April 6, 2020
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. So, 11 days ago – it seems like a long, long time ago, but 11 days ago we were here at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and we were here looking for solutions in the midst of this ever-changing, ever-growing crisis. But we are also here looking for hope, looking for answers, and the answers came from everyday New Yorkers who were stepping up, who are doing something amazing to create the products that will protect our frontline health care workers and our first responders. So, what we saw a few days ago with the face shields was moving. I was totally, totally moved to see these everyday people of all backgrounds, all together, creating something from scratch. Companies working together that never had previously built anything like a face shield, and they create it by hand, and that was part of the power of what we saw was everyday people piecing together these PPEs by hand to protect their fellow New Yorkers who are serving all of us.
Well, we're back 11 days later and what we're seeing today is equally inspiring. Two companies that got together here in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to create, again, a product they never created because our frontline workers needed it. And it is inspiring to see how quickly people figured out a way to do something that was needed and not just do it in a small way, but do it in a very big way. And to pull together the talent, the designs to pull together all the equipment they needed, all the fabric. I was just hearing how much it took to improvise this and create this as very, very moving. And it shows how much heart, how much soul people are putting into protecting our health care workers in our first responders. So, as I was touring and seeing what was happening, I felt this real surge of emotion that it was clearer than ever that New York City is fighting back. New York City is fighting back. We have an invisible enemy. We have a ferocious enemy, but this city is fighting back with everything we've got. And this is strong city and a resilient city and people are showing it in so many ways and we're seeing it today at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
It makes me very, very convinced that we're going to get through this when I see these kinds of amazing efforts. Now in the midst of a moment where we have to tell people constantly, it’s a strange thing to tell New Yorkers, we are a warm and emotional people. It's strange to have to tell people all the time, stay apart and break with all the traditions that we have had for our whole lives. But we keep telling people stay apart for your own protection, for the protection of the community, for the protection of those you love. But today we have an example of people coming together, coming together in common cause, doing it the right way, doing it the smart way, the healthy way, but coming together in common cause to help other people. And I really want to thank these two amazing companies and they're very, very different. Lafayette 148 is a high-end fashion brand and Crye Precision is a company that particularly focuses on making gear for the U.S. military. Two companies that started out with very different approaches, very different mission statements. They may not have seen that a lot in common, but they immediately found common ground and decided that together they could create something that would really help everyone else.
This creativity and this ingenuity are New York traits. Not surprising to us, as New Yorkers, to see this kind of thing happen, but it's very moving. It's very beautiful to see it go through all those rows upon rows of sewing machines and seeing the surgical grounds being sewn that very soon we'll be protecting our frontline health care workers. Want to thank of course, all the good people, all those on those sewing machines, on those assembly lines, all the working people who are making this possible. And extraordinary thanks to the leaders who had this vision and pulled it together in record time, to Gregg Thompson, Executive Director at Cry Precision, to Deirdre Quinn, the CEO at Lafayette 148, you'll hear from both of them. I want thank someone who's really been the matchmaker here, David Ehrenberg, the President CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, who keeps looking for ways to get all the amazing capacity of the Navy Yard to put it together to support this cause, and I want to thank you David. Excellent job.
Now, I want to say a number of companies here in Brooklyn Navy Yard are working with Crye Precision and Lafayette 148 to help them do their work. They're all joining in. Anyone who can pitch in is pitching in. So, there's a real community here that's working together to get this done. I also want to thank our colleagues at EDC, which plays a crucial role in all of these efforts to produce our own homegrown supplies to fight this war. Thank you to James Katz, Executive Vice President Chief of Staff at EDC. And, of course, we have with us here today as well. Two of the leaders in the fight from the health care side, our Health Commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot and the Vice President Chief Quality Officer at Health + Hospitals, Dr. Eric Wei, thank you to you and your teams always.
