Today’s dispatch comes from what seems like a new, alien world: streets are empty; lines extend out of grocery stores with a safe six feet of distance between each patron; the NYPD is pledging politeness; prisoners are being released from prison for their own safety; people are biking, like, really biking. This world has slowly started to come into focus over the last several days, but as of 8pm tonight, we all live in it.
No time in New York City compares to this one: not 9/11, not Hurricane Sandy, not the first World Trade Center bombing, and neither cholera epidemic. In the historical sense, as well as the personal, we are all staggeringly alone, together.
STOP GOING OUTSIDE!
This morning, Governor Cuomo was emphatic about the need for social distancing. He personally came down to NYC to check up on the level of compliance in our parks and on our sidewalks. He called being out in parks a “mistake,” illustrated with a slide showing the Prospect Park farmer’s market with the word “MISTAKE” in big red letters. The governor also said he wasn’t “kidding.”
- The Governor gave Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson 24 hours to come up with a plan to ensure social distancing takes effect.
- He talked about mental health and worries around “emotionally distancing.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference this afternoon where he addressed some of the plan for social distancing.
- Overall, the message is stay home. If you need to go out to do something essential, go do it quickly, and then go back home. Outdoor activities are supposed to be solo, or with clear members of your family.
- ‘Enforcement, but with understanding’:
- If cops see you outside, they might talk to you. If they see you with another person, expect them to talk to you.
- They didn’t want to be ‘draconian,’ in their words. They’re not threatening immediate tickets or fines or anything, more like ‘conversations and warnings.’
- The Mayor does not want to close parks and playgrounds, but implied that he would if NYCers couldn’t comply with the 6 foot rule.
- ‘If you can’t keep your kids six feet away from other kids, go home’ is a good description of how serious this is.
- Parks department and the NYPD will start enforcement.
- “We will see how this week goes,” said the Mayor. We are assuming he meant that he will asses the decision to keep parks open at that time.
- The Mayor is not, at this time, closing streets to vehicle traffic to make more space for social distancing.
- “We’re certainly going to consider over time the possibility of opening up some streets for recreation. But I want to caution, the first frame is the first frame here, which is we want people to get that exercise, get that time they need, but we also need to enforce it. And our ability to enforce directly correlates to knowing where we need to put our focus, our energy, and our officers.”
- Young people get sick too. Read ‘ONE IN FOUR NYC HOSPITAL CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS IS UNDER AGE 50,’ in The City.
State Senator Julia Salazar responded to Governor Cuomo’s assertion that the federal government was hamstringing him on his state budget and holding back funding, clarifying that the federal government was only threatening state funding because of Cuomo’s insistence on cutting the State’s Medicaid obligation.
- “…insisting on cutting Medicaid during an unprecedented public health crisis — and forgoing $6Billion in federal aid to do it — is completely unacceptable.” – Salazar, on Twitter
What’s an Essential Business?
- Here’s the Governor’s office’s full list.
- “Society is going to continue to function,” Governor Cuomo said this morning: supermarkets will stay open, and they discourage any need to hoard food or other goods.
- Bike repair shops have now been deemed an ‘essential business’ by the Mayor of New York City, it is not, as of yet, listed as a statewide essential business.
- The Mayor’s office put out an emoji guide to what’s open and what’s closed:
- The Mayor reiterated his call for federal assistance, both in financial aid and supply gathering, specifically singling out the President’s refusal to use the Defense Production Act to compel businesses to make essential goods.
- “If the president doesn’t act, people will die who could have lived otherwise,” de Blasio said on Meet the Press.
- President Trump directly rejected this call during a press conference today. He spoke to his reticence to ‘nationalize businesses’, and other officials pointed to the success of voluntary actions of companies.
- Governor Cuomo outlined the differences between voluntary partnerships between the Federal Gov and utilizing the Defense Production Act in his morning briefing.
What is the Defense Production Act?
- Signed in 1950, in advance of the Korean War
- Allows for the government to compel business to sign contracts or fulfill orders if they deem it necessary for national security and defense.
- Also allows the government to say some products can’t be hoarded or have their prices gouged.
- Allows the government to control the economy in order to ensure materials go to the right place.
- Does not change the ownership of any business or allow for the nationalization of a business (they already have that right).
Is this going to end anytime soon?
- Mayor de Blasio said he worries May will actually be worse than April, which will most certainly be worse than March (of course, continuing his plea for Federal resources).
- Governor Cuomo said, ‘But I do believe that whatever this is, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months – we are going to be the better for it.’
No Visitors Allowed in Hospitals
- Hospitals in the city have officially suspended their visitors policy, which includes birthing partners: anyone giving birth in the city cannot have their partner with them.
- The city is planning to release 23 individuals as early as tomorrow.
- The Mayor said that 200 cases are currently being reviewed, but releases are slowed by DA sign offs.
- “Two dorms of 45 people incarcerated at Rikers are refusing to leave their dorms for work duties or for meals in protest of deteriorating conditions on the island,” Kim Kelly reported on Twitter. “I’ve heard that but cannot confirm the report that you just gave,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio
- Rosa Goldensohn reports that inmates “in dorms are sleeping 2, 2.5 feet apart max.”
- Harvey Weinstein tested positive for COVID-19. Read more from Victoria Bekiempis.
- Public transportation is going to continue on a regular schedule: MTA is heeding Boston’s experience, where reduced service caused overcrowding, and thus more spread of the virus.
- This follows yesterday’s news that local bus service will essentially be free.
- They’re projecting a necessary bailout of upwards of $4 billion.
- The city will issue 10K new parking permits for health care workers being distributed as early as tomorrow (3/23).
- School aged children (4-18) can pick up meals at one of the feeding centers.
Governor Cuomo, wielder of Powerpoint
The Numbers, as of Sunday, 6pm.
|Wednesday, 6pm||Thursday, 9:30am||Thursday, 5pm|
|– The Bronx||8607||9107||9343|
|– Staten Island||2552||2723||2822|
Here is how to donate to stuff, if you want