Coronavirus Pandemic – Test and Trace: City Expands Testing Criteria to Test More New Yorkers
New York City Strong news – New York, NY: Office of the Mayor reports 5.14.2020.
City aims to test 20,000 New Yorkers a day by the week of May 25th
NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio announced today that any person with COVID-19 symptoms is now eligible to receive a test in New York City. Those who have been exposed to a positive case or work in a congregate residential setting are also eligible for testing regardless of symptoms. This comes as the City continues to expand its testing capacity with the aim to test and trace every positive case of COVID-19.
“Lack of widespread testing was our achilles heel from day one, but we’re rewriting that story every day,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Our effort to test and trace very New Yorker in need of a test is coming together at lightning speed, giving us the tools we need to defeat the virus once and for all.”
New Yorkers will now be eligible to receive a COVID-19 test if they have:
- COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of age, chronic conditions or occupation
- Come in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient, regardless of symptoms
- Work in a congregate residential setting (nursing home, shelter, or adult care facility), regardless of symptoms
Please Visit nyc.gov/covidtest to find a community testing site near you.
With the immediate goal to test 20,000 New Yorkers per day by the week of May 25th, the City will open two additional testing sites by May 18th in the following locations:
Manhattan: Highbridge Recreation Center, Washington Heights
Brooklyn: 1223 Coney Island Avenue, Midwood
10 additional sites in the following locations will open by the week of May 25th:
2530 Jerome Avenue, Fordham Manor
778 Forest Avenue, Melrose
Brooklyn Army Terminal, Sunset Park
8511 5th Avenue, Bay Ridge
6565 Flatlands Avenue, Canarsie
141 East 111th Street, East Harlem
51-30 Northern Boulevard, Woodside
100 Luten Avenue, Prince’s Bay
57 Cleveland Place, Concord
168 Hooker Place, Port Richmond
Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Holds Media Availability
May 14, 2020
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, good morning, everybody. I want to talk to you today about not just what’s going on in our city right now, but what our future looks like. But if you will just indulge me for a moment upfront, something very personal I want to say. Today is the 26th anniversary of my marriage to Chirlane. And Chirlane, I think you’re watching right now, so I just want to say – 26 years later, you are my best friend, and I am madly in love with you, and I look forward to celebrating with you this year and many years ahead. So, thank you to all the people in New York City for giving me a moment to send out that anniversary message. And when I think about it – 1994 when Chirlane and I got married, this was a very, very different place. We met actually right here in this building in 1991, and, for a long time, this city was struggling in so many ways. Even in 1991 you could feel the huge impact of the fiscal crisis still hanging over us. We didn’t know in those years that horrible things were up ahead like 9/11 or Hurricane Sandy. When you think about the city’s history, the strength of New York City, the strength of New Yorkers has been tested so many times, but what has been clear throughout is that what we have here is eternal. What we have built here in this city over generations is much bigger, much stronger than is ever realized, because each time, and you’ve seen it in recent days, you may have seen different people theorizing, different people starting to talk about New York City’s demise after the coronavirus, and I want to say up front, they’ve got it all wrong. This was predicted even going back to the depression, but certainly predicted after each of the things I mentioned, the fiscal crisis, 9/11, Hurricane Sandy that somehow New York City couldn’t come back. Each and every time New York city has come back and come back stronger, literally come back stronger.
So, it is true that there will be changes if there’s any place in the world synonymous with change, it’s New York City. If there’s any place in the world that manages to adapt and improve, that in fact sets the trends for every place else, it’s right here. The notion that somehow because things will change, we should be fearful. I just reject that out of hand. Yes, things will change. A lot of folks are saying for example, fewer people might work out of their offices. We’ll find a way to make sense of that. We’ll find a way to have new and exciting opportunities grow as they have constantly, and if you want a great example, look at our tech sector, which a couple of decades ago didn’t exist, and now we’re an international tech hub, one of the greatest in the world. We always have to believe in what’s next, because that’s what we do as New Yorkers. And human beings, we are social creatures. We need to be with each other. We need to collaborate. We need to think together. We need to experience things together. That may not be so possible for the next few months. But remember, the coronavirus crisis is time limited by definition. A day is coming and it’s not too far in a future where there will be a vaccine, and then life will be very different in how we manage the coronavirus. Just like we manage so many other diseases that are a part of our world. The day is coming when more and more social activity, and business activity will be possible. It will come in waves. But if we’re talking about the big picture, and the future in New York City, what we have is magical. What we have is irreplaceable. People from all over the globe want to be here, and that’s going to continue to be true, but we have to have faith. So, I’m not for a moment trying to ignore the tough challenges, the tough questions ahead, but I’ll tell you something, you get nowhere being pessimistic and you get nowhere betting against New York City. So, I advise the naysayers to check their history, and recognize the strength of this place and our people. And I predict that we will not overcome only, but we will find a way to come back as a stronger and better city in the years ahead.
Now, let’s talk about the things we need to do on that path ahead, and if there’s something that from day one has been the most necessary part of the equation, the thing that would have done so much good, helping us beat back the Corona virus to begin with, but now will be the core to any solution, you’ve guessed it testing, testing, testing. We know that we’re still playing catch up, and unfortunately that’s because the help we needed from the federal government never was there in the beginning, still isn’t here, but we do not let that stop us. We are innovating as much as we can locally. We’re working with local partners in healthcare, we’re working with labs, we’re doing the most we can. We still need that federal support, but we’re going to keep building nonetheless. And testing capacity is growing rapidly, and it’s going to make a world of difference. And at the same time, we are seeing the great benefits, the human benefits of the deceleration of this disease, the fact that more and more people thank God are safe, and fewer and fewer people are ending up in the hospital. This also means that a lot less of the testing capacity has to be devoted to saving lives in hospitals. That’s opening up more and more possibilities of getting testing out to communities. More and more PPEs available, more and more personnel available. The situation is turning so that we can now do much more widespread testing and we’re building our capacity with our test and trace initiative. That’s going to be huge and it’s going to grow as big as it needs to, and I want to emphasize that. Whatever that point is we need to get to, we’re going to keep building it out. We’ll hire as many people as we need. We’ll go as far as we need. The only limitation we face is the amount of lab capacity available. And again, we need the federal government to step up. We need the labs to step up. We need the federal government to push hard to get the labs, the equipment they need, the reagents they need, but all the other pieces are coming together really, really well for more and more widespread testing.
