NEW YORK CITY — The lack of testing capacity and continued high rates of novel coronavirus transmission mean Mayor de Blasio cannot promise schools will reopen in September, he said Monday.
“September is a viable thing to be talking about, but no one is guaranteeing that,” de Blasio said. “It’s so unclear when we even start on that pathway.”
De Blasio, addressing the media during a virtual news conference Monday morning, said New York City would remain under its stay-at-home order until there was absolute proof of low-level transmission.
That proof would rely on the federal government provided testing supplies the city cannot find, and for which de Blasio has been pleaded for weeks.
City hospitals are currently facing a shortage of swabs needed to conduct COVID-19 testing.
“We need to know a lot of testing is coming and it will be sustained,” de Blasio said. “I don’t think any of us believe that will be coming in the next few weeks.”
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De Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo sparred over schools last weekend when de Blasio announced city schools would remain closed for the rest of the semester and Cuomo retorted hours later that was the mayor’s “opinion.”
The back-and-forth spurred a request from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams that both New York lawmakers “cut the c—.”
De Blasio said he and Cuomo were in constant communication, even after the New York Times reported the mayor resorted to a last-minute text message to update Cuomo on his schools.
The mayor pointed to city and state data that show continued widespread coronavirus transmission.
New York State data show 6,898 city dwellers had died from COVID-19 as noon Sunday.
There were 104,410 COVID-19 cases confirmed in New York City and 27,676 hospitalizations as of 5 p.m. Sunday, city data show.
“They will stay closed,” de Blasio said. “There’s not going to be a context to reopen schools.”
Yet hospital admittances for suspected COVID-19, the number of people being treated for suspected COVID-19 and percentage of those testing positive have begun to drop, de Blasio said.
These three indicators will need to show steady progress for at least 10 days until de Blasio will consider lifting restrictions on social distancing. But his problematic plan also relies on mass testing that the city lacks the ability to procure.
“This is a crisis standard,” de Blasio said. “I don’t think any of us believe that’s something coming in the next few weeks.”
De Blasio also suspended alternate side parking suspended for the next two weeks until April 28 and announced a new resource for renters.
New York City has set up a tenants rights hotline where renters can learn more about their rights and contact an attorney if those rights are threatened, de Blasio said.
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De Blasio called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to extend his eviction moratorium — which bans landlords from kicking out tenants over unpaid rent — until 60 days after the stay-at-home order ends.
The Mayor also pitched state legislation that would allow landlords to use security deposits in lieu of unpaid rent and to defer rents for tenants with documented proof they lost their jobs.
“It’s the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression,” de Blasio said. “”We can’t have a situation were people have no money and no way to pay.”
Finally, de Blasio announced the launch
The city will invest $10 million in a multi-lingual media campaign in 88 zip codes with high case rates which city data show disproportionately affect Latino and Black New Yorkers, de Blasio said.
De Blasio launched the campaign one month after COVID-19 hit New York City and after weeks of pleading from local officials to release more specific data on race and location.
“The central thrust over the last few weeks has been protecting people most hardest hit by protecting the hospitals,” de Blasio said. “That’s how we made sure we could save the lives that can be saved.”
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