichment centers and serving food all day. 76 will be K-12 centers in 17 will be early education childhood centers. And again, we want to thank our first responders and our essential workers for keeping our city going. Students at these educational enrichment centers will be there from 7:30 am until 6:00 pm and they will participate in remote learning with their school as well as any art or physical education activities that we have. I personally had been blown away by the fact that we have 2,000 volunteers that have thus far volunteered and signed up to staff these centers. We've also heard the call to expand the eligibility for these centers and we are evaluating in the coming days and weeks our capacity to be able to meet that need as well.
So, the work isn't going to be easy and it's probably not going to be flawless, but I am very proud of the work and the labor that my colleagues in the Department of Education have put into making sure with a compassionate heart that our 1.1 million students will be served for either weeks or months, but they will be served. We have a long road ahead, but I'm confident that together we will be able to make this a reality for all of our students.
Mayor: Thank you very much Chancellor. Now we will turn to Olivia who will be our moderator. Go ahead Olivia.
Olivia Lapeyrolerie: So, just a quick note at the top for folks, we want to get to as many people as possible, but in order to do that, we ask that you limit your questions to two max. And with that we're going turn it over to Yoav for the first question.
Mayor: I see have reverse the order here. Go ahead, Yoav.
Lapeyrolerie: Changing it up on a Friday.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. Hi, so two questions. One we seem to be hearing about a surprising number of younger people who are hospitalized and even in the ICU and supposedly many of them do not have preconditions. I'm just wondering if your Health Department is seeing that and whether there's any consideration to changing the messaging so that perhaps some of the healthy young adults don't continue to think of themselves as very low risk personally?
Commissioner Oxiris Barbot, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: So, let me start off by saying that from the beginning we have made clear that even though the individuals who are most at risk for bad outcomes are people above 50 with chronic underlying illnesses, we have also been saying that they're not the only ones who are at risk. That certainly we have had young people not only infected but also have been ill. We have not seen a large number of young people hospitalized, but the reality is that, and I just want to sort of take a pause here because we're in a somber moment in this outbreak, right? We've gone from a period of three weeks of having single digit cases to then having double digit daily cases to then having triple digit daily cases, and now we are in the thousands every day of new individuals infected with COVID-19.
So it's inevitable that there will be individuals infected with COVID-19 that represent the spectrum of New Yorkers from the young to the very old, and certainly the reason why I have such urgency with people staying in their homes is because every time New Yorkers go out unnecessarily, they are adding potential flame to the fire of spreading COVID-19, and my concern is that right now we are in the single digits, thankfully, thankfully, thankfully, single digits of people dying, reporting dying every day. But I wouldn't be surprised if we get to a day where we have double digits, new people dying every day. And so, it's incumbent on all of us, young and old and especially the young who may think that they are invincible to stay the heck indoors every time they go out unnecessarily, it puts others at risk.
So, thank you for that question because I want New Yorkers to be clear that no one, and I've said this before, it's an opportunity to really hammer home the point, no one literally is immune to this. This is a novel virus that we have never seen before and everyone is at risk for being infected. Thankfully what we've seen is that, yeah 80 percent of the people who do become infected do have mild courses. But the reality is that there are, and there have been, and there will be young people who have bad outcomes as a result of this. So, it's an incumbent on all of us to do our part, to take personal responsibility for our behavior, to be civically responsible, to stay indoors, especially if you have symptoms and to only go to the doctor if you're getting worse.
Question: Okay. Thank you. And one other question, I just want to get some clarity that there appears to be a kind of new directive from the Health Department that says “outpatient tech testing must not be encouraged, promoted or advertised”. And I'm just wondering because there was a kind of a drive through, I forget what you call it, a drive through testing site on Staten Island. I don't know if that was set up by the City or State, but given that directive would, would the administration like to see those drive through efforts stopped?
Commissioner Barbot: So, again, we have been clear that testing is best indicated for people who are symptomatic, have chronic underlying illnesses, and are not getting better. To the extent that health systems are using these types of testing sites to offload volume from their emergency departments, then that we think is okay. But we've been clear from the very beginning. We do not encourage and we actively discourage asymptomatic people from getting tested because it's squandering scarce resources, not only in terms of tests, but also in terms of the personal protective equipment that's required by health care workers when doing these tests, which include masks, gowns, gloves, all of which we will desperately need, as this epidemic continues. We are only at the very beginning, and so it's incumbent on us to protect those valuable resources, and testing asymptomatic people is a waste of time.
Mayor: Yeah. And so, Yoav, we – any testing center set up by the City or State is working on a priority basis and a reservation basis. That's the standard we're working with our two health commissioners, City and State, talk constantly. What we have all agreed to is on the, the testing centers we've announced around Health + Hospitals facilities, you call, you speak to a clinician, they determine if you need testing. If you're a priority person, you get a reservation. This is the way it's going to go for testing for the foreseeable future until and unless we have a really, really substantial supply of testing and we can have different standards. But that is clear. And I do think to make clear to folks that, you know, it 80 percent and this continues to be seen in the statistics, 80 percent of people have a mild experience. For those folks, if you stay home, if you are able to ride this out, you may never need to be tested. And we have to be clear that that is in an imperfect situation, that's a virtue if folks can, and we actually, bluntly, a lot of people already have – some of them didn't even know they were sick with anything special. I mean, we know this, that some people had this disease and had a very minimal impact from it and just wrote it out. Other people we know are tremendous danger. So we have to keep focused on where the need is greatest and that's how the testing programs will go. Go ahead, Olivia.
Lapeyrolerie: Matt Chayes, you’re up next.
Question: Thank you Olivia. Mr. Mayor, I know you're in close contact with the Governor and you've been working very closely together. But I'm looking for you to be specific about the extent to which his executive order that he signed on Wednesday limits which you as Mayor can do and also how it limits what you can do under the two orders you've already signed? And then I have a question for the Police Commissioner once you've answered that.