Now, given that we have more capacity all the time, we want to now start to encourage more and more people to get tested. This will all come together, meaning the more testing, the more people can take advantage of testing. The more we know, the more we’re able to reach people, the more we’re able to put the test and trace protocol in place, trace the contacts, get people who need isolation, isolation. It grows together. So, now, as of today, we want to broaden the guidance on who should take advantage of more and more widespread testing. And again, you will see it growing in communities all over the city in the next few weeks, but this is the direction we’ll be going in. We now want to encourage three groups of people to get testing that’s available to them. One, anyone with symptoms. So again, what are those symptoms for the coronavirus, cough, fever, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell and again that those symptoms and remember those symptoms that are particularly of concern if someone’s older or has those preexisting healthcare conditions or both. But what we’re saying is, even if you’re not older, even if you don’t have those preexisting conditions, if you have the symptoms, we want to see you get tested, and more and more testing will be available to you. Second group, anyone who was in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient. Now, this is the work that the test and trace initiative will be doing systematically as it grows all over the city. But right now, people know in many cases, if someone in your life has tested positive, and you know you’ve been in close contact with them, well right away. If they’re a household member, they’re an intimate partner and you know they tested positive, we want you to get tested as well, regardless of whether you have symptoms or not. And number three group, and these are folks who do such important work. They work in congregate residential settings, they take care of others. Folks who work in nursing homes, folks who work in shelters, folks who work in adult care facilities. Again, whether you have symptoms or not, we want to make sure you are tested.
So, the testing is going to be built out more and more. We’re welcoming more and more people that take advantage of it as priority groups of people we want to see tested. And that of course is now bringing to your mind the question, how do I get a test? So, we are building out the locations. We now have 23 walk-in sites through our Health and Hospitals facilities. 23 sites that are open, five more through the collaboration of a one medical and local 1199. So that’s 28 sites, more sites coming online quickly. You can call 311 to find a testing location or you can go online nyc.gov/covidtest.
Now, I’ve said our goal was to get to 20,000 tests per day by May 25th. We are now confident in that goal. In fact, we want to beat that goal, and I will be giving you updates as we go along on how we’re doing, but we believe that more and more testing capacity can be put into play quickly, and that’s going to allow us to then test people, do the follow up tracing, contact tracing, and for those who need to be in a hotel, make that hotel available to them. We welcome more and more people into this. We’re going to keep accommodating everyone we can. When we get the real support we need from the federal government and that additional lab capacity, we’ll be able to go much farther. Because remember, the testing process itself has gotten simpler because of that self-swab technique we talked about a few days back. So, sky’s the limit so long as we can keep getting more and more lab capacity. But knowing that this month we will get to 20,000 tests a day and I think surpass that number, that is a great start on the road to a truly widespread testing approach for this city.
Now, as I said, more testing means more locations, and they will keep growing and growing. I told you a couple of days ago about 12 news sites, that they would be opening soon. So, now I’m going to announce officially the locations of those sites. So, opening next week, week of May 18th in Manhattan the Highbridge Rec Center in Washington Heights. In Brooklyn, 1223 Coney Island Avenue. Those two sites will bring our overall capacity up to 6,300 tests a day at Health and Hospitals, facilities. And then the following week, week of May, 25th. Two sites in the Bronx in Fordham Manor and Melrose. Three sites in Brooklyn, Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, and Canarsie. A site in Manhattan in East Harlem. A site in Queens in Woodside. Three sites in Staten Island, Princes Bay, Concord, and Port Richmond. Those are the specific addresses and that capacity will bring us up to 10,700 tests a day. Again, this is going to keep growing, the more capacity we have, the more labs we bring into the game, the more we’ll keep building this program out. And now as it grows and grows, again, anyone in those new categories I talked about today, please take advantage of this testing opportunity. It’s going to help you, your family, the people in your life, but it’s going to help us as well as we fight back to the coronavirus in this City.
Now, you know, we keep learning about this disease, and it is always challenging to be dealing with something new that medical science still doesn’t fully understand. And I’ve said, you know, in the beginning it really seemed to be extraordinarily consistent and painful that our oldest New Yorkers were bearing the brunt and folks with the preexisting conditions. But we noticed consistently that children seem to have very little effect from this disease until what we’ve seen in recent days, and this is really troubling and I say it as a parent, it’s really troubling to see now after we thought we understood a consistent pattern, something new has been happening and the pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, P.M.I.S this is a deep concern and we’re going to throw everything we’ve got at it. The number of children affected, continues to grow. It is still in the scheme of things a rare condition, but it is something that we take very seriously and we’re now on high alert and addressing because the numbers have grown. We now have a hundred confirmed cases in New York City, 55 of those cases again have either tested positive for COVID-19 or tested for the antibodies, tested positive for the antibodies. And we lost one child and that is painful and awful for that family and for this city to have lost a child, we don’t want that ever to happen again. So, we’re about to do the maximum to get everyone informed, to get everyone the help they need to make sure that parents and family members understood— exactly what to do and when to do it. I told you yesterday we’re launching an ad campaign that’s up and running and more coming on that quickly. But again, I’m going to keep reminding you of the basics, if the child in your life has persistent fever, rash, abdominal pain, vomiting, or especially any combination of those afflictions, call your doctor immediately. Do not hesitate. If you don’t have a doctor that you need to talk to, a clinician, call 3-1-1 and we’ll connect you to a Health and Hospitals clinician. It is so important to start that dialogue immediately, if you see these symptoms and then working with a healthcare professional, they can decide with you if the child needs to get to medical care immediately. But the early detection makes all the difference, with early detection, we can save the lives of these children and that’s been what we’ve seen also from the evidence of these cases so far.
Now, we have to make sure every health provider is fully aware of the situation and ready to act. So, tomorrow, the Health Department will [inaudible] weekly webinar. The weekly webinar they do will be focused heavily on P.M.I.S that normally reaches six or 700 providers. We want to welcome as many health care providers to join that tomorrow as possible, particularly obviously focused on pediatricians. And then in the coming days, a special webinar that we put together by the Health Department with all 23 pediatric ICUs across New York City, making sure that the doctors and nurses, everyone in those pediatric ICU has the latest information and all sharing together what they’re seeing and what they’re experiencing and how best to help our children. And then, every day going forward the Health Department epidemiologists will reach out to all 23 pediatric ICUs on a regular basis following up on literally every case, even new or suspected cases to check on what’s happening. This is something where we need to put supreme focus to understand what’s happening here. It apparently, you know from the eyes of medical science came out of nowhere in this City, we have to understand it better, we have to get ahead of it. We’ll keep giving you updates on what we’re seeing and additional steps we’re taking, but these steps will immediately ensure that healthcare providers are deeply coordinated, sharing information and finding the best ways to protect our kids.
