June 25, 2020
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. There is a lot happening today at City Hall, a lot we have to get done so I'm going to keep this morning's update very brief, but the good news is there is good news today. Woke up today to some additional really positive health indicators. I'm going to keep congratulating you all the time when we have these great results, I'll go over them in a few minutes. But what it says is that New Yorkers have done a great job through phase one, into phase two, doing the right thing, and making sure that we keep everybody safe and healthy. And so, considering the success, which we have just pure data that tells us how we're doing, we continue to fight back this disease. Everyone's in this together. Given that success, it's time to talk about phase three. Now, phase three can start as early as Monday, July 6th. And right now, we are on track for phase three. That's exciting that we keep making progress. Now we've got, obviously, a ways to go until Monday, July 6th. We're going to be working closely with the State of New York to make the final decision as we get closer. But since it's all about the data, the data is telling us yes right now. So, we want to start getting people ready for it. We're going to have more guidance starting tomorrow on how businesses that can open in phase three should get ready to do so. But the good news is we're on track and it is such an important step forward that this city keeps moving. It's important for everyone. It's important for people trying to get their livelihoods back. It's important for businesses that are trying so hard to survive. It's important for the future of the city.
But phase three is going to have some particularly important meaning for our young people. And I think if you've been watching, not only these presentations over recent months, but the whole history of this administration, this administration has been devoted to young people from pre-K, 3-K, after school programs for middle school kids for free, you name it. Our focus has been on elevating young people and it's time to really help them even more because young people have been through so much. It has been such a difficult time. This coronavirus crisis has really put young people through so much strain – not being able to go to school, not being able to see their friends, trying to figure out remote learning, being cooped up all the time. We have to help our young people. We have to make this summer better for them. So, yesterday we talked about some really wonderful new things we'll be able to do this summer, more will be talked about in the coming days. But the good news is that phase three, presuming we get to it on time, Monday, July 6th, phase three will also be the time when we start up again a lot of sports and recreation activity in our parks.
So, we're on track to open up on Monday, July 6th, our basketball courts, our tennis courts, our soccer fields, our volleyball courts, our dog runs, our handball courts, and for all of you who love Italian culture, our bocce courts as well. All of that on track to open up Monday, July 6th. And that's going to be great for all New Yorkers, adults as well, but particularly for our kids who have been waiting for these outlets. That's going to be a great moment. Now, we've got work to do to get there. Let's keep on it. Because remember it's about the discipline we've shown so far, continuing to stick to the guidance. Remember the State and the City will also have guidance about how to, in each and every one of these cases, handle the situation the right way. There's still social distancing that has to be achieved in different ways, face coverings in different ways. We're going to have a lot of civilians out there, ambassadors, educating people, providing the face coverings. We know it will take hard work. We know it will take a lot of education, but we can do this and keep moving forward. And New Yorkers – one thing I can tell you from talking to so many New Yorkers is no one wants to go backwards. There's been a lot of discipline, a lot of strength because people want to keep moving forward. So, let's stick to it so we can get to phase three, make it work, and then keep going from there.
Okay. Now, what has helped us to push back this disease, well, it's the same thing that we've talked about from day one, testing, testing, testing. There's more and more testing all the time. That is helping immensely. And today I want to talk about two new wonderful partnerships that are going to help us provide a lot more testing and help us get it to the communities that have been hardest hit. First of all, CORE – Community Organized Relief Effort – this is a wonderful organization founded by Sean Penn. And I want to thank Sean and everyone at CORE for agreeing to become a part of this exciting effort with the City of New York. There will be a huge mobile testing effort up starting next week with a particular focus on our seniors all over the city. Second, SOMOS Community Care is now coming into partnership as well. I want to thank Dr. Ramon Tallaj and Dr. Henry Chen for their leadership. SOMOS includes providers in communities of color, health care providers, most of them, themselves, people of color who do extraordinary grassroots work to protect their communities. I worked with SOMOS before. They've been great partners. They've helped us out and donated a lot to help small businesses in the Bronx that needed to come back recently. Thank you to SOMOS and particularly for the fact that they will now be bringing online about 50 new – 50 new testing sites, particularly focused on pediatric clinics. So, kids, parents, families, a great place to reach people in their communities. So, these two partnerships are going to help us a lot.