I mentioned the folks who are doing the work and I want to say something that needs to be said in this moment. There's been in the midst of this crisis, another crisis that we've all seen and we've all been disgusted by it, which is discrimination and hatred directed at our Asian-American communities, particularly our Chinese-American community. I think it's absolutely unacceptable and I know legally it is unacceptable by the laws in New York City and I keep saying to everyone, if you see a act of discrimination, if you see a hate crime, you see anything that is about bias, call 3-1-1 immediately or if it's an urgent situation, call 9-1-1. We want to find the perpetrators of these crimes. We want to find anyone who's discriminated and throw the full weight of the law at them. But today was a poignant message in the midst of this crisis, in the midst of this discrimination, to see so many of these workers who happen to be Chinese-American who are doing something for everyone, who despite the discrimination they have faced, they're standing up and they're joining this effort to save lives and support those who are protecting us. I want to thank all of these good working people for what they are doing.
So, like I said, when I was here last, this is a wartime factory. If you look at it, it immediately is clear. This is something that was put together from scratch with a sense of urgency created for a common cause, not for a profit but for something higher. Nine days ago. It was just nine days ago that this started to come together. By the end of the day, 9,200 surgical gowns will have been created. By the end of the week, almost 19,000. By the end of the month 320,000, amazing contribution to this effort and it protects our health care workers. These gowns and Dr. Wei can explain to you in detail, they are absolutely crucial to protection of our health care workers and these are reusable, which is crucially important and a point where we're on a crisis footing and we have to conserve every item we have.
Now it comes at a critical time, this new supply, because as I said to you yesterday, this is one of the areas where we're seeing a real problem, surgical gowns. Our public hospital has enough for this week, but some of the private hospitals and nursing homes are running low and this is an area we're very, very concerned about. Last week, all hospitals combined used approximately 1.8 million surgical gowns in New York City. This week they are projected to use 2.5 million as the crisis grows. So, we have to find more surgical gowns urgently. There are orders out, we believe that there's a good chance these orders will come in time, but we're also working intensely with the federal government to see if we can get additional supply in time. So, this is an area of real concern as we start this week.
And again, we will leave no stone unturned. We'll be as creative as we need to be to create new surgical gowns or use anything else that may be appropriate as a surgical gown to get us through this crisis. Now the other thing I talked about yesterday is the N95 masks. This is the other area of real concern for this week. We got – at the time I spoke to you all yesterday afternoon, there was still an outstanding need for N95s to get us through the week. Very appreciative that we got a major supply from the federal government. My thanks to President Trump and to Jared Kushner for the role that he played as well. 600,000 N95 masks coming today for our independent hospitals. Those are some of our hospitals that have the greatest need and serve communities in greatest need. That's on top of the 200,000 arrived for our public hospitals on Friday. So now we can say that our supply of N95s for the week is sufficiently secure. Again, it's going to be a tough week. People are going to have to be careful and conserve on the crisis standards we're working on, but this has definitely changed the dynamic for us for this week and that's a very good thing. So, we continue to focus this week on finding more surgical gowns and of course on ventilators to get us through.
Now, more and more the challenge is going to be personnel and we need these supplies, but we also need to heroes to wear them and more and more personnel than we needed from every source. Remember, our overall need is 45,000 – from where we started, the additional need is 45,000 clinical personnel over this month, an ever-increasing number to get us through this crisis. I've been pushing particularly for more and more military medical personnel to come in. My requests for our public hospitals again is 1,450 clinical staff from what's – that's what I've requested from the federal government, 291 arrived yesterday – that's a good start, but we need more. I spoke to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff yesterday. I will be speaking to more federal officials and the President today to let them know how much our public hospitals have really borne the brunt of this crisis. We'll need more of those medical personnel from the military. Those I greeted yesterday upon arrival. It was very inspiring that came from states from all over the country. They were ready to immediately go to where the need was greatest in our ICUs, in emergency rooms, in our public hospitals. I'm so grateful to all of them. It was very, very moving to greet them as they arrived in New York City.
Again, this is just the beginning for this city and for many cities and states all over the country. I'll continue to say we need to have an enlistment structure to find medical personnel from all over the country, civilians who would come forward as volunteers, be compensated for sure, and then be mobilized by our military and sent where they're needed most. I remind you again, over a million doctors in America, almost 4 million nurses in America – thank God we have many, many medical personnel, many ready to serve where the need is greatest but no mechanism right now to get them where they need to be. And I will keep pushing the federal government to achieve that.