Now, we focus all the time, we’re looking to help each and every New Yorker, 8.6 million of us together. All of us going through this crisis the same. But we know some people are particularly vulnerable and that brings us back to homeless New Yorkers. Again, this effort now that’s being undertaken each night to clean the subways, I keep reporting on the results in terms of homeless outreach, the results continued to be striking. Last night, 328 homeless individuals were approached for help by our outreach workers and by the homeless outreach members of the NYPD. Of the 328 approached, 182 accepted help, so again, a very, very striking number of very positive number. 149 accepted help to shelter, 33 accepted help by way of getting them to a hospital. Now we want to make sure as we keep doing this, that we maximize the impact of this moment. We want as many of these homeless individuals are living on the streets, living in the subways, we want them to come in and get the they need. This is the first step and I’ve told you what we’ve done over the last three years involved very intensive, very humane, very decent, very careful, thoughtful connection to homeless individuals to try and win their trust, bring them into someplace better and safe and someplace they can get medical care and get help overcoming the challenges they face, including mental health challenges and substance misuse challenges. So, the question has been asked by some of our colleagues in the media is a great one. What do we know of these results so far? What they tell us? How lasting are these results? Well, it’s only been a little over a week, but still first we know in the first week, 824 individuals accepted help at one point or another. That’s a huge number, when you think that the federal assessment of the number of homeless people in this City is somewhere between 35,000 and 4,000 the street homeless people. If 824 individuals accepted help in one form or another, that’s of truly historic figure that says more and more of the homeless individuals are starting to experiment with what it would be like to come in and get off the streets. 201 of them made it to shelter and that might’ve been for only hours or that might be for a few nights and we’ll get more details on that as we do the analysis. But again, 201 staying in shelter for a period of time, that’s a big deal because it’s the first step towards change. But the number that we should dwell on the most is the 103 who have stayed in shelter. Now again, we’re only talking about a little more than a week, but 103 individuals who were living on the street have come in and stayed in so far. That doesn’t mean every single one of them will remain in the for the, you know, for months and years ahead, but that’s what we’re working toward. And the fact that 103 have stayed in so far is a huge step in the right direction. So, we’ve got to break the vicious cycle that held people in a life that was truly dangerous and unhealthy and not anything we want to see a human being living. This is a very promising sign and again, a deep thank you to the homeless outreach workers and the men and women in the NYPD who do this— homeless outreach work who are trained for it, who do it as a deep form of public service. It’s not easy, but both the homeless outreach workers and the NYPD officers of this work, they’re doing something so important and so meaningful and I thank them all.
And I want to stay on the topic of the NYPD for a moment. These last weeks have been a profound challenge as we are trying to make sense, all of us in this City of a new reality. There was no playbook for the coronavirus, we’ve all had to learn together how to do things like shelter in place and social distancing and wearing face coverings. These things don’t come naturally to any of us, we’re all trying to make sense of it together. Of course, people are feeling the burden of these changes, the burden of so many families not having a livelihood. The— the questions, the fear, the anxiety. It’s a tough atmosphere for everyone and we’re asking our police officers to figure out how to address all the normal challenges, address quality of life, address crime, assist people in a variety of ways. Every day is different from a police officer, we’re asking them to do all that, but also figure out how to play the role we need them to play in making sure the rules are followed so we can beat back this disease. Remember, the rules are to fight this disease, the rules are to reduce the number of people get this disease and the number of people die. There is nothing more sacred than that in terms of thinking of what people in the line of public safety do. So, it’s such crucial work and yet there’s no playbook we’re making up each day. We’re trying to figure out better approaches, better ways to figure out how to train officers and how to listen to communities about what’s working, what’s not working, trying to figure out what that balance should be between what our police do, versus our civilian employees, versus community members, houses of worship, community organizations. We’ve got to strike that balance and we’re not there yet.
So, I want to put this on me and Commissioner Shea that we have to figure out how to strike that balance. We have to figure out a plan and a protocol that works. What we’ve been doing up to now is trying to address situations as they emerge, particularly the situations that are most dangerous, which are large gatherings, but it’s clear we have to improve the supervision, the training, the protocols, the game plan for a very complex situation and not create unnecessary tension between our police and our communities. And you know, some out there raised concerns and I value the concerns and have worried that we might in some way take a step backwards or race so much of the progress we’ve made over six plus years and bring police and community together. I can tell you I won’t let that happen. I can tell you Commissioner Shea won’t let that happen. We didn’t all not come here to let that happen. We came here to fix things. We came here to fundamentally and permanently change the relationship between police and community. We will not go backwards, but we have to get it right and that’s on us. And I affirm that the vast majority of time, the interactions between our police and our communities are done the right way. There’s more and more mutual respect, more and more communication. But the coronavirus has thrown us a curve ball and created situations that no one’s trained for and that are really complex and very emotional. And we have to figure out how to deal with those better. So, certainly for all the folks out there have said, can we make sure that in the first instance, the education and the giving out face coverings and the efforts to try and remind people the right way to do things, that those are first and foremost done by civilians and by community members. Yes, that’s what we absolutely want, that’s the direction we’re moving in, and enforcement needs to be with a light touch and overwhelmingly it has been, but we’ve seen a few situations where that wasn’t the case and were deeply troubling. We saw another video last night and like every human situation there are complexities, but what was not complex at all was it shouldn’t have gone down that way, period. It does not reflect our values. It’s not what we want to see in this city. I know for Commissioner Shea and I, we talked about last night, it’s painful for everyone involved. No New Yorkers want to see something like that. For us it is painful because it means something is still not working the way we need it to and to say the least whatever else was going on in that video, whatever else was happening in that moment, we should never have a situation where a mom with her child ends up under arrest for that kind of offense. It’s just not right.
Now, if you look at the whole story, unfortunately there are problems in the whole thing including, I want to remind everyone, no one should be disrespectful to police officers. No one should ignore the instructions of police officers, particularly when they’re trying to protect people’s safety and trying do something for the health and safety of all of us. So, we have to work together in this city to try and get everyone to play their role respectfully of each other. But what we saw there did not reflect our values. It did not reflect our goals of de-escalation and we have to do better, and it’s my responsibility and the Commissioner’s responsibility to find that path forward and we will, and I feel very confident about that. We will figure out a way – if I didn’t feel confident about it, I’d tell you. But I do feel confident because we have to do everything we’ve done for the last six-plus years in changing our department and making it have a closer relationship with the communities and that happened. People said we couldn’t get away from Stop and Frisk or the city would end up being more crime ridden, chaotic. The opposite happened as we got away from Stop and Frisk. People said there’ll be all sorts of problems if we implemented body cameras or if we reduced marijuana arrests or reduced arrests overall, we are hundreds of thousands of fewer arrests than we used to make and still remain the safest big city in America. So, we’ve made those changes. We will figure this one out too, but I want the day to come when there are no such videos when people can really have faith in each other, and that’s what we will strive for and we will work on that every single day.
