Brooklyn BP hosts coronavirus emergency briefing
by Benjamin Fang
Mar 10, 2020 | 539 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As of Monday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York City is now up to 20, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a briefing in Brooklyn.

More than 200 New Yorkers tested negative for the novel coronavirus, with 86 tests pending. Twenty-four people are in mandatory quarantine, and 2,019 people are in voluntary isolation.

Those in mandatory quarantine receive daily calls and twice weekly unannounced visits by Department of Health officials. New Yorkers under voluntary isolation also receive calls and texts with information and reminders to call a doctor if they feel sick or develop symptoms.

To update New Yorkers regularly on COVID-19, the city has created a text notification system, which now has more than 20,000 people signed up.

“I want to empower the people of this city to be part of the solution here,” de Blasio said, “because that’s the only way we’re going to get out of this.”

The mayor said he has seen evidence that New Yorkers are changing their basic habits, which he believes will “affect the trajectory” of the crisis.

De Blasio advised those who are sick to stay away from mass transit to prevent the spreading of illnesses. He said telecommuting or staggering hours at work are helpful practices as well.

City employees have been ordered to cancel all non-essential international travel, and public school international trips have been cancelled through the end of the school year. The city is also adding nurses to every public school building.

“I think people are listening, I think people are acting, I think it’s making a world of difference,” de Blasio said. “And if we keep at it, we’re going to see this to its completion and get back to normalcy in this city.”

The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) has also declared facemasks, hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes temporarily in short supply, making it illegal for stores to drastically increase prices on those items.

Stores that are found to be price gouging will be issued a violation with a fine up to $500 per item.

“Don’t even think about price gouging in the middle of this crisis,” de Blasio said. “It’s absolutely immoral, it’s unfair to your fellow New Yorkers.”

At the briefing, the mayor gave an update on several new cases, including two men in Brooklyn and one man in Queens.

The 14th case of novel coronavirus in the city is a 68-year-old man in Brooklyn who had symptoms and was admitted to the hospital. The man has both diabetes and heart disease, and is currently in critical condition in the ICU.

The mayor said health officials tracked his close contacts, including a girlfriend who has symptoms of COVID-19 and is being tested. She, as well as his son, are in mandatory quarantine.

Three other family members who do not live with the patient are in voluntary isolation.

The next case is a 22-year-old man in Brooklyn who had symptoms and was transported by EMS to a private hospital in Brooklyn. He is in stable condition but remains hospitalized.

He lives with his mother and sister, both of whom are now quarantined, the mayor said.

In Queens, a 75-year-old man had a fever, developed pneumonia and had shortness of breath before being admitted to a private hospital. He has diabetes as well, which de Blasio said is a cause for concern. His wife is asymptomatic, but will be quarantined as well.

“This is someone we’re very, very worried about,” de Blasio said.

On Monday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams also convened his own emergency meeting with elected officials, health officials and clergy members at Borough Hall about the novel coronavirus.

Adams said they asked basic questions about the virus, discussed best practices and coordinated a borough-wide response.

“Our goal is to spread information, not rumors,” he said. “There is a lot of information that’s out there, but we must continue as a borough to get that information out to as many people as possible.”

The borough president noted that because it’s a “continuously evolving issue,” there are still some unanswered questions. He said he wants to make sure every senior center and school is prepared.

Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon advised New Yorkers to wash their hands frequently with soap and to avoid touching their faces, which she admitted is not easy to do.

“We have habits that we need to break, like shaking hands,” she said, “so we can limit contact and protect ourselves and others.”

In Flushing, Assemblyman Ron Kim gathered with several black and Asian-American lawmakers to denounce the “rising tensions and targeting” of Asian-Americans during the outbreak.

Kim noted that there have been a number of recent incidents involving Asian-Americans, including a woman with a face mask being assaulted and a subway passenger being sprayed with Febreze.

“We must not let this virus become the trigger for a wave of pre-existing racist sentiments against Asian-Americans,” Kim said in a statement. “The virus does not see race, walls or boundaries. Now is the time for solidarity, compassion and empathy, not hatred, violence and ugliness.”

“I will not sit idly while we allow some of our worst tendencies toward each other to rise during these stressful times,” added Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte.

Congresswoman Grace Meng said in a statement that concern about the virus is not an excuse to discriminate.

“Any type of discrimination, regardless of the form it takes, is unacceptable,” Meng said.

Over the weekend, 48-year-old Li Qianyang was walking on 8th Avenue in Sunset Park when he was stabbed 13 times by an assailant. The victim was taken to Lutheran Medical Center and underwent emergency surgery.

Adams said on Monday that though Qianyang was wearing a mask at the time of the stabbing, the incident was not related to COVID-19. It appears that the two men knew each other.

“There seemed to be a personal issue that turned violent,” he said. “We’re hoping that they apprehend the person that’s involved.”

The borough president noted that part of the briefing at Borough Hall focused on not demonizing a particular group or community during the outbreak.

“This is not an Asian virus, this is a virus that has hit the globe,” Adams said. “Globally, we must be prepared to fight back and not fight each other.”

When asked about the Sunset Park stabbing, de Blasio said that the NYPD is not investigating it as a hate crime because it was an “interpersonal dispute.”

Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot added that lack of information about the novel coronavirus is “no excuse for spreading stigma.”

“It’s no excuse for spreading hate,” she said. “Fear is not an excuse to do that.”
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