Now, continuing on testing, we want everyone to get that diagnostic test. That's something that's important. We want the most people possible to get it, but we also know a lot of people want the antibody test. They want to know if they've been exposed to the disease before. That's important too. Both tests tell you something very important. We want people to get this information. We want people to engage in testing and so Health + Hospitals, the hospitals themselves, the clinics, will now be offering antibody testing for free on a much bigger scale, along with the diagnostic test. So, you get the two tests done at once for free. You get the results of the antibody test within 24 hours. A lot of people want that peace of mind – were they exposed to the disease before? Remember, it does not tell you that you don't need to keep taking precautions. It does not tell you, you can never get the disease again, but it does tell you you've had it, you fought your way through it. That's really helpful and reassuring to people. We want folks to know that. So, go out there, get tested. You'll be able now to get both tests at Health + Hospitals facilities both at the same time, both for free. And to find out where, go to nyc.gov/covidtest.
Now to our indicators. And again, I said at the beginning, good news. Well, you have earned this once again. Let's go to daily – number one daily indicator is the number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19, threshold of 200, today's report is 60. Number two, daily number of people in Health + Hospitals ICUs, the threshold is 375, today's report is 329. And this is my favorite always because it tells us the most – the number of people testing positive citywide for COVID-19, threshold of 15 percent, once again, today only two percent. That's been extraordinarily stable. That says you are doing something right. Let's keep doing that. A few words in Spanish.
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, we will turn to our colleagues in the media and please let me know the name and outlet of each journalist.
Moderator: Hi, all. Just a reminder that on the phone we have Parks Commissioner Silver, Executive Director of the Test and Trace Corps Dr. Long, and Senior Advisor Varma. With that, I will start with Jillian from WBAI.
Question: Morning. Mr. Mayor – sorry [inaudible] –
Mayor: Hi, Jillian. How are you?
Question: I'm all right. How are you?
Question: So, my first question has to do with the restaurant plan and since you're talking about phase three, I wanted to ask because residents in some of the more bar and restaurant friendly, more dense neighborhoods like the Lower East side or Hell's Kitchen were having problems before the pandemic with illegal sidewalk cafes, crowds in front of restaurants, obstructing sidewalks, noise violations, things like that. And they reported that they essentially got nowhere with City agencies – DCA, DEP, the NYPD, community boards. And I understand the need to reopen, of course, but are there concerns about self-certification, which has a dubious record already, and the sense of kind of abdicating control to BIDs? And what are you going to do to kind of prevent a free for all, which is kind of how it was described beforehand and make sure that people are following the law and obeying the rules?
Mayor: I appreciate it, Jillian. It's an important question. Look, I do think your question is very important because clearly – look, I heard from communities, plenty, about before the pandemic about noise, about crowds. These are real issues. It's part of why we started a nightlife office. And what I found was our nightlife office actually made a real big impact, not perfect by any stretch. It made a big impact working with bar owners, nightclub owners, restaurant owners working with a bunch of agencies, working with communities to try and strike the right balance. And Ariel Palitz and her team there, I think, have really done extraordinary work. And they'll be right in the middle of addressing these issues now. But I think the self-certification was absolutely the right thing to do in this context. Julian, you're right. Self-certification as a broad concept over recent years, different parts of government, there's some real issues there and you have to be really careful when you allow it. In the middle of a pandemic when restaurants are trying to survive and we're trying to revive the economy, give people back their jobs – absolutely the right thing to do. When I was up at Melba’s restaurant in Harlem, and she said she could do the form in five minutes and get her restaurant back up and bring people back to work, that was music to my ears. But we will have civilian agencies out there, educating, making sure people can move, that there's not too much crowding, addressing noise issues. We don't want to do fines and other enforcement in the first instance, if we can solve the problem. But if we have to, of course, we reserve that right. Go ahead, Jillian.