Now, a few more points before we conclude. One of the things that matters always, and I said, talking about police in communities, we have got to listen to all the time. I make it a point to listen all the time to people who raise concerns. Well, obviously this coronavirus crisis is one part profound health care crisis and another part profound economic crisis has just done horrible things to families all over the city and the anxiety, the fear, the sheer, not just a lack of a livelihood or the fear of how people will keep a roof over their head or where the next meal is coming from, but not even knowing when the economy will come back and whether their jobs will, their small businesses will still be there. Last night I talked to folks who brought so much to discussion leaders of the small business community of this city who are part of our small business advisory group and we’ve called together these advisory councils because we need to hear from people their perspective. We need to hear what they’re going through. We need to hear their fears and their anxieties and the unknown, but also their solutions, their ideas. What an extraordinary conversation. Small business leaders from all five boroughs, folks who created from scratch, the extraordinary businesses that they run. I want to thank everyone who was a part of that advisory council for the work you’re doing, helping all of us, helping your fellow small businesses, helping New York City to bring back the small businesses that are part of our heart and soul. So, it was a very energetic and inspiring conversation even it was against the backdrop of a lot of fear and anxiety. A lot of questions. People had ideas and they had proposals of what would work and a sense of can-do, let’s make something happen, classic attitude of a small business owner, and it gave me confidence that if we listen to small business owners, we’ll find the solutions and it means the city government’s going to have to act differently and do more to work with small businesses and hear small businesses, and it also means we’re going to have to find new forms of support from the larger business community, from the philanthropic community to help our small businesses, and we talked about all of that. But there was one particularly poignant moment where an owner of a small business in Chinatown talked about what it has been like since basically the beginning of this year. That against the backdrop of this horrible crisis and the human suffering, that so many members of the Chinese American community and the Asian American community have on top of that suffer discrimination throughout, which is wholly unacceptable and I want to remind everyone we will fight this discrimination. We will fight this bias wherever we see it and we need people to call in if it’s any act of discrimination or bias, call 3-1-1. We need to know when anyone has been the victim of a bias crime, if it’s obviously something violent and immediate call 9-1-1.
But the point last night that was even more poignant was that people have suffered discrimination while losing their livelihoods, think about this for a moment and let’s put ourselves in the eyes and in the shoes of people who worked all their life to create something for their families, created these beautiful small businesses all over New York City then suffered discrimination and then saw their business fall away because of fears that people had. unfortunately fears stoked by misunderstanding and bias that caused everyday New Yorkers not to want to go to a Chinese restaurant. I remember going to Chinese restaurants in Chinatown and in Flushing, Queens to make the point that there was no bias that should be accepted or perceived from one community to another, and what I heard last night was about the pain of a community that has lost his livelihood, not when most others did, but a month earlier, two months earlier than so many other people in the city, many other small businesses in this city.
So, look, it is a reminder to us that we have a lot to do. The city has done a lot to overcome bias and discrimination. We are, we have a much stronger social fabric than we used to even just a couple of decades ago. We will overcome this. We need to embrace and uplift our Asian American brothers and sisters in this fight to bring back our city, but we also need to specially focus on the economic reality of those communities and make sure those small businesses come back and that we all go and make an extra effort to patronize them and help them back on their feet because in many ways they suffered long before everybody else in this crisis.
Okay. It’s time for what we do every day, our daily indicators and in terms of getting out of this crisis and moving forward this is the main street right here. This is what matters most and my friends today is a very good day and you deserve the credit because it’s because of your hard work that I get to tell you this good news. Every time you stay home, every time you socially distance, every time you use hand sanitizer even, every time you put on a face covering, you’re helping to drive these numbers down and get us closer to a better place. Indicator number one, daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19 is down from 78 to 59 that’s wonderful. Number two, daily number of people in ICUs across Health + Hospitals for suspected COVID-19 down, markedly down from 561 to 517 so that’s a big movement there. That’s a big jump in the right direction, bigger than we’ve seen most days, even when things go in the right direction so that is really important, and that means you’re talking about fewer and fewer people fighting for their lives. More and more people being saved. That is a very powerful number, and number three, percentage of people tested who are positive recovered 19 down from 13 percent to 11 percent three for three, a perfect day, New York City. So, let’s now put together a bunch of them and that’s what’s going to help us take the next big step forward. Okay. A few words in Spanish
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, let’s turn to our colleagues in the media and please let me know the name and outlet of each journalist.
Moderator: Just a quick reminder that we have Dr. Varma, Dr. Katz and Commissioner Banks on the phone and with that the first question goes to Andrew from NBC New York. Andrew?
Question: Hi, good morning, hope everyone is doing well.
Mayor: How are you doing, Andrew?
Question: Hanging in there.
Mayor: Alright, positive spirit.
Question: My first question has to do with testing. You said at the outset that there are now 23 sites where people can essentially get up and go wait in a line and get tested. We also understand that there are some free sites in each borough where people can make an appointment and not have to stand in line. But on those free sites it seems impossible online to get an appointment, and with regard to the 23 sites you have open, there are some in neighborhoods where people cannot walk to them, they’d have to take mass transit or an Uber or something. So are you satisfied that anybody you need the test right now in New York City can get one?
My second question is on behalf of my colleague Melissa Russo, are you satisfied with the job that your Health Commissioner Barbot is doing? And are you responsible for any of the reported tension with her because you didn’t take her advice in the crisis early on?
Mayor: So, on the first question, am I satisfied with the level of testing in New York City? Of course not. Andrew, you and I have known each other a long time and I know you’re listening to my presentations. I don’t think there’s anything I’ve said in these presentations that suggests we’re at the level testing we want to be at. I want to be at, you know, to begin with many tens of thousands a day. We’ve talked about by May 25th, 20,000 a day. We’ve talked about later in the summer gain of 50,000 date. If I had my druthers, we’d be at hundreds of thousands a day. But I can’t get there without the federal government. So, of course, I’m not satisfied. I am pleased that we’re making progress and I’m pleased that the labs are working with us to open up more capacity and I’m pleased that we’re able to bring more capacity online quickly, but far from satisfied. No, the goal is to have so many sites over time and so much availability that you don’t need to see people travel meaningful distances. But that’s going to obviously take time and it’s going to be imperfect for quite a while. And, again, the federal government has to step up in a very big way.
On the question of the health department – Andrew, look, from the very beginning, all of us have been dealing with the great unknown of this disease and, again, unfortunately without the partnership from the federal government. We have wanted – you know, I asked for widespread testing to be available in New York City starting back on January 24th, and I still don’t have it. So, that’s made it hard on all of us. But I have worked closely with all the health care professionals on our team, with Dr. Barbot and the team at Department of Health; with Dr. Katz and the team at Health + Hospitals; with Deputy Mayor Perea-Henze, who is also a doctor; with Dr. Jay Varma, who I brought in as a senior advisor – nonstop communication and conversation. You know what, even among the health care professionals, there’s going to be different perspectives, which is normal. They’re humans and they each have different training, different expertise, different understandings, different perspectives. But the conversation has been constant and we’ve kept building out a strategy and the strategy, obviously, thank God, is working to reduce the number of cases in this city, and we’re going to keep building on it. So, I think there has been a constant consultative process that has led us to get the city in the right direction, but there’s a hell of a lot more to do and we still need that federal partnership deeply.