Mayor: Yeah, Matt, I think that we have done previously, it continues. The State to the best of my knowledge agrees with it. There's nothing changing on the actions we've taken so far. And the Governor's order is for the entire State, and I think as a very simple way to characterize it. It says that localities need to defer to the State, and if we want to do something specifically, we go to the state, we talk it through. If there's agreement, either the state's going to do it or we're going to do it, but it's going to be done with a common understanding. That makes sense to me in a time of crisis. So that's how we'll operate.
Question: Thank you very much. And for Commissioner Shea assuming your officers ask nicely and a person is not on an authorized outdoor excursion and is intransigent, what will the response be for failing to obey?
Commissioner Shea: There's a range of available methods that can be taken. You know, and ultimately summons and arrest is one of those options, but that's the last resort. And as I stated when I opened today, what we have been encountering from the beginning of this is overwhelmingly cooperation. When you look at the summonses that have been issued, when you look at the initial things that were put into place regarding these bars and restaurants, single digits in a city of 8.6 million people, and not only single digits, I think closer to two is I believe the last number I saw. So certainly, with anything that we put into place in New York City. There are many laws on the books, but we start with a conversation and we progressed from there. And by and large what we have gotten is cooperation and we anticipate more in the same.
Lapeyrolerie: Mark Morales from CNN.
Question: Hey, Mr. Mayor, how are you Commissioner? I just had a couple of questions – actually two questions for the Police Commissioner. The first one is, is there going to be any plan to say going to a place like Prospect Park for instance, that just seems like it's very crowded and either kick people out of the park but to reduce how many people are there? And the other question I have is just the Department ha have anything like a pandemic plan in place and if it does, what are the elements and has that being implemented?
Mayor: Let me jump in on the first part because we are obviously putting together our approach. This action by the State is very new. Again, I agree with it fully, but it's a new reality we're going to acclimate to. I know Prospect Park like the back of my hand, spent, you know, decades around it. If you had – think of a very, very crowded Prospect Park the goal is not to kick people out. The goal is to get people to create some distance of some space from each other. There's already officers who patrol in Prospect Park. They'll go and say that people getting too close together spread out. And you know, find – there is lots of different parts of the park spread out, make sure you're safe. And we'll be doing that all over the city and wherever we can find opportunities to open up additional spaces. One of the things I want to make sure we're working on is school yards, for example. We want to maximize spaces for people, but the goal is not to kick anyone out who's, you know, getting some exercise. The goal is to space them out and to make sure that people don't linger too long, because the goal of course is once you've gotten your exercise to get back home. You can take the rest, Commissioner
Commissioner Shea: In terms of the second part of the question, when you talk about planning for a pandemic, that's what we do. We plan for large scale events. When you look at tabletop exercises, when you look at organizations such as the NYPD and how we plan with the Fire Department, EMS, Office of Emergency Management, all of the partners. And that's whether it's for a terrorist strike, whether it's a New York City Marathon or any other events. Certainly, this coronavirus that we're seeing now is a new page. But many of the things that we are seeing now are things that we have quite frankly planned for in terms of immediacy, in terms of going into hot zones and working with our partners, in terms of planning for longer term outages of water, food, electricity. So what – pulling this altogether, this is a very, very fluid situation that we're involved with. But as I said, whether it's patrol strength, switching to 12-hour tours, dealing with less resources, these are things that we plan for the worst on a daily basis. And I think that many, much of that planning is providing very useful today.
Lapeyrolerie: Thanks, Mark. Up next is Julia.
Question: Can you hear me?
Question: Kind of related to Yoav’s question, the City Health Department – maybe this is a question for Dr. Barbot, put out demographics that found most of the city's positive cases are men between the ages of 18 to 49. Can Dr. Barbot discuss why that is?
Commissioner Barbot: So, I think it's too early in the outbreak to make any informed opinions about what that might be. But it does sort of draw attention to the fact as we have said in the past, that we are encouraging those in that age group who are not symptomatic, not to be tested, and that we are encouraging folks who are mildly symptomatic to remain home. You know, I know that recently there have been reports where worldwide, it seems like men have worse outcomes than women. Again, I think it's premature to make any sort of inferences on what that might mean because especially here in New York City, we're only at the very, very, very beginning of this outbreak. And while for example, places like Italy, you may see that disparity, in places like Korea it's a 50-50 split. So, I think it's too early to tell.
Lapeyrolerie: Thanks. Julie, do you have an additional question or a follow up?
Question: I don’t. Thank you.
Lapeyrolerie: Thank you. Up next is Joe Anuta.
Mayor: Who is that?
Lapeyrolerie: Joe Anuta.
Lapeyrolerie: Joe you're up. Okay. We can't hear Joe. Joe, we'll come back to you. Jen. Jennifer from the AP is up next.
Question: Can you hear me?
Question: Thank you Mr. Mayor. And this is actually a question for the Schools Chancellor. I was wondering if you could enlighten us a little bit more about the nuts and bolts of what the preparation for remote learning has entailed both technologically and then the teacher training, and in communications with families?
Chancellor Carranza: Sure. So, thank you. So, it's important to recognize that as I mentioned in my comments, there are a number of schools in the New York City Department of Education that are very, very far along this path, have been doing this for a while, have very sophisticated systems and structures and have really done a great job. We've been trying to capture those best practices as part of our ramp up as well. And then we have some schools that this is the first time they will ever try remote learning. So, we do have a differentiated group of colleagues out there. So in order to do that, what we've done is we've created tutorials for all of our teachers. We've vetted and curated lots of different virtual, not only learning sites but also activity sites. We're working with a number of partners, third-party partners that have great resources. Everything from being able to take virtual trips to do virtual treasure hunts, and then students get to write about it. They're all grade specific, they're grade aligned -- standards aligned. We have given guidance and we'll continue to give guidance to teachers around being able to, for example structure a learning day so that students have multiple opportunities to explore different content areas. A student in middle school or in high school for example, may have a math assignment, then if they are having difficulty with that math assignment, there's a hot link in their Google classroom where they can click and go to the Khan Academy and get a tutorial on how to solve for those issues. That's the kind of support that we're trying to provide for our teachers. And I have to say that a number of the things that we've been able to curate are coming right from our teachers as well. So, this has been a good discovery process for us.
