NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio lauded New Yorkers for broadly following social distancing and mask rules during the first weekend of warm weather in New York City amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s always going to be exceptions. There’s always going to be some people that don’t get the message or are thinking about themselves and not other people, but the vast majority of New Yorkers have really risen to the challenge, powerfully. I want to thank you,” de Blasio said. “It’s important to always remember the direct connection between what you do and what happens to the whole city and what happens to our future.”
Patrick Hogan told CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon he goes to Carl Schurz Park every week and noticed a big difference now that the weather has warmed up.
“There’s five times as many people outside as there were yesterday. It’s kind crazy, actually,” Hogan said.
But because of city’s new Open Streets Plan, which opened seven miles of streets to pedestrians and cyclists in and around several city parks this weekend, he feels safe.
“It’s nice to be able to walk around and spread out without getting too close to people,” Hogan said.
The closures are a part of a recently announced plan to shut down at least 40 and up to 100 miles of streets to vehicle traffic.
Over at Prospect Park, Sarah Wilson and her husband were thrilled with the plan.
“We think it’s awesome. Long overdue, frankly. I think it’s so nice to have space without being worried about cars passing you too close or speeding,” Wilson said.
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But not everyone is abiding by the safety guidelines. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said 51 summonses were issued Saturday, including 43 in parks.
“Not every single one was for social distancing, but the majority were,” Shea said.
The NYPD also seized six motorcycles following an “incident” in Astoria Park. Two of the motorcycles turned out to be stolen. Three arrests related to social distancing enforcement were made, Shea said.
The commissioner said an officer had been placed on modified assignment after video of an arrest in the East Village was widely shared on social media.
“It started out as a social distancing enforcement. There were three arrests made from that incident.” Shea said. “I am aware of the video that is out there. It is being investigated currently by our Internal Affairs Bureau. As a result of that very preliminary investigation that is ongoing, there was one officer modified. And that’s where we stand right now.”
“I want it to be abundantly clear. The NYPD will be out enforcing, a number of other agencies will be out enforcing, in all communities the same way, period,” de Blasio added.
De Blasio warned that it remains very possible that the disease will “boomerang” in the city.
“Boomerang. That’s the word I want you to think about when you think about what could go wrong,” de Blasio said. “That’s the thing you do not want. We cannot afford a boomerang of this disease in this city.”
De Blasio cited Hokkaido, Japan, Hong Kong, China, and Singapore as places where the disease boomeranged because restrictions were eased too soon. Restrictions had to be re-imposed as a result.
Widespread testing remains the key to defeating the disease, the mayor said.
“For the first time we are producing now test kits in New York City,” he said. “We’re really in uncharted territory creating these test kits in New York City… but we are confident we are making progress.”
The test kits are made of various components, such as swabs. He held one up.
“This seemingly simple piece of plastic actually proved to be a complex matter, because it has to be done just the right way, and it has to be kept sterile, in packaging like this until the point when it is actually going to be used on a patient. So getting this right proved to be actually a complex matter,” de Blasio said.
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De Blasio said a coalition of different organizations were needed to make the test kits. He said by the week of May 17, the test kits will be produced in large numbers locally in New York City.
The mayor said food insecurity is a growing problem.
“There could be as many 2 million or more New Yorkers experiencing food insecurity now or will be experiencing it in the coming weeks,” de Blasio said.
He urged New Yorkers — especially the most vulnerable — who need food delivered to contact the city. You can find a local food resource by CLICKING HERE.
“Currently we are at a capacity where we can deliver as many as 3.1 million meals per week. Our goal is to keep ramping it up as high as we need it to be,” de Blasio said. “If needed, we can take that capacity as high as 1 million meals per day.”
The city is looking for partners and additional help preparing and delivering food. Those interested in helping should CLICK HERE.
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De Blasio said New Yorkers need to think of different ways to celebrate Mother’s Day without gathering.
De Blasio called again on the federal government to pass a stimulus that helps state and local governments. He said if Washington does not come across with another stimulus, down the line the very first responders who are on the front lines of the battle against the virus may face layoffs.
“Imagine if after fighting through this battle, months from now, they have to face furloughs or layoffs, here and all over the country. If we don’t get help from Washington, that is what will happen,” de Blasio said.
As for the three daily indicators, the mayor said:
- Hospitalizations were up, 113 as compared to 92
- People currently in ICUs were down to 645 from 677
- Percentage of people who are tested that are positive is also down to 20% from 21%