NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio discussed the city’s plan to keep New Yorkers safe during the hot summer months at Friday’s coronavirus briefing.

He said the goals will be to protect the health and safety of the most vulnerable, give people safe cooling options and prevent and respond quickly to power outages.

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Dust off and power on the air conditioning units and the fans on a warm weather Friday. And it’s not even sweltering – yet.

“I hope it don’t be a rough summer,” said Ashley Laughlin of Midtown.

“But I think it’s going to get more humid soon,” said Dominique Roberson.

Watch: Mayor De Blasio Details Summer Heat Plan 

Dominique Roberson and Ashley Laughlin eat their lunches on a stoop in Midtown and worry a heat emergency that would drive them inside could be potentially deadly for the elderly and others.

“In the heat, we know some people bear the brunt,” said de Blasio.

De Blasio announced the city’s COVID-19 heat wave plan, which spends $55 million dollars to distribute 74,000 air conditioning units to vulnerable New Yorkers. Homes that are part of the New York City Housing Authority get 22,000 of those.


De Blasio said his office will work with the New York City Housing Authority, Department for the Aging, Housing Preservation and Development and Human Resources Administration to identify the seniors. NYCHA told CBS2 installations could begin as soon as next week.

“It’s people that can’t leave their home, even if they wanted to, because of disability or other challenges,” de Blasio said.

“I think that’s a great idea because that’s the people who need it most,” Roberson said.

With summer utility bills typically up 20% to 30% in the high demand summer months, the mayor is leaning on the Public Service Commission, with a petition to double a current commitment to subsidies for qualified New Yorkers. He said the goal is to get bill-reducing help to 450,000 low-income households.

“The heat is coming no matter what,” the mayor said Friday. “It’s not only uncomfortable, it’s not only going to be a challenge in terms of social distancing and everything else we’re dealing with, it can be dangerous. Unto itself, the heat itself – we’ve learned more and more the hard way – can be dangerous.

“We take it seriously,” he added. “We understand lives are on the line.”

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With public swimming pools now off-limits, some fire hydrants will flow, but with monitoring to make sure social distancing doesn’t go down the drain.

Misting machines will pop up in parks for cool relief, as long as the spray doesn’t attract unruly or jammed up crowds.

The mayor said the city is investigating larger than usual venues as first time cooling centers, where people can will find both relief and the proper space for social distancing.

“We’ll be looking at alternative sites like libraries, sports venues, auditoriums, you name it,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio says that Con Edison plays a crucial role in all this.

The mayor said the city’s existing cooling centers will be open with social distancing protocols and staff wearing protective equipment. New centers are also expected to open at places like libraries, gymnasiums, auditoriums, community centers and other large venues.

De Blasio said there will be “misting oases” in some low-income neighborhoods and scheduled hydrant openings.

The city also plans to deliver Gatorade and Pedialyte to help people stay hydrated.

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For the final part of the plan, the mayor said the city is in close contact with Con Edison to prevent and prepare for blackouts, focusing on nursing homes and places that have been hit in the past.

“This is the beginning of the plan, more to come. It’s, as usual, going to require all of us to think a little differently, do some things differently, watch out for each other – something New Yorkers do really, really well,” he said.

De Blasio said he will provide an update on the city’s beaches, which are closed until Memorial Day, in the coming days. This comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced state beaches will be open as of Friday of Memorial Day weekend.

“We can’t have crowds, we can’t have gatherings, we can’t have people going to the beach, we can’t have the boardwalk get crowded,” he said. “We’ve got to protect against the problems that come with people being in too close proximity in this pandemic.”

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Last month, the mayor announced the city’s pools will remain closed for the summer, raising concerns about residents cooped up inside.