For parents and for students, it is also a shift in the learning environment for them. So we're putting guidance out to parents in terms of what they can do. And parents can be as involved or not in terms of guiding what their children are doing in this environment. We're going to ask that parents do support us and make sure that they understand that we want students to participate in the remote learning activities. It's only going to benefit them. But we also recognize the fact that parents are under a lot of stress right now. And we know that there, there's multiple things happening in family dynamics. So, we understand that as well. But we just want to make sure that parents and students and teachers have what they need to be able to have robust learning that happens in the very near future. One last thing that I'll say is that we are also paying special attention to our vulnerable students. So, students with disabilities, our English language learner students, our students in – that are homeless. So, we have very specific plans that teachers in their schools are working on with those students. For example, students with disabilities – they're being reached out to, they've been reached out to this whole week and they're developing certain ways of working with those students. Some of them you would expect to be easier than others. For example, students that need speech therapy, you can do that in a virtual environment rather easily. But students that need physical therapy, it requires a whole other dynamic. So it's not a cookie cutter approach. And we're working through those issues right now. We also are addressing the device and the digital divide between our students. We have about 25,000 Wi-Fi enabled computers that we're starting to distribute on Monday and we'll continue to. We have others already planned and schools using their own stock of computers that usually stay in the school and they're assigning them to students to be able to take home. A lot of moving parts. And I know I gave you a lot of information but a very complex implementation. I'm really proud of our team.
Lapeyrolerie: Back to Joe. Oh, sorry, Jennifer, continue.
Question: Thanks for that. And following on that, I know that there have been some students who tried to pick up a device this week and were unable to, they ran out or what have you. What guidance are you giving them for what they should do until next week if they don’t have the equipment on Monday?
Chancellor Carranza: Yeah, so I'm going to encourage all families to stay in close contact with their school because the school will have the most up to date information pertaining to their particular distribution. But – and remember devices are coming in all the time. But we also have more than two weeks’ worth of paper and pencil assignments and activities and packets that are available as well. Those will be available at the hubs that I spoke of where parents and students can come and pick up breakfast, lunch and dinner. They can also pick up assignments. So again, it's very simple, www.schools.nyc.gov. There is a link right on the homepage there that'll take you to home learning and it has lots of information. You can also call 3-1-1 and we'd be happy to help.
Lapeyrolerie: Up next is Jeff Mays. Then we're going to go back to Joe. Jeff?
Question: Yes. This is for the Commissioner. There have just been some calls for the NYPD to cut down on low level enforcement. And some district attorneys have said they will not prosecute such arrests. Does the NYPD plan to curb some of its enforcement activity or have you already begun to do that?
Commissioner Shea: So, if you look at where we are in New York City, we've dramatically cut our enforcement over really the last six years. I'm very comfortable where we are right now in terms of policing in this city. It continues to evolve. As I said before, the primary focus that I want to get out today is the men and women in the New York City Police Department are out there. They're out there to keep people safe. Whether you're a crime victim or whether you're a person dealing with this crisis, and we're going to continue to do that.
Question: But have you cut enforcement?
Commissioner Shea: I'm sorry?
Question: But have you caught enforcement?
Mayor: Not because I, just to clarify it. Not something different because of what's happened in the last few weeks?
Commissioner Shea: We have no intention of strategically cutting enforcement specifically related to this coronavirus. But as I said before, we have through precision policing exhibited what I like to think is the best policing model in this country for the last six years. And we'll continue to do that.
Mayor: Yeah. Jeff, I want to add to that. I think there's – we got two historical trends kind of coming together here and we got to understand that. Six years of nonstop adjustment, and I always remind people, the day Bill Bratton said to me, it was a very, a revelatory day for me learning from, you know, one of the great police leaders of our time. And he said, you know, arrest is just one tool. And obviously some years ago before this administration, arrest was overused and stops were overused. And what Bill Bratton said is we need to understand that arrests have a place, summonses have a place, warnings have a place. There are all different tools that police can use, but really what you need to do is treat police officers as the professionals they are. Train them, constantly support them, constantly give them discretion. And honestly, in the past, and the Commissioner knows much more than me. Went on the job in 1991 in the South Bronx in a tough, tough time. But in truth, for a long time, our officers were not given the respect to get the kind of training they deserved and the opportunity to use that training and that discretion. When you combine that with a constant devotion to reducing unnecessary arrest, reducing stops profoundly, turning to summons is more and warnings more while keeping people safe. And we do know, notwithstanding the last few months where we've had some aberrant realities. Overall, we're at the safest point in New York City since the 1950’s. That six-year trend was already highly established, deeply established before coronavirus became a major reality in our lives in the last few weeks. So, I would argue the adjustment already happened and there's not a lot of additional adjustment that needs to happen. Our police officers obviously focus now in this new reality starting Sunday, on educating and warning and helping people do the right thing. But we also have to keep people safe. And the Commissioner and I've talked a lot about the last few months and we saw some things we did not like that we have to address and we have to keep an eye on that. I'm heartened to hear that crime has gone down recently, obviously interconnected with the last few weeks. But Jeff, I'm just trying to put that all in perspective. I think we would argue that we got to a good balance point and we're not moving off that simply because of what we've seen in the last few weeks. We'll continue to watch if something changes. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. But I think we feel good about where we are.
Lapeyrolerie: Back to Joe.
Question: Can you hear me?