So, I want to finish before a few words in Spanish and then we'll hear from our colleagues here at the Brooklyn Navy Yard who've done this amazing work. But I want to finish with a point about the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Those of you who have looked at the history – so this place is heroic by its nature. In World War II, it was one of the single most important places in the United States of America fighting the war effort. This was a place that so many of our troops left on their way to battle. This is a place where so many of the ships were built and repaired. This was a crucial, crucial place in the war effort. And it comes with an incredible tradition of service in a time of crisis. And you know, when the Navy Yard became a civilian facility and became a place synonymous with jobs and economic development. People might've thought, well, it's years of service are over. But now we're seeing once again, the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a symbol to this city and this whole nation of extraordinary and selfless service leading the fight against the coronavirus. So history has come around in a very, very powerful way. And I remind everyone, a lot of us heard stories maybe from parents, maybe from grandparents of the epic times of the past, World War II, the Great Depression, what people had to fight through as a full community. Now it is our time. We are living that reality now. It's our generation that has to make that imprint on history and fight that fight now. I don't think when we heard a lot of those stories, we ever thought it would be us one day, but now it is us and it's time for all of us to show what we can do in this moment of crisis and that's what folks are doing here at the Navy Yard.
Everybody out there who can help, try to emulate the amazing work of the folks here at the Navy Yard. Not everyone happens to have a clothing line of their own or a company that makes military gear, but if you have a company that can help us, we need you. If you have access to surgical supplies, we need you. If you're a health care professional who can volunteer, we need you. Anything you can donate that will help us to continue this fight. We need you. If you want to donate food to our frontline hospital workers. If you want to donate money to pay for the kind of support they need, whatever it is we need you and anyone who wants to help can go to nyc.gov/helpnow or call 8-3-3-NYC-0-0-4-0.
A few words in Spanish.
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
So now I want to bring up Gregg Thompson. And Gregg has done so much, his company has done so much for our heroes in the United States military protecting them – now taking that same expertise to protect our doctors and nurses and frontline health care workers. Great pleasure to introduce the cofounder, Executive Director of Crye Precision Gregg Thompson.
Executive Director Gregg Thompson, Crye Precision: For sure. Great. It feels good. Yeah. Yeah. I'm starting to recognize people by their eyes alone and looking around, it's nice to see. Sorry, I have to read off paper.
Thank you, Mayor de Blasio. And again, thank you to the DOH, Department of Health, and EDC, and of course thank you to the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation who has provided us with a fantastic home for the past 18 years. They are a top-notch team both in difficult times like these in what we remember as our normal lives as well. It's been an inspiration to work with our partners here in the Navy Yard, including Lafayette 148 and about 10 other companies who've all banded together to help make this happen. Some of them are sitting right in front of me now and [inaudible] New York and Cambridge.
Again, this effort started only a few days ago. But in that time, we've been lucky enough to witness such tremendous support and generosity, not only from the domestic supply chain, such as MMI Textiles and Tweed, but from resources right here within the city itself, including Brookwood and VAR Test Labs. Again, it's really simple. We at Crye Precision are incredibly fortunate. Every day we get to create and manufacture products for our heroes in the law enforcement and military communities, people who have made a far bigger sacrifice than we could ever imagine. This is no different. So with that, I'd like to thank all of the brave men and women who are winning the fight and our hospitals and medical facilities. It is an absolute honor for all of us to work for you. It is an absolute honor to continue to get to work with my amazing team here at Crye Precision and it is absolute honor to work with everybody here in the Navy Yard. Thank you.
Mayor: Thank you. You go that way, I’ll go this way. There we go. Okay. Thank you so much Gregg. And now I want you to hear from Deirdre Quinn, who is a leader in the business community in a bigger way. She was the recipient of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award a few years ago and someone who brings a lot of vision to what she does and when we needed help, when our health workers needed help, she was quick to act. So, a great pleasure to introduce the CEO and Owner of Lafayette 148. Deirdre Quinn. I think I'm going to give you a little extra height.
