NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio Sunday outlined what and how reopening of the city would look like, announcing the creation of several advisory councils, including one on racial inclusion co-chaired by his wife, Chirlane McCray.
“We’re going to build something new and we’re going to build something better, and not just better because it’s more modern. We’re going to build something more fair. We’re going to build something for everyone,” de Blasio said. “We need to build a better and more just society than the one we left behind.”
The mayor said the coronavirus pandemic has “laid bare” disparities that must not be allowed to continue.
“The economic and racial disparities that have been made so clear by this crisis. We knew about them before. They’ve been just a powerful, painful exclamation point has been put on them by this crisis. It is a clarion call to us to start right now fighting back against those disparities and to build a deeper plan to fight them on a more permanent basis,” the mayor said.
De Blasio said a reopened New York City will be a “reimagination of what this city could be.”
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He again said that any restart will not happen all at once but will rather take place in phases.
As to when a restart would commence, De Blasio said any reopening decision will be fact-driven, based on leading indicators of the spread of COVID-19. Also required would be a massive increase in testing capacity.
“We restart when we have evidence,” he said.
WEB EXTRA: See de Blasio’s presentation (.pdf)
He criticized other states and cities that are rushing to reopen.
“Anybody, any state, any city, that doesn’t pay attention to those factual health care indicators, that evidence, is running a risk, is endangering their own people. Their whole idea of wanting to rush a restart so we can have an economy and recover, it could all backfire, because if the disease reasserts, you’re delaying potentially by a long time when you can have that kind of recovery. We won’t let that happen here,” de Blasio said.
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De Blasio said the questions of how to restart are numerous, and remain unanswered at this time.
“How do you reopen a restaurant and still do it in a way that protects the customers and protects the people that work there? How do you do that right? What kind of protection will people need? What kind of PPEs will people need to wear in a lot of different parts of the city, a lot of different work that they do to make sure that they’re safe?” de Blasio said. “We’ve got to start to fill in those blanks. How much will we be doing temperature checks or symptom checks on a regular basis? Where? How?”
To help answer some of those questions, de Blasio announced the creation of sector-by-sector advisory councils that will start meeting in May. The advisory councils include:
- Small business
- Large business
- Public health and health care
- Arts, culture, tourism
- Nonprofits and social services
- Faith-based organizations
- Educational and vocational training
De Blasio also announced the creation of a task force on racial inclusion and equity, which will be co-chaired by first lady McCray and Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson.
“This will be made up of leaders of the city government, focusing on the disparities we’re seeing already. Making sure that we are addressing structural racism that that is obviously present in the realities that we’re facing with this disease,” de Blasio said.
When asked why appoint his own wife, the mayor pointed to her work with the ThriveNYC mental health initiative, which some have called ineffective and in need of revamping, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.
“So I think what Chirlane has done over these last six years is take this issue, put it in the light, open up access for millions of people and then continued to build out a structure that could focus on effective delivery and equity. I think that’s exactly the kind of mindset needed for this task force,” de Blasio said.
Statistics released by City Hall show black and Latino communities have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic.
The budget for the task force is unclear, as is whether McCray will draw a salary, Carlin reported.
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De Blasio also announced the creation of a “fair recovery task force.”
“We see the federal government focusing on the wealthy and corporations before working people. It’s painful to acknowledge how much of the stimulus discussion in the beginning was about big business, not small business, and about a payday for those who are already wealthy and privileged, not those who are struggling,” the mayor said. “The focus has been all wrong. Our federal government was much quicker to bail out the airlines — $58 billion — than to focus on cities and states and working people.”
De Blasio also said in the weeks ahead he will announce a charter revision commission.
“If ever there was a moment, a break point moment, in the city’s history, this is it. It’s time to look anew at everything we do and see what works, what doesn’t work. What about our city government structure might be outdated or less effective? What do we need to build a fair recovery,” de Blasio said.
As far as the leading daily indicators of coronavirus spread:
- People admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19, 144 — even from the day before
- People currently in Health + Hospital’s ICUs for suspected COVID-19: 768, down from 785
- Percentage of people tested who are positive for COVID-19: Citywide: 29% (30% as of April 23)