Question Okay, great. Hi Mr. Mayor. I have two questions for you. The first I don't know if you've seen, there's this new data analysis out there that says hospital visits will overwhelm capacity next week. I think that this gentleman Michael [inaudible] is predicting 3,000 visits by Tuesday, 8,000 by Friday in 15,000 early next week.
Mayor: I'm sorry to interrupt Joe, just to make sure we're speaking the same language. When you say visits, do you mean hospitalizations?
Question: Hospitalizations from a coronavirus, yes. And I'm curious if you could just give us an update? I know there are lots of plans to bring additional capacity online. Where are we today and sort of can you give any specifics about when we'll see some of the reserves brought online?
Mayor: I'll start and then pass to Dr. Katz. Joe, I've only a glancing sense of that particular production. There's a lot of projections that are being looked at right now. But what I've said over the last few days I think is the summation, the sort of simple version of the projections that we're seeing. Which is for the remainder of March, we believe our hospital system in its current state can handle what is obviously a very, very intense surge of cases. When, I mean our system, and again, Dr. Katz and Dr. Barbot will refine what I say as experts. But that our public system and our voluntary system having now shed a huge amount of activity with the end of elective surgery and ending people's hospital stays appropriately earlier where they could, they have a lot of capacity opened up. And they've obviously been preparing and we believe, you know, over this next week or two, we're prepared to handle that. I've been very blunt about the fact that after two weeks or three weeks, we get into a whole new reality. And that's where we not only need that expansion of space, but we need that expansion of supplies and equipment to start reaching us. We have, as you heard, you know, about 1,200 additional beds we're bringing on rapidly. Some of those will be as early as this coming week. A huge amount of space has been offered us in the hotel industry and others, Deanna Criswell is here, our Emergency Management Commissioner, her teams coordinating that. We are going to be literally bringing stuff online as quickly as we can. But I think it's safe to say that next week will be the beginning of new capacity and then it'll just be rolling over weeks and weeks. So as we get specific numbers, I think, you know, as we get into next week we'll be able to start putting some specific dates and numbers to it. But I do feel that next week for sure, our system has the capacity it needs. Dr. Katz?
President Katz: Well Health + Hospitals which runs 11 acute care hospitals, is very much dealing with the dynamic that you're speaking of and that the Mayor has spoken to. We have been able to open up capacity in the ways that the Mayor has spoken. We're also focused very much on COVID specific care for patients who have COVID, which allows us to provide that care much more efficiently. But I would certainly agree that our hospitals are seeing volumes of patients that they have never seen before. And it's extremely challenging. People are rising to meet that challenge, but it certainly is a difficult situation.
Mayor: Dr. Barbot?
Commissioner Barbot: And Mr. Mayor, if I can add to what you and Dr. Katz have said. Part of the reason why it is so critical for us as New Yorkers to take social distancing really, really, really seriously is because that is our best chance at bending the curve and not overwhelming our health care system. Every time a New Yorker goes out unnecessarily, they risk being exposed. They risk becoming sick to the point of needing to go to the hospital. And we need New Yorkers to stay indoors because all of the measures that we've been talking about in terms of preparing hospitals, securing beds, all of that can be, I'm not going to say avoided because we're far enough along that it's going to be bad. And I've said that and we're preparing for bad. And you know, it doesn't really matter which models you look at, they're all pretty dire. But you know, the reality is that we as New Yorkers have a role to play in protecting our health care workforce. And to the extent that we can stay indoors, not go out unnecessarily will be the best chance that we have at protecting our health care system.
Question: And if I can just ask you a quick follow up question? Mr. Mayor we’ve heard you talk about your requests to the federal government for aid and supplies and --
Mayor: You there, Joe? What happened?
Question: Yeah, I had a quick follow up question?
Mayor Yeah, yeah, go ahead. We heard you and then we lost you. Continue.
Question: Okay. So, we've heard you talk about your request to the federal government for supplies and aid that really, you haven't been getting the response you want. The President said today at his press preference that he's not dealing with you, he's dealing with the Governor. I was wondering if I could get your reaction to that? And also, is it sufficient that the President is only communicating with the Governor of New York and not the Mayor of New York City?
Mayor: Look, his answer was bluntly irresponsible. And first of all, I don't care if it is the President or the Vice President or a cabinet secretary. I don't care who it is. If someone in the administration would tell us that we're going to get the supplies we need in time and would prove to us how that's going to work, I would have only praise and appreciation for them. That's never, ever happened. We haven't gotten a single response from anyone indicating that they have a serious plan to get supplies to New York City, the largest city in the nation, the frontline of this crisis, the place that's bearing the brunt. They just don't have a plan and they're not taking it seriously. So, his response, it was kind of childish really. You know, it was like, I'm taking my ball and going home.
I would think that a responsible president of the United States, and I've had the opportunity to work with previous presidents. None of them in a million years would have thought, you don't talk to the mayor of the nation's largest city when it's the epicenter of a global crisis and how it's affecting the United States of America. It's inconceivable regardless of political differences. Any previous president, you can list them all would have been on the phone talking about how to address this, would have taken our request seriously and personally. And of course, we all are working here in New York City, and any locality through the state, but the State hasn't gotten what is asking for either. So, you know, that answer was just literally an example of running away from the question. Because if he said, Oh, I've, you know what would have been a great answer? You know, I disagree with the Mayor and here's all the things we're doing for New York State, New York City, and you know, these supplies are going to get a 10 million mask next week and they're going to get 15,000 ventilators the week after. And here's how they're being provided. Here's how I'm using the Defense Production Act. Here's how I'm going to have the United States military ensure that these supplies arrive and these military medical personnel will be there in a week. That would've been a great answer. If he has that answer, you can give it. He doesn't need to give it to me. You can give it to anyone, I'll be happy. But he had no answer. That's the truth.
Lapeyrolerie: Henry is up next.
Question: Hello, can you hear me?