Question: Okay. Well, I would like to ask about the nightlife organization, but not today because I didn't prepare myself for it so –
Mayor: You’ll get another chance.
Question: Thank you. You've talked often including Tuesday about how the city's recovery can't be just doing business as usual and for the need to change the status quo. But many people have pointed to your own advisory councils, the appointees, as a lot of permanent government types, especially the real estate and construction council, which kind of contradicts this challenging of the status quo. There are no, I believe, new kinds of stakeholders like reservationists, independent planners, or affordable housing advocates who aren't also developers. Isn’t this the perfect opportunity to kind of shake things up?
Mayor: Yeah, I think that's a very fair point, Jillian. And I'm going to ask my colleagues who are working on this, like Deputy Mayor Vicki Been, to take that point to heart and see if we need to add people. Look, I think the immediate issue, we have different groups we put together here. The advisory councils of course are part of the long term, but really the first thing we said at the time, the first thing with those sector advisory councils, was getting back up and running and figuring out the restart. And I think the people on those advisory councils were well chosen for that purpose. But I think you make a great point. If we have to think beyond the immediate restart to the recovery and changing the status quo, are there voices we need to bring in who are not yet present? Very fair points. So, we're going to look at that and see how we can improve upon that. The other entities, which are working intensely on the process of change, the internal task force on racial inclusion and equity, obviously, is a great example. We've announced there's going to be a commission on racial justice and reconciliation. These entities are obviously focusing on immediate change and long term change. So, there's more than one venue playing out here, to say the least, but I think your point is well taken and we'll work to add other folks to those advisory councils.
Moderator: Next we have Dave Evans from ABC-7.
Question: Hey, Mayor, can you hear me?
Mayor: Yeah. Dave, how you doing? You got a good phone today, Dave?
Question: Well, I do. I'm not moving around that. You know, that makes a difference.
Mayor: This was about to turn into a running joke. So, let's have this be your great moment here.
Question: Thanks. I wasn't with you yesterday because I was doing some election follow stories, so, you may have gone over this yesterday, but I wanted to see when you talk about the 22,000 people who would have to be laid off, is that a given since we really can't, you know, have you go to Washington or to Albany and get something done by the deadline? And why can't this be delayed? Why do you have to do this? I know what the law is, but don't we have some extenuating circumstances here?
Mayor: Yeah, it's a fair question, Dave. We do have extenuating circumstances, but we don't have a change in the law. And remember the City of New York for decades, you know, coming out of the really bad, old days of the past in the 70s when our financial house was not in order, one of the things that has marked the effectiveness and the strength of the City New York is doing on-time budget. It is a law, we're going to stick to it. But that said, look, our goal in the budget – let me make sure I'm a hundred percent clear about the goal here – the goal is always because we're in a pandemic, because we're in an economic crisis, a health care crisis, it is, first of all, to protect people's health. Second, safety. Third, keep a roof over their heads. Fourth, keep food on their table. These are the things that we're focused on singularly. And that's the way we have to make these decisions in the budget. But we also have to balance a budget. And you're absolutely right, we thought there'd be a stimulus by now. It hasn't happened. Obviously Albany right now, our fear is that the State government will be cutting us further, not sending us aid. The one big open question is the potential for long term borrowing. We're still working on that as we speak with the legislature. But Dave, look, I hate having to talk about furloughs and layoffs. It's against everything I believe. The reality is we are running out of money. There's just no way in hell we're going to get a lot of new revenue immediately. So we're at the point where we have to – we have to deal with reality, but we would do it with a time delay.
So what I said is if we don't get help very quickly in terms of long term borrowing from Albany, we will have to put into this budget, the layoff of 22,000 City workers, an astounding number, a very troubling number. Every agency will experience layoffs. A lot of people will lose their livelihood. I don't want to see that, a lot of City services we depend on will be gone. But we would have no choice unless some immediate help comes. We would time that for the fall, so that if stimulus money came in the meantime, we could do something with that. But if it doesn't come, there's no guarantee of the stimulus at this point. If it doesn't come, we would then have to activate that. Go ahead, Dave.