Deirdre Quinn, Co-Founder and CEO of Lafayette 148: Good morning and thank you. It's an absolute honor to be here and it's an honor to make a difference in New York City. Our company moved to the Navy Yard two years ago and I would say by far the best move we ever made. Not only is it great to be in Brooklyn, it's great to be part of this incredible community. So, when David called me and asked me what we could do to get patterns quickly, we made them over the weekend, digitized them, and got them to Gregg who took the ball and ran with it. I am on the board of the Brooklyn Hospital Center and so I've got to see firsthand the tragedy that's going on over there. And we will do anything and everything to make a difference for New Yorkers, for this city, and for the good of what the gowns can do for people. So, it's not exactly fashion, but it's definitely needed. And it's what we want to do. Thank you.
Mayor: Thank you so much. Okay. With that, we will now turn to questions from our colleagues in the media. Yes.
Mayor: Just – yeah, there you go.
Question: [Inaudible] social distancing. I'm sure you saw the stories yesterday about [inaudible]. Are there any plans to change of that [inaudible]?
Mayor: You know, we're going to be a – I've spoken to leaders of the community previously and we're going to do that again. We're going to be very clear with people we just cannot tolerate, at this moment in history, any gatherings and unfortunately, we have no choice and the NYPD has no choice but to immediately break them up. They're dangerous even though I know people are trying to, you know, deal with a very painful moment. I understand that it's not easy for people to give up traditions, especially when they're in mourning, but it's just too dangerous. So, we'll go back, tell community leaders we need them to step up as they have so far. And the NYPD will be very aggressive and anytime we get an indication – I need people to understand this, you're doing a service to other people. If you know something like this is going to happen, please call 3-1-1 and report it so we can stop it before it happens. And I'm going to ask that of the community leaders as well, if they know that there's some group individuals who are not following this guidance, we need to know in advance and the NYPD will absolutely intervene to stop it. Yeah.
Question: [Inaudible] treatment [inaudible] going on right now in the [inaudible] tests or not [inaudible] –
Mayor: We'll get Dr. Wei to come over and address those.
Vice President and Chief Quality Officer Eric Wei, Health + Hospitals: Thank you for that question. So, our thoughts and prayers are still with all the patients who are fighting for their lives in ICU. So, that's why we show up every day to reduce the number of lives lost. And more good news of people getting excavated, going home, kind of like the good news and what gives us hope from touring this factory today and seeing what New Yorkers and Americans can do to help our frontline heroes. In terms of treatments we are still learning every day about this virus, this terrible disease. We have multiple types of treatments, studies underway to see what's working best. Many of our patients are receiving hydroxychloroquine, or Plaquenil, as part of those treatment regimens. But these are all done with appropriate kind of IRB approval and – it's an institutional review board – so we're making sure that we're following science, right.
Dr. Wei: I think it's still too early to tell. I think we are still looking at the data but right now we're willing to try just about anything to save patients
Mayor: Testing center [inaudible] –
Dr. Wei: Testing centers on weekends – I am not sure about the hours on the weekends, but I can get back to you on that. We are shifting from broadly testing in New York City to making more testing available to our employees, our heroes who are in the hospitals fighting COVID-19. Testing is, you know, ongoing 24/7 in our emergency departments. We are following Dr. Barbot and DOHMH’s advice of testing those who are being admitted to the hospital. And so that goes 24/7.
Question: What do you have to say to parents, teachers who have expressed unhappiness that Zoom is no longer being used?
Mayor: Thank you for the question. And, again, I was a public school parent for the whole time that my kids went to school and I want to amplify what Chancellor Carranza said yesterday that there's been an effort by the Department of Education to work with that company to ensure the privacy of our students, to make sure their information could not be accessed wrongly. And the Chancellor and the team at the Department of Education did not believe the company has cooperated. And we're not going to put our students' privacy, our students' data at risk. It's just as simple as that. So, we'd all like to use that capacity, but only if we can do it in a secure way.
Question: [Inaudible] –
Mayor: I think – Doctor, can she take it off for the question? The doctor has allowed it. The truck came at just the wrong time. Hold on a second. Maybe we can move that truck just a little, give you some better ability to be heard. Go ahead, Erin.
Question: [Inaudible] this morning that you’re going to be ending the open streets pilot. Can you speak a little bit about the rationale for that and in particular is there anything else you’re considering [inaudible] sidewalks [inaudible] stay far enough away?