Question: Okay. I want to go back to the situation that, or the question that Joe asked about hospital capacity. And I'm just, I'm wondering whether anyone keeps a current tally of the status of New York hospital bed availability, particularly ICU rooms, how many are available now and how many do you need? How many patients are being hospitalized, and what percentage of those people need an ICU?
Mayor: Yeah, Henry, the answer basically is yes and the reason I say basically is, talk about a moving target. I mean we have never experienced anything quite like this, but that's exactly what everyone at Emergency Management is doing, working closely with Health + Hospitals and the Department of Health.
Question: [Inaudible] on this.
Mayor: Well, Henry, again, the numbers move constantly and the projections are constantly updated to determine exactly the equation you put forward. What's your base of beds to begin with, how many are available, especially as a lot have been emptied out for ending elective surgeries and early discharges. How many are now being utilized, how many of your ICU versus non-ICU? This is what they're doing all day long and it helps, obviously, in the process of determining what we need next and how quickly we can get it online. So that's the exercise every single day, honestly.
Question: This is the question really, though, that we have is why don't – why not at 10:00 am every morning we get a status report that gives us the number of hospital rooms available, the number of patients overnight. The number of – what the percentage is of ICU demand of those patients so that the public really has a clear sense of what the City's needs are?
Mayor: I appreciate the question.
Mayor: I appreciate the question Henry. I know it's a straight forward, honest question, but I want to think about that. We have, again, an ever-changing daily, hourly situation. Want to be careful that if we put that information out, it's done in a way that actually is clear and consistent. So that's a conversation I want to have internally before I make a specific commitment to you.
Lapeyrolerie: Gloria is up next. Gloria?
Lapeyrolerie: Can you hear me?
Question: Yes, Mr. Mayor, I just want to ask you, I understand that this this new mandate the Governor put into place today will go into effect on Sunday and if you and the Commissioner could just give New Yorkers an idea of what they can expect come Sunday night what will it look like when they go –
Mayor: Which commissioner, Gloria?
Question: What will it look like when they go out there? How is the NYPD going to enforce this?
Mayor: There we go.
Question: We are still seeing groups of people gathering in the city's parks. I know you're encouraging people to get outside and get the exercise that they need. But we are seeing video and reports of dozens and dozens of people gathering in not what looks like a – not practicing social distancing. How is the NYPD going to enforce all this?
Mayor: Gloria, I – look I understand your question is honest but I want to just say to you this is something we're going to have to figure out how to do that we haven't done before. So I understand the urgency, but I also think people – and I absolutely want to stop social distancing, but I also think we have to be honest about, we're going to figure it out every single day. The reality is, well, I want to be careful, you said encouraging people to go out. I want people to get exercise, but then I want them to get back to their homes. So it's not – I want to be very clear. I know Dr. Barbot will energetically agree with me. It's fair that everyone needs a little bit of air and exercise. They need to walk their dog, go do that. But keep it to what you need and then get back home.
Whether that's the most fun way to live life or not, is not the question. Where in the middle of a crisis, we’re in the middle of a pandemic for God's sakes. Get some exercise, get back home. So it's not, it's not like hang out all day, it's not getting in big groups. And the fact that people are still doing it because they've been doing it their entire lives is not shocking. It's actually amazing, Gloria, that in just a course of days, people have had to stop going to work, stop going to restaurants and bars, stop going to houses of worship, stop doing movie theater. So many things they used to do, like literally every day they're shedding parts of their lives and reality. They know it will come back one day, but it's a big adjustment. So if people are gathering together, we're going to send the NYPD and other agencies out to say, ‘hey, you can't do that because it's a whole new situation here, split up, spread out, go home – if you need to exercise, exercise, that's it, get back home’. Go ahead, Commissioner.
Commissioner Shea: This is an adjustment period clearly and you're going to continue to see that adjustment period evolve in the days to come. I can tell you that this afternoon with the executive staff we met on this topic via teleconference included in that was our Legal Bureau and we're going to be putting out the message to the cops because this is very fluid so that we have uniform – I'll use the word enforcement, but it's not enforcement. It's engagement throughout the city and they are going to be encountering, I'm sure, in a city of 8.6 million people in many countless neighborhoods throughout New York City, groups as people continue to adjust. You're going to – expect to see a continued high visibility policing throughout New York City and they're going to encounter groups at times. The groups are appearing to be smaller and smaller, but they're going to inform them of this order and they're going to politely ask them to disperse. I again, for the third time, I'm going to tell you that people are cooperating. This is what we are seeing all over. New Yorkers adapt like nobody else. Exercise is sometimes a fine line between a gathering, but what we can't have is large groups, gatherings. It goes against everything that we're trying to accomplish through this social distancing. So that's what you can expect to see. Will there be some bumps and learning curve, as we go forward? I'm sure they will, but I think that New Yorkers, together with the men and women of the New York City Police Department, will adapt as we do always, we’ll overcome and we'll get through this together.
Question: And Mr. Mayor, if I could follow up and ask you to provide – do you have an update on the situation at Rikers? How many people have been removed, are you still looking to let more people out? Do you have an update on how many inmates have tested positive there and what's the status of what the city's doing at the Rikers – at the correctional facilities to protect people there?
Mayor: So, nothing new to report on, number of inmates who may have been affected. I gave a report on that yesterday. I have not heard of any change in that. We're absolutely committed to protecting the health of our Corrections officers and our inmates and everyone who works in our Corrections system. And there's a very strong health system in place there. And there's also a lot more space than we used to have because our inmate population is literally half of what it was six years ago. So, we have an initial list of people who are being processed for release, but that requires DAs and/or State approval. We're still waiting on that. Another list is being developed as we speak. You'll see a number of additional names coming – or a number of additional people who will be released, but there's more work to be done. We're trying to do this quickly, but it has to be done very, very smartly. So it's absolutely on our minds. As soon as we have firm numbers on how many people will be released and how quickly, we will update you guys.
