Mayor de Blasio discusses State of Emergency for NYC Declaration; extended powers for local government & Covid-19 Emergency Management

Mayor de Blasio discusses State of Emergency for NYC Declaration; extended powers for local government & Covid-19 Emergency Management and how NYC may very well have 1000 Coronavirus cases within one week.

On Thursday, March 12, 2020 NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced and signed the New York City State of Emergency Declaration. The news conference took place in the afternoon within City Hall, found in Lower Manhattan. He met with members of the press from whom he took and answered question.

Some major takeaways from the press conference include the following:

  • Declaration of a State of Emergency for New York City in light of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic;
  • What powers could be exercised by local government if/when the need arises;
  • Does NYC have the medical facilities and equipment needed for immense demands;
  • How the number of cases in our city can jump from the present number under 100 to 1000 within a week;
  • How schools and the city’s children must be protected through all this.

At the end of this page can be found corresponding video taken by the Office of the Mayor.

Mayor Declaration of an Emergency:

“In light of several new developments – obviously the numbers that we now have seen over the last 24 hours here in New York City, what we’re seeing nationally and internationally. The reality of community spread that’s been with us over these last few days and the close working relationship between the city and state, the decisions that we are making together – and I spoke with Governor Cuomo at length earlier today about a specific set of decisions. And obviously, you heard his announcements earlier today, which he and I discussed in detail and which I agree with fully. In light of all those changing realities, it is time now to declare a state of emergency New York City. And I will explain what that means, the powers that are vested in me, what it will allow us to do going forward. I’ll also emphasize that the declaration of state of emergency authorizes the use of the powers, but we will use them as needed. That doesn’t mean everything will happen at once.”

Mayor de Blasio later went over the extended powers given to local government under this State of Emergency Declaration:

“Yeah, so for example, these are just some of the specific actions that can be taken. I want [inaudible] please. I’m going to be treating everyone with a real respect that I’m going to be very clear when I’m giving you examples. This is – none of these have been activated. They are – when they have been activated, I will indicate it. But this is the range of potential actions that can be involved by executive order under this state of emergency. So there’s the ability to establish a curfew. There’s the ability to regulate whether vehicles or individuals may enter or leave specific parts of the city. There is the ability to close down public transportation. There’s the ability to order hospitals to postpone elective procedures, to ration supplies or impose restrictions on supplies and prices – and price gouging, I should say. The ability to suspend or limit alcohol use, firearms, explosives, flammable material and liquids. The ability to prohibit or restrict people from being on the streets and in public places. One that we’ve obviously already seen the state acted on and is consistent is the ability to regulate or close public spaces. There is the ability to create or designate emergency shelters, emergency medical shelters, and community based care centers. The ability to limit a maximum building occupancy. These are some of the examples. So they’re very extensive capacity.”

The Mayor went into greater details as to what the new rules governing large gatherings entailed:

“And continuing on the conversation with the Governor, again, I fully support, we are in total agreement on his decision related to large gatherings. So, we will be working with the state to enforce that new rule that relates obviously to anything where over 500 people would gather – parades, rallies, concerts, sports events, professional conferences, etcetera. And all of our largest venues will now no longer have gatherings until such time in this crisis as it’s acceptable to do so again. And again, I unfortunately suspect that will be a number of months. So, places like Barclays, Madison Square Garden, Radio City will obviously will not be operating. As you heard, for most venues that will begin in five o’clock Friday. For Broadway, as I understand, it begins five o’clock tonight. Also agree with the decision for gatherings of under 500 people – this essentially refers to non-essential, non-workplace related dynamics. And we’re talking about events, we’re talking about restaurants, we’re talking about bars. Gathering places under 500 people will be mandated to have occupancy levels at 50 percent or less of their legal occupancy. That will allow for space between people. That will allow for some effective opening up of those spaces. We understand, obviously – thank you – that some businesses will choose to work with these rules because they can make it work economically or they want to stay open for the long haul. Other businesses, I won’t be surprised if they believe that’s a situation where they’d rather close temporarily. It will be up to each business, but those are the rules that we will enforce from this point on.”