Mayor: Yeah. Again, I consistently talk with Commissioner Shea and other commissioners who are looking at social distancing and compliance. Consistent reports we're getting is that we see a very good consistent effort from New Yorkers. There's obviously some areas we're concerned about, but the overall reality is that people are observing this. But we do need to keep the enforcement efforts strong. The problem with the additional street closures is you have to attach enforcement to them. If don't attach enforcement to them, we're very concerned they become new gathering points and we do not want to seem to be solving one problem by creating a new one. So, right now, keeping the NYPD and other enforcement entities focused where they are, is what we believe is the best strategy. Remember, they do have fewer personnel themselves than usual. And that's why we're sticking with what we got. We'll certainly assess as we go along.
Question: Just to follow-up on the enforcement piece, is there a protocol in place to make sure the officers are able to maintain a distance when they’re [inaudible] how does that work especially considering the high rates of NYPD officers [inaudible]?
Mayor: Right, the – first of all we've made sure that whenever, and I've had this conversation with Commissioner Shea multiple times and we've all been united – our Health Commissioner, Dr. Barbot – we've all been united that when the NYPD needs PPEs, they get them. It's a priority in our supply. Second, everyone is learning a new way of being. So, the Commissioner has told me there's been multiple rounds of training officers how to approach each situation, what protection they need. It's not surprising that people are still getting used to it. It's a big change, but that training continues and we want to make sure our officers are safe, and certainly the standard for going and telling people that they're not in compliance and what – we don't want to have to give a fine. We've been very clear. I've been clear. The Commissioner has been clear. We want to tell people they're doing something out of compliance to stop it. We want to warn them they're about to get a fine. There's been very few situations, Erin, where officers have had to intervene more than a warning. There's only been a small number of situations even where there’s been a fine – a couple of examples have come up where there was a more aggressive intervention needed, but it's been very rare. Let’s see if there’s anything else.
Question: [Inaudible] City Hall committed to covering the costs for providers and foster care, front line workers [inaudible] and how exactly is that going to work [inaudible] –
Mayor: I don’t know – when you say that phrase, and I know she's not here, so I'm having trouble interpreting it, the enhanced pay point. Let us get you an answer on that. Whatever commitments we've made, we'll keep, but I'm not familiar with what the phrase means in this case. Go ahead.
Mayor: No. I spoke to Commissioner Shea this morning, we went over the situation with absentees, but we also went over the return rate, which has gotten very strong. I'm going to say it again. Remember, the vast majority of patrol officers in the NYPD are younger and very healthy people. So, the extent they've been exposed to the virus, they're coming back rapidly, they’re coming back after, you know, somewhere between a week and two weeks. He's seeing a steady flow of officers returning. And what we hope and pray is that once you get this – we don't want anyone to have it – but once you get it, you're done and you can continue your life and be immune. So, no, we can handle the situation with the very deep bench that the NYPD has now. There's no consideration of bringing in outside forces.
Mayor: It’s going to be a very tough situation. We are going to on April 23rd, I believe it is, unveil the executive budget. It's going to be a very sober day. But I'm not going to foreshadow.
Mayor: Right now, again, we, the enforcement efforts by law enforcement are working. As you know, as Commissioner Shea has reported, we've seen a decrease in crime, thank God, and we've seen a high level of compliance with shelter in place and social distancing. There's literally no better expert at data that I've met in my entire life than Dermot Shea, and I have asked him every single day for the last few weeks, what are you seeing on compliance? And with all the capacity at NYPD, also layered over with everything we're seeing from 3-1-1, Parks Department, everybody, we do not see a major compliance problem. We see some hotspots that we deal with. We see some places where we need to do extra warnings and enforcement. But, overall, I think right now our – what we're seeing is, our law enforcement is doing a great job with their current structure, with their current personnel. We're getting the results we need. We have more work to do, but we're getting the results we need.