Lapeyrolerie: Gersh is up next. Gersh? Hello, Gersh?
Question: Can you hear me? Can you hear me? Hello?
Mayor: Can you hear us?
Question: I can hear you. Yes. Hi, Mr. Mayor, how are you?
Mayor: Good, man – how are you doing?
Question: I have two very quick questions and I'll ask them in order. The Governor's order today declared that car repair shops are essential businesses, but bike repair shops are not. Given the surge in cycling and also how much work the city's bike riding delivery workers are doing, do you think bike repair shops are essential?
Mayor: Well, it's a great question, Gersh. I want to talk to the State about that because you make a good point. But I want to make sure I understand how they're treating that and why. So I will pledge to you that we will raise it to the State this evening and have an answer for you tomorrow.
Question: Okay, good. This is – the second question is a little more complicated. So today you announced two specific locations for temporary bike lanes by the end of the week, with possibly more, but will the additional locations be announced before the end of the week or only after you and DOT review the first two, and perhaps there's other things you're planning, like closing some residential streets entirely to automobiles so people can socialize that at a distance.
Mayor: Okay. Just want to say first hold on. Practical note. Someone's got something that's dinging.
Lapeyrolerie: It’s Gersh’s phone.
Mayor: It's Gersh. Oh, that Gersh. Alright, I thought it was here in the room. There you go again, Gersh. So, on the question of new bike lanes, we intend to look very quickly and aggressively at what we can do more. So as soon as – there's no interrelationship of how one fits with another, every time we’re ready to announce another one, we’re going to announce it as soon as it's ready and implement it as quickly as possible. So that's straight forward. Again, we are in a brand-new reality, we're acclimating, but obviously we've said to the Department of Transportation, working with NYPD, we want to see an expansion quickly. Let's see how quickly we can do it and where we can do it. The other part of your question, Gersh, I was so distracted by your dinging bell, I lost track of the other part of your question. What is it?
Question: [Inaudible] it feels like a – it's a casino anyway.
Lapeyrolerie: Cut out a little [inaudible] Can you start again?
Question: Yeah. The question was simply, are you considering closing some residential streets as some cities have done so that people can socialize at a distance without cars going through?
Mayor: Yeah. Without overstating it, Gersh and I just want to – I'm going to put some brakes on you to make sure that your interpretation does not get too energetic here. Definitely interested in creating more spaces for people outdoors so we can have social distancing. I think we have some good models of, like, summer streets – is an interesting idea. That's something we'll look at right away. Obviously, school yards. And that's something that's going to be a real – a challenge in a different way because we don't have the same personnel at the schools we normally do, but I think there are ways we can deal with that. So, the question is going to be how can we create the right space, the right amount of space in different places so people have alternatives and they can keep some distance. That is not necessarily the same as closing residential streets. But it means making sure there's enough space and that'll be something that will constantly grow over the next few weeks.
Question: Yeah. Thank you.
Mayor: Thank you.
Lapeyrolerie: Craig from the Post is up next. Craig?
Question: Can you hear me?
Question: Alright, great. Commissioner, what would you say to cops that are feeling that they're not getting enough specific info about the spread of the virus in the department and feel the supplies provided have been inadequate?
Commissioner Shea: Yeah, I think that – as we're sitting here, another message went out from myself personally to the men and women of the Police Department. I think with any crisis, it's fluid. There's always things that we can learn. I think we've done a good job of trying to put out information that at times seems to be changing day by day, in terms of what we're seeing. So I think you can always learn from an experience in terms of one crisis and how you can learn and better prepare for the next one. I think we've done okay in this, to be honest with you, in terms of internally informing our members what's going on, meeting with the unions, but we're also being receptive and being honest and transparent about what can we do better. In terms of equipment that too is – I think that some of the big complaints that we're getting has been just the basics, making sure that a cleaner that calls in sick, that spot is filled in.
We've done a lot in the last couple of weeks and I'll just quickly recount for you in terms of readily ramping up and hiring a hundred extra cleaners. The first set are due to come online next week. And that's moved pretty significantly in terms of the normal course of action. That's in addition to the existing cleaners that we have. We've gotten several supplies – and I want to thank Dr. Barbot for helping us get equipment and OEM and many others in this room. So whether it's masks, surgical masks, or N95 masks or basic cleaning supplies, soap, dispensers, gloves, all of this – all of this is quite frankly in short supply not just to law enforcement, to health professionals. And the prioritization and the use of it – this is going to be an ongoing challenge, not just for law enforcement, but really everyone that needs it.
I think that we've done well. We've gotten it to the frontline people of the NYPD, those that need it the most. And it has been a challenge, but it's something that we're continuing to do and we strive to do everything that we can to make our members as safe as possible during this difficult time.
Mayor: And Craig, I want to add to that. I mean, obviously we've been – I've been real blunt about the supply challenges we're facing in the next two or three weeks. And I'm praying that, you know, our pleas will be heard in Washington and acted on, and I know others are stepping forward trying to help us out. But I'm very, very cognizant that we have to make sure the men and women of the NYPD are protected. Commissioner Shea and Commissioner Barbot and I spoke yesterday. We have another half-million surgical masks that are going to the NYPD immediately. We have real, real challenges with our supply, but we're going to make sure that the men and women in the NYPD are protected for sure.
Question: Thank you. Just one other question, Commissioner Shea, you had said that the growing number of officers calling out sick, is there a plan in place if it gets to a certain level? And if so, what's the breaking point for that?
