March 30, 2020
Pat Kiernan: In just a few hours of the US Navy ship, Comfort, will dock at Pier 90 on the West Side. Mayor de Blasio is there to welcome the ship. He joins me now live to talk about that and the latest on the coronavirus outbreak in the city. Mayor de Blasio, thank you for being here. This ship isn't huge. It's a fraction of the number of hospital beds we need, but every little bit helps.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Pat, it's such a big deal. I mean this is – you know, this is like adding another hospital here in New York City and I really want to say the Navy is doing something amazingly important for us physically in terms of health care for people who are going to need it and relieving some of the pressure of this crisis, but also humanly, morally, psychologically, like, it's such a boost to see the military arrived to help us out. We need all the help we can get here in New York City and to know our military is here to help us. I think New Yorkers are going to feel that in their hearts and it's going to really encourage us as we go through some really, really tough weeks ahead.
Kiernan: What do you see as the most critical need for New York City right now?
Mayor: It's been real consistent, Pat. When it comes to the physical side of things, we have got to get more ventilators. And there's a lot of work going on right now. My team is literally scouring the world to find ventilators and get them here. And on top of that, the medical personnel, making sure that we can constantly bring in the – the needs only going to get greater over the next weeks. We've got to get more doctors and nurses and other medical personnel. We've also got to get some relief for these extraordinarily hard-working heroes at our hospitals who have gone through something the last few weeks they never could have imagined in their lives and their feeling such stress, such pain. We got to get them help. So continuing to get in more and more doctors and nurses to give a break to folks who are doing such amazing work.
Kiernan: Mayor de Blasio, I used the word, insulting, on the air this morning as I was describing this comment from the president that he suggested that reporters investigate whether somehow masks and other health care equipment is being taken out the back door at hospitals. We have a crisis here. And a comment like that to suggest that there's misbehavior at the hospitals is insulting to health care workers at a time of crisis. What was your reaction when you heard that from the president?
Mayor: It's insulting. It's outrageous. It's incredibly insensitive to people right now who are giving their all, Pat, who are suffering. Our health care workers are suffering. They're literally watching some of their own lost to this disease. They're fighting with all they got. They're trying to make sure they have basic protection so they can go home to their families. I don't know what the president's talking about and look, I have been real consistent telling him, get us help, get us help here in your hometown. And he should just focus on that and actually support our health care workers, respect them. Not focus on – I don't even know what he's getting that information. I don't understand where he's coming up with that. It's not true and it's the wrong thing for him to do and he should just get back to work, be the commander in chief and get us help.
Kiernan: You mentioned that you are seeing some crowding at some times on the subway at night. I have been taking the subway from Manhattan to Brooklyn after work every day. It has not been crowded at those times, but there are other moments that there are people that end up on a crowded train. You have said, let's get the NYPD involved in that and you will get them onto the train and ask some people to step off and catch the next train.
Mayor: Correct, Pat. First of all, I want to say to all New Yorkers, we are going to have to, unless people really, really honor social distancing, we're going to have to tighten even further the rules. I'm trying to give people a little bit still, that they can have some normalcy in their life. But if we have to keep tightening, we're going to do it very quickly. So the rule is this, from my point of view, if you see a crowd, if you see people not practicing social distance, call3-1-1 right away so we can dispatch the NYPD and the other agencies to deal with it.
On the subway, we've been talking to the MTA about this, it's obviously not typical at this point, Pat, because there's so few people using the subway. Apparently it has happened sometimes in part because of, you know, a train broke down, there was service delays, so there was few trains coming. People crowded on them. That's not acceptable. I understand people are trying to get somewhere, but no one should be getting on a crowded train, spread out throughout the train, wait for the next train. But the PD is going to go out there, if they see any overcrowding, they are literally split it up, pull people off the train, moving along into different cars, whatever it takes. This is literally about protecting people's lives. So, anyone who sees it, call 3-1-1. Anyone who sees a train come up and it’s crowded, don't get on it.
Kiernan: You mentioned that if people are seen gathering together that you will tell the NYPD that a $500 fine is appropriate. I have to assume that you don't want to hand out any of those fines. The goal is not to hand out fines. The goal is to keep people apart.
Mayor: The goal here is just to get people to comply for their safety and everyone's safety. I've introduced fines into the equation because there – even though we've seen overwhelming compliance with the rules and I've said – I've talked to Commissioner Shea a number of times, he keeps coming back consistently saying his folks are seeing overwhelming compliance. We still have some people who are holding out – what our officers and our other enforcement agencies are going to do, they're going to go up to someone to say, you have got to disperse now. You've got to spread out, you’ve got to stop playing those sports, you're playing a team sport, and if that is not honored, they're going to say, we're about to fine you, if you don't stop now, we're about to find you. If the specific instructions of our officers are not honored, then it's time to get fines.
Kiernan: Mayor de Blasio please convey our thank you to those – for members on the Comfort as it arrives later this morning. And thanks for being here with us.
Mayor: Thank you, Pat.