Moderator: Next is Marla from WCBS 880. Marla?
Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor: Good morning. How are you doing, Marla?
Question: Good. Glad to ask a question this morning. I want to know where Commissioner Barbot and Shea are at. Why are they not at this press conference? We spoke to both the PBA and the SBA this morning. They want you to fire Dr. Barbot and question why that wasn’t done when the comments were made in late March. According to the New York Post, you were at the meeting where the comments were made. Can you tell us what was said and will you ask Commissioner Barbot to resign?
Mayor: Marla, I was not at a meeting where I heard that. What is being reported as I understand it – and I heard about it for the first time last night – is a conversation between Dr. Barbot and Chief Monahan. Now, I don’t have the full details yet and I want the full details for sure. I want to speak to each of them and understand exactly what happened, but it’s not something – the allegation that something was said that was disrespectful towards the men and women the NYPD, that’s not something that was said in my presence. I assure you I would have dealt with it at the time had I heard it in my presence. What I was involved in was the effort to make sure that the PPEs that were needed by the men and women of the NYPD got to them. And I had numerous conversations with Commissioner Shea, Commissioner Barbot, Chief Monaghan and others to make sure that happened. And I felt a deep sense of urgency that I wanted to make sure that the distribution happened and when I didn’t see it happening quickly enough, I intervened to make sure it would happen. So, again, I want to get more information. I will state something I feel very strongly, that no public servant should ever in any way saying anything disrespectful about the men and women of the NYPD. They protect us, we need to protect them. So, to me, it would be inappropriate for anyone, particularly in a leadership role to suggest any lack of interest in protecting the men and women of the NYPD. That would be, for me, a real inappropriate statement. But I’ll have more to say after I have had the opportunity to hear directly from people. And as for today’s press conference or any press conference, we put together the lineup each day according to what we think is necessary and that changes every day.
Moderator: Next is James from PIX11. James?
Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor: Good morning. How are you doing?
Question: Thank you for asking, doing okay. Appreciate that. Now, today, you described as a “very good day” with the metrics. Congratulations to you and the city.
Mayor: Thank you.
Question: You know, you’ve recently had a few more days with all three indicators coming down. How does that fit into your hope to have New York City be more on course with beginning to reopen possibly by the beginning of next month?
Mayor: Yeah, James, it’s exactly what you’re saying is right that, you know, the goal of the first steps – and I’m going to keep saying we have to get these indicators right, move down together for 10 to 14 days, we also have to meet the State indicators, but both of them right now could be met in the first half of June. That would be the right time then to lift some restrictions, but carefully, slowly, smartly. And, remember, I keep using that toehold analogy – you know your rock climbing, your mountain climbing, whatever, you get your toe hold, you make sure it’s secure, then you take the next one. If at any point things aren’t secure at any point, the indicators going in the wrong direction again, that’s going to tell us something different and we’re going to be very careful and cautious. So – but your question I think hits the nail on the head. The indicators have been moving pretty damn well, not quite as well as I want them to, but pretty damn well. We are getting in range now of hitting all our numbers in the first half of June. And then if it’s consistent, that’s when we take the first steps to open up more.
Moderator: Next is Al from 1010 WINS. Al?
Question: Well, happy anniversary, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor: Thank you, Al. I appreciate that.
Question: Yeah, my question has to do again kind of with where James was going with reopening. I’m just wondering as far as restaurants and closing off street, has a decision to made about like Mott Street or Arthur Avenue or Austin or any of these streets that are aligned with restaurants? You know, I know it’s been discussed, but is there any sort of timetable for closing off sections of those streets and allowing the restaurants to expand out? Because I know from hearing from our restaurant owners, they’re – you know, they grow nerve more nervous by the day. This is hard for them, so they’re wondering when can we open and expand beyond delivery and takeout?
Mayor: Al, it’s a really appealing idea. I’ve been talking to restaurant owners too, a number of them on Friday and some restaurant and bar owners on the small business call last night. They’re making a great case that this could be a difference-maker, but what I’ve said is – I want everyone to be clear – first of all, we’re not there yet. We have to be convinced that we even get to first base here with these indicators getting to the right place – the City and State indicators. Second, the restaurant piece of the equation, and even more of the bar piece of equation, I would argue, you know, call into question, how do you hit that sweet spot where you have the right social distancing and protections, where you have the right capacity so the businesses can actually be profitable and the right atmosphere, which is one of the things that restaurant and bar owners are raising to me, that they, they need a certain atmosphere to be effective. That’s what people want. And so, we have to sort of figure that trifecta, if you will. The streets certainly offer a very appealing option, but they are not – you know, that doesn’t automatically solve our problems in terms of when you think about the social distancing, the capacity, the making sure that people are safe and is handled consistently. Even the streets don’t instantly achieve all of those goals. So, we have to be smart about it. But I can tell you humanly I think it’s a really good idea. I think it is something we might be able to reach. Whether it’s something we reach sooner or later, I’m not sure about yet. And I do agree with you, Al, every day matters for these restaurant owners and bar owners. But it’s being very thoroughly discussed right now what it would look like, how we would do it. The minute we have a plan, we’re going to announce it. But it would not start – if we even got to a plan we had confidence in, it would not start until we were absolutely sure that the health indicators told us it was that time. And we’d still need to figure out the right kind of enforcement mechanisms, working with all the civilian agencies that work with small businesses because we would not want to start something and then have it get so loose that it caused a resurgence of the disease, that would be something that would only setback small businesses much more.
Moderator: Next is Gloria from NY1. Gloria?
Question: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I wanted to ask you a question first on behalf of my colleague Courtney Gross, who spent a night of following the process of the engagement with the homeless during the subway overnight cleaning. And we – she spoke with some homeless people who said that they were not giving a place to sleep. I know that she also spoke to the Commissioner who said that they would no longer be taken to the 30th Street intake shelter, but she did see lots of people getting dropped off there. So, I want to talk – ask you about that disconnect, but also how you are defining these numbers. Is it an accurate count of the services people are actually being provided if people are being dropped off at a shelter and still walking away because there was no bed or because they don’t feel safe there and it’s not sanitary? My second question is about your health commissioner – I don’t believe you answered the question about these calls for her to resign. And if you have the confidence in her that she is doing her job well and what do you say about these law enforcement unions that are calling for her removal?