Question: Okay. And then my second question is related to the Shepherd Counseling program that you were so pleased with earlier. Is that a given that those people are cut now or can they hold on until October also?
Mayor: That is a specific situation. I'm someone who – you mean Single Shepherd, Dave, is that what you're saying?
Mayor: Yeah. That's a program I initiated and really had high hopes for and you know, great, great people. I've met some of the people doing this work, and they've done – they put their heart and soul into helping kids. It was built as a very intensive program, a lot of investment. We saw mixed results is the honest truth. We're keeping a piece of it in place. So a substantial part of that program will continue, but not all of it. Just because we're at a point where again, if we're talking about layoffs and furloughs, we had to make a lot of tough choices already. The billions of dollars we had to cut already back in April. And this was a program that just, we couldn't keep going at the same level. So that's happening as part of the immediate budget.
Moderator: Next we have Marcia from CBS.
Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor, how are you doing this morning?
Mayor: Good Marcia. How you doing?
Question: Okay. I have another budget question. So the unions are obviously not pleased with your statement that you may have to lay off 22,000 people. And they say it's political saber rattling, and that you can do it with various agency cuts and other things. What's your response to that?
Mayor: Marcia, we did over $2 billion in cuts to agencies in April. As I said yesterday, we're in the middle of doing another billion in cuts to agencies right now, before you even talk about the personnel costs. And we had cut before that in previous PEG programs and savings programs. We've been cutting agencies constantly. So no, I don't think that's the truth. And I – look, I respect the labor movement deeply. I've worked very closely with our municipal unions. The last thing I want to do is layoffs and furloughs. But people have to get honest about where we're at.
Marcia, I talked about it yesterday. This budget is $8 billion less than the one we announced in February. That's a massive drop in the budget. And we're facing potential State cuts. And we're facing potential revenue losses in the future. And the following fiscal year, Fiscal 22, we have about a $5 billion deficit right now with no way to close it. This is a really, really tough situation. 1.3 million New Yorkers have lost their jobs since February. This is not business as usual. So it's the last thing I want to do. But I need long term borrowing authority from Albany if I'm going to get out of this immediate problem for Tuesday, which is our budget deadline. And then we need stimulus help from Washington if we're going to solve these bigger problems I just talked about. Because there's no new revenue coming. So we're really in a jam and it's important for New Yorkers to hear just how blunt and real this problem is. Go ahead, Marcia.
Question: So I guess the question is this. If you had to cut 22,000 jobs, where would the axe fall?
Mayor: Every agency, when you're talking about that number, literally every agency. And I hate saying that. I'm not saying that with anything but pain. It's a big chunk of our workforce. It would have to be, every agency would have to find a way – and I hate it because what it means for those families who will lose their livelihood. I hate it, what it means in terms of the services that won't be provided anymore. But again, Washington has just absolutely dropped the ball. The President's never lifted a finger for the stimulus. The Senate Majority Leader won't even put it on the calendar. So, you know, they've made it very clear, they don't care what happens to cities and states all over the country, right now. Including their own cities and states. And we've been asking for the long term borrowing from Albany to get us through this as was given to the City after 9/11. And we still haven't gotten an answer and we need that help now.
Moderator: Next we have Shant from the Daily News.
Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. I wanted to ask about the report on police involved deaths that the Health Department released I guess late Monday night. What action, if any, are you contemplating in light of that report? And do you at all fault the NYPD for what appeared to be years of under counting those deaths? Thank you.
Mayor: Yeah, Shant, again, this issue came to my attention only very recently. The important thing was to get the information out, to be transparent. Just to make clear in all the different situations, what happened and then to see what it teaches us on how we can do things differently. So I don't have a specific prescription for you right now. I think the important point is transparency and then look at what it means and how to make things better.