Commissioner Shea: Well, I'm not going to get into breaking points here and I don't like to advertise ever to criminals where we have higher than ordinary levels. But it – this is something that I will tell you, that every morning I wake up, I look at the numbers, I have a conference call just the second I get into work with entire members of the executive staff that are now spread out throughout New York City but calling on a central call and going over. And the first thing I start with every day is how are our members, how many people are sick, where are they sick, what rank, where do we have clusters, if you will? We also plan for where is it at now, where can we project? And this is an imperfect science as we try to lay out a roadmap of where do we think we'll be a day, two days from now, a week from now? Certainly, I don't like what I see the last four days. We had been holding steady. We can, generally speaking, predict where we will be in terms of sick rates in the NYPD. The last four days, it is going up. So, in terms of a breaking point, I'm not going to give you a number. We absolutely plan for certain levels – what do we do when it gets to a certain level? And as I started today, I talked about we're in a good place, still manageable, in terms of balancing the needs of New York City in dealing with this crisis, but also dealing with – the world goes on – and I think that's a good thing that the world goes on. So, people call the police for the traditional reasons too, whether it's somebody injured, whether it's somebody that hasn't come home and I'm worried, or whether it's, unfortunately, there are people that will still prey on victims at times like this. So, balancing all of that, we have not had to go for example, to 12-hour tours and extend and throw out our existing duty chart, but we're prepared for the point when we have to if we have a need to really rapidly ramp up and put extra officers on the street. So, again, are we planning for it? Absolutely. Are we there yet? No.
Mayor: Yeah. I want to also question, sort of, a one part of what you're raising here, Craig, respectfully. I mean, this is a police department that went through 9/11. And in the immediate aftermath, after losing so many brothers and sisters in arms, you know, got back out there and protected this city. The same obviously for the FDNY – went through hell and managed to keep us safe. This is a police department that has 2,000 more officers on patrol than it did a few years ago. So, it's a stronger, a bigger department. It is unquestionably the most efficient it's been in its history. So, the men and women are being used to the maximum in the best ways. You've got more positions that were civilianized over the last six years, so more officers made available that way. I don't think the NYPD has a breaking point.
I really don't. I think the NYPD – 36,000 officers strong – has amazing ability to adapt and to deal with any circumstance. And I would add further, two points – one, you know, a typical NYPD officer is someone who in the scheme of things, in general, is on the younger side of life and obviously typically in very good shape. It also means that for a lot of folks who even do get sick, it will be for a limited period of time. And I want to take a time out on this point just to finish the answer. I have Dr. Barbot as my lifeline. I think Dr. Barbot, there's still confusion about from the moment you feel ill to the point that just in days – the little as, as much as – if you're a healthy younger person, an average officer in their 20s or 30s, let's say, who's healthy, God forbid they can track this disease. But what would be the typical timeframe they would be out of commission before they were well enough to get back to work.
Commissioner Barbot: So, Mr. Mayor, what we are now – have now moved towards is to say from the beginning of your symptoms, you've got like roughly seven days we think you should be able to be back at work. Or, if you've got fever, then three days after your fever is gone without having taken any Tylenol, Advil or anything like that, whichever one of those two is longest. So, typically a week for most people is usually the longest that they would be out of work.
Mayor: And Commissioner, just for everyone's benefit, you're feeling fine again, you're saying you don't take the Tylenol or anything because it actually masks the reality of fever and you want to be able to test. Is it true that the fever has gone away? When you feel well.
Commissioner Barbot: Exactly. We want to make sure that it’s – when we say it's no fever, it's like a true no fever, that there's nothing potentially masking and ongoing infection.
Mayor: So, seven days, or three days no medication, without fever, whichever is longest. So, to Craig's question – again, I think what that means, Craig, I'm just going to call that for definition purposes seven to 10 days. I think like every public servant who might be affected by this disease, as we know by the numbers, 80 percent are going to come out with that kind of experience. Seven to 10 days, it's not going to be pleasant. I don't wish it on anyone. I know people are going to be concerned for their families, but they're going to come out the other side and then get right back in the game. Now, the big question – I don't think we have 100 percent answer is, are you therefore immune thereafter? I think we think there's a possibility you're immune thereafter, but we don't know for sure.
Commissioner Barbot: That's exactly right. We don't know for sure.
Mayor: So, what we do know is once you've gone through the course of the disease, you've gone through the course of the disease and then you get back in the game, as will everyone.
Lapeyrolerie: Christina, from Chalkbeat, is up next.
Question: Thanks for your time. I want to ask about the regional enrichment centers and try to get some clarity around who can attend those. You've in the past said that they'd be open for the most vulnerable children [inaudible] specifically homeless students, medically fragile students. So, can you just provide a little more clarity on who can attend those?
Mayor: Well, I want – as I turn to the Chancellor, the focus has been in this crisis on supporting the children of essential workers. That has been the construct from the very beginning. And we know there are many children in need who we want to serve in a variety of ways. Obviously, in our shelters, we're trying to do special efforts to support kids in shelter as we were doing during the school year. And the distance learning, obviously, is being developed rapidly and we have a special effort for medically fragile kids. But the Chancellor will give you a deeper definition. But the central purpose, the reason we started up these enrichment centers was to support the effort to fight coronavirus and to support essential workers’ children.
Chancellor Carranza: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. So, we've been really clear from the very beginning, if you have 1.1 million children that are not in school and their parents, their guardians, their adult caregivers are first responders that are critical to keeping the city running. You could, in one fell swoop, shut down the city and our response to this virus. So, as a Mayor has been very clear and hopefully we've been clear, the whole point of these regional enrichment centers is to provide a space so that first responders, essential workers, essentially keeping the city running, have a place that their children can be while they are serving the residents of New York City. We have put out the call, we have about 57,000, which by the way, is larger than most midsize school systems in America. And we've stood these up in a matter of days. And we have – we're trying to build more capacity as we go. We've said that – and I'm going to reiterate this here – this is for students whose parents are on the front lines right now – first responders, health care workers, transit workers, other essential staff, including sanitation workers, DHS, HRA, shelter staff, ACS staff. And, of course, the DOE staff, who are manning these service centers. That being said, we are working with all due diligence to try to build more capacity to add additional groups of students into these regional enrichment centers. We're working very hard to be able to do that. But to be able to do that, you need to have a facility, you need to be able to have volunteers that are going to come and volunteer to staff them, you have to have supervisors, there's a whole range of things that have to happen. So, I understand the wanting to know why and when and how many. We are continuing to work to build more capacity to it, but the intent has been clear from the very beginning.