Mayor: So, let me speak to that and then we’ll go back on the homeless question. I have not seen all the comments from different unions. And I want to caution that if people are concerned about this issue, they need to express their concern in an appropriate manner and two wrongs don’t make a right. And I’ve heard, but I’ve not seen that some comments were offensive in their own right. But look, again, I’ve been working with the Commissioner with the whole health care team. We’ve been getting a lot done. I need to understand what happened here. I am concerned about it. It does need to be addressed. If what is being reported is accurate, the Commissioner needs to apologize to the men and women of the NYPD unquestionably. But again, I need to hear her perspective, I need to hear Chief Monahan’s perspective. And, you know, we have a job to do here and it’s not about – you know, I know many of the questions kind of come down to the personalities in the lineup. And, to me, this is supposed to be a team where it is not about one personality or another or one agency or another, it is about all of us working together as a team to help the people in New York City. And that has to be the approach. So, that’s what I’m focused on. Again, I don’t want to say more until I’ve talked to the Commissioner directly. But what I want everyone to focus on, including everyone in my team is how can we support each other in doing the best work possible to keep the people of New York City safe, period.
On the question of the homeless outreach, Commissioner Banks will weigh in now, but I’ll say we need to give you very accurate information, not just because you all in the free press deserve it, but we need to be able to understand what we’re learning from this experience and what’s working and what’s not. Now, again, anyone accepting any services is a step forward and that might be hard for people to hear who have not been working on this issue a long time, but if you work on this issue a long time, you know how extraordinarily difficult it is to get someone who’s street homeless to accept any change. And, again, we are talking about people overwhelmingly dealing with serious mental health issues and/or substance misuse issues. So, it is a very, very tough playing field. If someone accepts help, that is a very good indicator. It doesn’t work necessarily the first time, the second time, the 50th time, it just – you have to stay with it. So, just getting to the door of a shelter is a beginning, but I don’t want the presumption to be, people walk away because of X or Y reason. There’s been a lot done to improve the shelters, there has been a lot done to make them safer, a lot done to create new options like Safe Havens and each person is an individual and each one needs to be understood individually. So, if there’s anything that’s inaccurate about the numbers, we got to fix it and explain it. But what I’m seeing suggests major change and it’s very early on, but suggests major improvement and a lot that we can work with in a very imperfect world. Commissioner Banks, pick it up from there.
Commissioner Steven Banks, Department of Social Services: Thank you, Mayor. I just want to really nip this in the bud there. We have a bed for everybody. We have capacity in the shelter system. Gone are the days when the shelter system did not have enough beds for everyone. Having said that, I think we’ve been pretty clear that this is really hard work, as the Mayor said, and to have someone on a subway platform accept help and then when they arrive at the shelter door, make a determination that they don’t want that help that night, that is actually a step forward in helping rebuild trust with people who have fallen through every social safety net. It’s understandable that they’re distrustful of every system they’ve ever interacted with because they’ve been let down repeatedly. To me, at the end of a week or so, that we’ve got 103 human beings that are actually still in shelter after all of these efforts, is indicative of what we’ve been seeing for the last couple of years. If you keep looking for what it is that the person wants and you eventually connect with what they want, we can change lives and bring people off the streets. It’s certainly true, and we’ve been saying this since the beginning, that the victory one night might simply be to get someone to say, ‘I’ll accept services and go to the entry point of the shelter’ and then not actually go through the process, but that tells us we can really try to reach that person on night-two or night-three. We’re not going to give up. Every night we’re out there trying to bring people in. We’ve made certain changes in terms of not bringing people to Bellevue as a default, unless the person said that’s where I’m willing to go, but people have free will, they could change their mind, but that gives us an insight into what might work next time.
We’re going to keep taking these looks after each week to see how many people are remaining in shelter because those people are on the pathway to coming off the streets permanently as the 2,500 people have come off the streets permanently since we began HOME-STAT. But we’re going to have defeats every night too, which is – the acceptance of services on a platform is not necessarily going to lead to the staying in a bed for more than a few hours or even continuing with the process, but we’ll know more about that person having gotten them to accept the offer of help to go to a shelter even if they don’t stay because the next time we know more about what might be the thing that will help them. And let’s not forget we’re adding new tools for our outreach workers. In the middle of the pandemic was stood up more than 300 Safe Haven or stabilization beds including a commercial hotel. And we have an active solicitation with providers to bring on even more of beds because we’re learning more every night from clients about what it is going to take to have them come in and remain in. But we’ll have defeats and we’ve been pretty blunt about that. Acceptance means acceptance of services, but the gold standard is coming inside and remaining on inside.
Moderator: Next is Erin from Politico. Erin.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. First question is about the test-and-trace effort. We understand that DC37 expressed concerns about it being housed within the Health Department. Wondering what role those concerns played in your decision [inaudible] to Health + Hospitals. Second question, follow up on the homeless issue, I just want to understand if 200-some people went into shelter, are you saying the other 600 were driven to the shelter and then decided they didn’t want to go inside? And if so, when you’re saying they’re accepting services, what services are they accepting, if in fact they don’t end up going into the shelter?
Mayor: Okay. So, I’ll bring Commissioner Banks in on that in a moment. On the question of DC37, I want to affirm, I have immense respect for DC37 AFSCME as a union and what the people in that union do for the people in New York City and their day to day work and particular respect for the executive director, Henry Garrido. But I want to be very clear, I did not have any conversation with him about the test-and-trace initiative at the time we made the decisions and the decision was made in terms of creating an apparatus to reach the entire city of New York, that we needed a large operational agency with the capacity to build out test-and-trace. Not on a small level, not on levels we like we had known before in our history, but on a massive level that I believe fundamentally only a major operational agency could do, and one that in the case of Health + Hospitals performed brilliantly during this crisis. And we wanted to bring the best and the brightest from all agencies into it. Obviously, not only Health + Hospitals, but also Department of Health and the work of many other agencies because we’re depending intensely on Department of Buildings, on our IT Department, DOITT on so many other pieces of the equation, Department of Design and Construction. We need everyone to be a part of this effort. But the decision I made was about what would work operationally, particularly on such a tight timeline. Not because of any consideration with the union, despite my respect for the union, which is real.
In terms of homeless and what comes in, I think Steve Banks here could help us all with a little more of the human level view of this. Again if all we had achieved, Erin, in the last eight days, nine days, whatever it’s been, was a hundred homeless people came in and stayed in, it would be a victory unto itself because a hundred homeless people, that’s a hundred human lives, but also again against the reality that’s been documented by the federal annual study of somewhere between 3,500 and 4,000 street homeless people citywide on any given day – if a hundred people came in in a week and stayed in, it would be worth it for that alone. But all the other people who got medical care, that’s good for them as human beings and that also sometimes is the first step towards people coming in. All the people who began to accept shelter, any experience there that opened their eyes to the possibility or started to see the options that we had, the Safe Havens and other options. This is painstaking, slow, difficult work. So, any even marginal step forward helps. Even a single night where someone comes off the street helps. But Steve, I think you could help us by one, the specific question of what happens if someone goes to the door of the shelter and turns away? What do you try and do to convince them or support them even if they get second thoughts about going in? And two, could you help people understand a little bit more about why even that interaction still gives you something you didn’t have before with that individual?