I do know that one of the questions it would immediately raise is what do we know about use of force? And one thing I can tell you, which didn't get a lot of reporting, but really should be examined is the use of force information. I'm going to have to get this out to you because I can't remember if it was 2018 or 2019 was the last year we had the final figures for that I saw. But in terms of adversarial gun discharges by NYPD officers. So not an accidental discharge, not something involving an animal, a pit bull or something like that, but actually an adversarial situation with another human being who was not a police officer. For the whole year, all our officers, the whole city was 17 adversarial discharges. So the fact is that NYPD use of force has been really systematically reduced. And that's training and de-escalation and a lot of other things. That is crucial to addressing the big questions here. But mainly I just think the transparency will cause us to keep examining what we can do better. Go ahead.
Question: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, so I just wanted to switch gears a little bit. The Council is voting on legislation to basically make E-bikes and E-scooters legal today. I want to ask if you'll sign that? And yeah, if you have any regrets about doing a sort of crack down on E-bikes starting in 2017? Thanks.
Mayor: Thanks Shant. No, remember it was illegal. I think it was crazy that it was illegal. We talked about this for years. It was something out in the open, part of our city, but by State law, it was illegal and we're not in a position to ignore State law. And there were real safety concerns. I think it could have been done better is the absolute truth Shant. And I'll take responsibility. I thought there was a way to do this based on everything I heard that could be just about going after the businesses, not the individuals who are the delivery people. I don't think it was realized the way I wanted it to be. I don't think it ever was done the way I envisioned it. So I'm unhappy about that. But the more important thing is that we needed legalization. It was right to have the law say that this part of our society exists now is legal. So I think the Council's right to be doing that. Absolutely I'll sign the bills. I had a lot of conversation with the Council about it. It's particularly important that I signed these bills now because people need more safe ways to get around and more options in light of the pandemic. People need their livelihoods. So for delivery folks and other folks who use those as part of their work, they need to be able to do that legally. So it's absolutely the right thing to do. I'm always going to be watching for the safety issues on the E-scooters. We're going to be doing a pilot and we want to be very mindful of the safety issues there. But it's absolutely the right thing to do.
Moderator: Next we have Erin from Politico.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. I'm wondering if you can speak to, with all the spikes we're seeing in virus cases in other states, what exactly – and if you can be as specific as possible and maybe some of the public health people can chime in. What exactly do we think is going to prevent that from happening here again? And I understand that some other states have, you know, moved much more quickly and perhaps recklessly to open, but you also have states like California which tried to take the cautious approach, seeing the huge spike. So why are you so confident that that's not going to happen here? And we're going to be able to go to phase three and everything's going to keep working out?
Mayor: Yeah, Erin, I'll start. And then Dr. Jay Varma and Dr. Ted Long certainly should jump in with anything they want to add. It's a great question Erin. None of us is falsely confident here. I have been very cautious, you know. I have openly said on this one, I've been conservative. Which is why, you know, many, many times questions from the media, concerns from elected officials, everyone saying go faster, faster. And I've been the person saying not until we have proof that we can handle it. And I even hesitated in terms of the decision on phase two, until we had enough of a body of evidence that phase one had not created a huge uptick. And I've been very pleased by that Erin. The fact that phase one, hundreds of thousands of people come back to work, in contact with their customers. I mean, that was a big sea change moment. And we've seen almost no thank God, knocking on wood, almost no impact on our indicators. So right now the data keeps saying that we're doing right. But I think the important part is to constantly provide education, to constantly provide the free face coverings, to keep people tight and disciplined because we're not out of the woods. So am I a hundred percent confident? Of course not. Do I believe that these approaches are the right approaches? Yes. Do I believe they're sustainable? We also have the Test and Trace Corp, on a huge scale. No place else has that Erin. And that's a big, positive X factor. So we're going to watch every day. If we ever don't like what we see to the point that we need to freeze or even go backwards in terms of the phases, we would do that working with the State. But right now I think we have the right tools to keep moving forward. Doctors you want to add?
Executive Director Ted Long, Test and Trace Corps.: Mr. Mayor, this is Ted. Can you hear me?
Executive Director Long: [Inaudible]
Mayor: You got – wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait. Jay – Jay and Ted are talking the same time. Jay, you start then Ted.