Lapeyrolerie: [Inaudible] Bridget is up next.
Question: Two questions, first regarding [inaudible] remote learning that's going to start on Monday. Have you had any conversations with internet service providers? We've heard anecdotally from some families that are struggling to figure out how they're going to get internet access to be able to get online for some of that.
Chancellor Carranza: Yes. So, we've actually been in contact with several internet providers. They are offering to install internet services. Obviously, we're vetting that because we want to make sure that that's not just a backdoor way to, you know, hook people into longer term engagements. But, again, that information is also available on our website on home learning where you can actually connect with those providers directly – www.schools.nyc.gov. We, also, with the devices that we are purchasing, T-Mobile is installing chips that are Wi-Fi enabled, so every one of those devices will be Wi-Fi enabled. The other thing to understand about the resources that we have is that they're accessible through smart phones. And I haven't seen very many students that don't have a smart phone, so they can actually get access to many of these resources through their smartphone as well.
Question: Great. And just a quick follow up, if a family is having trouble getting the internet service they need, is there – who should they be in contact with?
Chancellor Carranza: Yeah, they can call 3-1-1 and they'll put them in touch with our hotline and somebody will be able to work – walk them through a series of different options.
Lapeyrolerie: Last question goes to Ashley from the Times.
Question: Hi, good evening. Can you hear me?
Mayor: Yes, Ashley.
Question: Okay? So, I have a few questions, actually, mainly for the Commissioner, but also for the Mayor –
Mayor: Ashley, which commissioner?
Question: The Police Commissioner, the one I cover. [Inaudible] we've been talking to police officers at work over the last week or so and we saw 12 officers respond to a bus job with no gloves, masks, or sanitizer. Officers who are conducting traffic stops are leaning into windows and exchanging documents with drivers without any protective equipment. And even you, Chief Shea – Commissioner Shea, excuse me, have spoken to roll calls where there were not 10 officers, but dozens. And these are the officers who the Mayor is putting in charge of them enforcing social distance in hopes of preventing and containing the spread of this virus. But how can they be expected to do that if they don't seem to know what that looks like looks like in their own job?
Commissioner Shea: Yeah, that's a great question. Thank you for the question, Ashley. I'll start at the second one regarding the roll calls. I've been to too-many-to-count roll calls this week, a number of them, and they started out as you described, and, as the week went on, they ended in a very different place. So, I think that's a good thing, is we educate the people. One thing we have to do is put police officers on the street to keep people safe. We work within the environment that we work in. We have made changes. We have adapted. I could tell you that – whether it was yesterday or two days or three days ago, the days run together – but I turned out a number of traffic agents in Midtown that were taken into the streets and told them that we haven't forgot them too. They are part of the NYPD family. We thank them for what they're doing. But I actually talked to one group, which was divided into about eight groups. So, we are aware of that and where wherever possible we are making the changes, if you will, to practice spreading out. To the first part of your question about the seeing officers engaging people with masks or gloves not on, that could very well be a good thing, quite frankly. When not under any orders or direction to wear gloves when interacting with people, or to wear masks. Actually, it's pretty much the opposite. We're trying to conserve the use of these and use them where appropriate. And I think the medical professionals would tell us that, generally speaking, it's better to have the masks on the people that are sick as opposed to officers walking around in the street. But certainly, we're trying to educate our members, make sure that they have the masks if they need them and to use them appropriately.
Question: Even when they're working in close proximity, you don't think they should be wearing gloves and mask? I mean there's these traffic stops, you know, you're within a foot of the officer.
Mayor: Wait a minute, Ashley, we're going to bring another commissioner in because this is like – this is – everybody in public service who – yeah, everyone in public service who – well, first of all, everyone's being told to distance, which goes against everything we've ever done in our lives, especially in New Yorkers, we’re like the most closely packed people in America. We're all learning as we go along. But the point is, trying to remember to socially distance to maximum extent possible, to be mindful, to cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze. Let's have our Health Commissioner tell us when public servants are supposed to don masks and gloves and when they're not.
Commissioner Barbot: Yeah, but before I do, I have to just take this moment to say, Mr. Mayor, you and I have been together I think every day for the last, I don't know, eight weeks. But I want to give a special shout out to Commissioner Shea who is joining us at the dais now, but it's clear that he's been paying attention and I think he'll get my honorary master's in public health after this press conference.
Commissioner Shea: I'm going to put on the wall.
Commissioner Barbot: And, you know, I think the important thing to note is just what the Commissioner said, that the guidance that we are giving to our first responders is the same guidance that we're giving to New Yorkers in that it is a layered approach. And so, obviously, first and foremost, good hand hygiene, covering your mouth and nose when you cough and you sneeze. Layering on top of that, ensuring that if you're not close to water source, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, layering on top of that, ensuring that if you're sick you stay home, layering on top of that, that if you can to maintain a distance of at least six feet, at least three feet, and that there are very limited circumstances under which there is an indication for using a mask. You know, all along I've said there's a place in a time for using masks and as Commissioner Shea said, the time to use a mask is when someone is symptomatic, when they're coughing, when they're sneezing, and it's to ensure that that individual doesn't contaminate other folks. It gives people who are asymptomatic a false sense of security that if they wear this mask, they don't have to wash their hands, they don't have to cover their mouths and their noses when they cough or their sneeze. And I've also given the example of, you know, seeing New Yorkers on the corner who have a mass when in reality the mask is under their chin and they're talking and they're not really following those precautions. And so, the important thing is having a layered approach and knowing what the layers are in order to provide the maximal security.
Lapeyrolerie: That concludes the press conference. Thank you, everybody.
Mayor: Thanks, everyone.