Commissioner Banks: Sure. And if I could just reiterate, if you had told me that we would be able to implement that initiative and five to seven days later have a hundred people, you know, a hundred human beings off the street, I would tell you this is a great opportunity to really change lives. And those people are in the process of really making a positive step forward. But I think a couple of days ago, maybe Mayor, the best way is to go back, a couple of days ago, I talked about somebody that we had tried, our teams had tried to convince more than 50 times to come in off the streets. I think that kind of gives you the sense of what happens before someone says, ‘yeah, I’ll give it a try to get on the transportation to go to a shelter’. It’s not that the engagement issue is, you know, you meet somebody and they say right away, ‘I want help’. And that individual, that was 50 times that skilled outreach workers trying to convince them to accept services and on the platform one night, last week I witnessed, he said, ‘yeah, I’ll come on in’. And he’s come in and stayed in. But there are other people who are in that continuum where it’s been 50 times they’ve tried to engage – the outreach teams have tried to engage that individual to come on inside and they continue to say no. And half the people on the subway platforms are continuing to say no. We have to look for what’s the key to get them to say yes, to have somebody be ready on a particular night. But for the people who are saying yes, they’re saying yes because they want to give it a try and then they’re not quite ready yet.
And it’s incumbent upon us to look for what are the things that will make them ready either that night or the next night or the next time because we won’t give up. I think as the Mayor’s asking me to focus on, it’s a series of options. ‘You don’t want to be in this shelter, is there another kind of place we can send you, what kind of place would make sense to you?’ And some of it, too, is we need to analyze what kind of service would make sense for the individual. Someone who’s got a serious mental health challenge may not want the mental health services that we think are critical to provide. And part of building trust is to get the person to accept that helping hand that will help them come off the streets. So, it’s not a one-size-fits-all. It’s a case-by-case, and on a case-by-case basis, we’re changing lives but we’re not changing everybody’s life every night. And that’s the frustration of the work and it’s the reason why our frontline outreach workers are so dedicated and so critical to this work because they keep coming back night after night to the same person who won’t engage. And then night after night to the same person who engaged enough to go to the front door of the shelter but not stay, then night after night to the person who came to the front door and stayed for a few hours but wouldn’t stay more, and night after night to try to get that person to come in off the streets and stay off the streets at least even for a week like those 103 people.
Mayor: Thanks very much, Steve.
Moderator: Next is Brigid from WNYC. Brigid.
Question: Morning, Mr. Mayor. Another question about Dr. Barbot. I understand you want to get more information about this latest report, but I’m just wondering, do you believe she has effectively done her job to this point? And then second question, the NYPD is testifying at the City Council budget hearing today. They have reportedly identified about $10 million in cuts but Council members have ID closer to $50 million, given the lack of scheduled summer activities and lack of OT. Are you willing to ask the NYPD to cut more than that $10 million?
Mayor: So, Brigid, on the NYPD, we’re going to look at all agencies with fresh eyes as we go into the rest of this budget discussion. Remember, it’s May 14th. Typically, we would be deciding the City budget for next year in about a month. We don’t know – the big X-factor here is the stimulus vote in Washington. We don’t know when it’s going to happen. We don’t know how it’s going to happen. The House is in the process of doing something very important and putting down the marker of a stimulus package that would actually work for New York City and New York State, and cities and states around the country. But the Senate is going to take it up. We don’t know how and when. We don’t know if the Senate’s going to come back with a different version and there has to be a conference process. So how will that align to our budget process? And Brigid, you know, we have to pass a budget by the end of June. That’s a legal requirement. It has to be balanced. So, we got a lot of decisions to make with a kind of moving target reality in Washington. But that will determine what we have to do with each and every agency.
Right now, we’re asking the NYPD to do a whole lot. We’re asking them to do everything they normally do to protect people and to keep crime down and to provide support to people in terms of quality of life, while also having to play a constructive role on addressing social distancing and all the other realities of this crisis. And again, we have to do better at that, but there’s no question that there’s a role for the number one public safety organization in the city to play in making sure we are all safe in this crisis. So, I’m not ready to comment on how we’re going to handle that budget because it will be absolutely dependent on everything we see with the disease. Everything we see in terms of what our game plan is going forward and what happens with the stimulus. When we get closer, we will certainly talk about what we have to do with every agency. And if God forbid, there isn’t a stimulus, then you’re talking about really tough decisions that will affect every single agency, unquestionably.
Look again, the situation with Commissioner Barbot in the first instance as you indicated, I need to have a conversation and understand this latest situation. It obviously raises real concerns to me, but I want to hear everyone involved before passing any judgment. On the bigger picture, I keep making the point that I have been working with Commissioner Barbot and her team at the Health Department, Dr. Katz, his team at Health + Hospitals, Dr. Perea-Henze, Dr. Varma, a whole host of people have contributed to where we are now. And I am looking at the progress we’ve made from a team perspective. I appreciate everyone’s contribution. I know there’s things that we still have to improve upon. So, you know, from my point of view, I am pleased where we are today because we’re continuing to make progress. I know we’re not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t spend a lot of time looking backwards. I need to focus on keeping people safe right now and in the future. But again, when I’ve had a chance to have the right conversations, I’ll have more to say.
Moderator: Gwynne from Crain’s is up next. Gwynne?
Question: Hi. Good morning, Mr. Mayor. So, Crain’s looked at a checkbook, looked at Checkbook New York City data and found that the biggest order the City placed for PPE was with a business who had never contracted with the City. And how the history of tax and other financial issues. I’m wondering if you think the City should tighten its verification process for potential contractors even during the pandemic?
Mayor: Thank you, Gwynne. I mean, look, Gwynne, I would say we have two realities here. Where we were in March and into the beginning of April, where we literally did not know, and I think you remember this and your colleagues remember this. We didn’t know many times if we would have enough PPEs for the week ahead. And we – obviously, the folks who do our contracting and the folks who did the effort to put together the PPEs, they did an amazing job. Many, many great people, I want to give special thanks to Dan Simon who runs the Mayor’s Office of Contracting. Jackie Bray played a crucial role in the effort. So many good people at the Emergency Management Office who really had to construct something out of nothing to get PPEs on a historic level from all over the world in an incredibly unstable dynamic. And I want to thank Emma Wolfe for her extraordinary leadership, helping to bring together the team that always stayed one step ahead of the situation. And I got to tell you it was so close sometimes, but they always found a way of course. Jimmy O’Neill came in and played such an important role, making sure the distribution was right.