Senior Advisor Jay Varma: Great. Yeah. I just wanted to emphasize that I think the points that you made, that there are no guarantees that we can keep this infection out. So we have to be vigilant at all times. I think the strategies that we have, we tend to think of as, you know, the defensive strategies that we need to keep. So that's everybody wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, limiting gatherings on the one hand. And then the second is of course our offensive strategy, which Dr. Long can describe in more detail, which is test and trace. And we need to keep in mind that one of the challenges for New York back in February was that we didn't have universal testing. So we didn't really have a clear window into what was happening at any given time. And that has changed dramatically [inaudible] that we have are now much more useful and precise than they were at previous times.
Mayor: Okay. Go ahead, Ted.
Executive Director Long: Thank you. Erin, that's a great question. And what gives me confidence and faith is that since over the first three weeks of starting to Test and Trace Corp, last week alone, 86 percent of our newly diagnosed people with coronavirus felt comfortable enough and already trusted in our program enough to share with us contacts that they may have exposed. And we reached 650 contacts, that by the time we talked to them, they were already symptomatic. And if they would have gone out there and infected three or four other New Yorkers each, our program already, as Jay said, something we didn't have before, has already prevented potentially 2,000 new cases of coronavirus. This is a powerful tool we have in our tool belt now, and we're going to leverage it to the maximum extent. And that's what gives me faith and confidence.
Mayor: Thank you, Erin. Did you have follow-up?
Question: Yes. I'm just wondering, you said that the enforcement for the social distancing protocols in phase two, the outdoor dining in particular would be based on complaints. Do you have any numbers on how many complaints there have been and has there been any enforcement action?
Mayor: I don't have that in front of me, Erin. We will get that to you today, for sure. I mean, I know that the response from the restaurant industry – I think we're now around 5,000 or more applications – so, that's been great. I know a lot of people in communities are happy to have restaurants back, but we'll get you what we see in terms of complaints and any enforcement needed. And again, the first option is always going to be education, resolve the problem. We don't want to give fines. We don't want to do anything draconian when people are in the middle of a horrible crisis and businesses are struggling to survive. But, if we have to, we certainly will.
Moderator: Next we have Julia from the Post.
Question: Hey, good morning, Mr. Mayor. Congratulations to you and all New Yorkers and the progress we've made toward phase three. My first question is, you said police would only intervene in setting off – in people setting off fireworks if it became a serious safety issue. But the problem is, by the time they determine that, it's often too late, as we saw the other night, when a firecracker went through the bedroom window of a three-year-old boy in the Bronx and sent him to the hospital with burn injuries. The boy's father told us he doesn't believe you've taken enough action against people setting them off and cops aren't doing anything to prevent dangerous incidents, like the one that occurred to his toddler. So, why not have the police crack down on instigators and events where people aren't just setting them off and running away, but staging them for longer periods of time, instead of –
Mayor: That’s a lot, let me just take that and then you can follow up. The – first of all, I feel really sorry for that family and I hope the young child's going to be okay. And we take this very seriously, Julia. The fact is, safety is what we're about – number-one thing, especially when it comes to protecting the lives of our kids. So, the challenge here is just what you were indicating, sometimes there was an opportunity to intervene, other times there's not an opportunity. Obviously, the NYPD is constantly about protecting people's lives and where they see an opportunity to intervene where they can actually protect safety in an effective manner, of course, they're going to do that. A lot of times, things move too quickly, by the time they get report, there's not the opportunity to do that. But the most important thing, Julia, is to go to the root cause – we’ve got to cut off the supply. This situation that we're seeing with the fireworks, it turns out it's happening all over the country. It has become a very troubling phenomenon that people are setting off these fireworks and there are real safety issues. So, we're going at the root cause. The Sheriff's Office, the Fire Department, the NYPD they've continued to make progress. The NYPD apprehended 12 people in the Bronx yesterday – suppliers, people who are bringing in the actual quantities. We want to cut that off. The sheriff apprehended 10 people on Staten Island. FDNY apprehended a dealer in Manhattan. This effort has just begun, it's going to keep growing. We have to shut down the source. And then, whenever there's an opportunity to intervene, they should, but that's not every opportunity. That's just the truth. Go ahead.