Mayor: It's going to be a large number of hotels. So, first of all, Van Cortlandt Park, yeah, that's another example of a field hospital that’s being set up by FEMA. You're going to see a constant growth. So, it will be, again, hotels on the one hand – what I would call big public spaces on the other hand. Sometimes it’ll be a field tent kind of thing in a park. More typically, it will be a big open public building. We use the example, the Billie Jean King Tennis Center that I was at a few days ago. We're looking for any large spaces that we can put a lot of beds in simultaneously. But the hotels – so, the City now has at least one hotel up and running for medical use. We have a number of hotels up and running for, if you will, dormitory use for health care workers, especially those who do not want to go home to their families because they want to be careful for their families. We've got a lot of hotels up and running for people who need isolation. We're just going to keep growing that. It's going to be – when all is said and done, I think we're going to be in, you know, a hundred-plus hotels, in most cases, taking the whole hotel on a lease. But as they start to become medical facilities, we'll give you updates. It's still going to be a few days before you see it in a large scale, in the hotels, the medical use, but it's coming very soon.
Mayor: What about?
Mayor: As I said, I'm never going to go into a lot of detail. We have the capacity. It's going to be very tough, but we have the capacity. The military, the federal Department of Health and Human Services have sent us a lot of personnel, a lot of equipment. And we will keep dealing with this very, very tough situation. And I just don't want to go into detail because I don't think it's a great thing to be talked about publicly, but we have the capacity we need.
Mayor: Again, I'm not going to go into those kinds of details. I'm only going to say we will have the capacity we need. As I said over the weekend, we may well be dealing with temporary burials so we can then deal with each family later. But again, I'm just not going to detail. When we have something to say on it, we will.
Okay, here we go.
Question: Nonprofit workers in the [inaudible]?
Mayor: Yeah. I will get you a more specific answer from my team. We need to get that support there, obviously. And we also have a number of City employees, nonprofit employees who we've kept paying explicitly to be able to move them to wherever the need is greatest. So, if we're finding a shortage there and we have people qualified, we can surge in some additional people. But let my team look into what we have to do to sort it out. We'll get you an answer today.
Question: Mayor, you mentioned temporary burials. What does that mean exactly? Are you talking about public cemeteries, or –
Mayor: Again, it is what it says. If we need to do temporary burials to be able to tide us over to pass the crisis and then work with each family on their appropriate arrangements, we have the ability to do that. That's all it means.
Mayor: Again, I'm not going to go into detail at this point in time. We're not to the point where we're going to go into that.
Okay. Anything else? Yes.
Mayor: Dr. Barbot – the nature of what happens with bodies [inaudible] –
Commissioner Barbot: Yes. So, let me start by saying that all of our efforts to-date, from social distancing to all of the educational materials we've been providing New Yorkers is to really slow the spread of the virus and to protect our health care workforce so that they can absorb the large number of people who require hospital services because of COVID-19. And it is a sad reality that we have many New Yorkers that have died because of COVID-19, and to say that our hearts and prayers go out to those families really doesn't give it the justice that it deserves, because it is a very difficult time that we're all in and it's a reminder of our collective humanity and the need that we have to come together and to be there for one another – even though we're physically distanced, to be spiritually and emotionally connected. With that being said, and I've said this before, there are no special precautions that need to be taken with individuals who have died because of COVID-19. And so, we, and the OCME office and the hospitals and the funeral homes are all working with the dignity and the respect that these families deserve during this very hard time.
Commissioner Barbot: Yeah. There are no special precautions that are needed to be taken with people who have died because of COVID-19. You know, we've made the comparison to other infectious illnesses in the past. You all may recall that with Ebola there were very sort of specific precautionary measures that needed to be taken so that the – it would not continue to be spread. This is in no way, shape or form like that. So, there are no special precautions. People who die because of COVID-19 are treated the same way as someone who dies from, let's say, a heart attack or any other reason.
Mayor: Okay, last call? Yes –
Mayor: Again, let me just – obviously, the place we have used historically is Hart Island, but I am sorry and I say this respectfully – this topic is something that a lot of folks in the media want to ask me about. I'm just going to draw a line on this one. We'll put out updates when is the time. I am telling you the thing that I believe is what New Yorkers need to hear. Do we have the capacity to handle it? Yes. We've been working closely with the federal government to make sure we have the capacity. Yes, there will be delays because of the sheer intensity of this crisis. We're going to try and treat every family with dignity, respect, religious needs of those who are devout. And the focus right now is to try and get through this crisis and obviously also put all of our energy and resources into saving those we can save. So, that's how we're going to go about it. We will have the capacity for temporary burials. That's all I'm going to say.
All right. Thanks, everybody.