I can’t emphasize enough Gwynne that it was touch and go for days and weeks, but this team managed to always find what was needed to protect our health care heroes and protect our first responders. And I cannot fault them for a moment, that even with their instincts, again, since our Chief Contracting Officer was a big part of it, I assure you there were plenty of checks and balances involved, but they had to come up with the materials. But now as we hope we’re going to get to a point where we’re going to be able to breathe a little bit easier and then start to build up our strategic reserve. Of course, I want any and all checks and balances in the process. So I don’t know about the specific business you’re referring to. I’ll look into that. But again, I’m not going to fault anyone for making sure that the materials were in, in an incredibly difficult environment. And I’m happy to say it is looking better and I think that’s going to allow us to be choosier going forward.
Moderator: Last two, Sydney from the Advance. Sydney?
Question: Mr. Mayor this week [inaudible] –
Moderator: Sydney, we are having issues hearing you.
Mayor: Sydney, can you hear me? Sydney? Try again.
Question: Can you hear me?
Mayor: Yes, I can.
Question: Okay. I think I’m having Wi-Fi issues. Yeah. So earlier this week, a batch of rotten food was sent to seniors on Staten Island from the City, rotten carrots, bread and potatoes. I wanted to see what you have to say? Do you think it’s acceptable that people in need are receiving rotten food in their deliveries during a time like now? And will you commit to resending people who received rotting food, fresh delivery of food right away?
Mayor: Of course. And Sydney, thank you for raising the concern. I heard about your reporting. I appreciate it. We never want to see anyone in need get anything but the best food available. And, certainly, never acceptable for people to get food that’s rotten or unhealthy. So, I’m very angry that happened, but I know it can be fixed and I know efforts were taken immediately to replace the food. And look, this is a massive operation, trying to reach New Yorkers on a level that’s never been done before with food relief. It’s going to keep growing, unfortunately, because of the really tough reality we’re hearing about the number of people unemployed and people who don’t have a livelihood to pay for food with. So, I need this program to grow and grow and grow and reach more and more people, but always the right way, always with quality food. And if ever there’s a mistake and there will be mistakes because there are human beings involved, your point is right. The need to replace it immediately. So, anyone who gets food that’s not the right quality, we need to know about it so we can fix it. If there’s any vendor who’s not doing their job, we need to deal with them. But you definitely have my assurance, we don’t accept that state of affairs. We will fix it.
Moderator: Last question goes to Anna from the Daily News. Anna?
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. Two questions about the comments reportedly made by the Health Commissioner. First, I wanted to read you a tweet from the SBA specifically. They called her a bitch and basically said that she should have been fired a long time ago and they’re not surprised that an appointee of yours would make comments like that. And then I also wanted to ask – the comment that Dr. Barbot made according to our sources, was the result of NYPD cops trying to commandeer some masks that were otherwise meant for health care workers. Which I can – you know, which might contribute to the strong words that she used. I wanted to see if you could respond to that aspect of it? As well as the SBA calling her a bitch?
Mayor: Yeah. Anna, again, I have not heard the details of this situation. I learned about it last night and I want to hear from everyone involved. So, I don’t know what the scenario was. I do know that whatever the scenario was, it is crucial that our first responders have PPEs period. And obviously that our health care workers have PPEs. So, there’s no either or here. We said from the very beginning that all of those that we’re serving at the front lines needed to be protected. And separate from the question of what people said, the bigger question of, was the distribution happening to the NYPD in the number they needed and the timing they needed. When I heard there was some kind of problem or delay, I stepped in to make sure it was corrected. Because remember, on top of everything else, NYPD was short-staffed, a huge number of people were sick. We were asking so much of the officers on duty, it was crucial to provide them with the protection that was available. So, I don’t know the specifics of the context you are suggesting, but I can tell you that what everyone had to do was figure out a way to distribute fairly to everyone involved because there was no choosing among people. Both first responders and health care workers needed help.
Second, what the SBA is saying, what Ed Mullins is saying or authorizing is absolutely unacceptable. He should apologize, but he never does. That language is a misogynist and unacceptable. And I’ve learned long ago that so much of what comes out of the SBA is divisive and meant to set the city back. I don’t know how an organization could be so consistently negative towards its own city and towards its own people, but that’s what they do. But no, that’s absolutely unacceptable. As I said, two wrongs do not make a right. So that language should be condemned. And I think everyone needs to focus on trying to, in the middle of this crisis, be respectful and try to work together and not divide people. So I absolutely condemn that language.
All right, well again there are some things around us to give us pause, but I want to always come back to the larger truth about New York City. And again, I love this city very deeply and I believe in this city, but I’m also a student of history. And I think a lot of people watching right now, you know your history, you’ve lived here, you’ve seen this city through so much. I’m amazed when I see not just naysayers, naysayers are part of life. But some people seem to be taking to it very quickly and assuming like it’s an unquestioned fact that somehow the city won’t be able to overcome this. And I’m stunned by it because I remember what the city went through in the 60’s and 70’s and it really looked like it would be impossible to be anything like we are today. Or if you remember the days and months after 9/1, there was so much doubt. There was so much fear. People said no one would ever go Downtown again. That never, you know, businesses, offices, people wouldn’t want to live there. Well, Lord knows the opposite happened. And time and time again, this city comes back.
So, unless someone wants to root against New York City, I would advise people to look at the facts, look at the history and recognize what we have is absolutely irreplaceable. And we are not up against an enemy that is going to be the same forever. Like every other crisis, whether you’re talking about the Great Depression or the fiscal crisis, every other crisis we’ve been through, it had an end point. This one will have an end point too, history tells us that. In fact in this case we’re not going to have a vaccine tomorrow, but we’re going to have a vaccine. Maybe it’s this year, maybe it’s next year, maybe it’s the year after, but we’re going to have a vaccine. And at some point this disease is going to play a very different role in our lives, a much less role. And the strengths of this place will come to the fore again. The fact that even earlier in the discussion today we’re talking about restaurant owners trying to figure out how to open up outdoors and create that energy and excitement again in the city. And they’re ready to get going as quickly as possible. That speaks volumes. People are not giving up and people will always want to live here. People will always want to come here. People will always want to do business here because it has been proven generation after generation, there is a magic to this place. So don’t get lost in the moment. We’re going to overcome this too. And one of the things I think history also teaches us is, the way you move forward is through faith and belief and hope. Not through belittling what the people of this place are capable of. I never bet against New Yorkers. New Yorkers have proven themselves time and time again, and we will again, I don’t have a doubt in my mind about that. And again, thanks to all of you who are proving it again by the way you’re fighting back this disease. A good day with our indicators because of you and a bright future because of you.
Thank you very much.