Question: Yeah, but the problem is, we've seen countless videos of people staging these fireworks. I've seen them myself in the neighborhood for 20 minutes, an hour, and the police don't come. And then we've seen numerous videos of the police coming or the FDNY coming and just standing by. So, why aren't the police or the FDNY being more active in –
Mayor: Respectfully, he videos don't tell you the whole story, as per usual in life. The NYPD, FDNY are always going to make decisions based on safety. They have many other things, particularly NYPD, dealing right now with other profound challenges. And we've talked throughout this week about the challenge we're having right now with shootings, which is job-one to address, and that's what I want NYPD focused on first and foremost. But they're always going to make decisions based on safety and based on the information they have before them. A video doesn't always show you the whole picture. I have faith in the professionals of the FDNY and the NYPD that they're going to make decisions based on the fact at hand, and obviously based on protecting people's safety.
Moderator: Last two for today. Next we have Juliet from 1010 WINS.
Question: Hi. Good morning, Mr. Mayor. How are you?
Mayor: Good, Juliet. How are you?
Question: I'm fine. Thank you. So, I also wanted to follow up on the fireworks. People going to Jersey, and even Orange County, and they're buying them in Walmart and stores that are just selling fireworks. So, these are the “suppliers,” and there were stories the other day – news report – watching people stock up a thousand dollars’ worth of fireworks and, oh yeah, I'm going to bring them back to my neighborhood and set them off in Crown Heights. So, are these the suppliers that you're talking about and how do you go after them?
Mayor: So, it's a great question, Juliet. We will get you an update today on how the laws work in New York City, but the fact is – folks who are doing this for profit – and let's be clear, there are people who are – whatever way they're getting them – they are reselling them for profit, and a lot of time selling them to kids, and a lot of times setting up situations that are not safe before you even get to the quality of life problem that people don't want to hear, you know, fireworks going off into the night. The laws in New York City are clear and strict about the things that we have to do to protect people's safety. So, we'll get you the bottom line on that. But the fact that now the fire marshals, the Sheriff's Office, NYPD, NYPD Intelligence Division are immediately finding so many people to go and then target and stop and apprehend shows you that there's a pattern we're now locking onto to get at the supply and the things that are being done illegally. But we'll get you more detail on how that works.
Question: Okay. And my next question involves baseball, starting up next week. Spring training will be here for the first time in Queens and the Bronx. Do you know whether fans will be able to attend spring training or exhibition games or any official game once the season gets started?
Mayor: Juliet, first of all, I think it's fantastic that baseball's coming back. And I'm a massive baseball fan, and it's something, I think, will be a great relief to a lot of people – and all the other sports coming back. Everyone needs this, because we've been through so much. But my strong understanding is that it will be with no spectators, whether it's the spring training exhibition or the regular season games. Of course, that could evolve. But, right now, based on everything I'm seeing at the City level and the State level, it would be with no spectators at all.
Moderator: Last question for today, we have Henry from Bloomberg.
Question: Hello, Mr. Mayor. I appreciate being called upon.
Mayor: Hey, Henry.
Question: Phase three also involves indoor dining, and you didn't mention that as one of the activities that would resume. What's the story with that? Is that also going to be included? And if not, why not?
Mayor: Yes, it will be. So, indoor dining at 50 percent capacity. Tomorrow, I'll talk about the whole list of activities that will be allowable under phase three. I did not go over at all today on purpose, Henry. Today, I'm announcing one specific piece, which I know you've been interested in and a lot of other people – when are those sports activities in parks going to be allowed again? When are the basketball hoops going back up and the soccer nets and the tennis nets? So, again, based on the data we have now, and assuming we stay the course and stick with it, that will all be starting Monday, July 6th. It'll take some days to get everything back up and running, obviously, but the goal is Monday, July 6th. But there's a lot of other things that will happen in phase three, including the beginning or partial indoor dining. So, tomorrow, I'll start to outline what those pieces are and how we're getting businesses and the city ready for them. But, you know, again, so far so good. And it's exciting that we can now talk about this and get ready for it. Go ahead, Henry.
