NYC Mayor Schools Could Remain Closed Rest Of Year; No Plans To Close City Streets

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that he spoke with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence about the city’s urgent need for medical supplies to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“I spoke to President Trump and Vice President Pence last night in detail and I’m glad we had the conversation and I appreciated the focus of the conversation but what I need to see is the real material support for the people of my city, 8.6 million people who are right now in the crosshairs,” de Blasio said on CNN.

Mayor Bill de Blasio told the media today that he “can’t see” NYC schools reopening in April and fears schools will remain closed through the end of the year. De Blasio also said he has no current plans to shut down city streets but will be announcing a plan later Monday for cracking down on New Yorkers not social distancing as advised.

Federal aid to the city so far includes promises of temporary hospitals run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the military.

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But de Blasio, a Democrat, says the city also desperately needs the federal government’s help getting medical supplies and equipment, including ventilators.

“We’re literally in that very tight window now that if we don’t get the ventilators in particular we will actually start to lose lives that could have been saved.”

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough, and the vast majority recover. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

New York City hospitals are just 10 days from running out of “really basic supplies,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said late Sunday.

“If we don’t get the equipment, we’re literally going to lose lives,” de Blasio told CNN.

De Blasio has called upon the federal government to boost the city’s quickly dwindling supply of protective equipment. The city also faces a potentially deadly dearth of ventilators to treat those infected by the coronavirus.

Health care workers also warned of the worsening shortages, saying they were being asked to reuse and ration disposable masks and gloves.

New York City hospitals scrambled Sunday to accommodate a swell new of patients, dedicating new COVID-19 wings in their facilities. It remained “extremely busy” at Northwell hospitals, a spokesman said, adding their intensive care units were filling up.

“A number of hospitals have reported that they are becoming overwhelmed,” said Jonah Allon, a spokeswoman for Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

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STAY HOME ORDER

An order requiring most New Yorkers stay home went into effect Sunday, part of the state’s efforts to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

The state’s “nonessential” businesses were to close by 8 p.m. under an order that also banned “non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason.”

New Yorkers may still go outside their homes but must stay 6 feet away from anyone who isn’t a member of their household.

The order exempts several businesses, including food and beverage stores, gas stations, auto repair places, schools, health care facilities, construction and utility workers, hotels, hardware stores, restaurants, laundromats, banks, financial markets, janitors and others.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also announced a law intended to protect the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. Those individuals, including New Yorkers 70 and older, must stay home and limit their visitation to immediate family or close friends needing emergency assistance.

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SOCIAL DISTANCING

Cuomo said Sunday he was exasperated people are still ignoring his social distancing orders, saying he’s still seeing people clustering in groups and acting like it was just another nice spring weekend.

“There is a density level in New York City that is wholly inappropriate,” the governor said. “This is just a mistake! It is a mistake! It is insensitive. It is arrogant. It is self-destructive. It’s disrespectful to other people and it has to stop and it has to stop now. This is not a joke and I am not kidding.”

The Democrat said city officials must come up with a plan immediately to prevent people from congregating in parks or elsewhere.

De Blasio stopped short of closing playgrounds or parks Sunday but said police will start clearing out places that get too crowded. He advised people not to mix with other families and keep exercise brief and solitary.

“We will be enforcing this, but with understanding,” they mayor said. “We will enforce through education. We will enforce with warnings.”

If people don’t act responsibly about using playgrounds, “we’ll have to at that point strongly consider shutting them down,” de Blasio said.

Nearly 2,000 people have been hospitalized in the state with the virus and 114 have died, Cuomo said. More than 15,000 have tested positive statewide.

Nearly 11,000 people have tested positive in the city as of 6 p.m. Sunday, de Blasio said.

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MEDICAL NEEDS

The state is putting out an emergency order requiring hospitals to come up with a plan to increase their capacity by at least 50% and cancel non-critical elective surgery, Cuomo said. The state currently has about 53,000 hospital beds but is expected to need 110,000 as the pandemic progresses.

Cuomo called on the federal government to immediately nationalize medical supply acquisition, saying states can’t manage it on their own.

“Currently when states are doing it, we are competing against other states. In some ways, we are savaging other states,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said President Donald Trump has moved ahead on voluntary partnerships with companies, but he could invoke the Defense Production Act and mandate companies to make masks, gowns, personal protective equipment and ventilators.

“If I had the power, I would do it in New York state,” Cuomo said.

On Tuesday, the state will start conducting trials of an experimental COVID-19 treatment with the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic Zithromax, Cuomo said.

“We are all optimistic that it could work,” he said.

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RETIREMENT COMMUNITY DEATHS

A fourth resident has died of the coronavirus at a Long Island retirement community and health care center and 13 residents have tested positive for the virus.

An 89-year-old woman who was in hospice care for a separate medical condition died Friday night, officials at Peconic Landing in Greenport said. The other three who died were in their 90s and were in assisted living with underlying medical conditions.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough, and the vast majority recover. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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INMATES INFECTED

The largest coronavirus jail outbreak in the nation has been reported in New York City, with at least 38 people testing positive at the notorious Rikers Island complex and nearby facilities.

Another inmate became the first in the country to test positive in a federal jail.

Jacqueline Sherman, interim chairwoman of the Board of Correction, said 12 Department of Correction employees, five Correctional Health Services employees and 21 people in custody at Rikers and city jails have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week and at least 58 others were being monitored in contagious disease and quarantine units.

More than 2.2 million people are incarcerated in the United States and there are growing fears that an outbreak could spread rapidly through a vast network of federal and state prisons, county jails and detention centers.

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PRIMARY VOTING

New York Attorney General Letitia James called on the state Sunday to suspend in-person voting and send every eligible voter an absentee ballot for the April 28 Democratic presidential primary.

“Let’s make it easier for every voter to cast their vote without spreading the coronavirus and jeopardizing public health,” James said in a statement. “Democracy should not be suspended if there is a safe alternative.”

The Erie County Board of Elections released a special absentee ballot application almost two weeks ago listing “public health emergency (COVID-19)” as an option for voting absentee in the special election to fill the open seat in the 27th congressional district. James said the executive order she’s seeking goes further by ensuring every eligible voter is automatically sent an absentee ballot.