“Now, I want to say, and I know the Governor feels same way, these decisions that we’re making, and the state and the city working closely together to make these decisions, we don’t do any of this lightly. This is difficult stuff because we know it’ll have a serious, serious impact on a number of businesses. Just talking about the over 500 people gatherings – I mean, that’s – in this city, especially,  a huge number of events, concerts, etcetera, that’s really, really painful for the many, many people who work in that field, let alone so many New Yorkers and people all over the country who really look forward to these events, these concerts, these sports events. And it’s really going to be a kind of a hole in our lives and it’s painful. It’s not something we would ever want to do, but it’s something we have to do.”

Question posed to the Mayor:

“Mr. Mayor, regarding the large group gatherings. I have two questions. One you said Madison Square Garden and Barclay Center could be closed for months?”

Mayor:

“”This is for, you know, over 500 people. So they’re never going to have an event in those places under 500 people. And we are estimating, this is our estimate. We’re not putting, you know, this is not a binding commitment, but we’re saying our estimate is this will go through September at six months. I think that’s the right way to think about it right now.””

When asked about what number of cases or metrics would trigger a large-scale mass quarantine similar to that which has been seen in Italy and China. Could that happen in days? To that, the mayor acknowledged the present level of cases (as of the time of this news conference) as being near 100 and how he felt that New York City may be at 1,000 cases within one week.

The following is the Mayor’s response:

“Look, I would say this. I think we can now say as we’re on the verge of a hundred cases, I’m very sad to offer this prediction, I think we’ll be at a thousand cases next week…We are going to be looking every single day at the numbers, at what we can learn from the rest of the world, at the various efforts to mitigate and decide what it means. I want to be very clear, and this is, again, an area of tremendous agreement with the state, there are three things we want to preserve at all costs – our schools, our mass transit, and, most importantly, our health care system, and all those pieces interconnect. So, right now, we want to try and, in a sense, as we are indicating with the state’s actions, with my actions, we’re falling back to the next line of defense. And our goal is to, to the maximum extent possible, protect those three areas no matter what. We will scenario everything, absolutely everything. And we’ll look at every model, every situation around the world. But I also want to emphasize, there’s no two countries that are the same, this is an absolute fact. If you look at the different countries around the world that had a serious experience with coronavirus, there’s no two that have the same exact trajectory. It has a lot to do with when people got information, how much transparency, how they reacted, what kind of health care was available – there’s all sorts of factors, but we’re going to be constantly drilling for every eventuality. ”

The Mayor was asked about the city’s ability to handle 500 cases a day or a thousand hospitalizations per day. “At what point does the city get overwhelmed by the event?”

Mayor de Blasio made some comments in as far as what such a scenario would look like and how the percentiles of those affected would need actual hospitalization.

To which, President and CEO Mitchell Katz, Health and Hospitals stepped in with his response:

One of the ways New York City is so lucky is because there is a very strong hospital system and Health + Hospital alone with its 11 hospitals, we are prepared to take literally hundreds of people who are sick. So again, when you go back to what the Mayor has said, that 80 percent of the cases are unlikely to need any hospital care. Only 20 percent of people will be sick, not all of whom will need hospital care. I believe certainly for the foreseeable future we will be fine.”

Mr. Katz was asked about ventilators, respirators and the supportive equipment needed and whether the city has enough?

Mr. Katz:

Yes. So Health + Hospitals has a thousand ventilators. We estimate that across the city there are 5,000 ventilators. And again, if you remember that it’s only likely 5 percent of people who would actually need ventilators. You get 20 times 5,000. We have a huge amount of capability. Also, remember people will get well, not people will not stay on ventilators. So as somebody – there will be new cases, but as the Mayor has also happily talked about, people do get over this infection and so everybody is not going to be sick at the same time.”

At one point the mayor went on about the necessity to protect our children and the school system:

“”On the schools, again, we are going to fight tooth and nail to protect our school system for many, many reasons. It is where our children are safe in the day and many parents have no alternative. It’s where our kids – a lot of kids get their meals. It is the pivot for a lot of people we need to get to work to get to work that their kids have a place to be. A lot of them have no other choice. They cannot bring kid to work. They do not have a relative can take their kid and you could say, well, why don’t we come up with an alternative location? Well, that creates the same exact problem. If a bunch of kids are congregated in a school or a daycare center or whatever it might be, if congregations the issue it would be true anywhere. So we are going to do our damnedest to keep the schools open. We are going to scenario everything, as I said, and I’m going to say it a few more times and I’m going to respect your intelligence that I don’t need to say it a hundred times. We are scenario-ing absolutely every potential of what could happen to this city. ”