Question: Okay. Thank you. And this is – my second question has to do with the budget. The Citizens Budget Commission says that, on average, about 22,000 employees turn over every year, including a lot of employees in the Police Department, which, as you know, the personnel is very expensive, including the fringe benefits, and given the fact that thousands are [inaudible] every year, doesn't that make the task of cutting the workforce a lot less daunting, and isn't that a way to save a lot of money? And the Citizen's Budget Commission also has several other recommendations. They're not particularly austere or ideological, but they have to do with the ways that the City could save money without cutting the Police Department by a billion dollars and without really significantly cutting services –
Mayor: Henry –
Mayor: Go ahead, I'm sorry. Did you have more to that? I'm sorry.
Question: Well, I was going to talk about consolidating some of the welfare funds so that each union doesn't have their own welfare fund and various other ways of consolidating, you know, procurement so that you can take advantage of, you know, purchasing in large numbers, savings like that that really don't go to cutting essential services.
Mayor: I appreciate the question a lot. So, first of all, this is what – you know, the Office of Management and Budget all day long is looking for savings. As I said, in the last – just in April, over $2 billion in agency cuts and savings, another billion happening right now, before you even talk about the probability of layoffs or furloughs. So, that's a constant effort. Citizens Budget Commission, we've talked to them and looked at their recommendations. Some are more viable than others. Some make more sense than others. I don't know if I'd always say they're not about an austerity vision, because I disagree with the austerity concept. I think whenever possible, investing in our communities, investing in city services, investing in our workforce is the smart thing to do for the future of the city. But, right now, we're up against something like we'd never seen before. This is literally a crisis on a magnitude that could be the worst crisis New York City has ever faced health care crisis, economic crisis, a crisis in terms of racial justice issues, a crisis in terms of our budget. I mean, everything's happening simultaneously and we have to make sense of this in a way we've just never encountered before. So, Henry, I think to the essence of your question, will we look at any and all potential savings? Absolutely. Will we look at things that have never been done before? Absolutely. You know, you make a good point that maybe some things could be consolidated, maybe there were turf issues in the past that could be overcome. We should look at all of that. But, in the end, of course we understand attrition is something – if you use attrition, yes, you are saving money, you are losing the service, you're you losing the impact on people. You can't reach people and help them if that job is not filled, just like if there's a layoff or a furlough. But the problem is the sheer magnitude here. The budget is $8 billion smaller than it was in February, this year, and it's only going to get worse. I told you for the next filing – the following fiscal year, Fiscal ‘22, there's an over $5 billion deficit right now and no way to fill it, and the likelihood of State cuts. So, we're in the great unknown, Henry. And, unfortunately, unless we get borrowing authority from Albany quickly, unless we get a stimulus, a substantial stimulus from Washington, the only direction we go in is to keep cutting – and I hate that, and I don't want to do it, but I have to be honest with the people of New York City. We have to be prepared to do that. It's a last resort, but it's just the reality we're facing right now.
Mayor: Okay. Did Henry get his two?
Mayor: Thank you. That is a sober note, obviously, and a real challenge what I just said, and it's, again, unprecedented. But let me end on what I think is the, not only the hopeful note, but the underlying truth here, which is what all New Yorkers have done. We've been through a lot of pain, a lot of families are suffering right now. A lot of challenges, many more to come. This will be a multi-year challenge, but we are coming back right now as we speak. Right this minute, New York City is coming back and New York City is incredibly resilient. People did a great job with phase one. They're doing a great job with phase two. We actually now can talk about phase three, beginning on Monday, July 6th. I’ve got to tell you, if you asked me a month ago, did I think we could move this quickly? I was dubious. But you have done it. New Yorkers, you have done it. You've been tough. You've been strong. You've been disciplined. You're bringing us forward. Keep to it, because if we ever want to keep going from one phase to the next, to the next, and we want to keep making that progress, it depends on you.
Thank you for all you're doing. Keep going.