Thursday, April 30, 2020

RANK Nepotism in New York City: The Mayor Appoints His Wife to the New NYC Task Force On Racial Diversity

John Lamparski/Getty Images

Bill de Blasio’s latest crazy, no-good nepotistic job for Chirlane McCray

Sigh: Mayor Bill de Blasio just named first lady Chirlane McCray to head his task force on ensuring New York is more racially just when it reopens. Are you laughing, or crying?
The mayor says his wife’s record running the ThriveNYC initiative makes her perfect for this new job. We guess that means the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity will spend a ton of money to no obvious effect, with half its component programs closed down after a year or two because they never made sense in the first place.
That was the story of Thrive, which was supposed to boost New Yorkers’ mental health but mainly seemed to hire people without ever figuring out what they should do. And which mainly steered clear of the city’s most urgent mental health problem, the huge portion of the homeless population that faces major psychiatric issues.
With roughly a billion dollars out the door, Thrive is on its third or fourth “reimagining.” The next mayor is sure to close it down, if the city council doesn’t do so first.
Of course, the idea of a racial justice unit as a core part of city government’s work on restarting the local economy is as misbegotten as Thrive ever was. Just as Thrive was the wrong approach to mental health, this will focus on peripheral (or patronage) issues rather than the clear but hard-to-address reasons why lower-income black and Hispanic New Yorkers have suffered disproportionately from the coronavirus.
De Blasio claims that the crisis is an opportunity to fundamentally remake New York City economically and socially. In fact, the main challenge is to revive it at all. The chance that the virus will remain an ongoing threat for years poses a huge challenge to New York’s whole way of being: Density is now an enormous vulnerability, rather than a competitive advantage. If we can’t figure out how to make the subways safe, merely getting to work becomes a nightmare.
Even if you buy the mayor’s radical talk, his wife is the last person to put in charge: It’s impossible to manage your spouse as you would anyone else — you can’t fire her for incompetence for starters. (As Thrive proved.)
Indeed, the rank nepotism here suggests that de Blasio doesn’t even believe his own line: He’s just working the same old platitudes to justify putting his wife forward as a leader in hopes it will make her electable come 2021, as he seeks to install her as the next Brooklyn borough president.
Don’t laugh or cry, actually: This idiocy is cause for a primal scream.

NY TIMES, March 22, 2019

With opaque budget and elusive metrics, $850M ThriveNYC program attempts a reset

Politico, Feb. 27, 2019

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Mike Bloomberg Gives $10 Million To New York State To Test and Trace Coronavirus Infection Rates

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo

'We must do the impossible’: Cuomo says Michael Bloomberg will fund $10M coronavirus tracking program

by Dave Goldiner, NY Daily News, April 22, 2020

Gov. Cuomo announced Wednesday that

Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg will fund a pilot program to test and trace coronavirus infection rates as the daily death rate dipped slightly to 474.

The billionaire ex-mayor will fund a $10 million initial plan to trace people who test positive for the deadly virus, a key hurdle to safely reopening the state.

“You have weeks to get this up and running. It’s a super-ambitious undertaking," Cuomo said. "And Mayor Bloomberg will help coordinate the entire effort.”

A statewide random testing effort is working to identify what share of New York’s population is infected with coronavirus. The tracing effort will track people across county and city lines.

Cuomo suggested that up to 10% or more of the city’s population may have been infected.

“How could you possibly trace a million people? You can’t. You do the best you can,” he said. “But for every person you isolate ... that’s one less person walking around infecting another 10 people.”

Dave Goldiner is a political reporter at the New York Daily News. A 30-year newsroom veteran, he believes he is the only reporter to cover both the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the death and funeral of South African freedom icon Nelson Mandela on the ground.

Cuomo: NY launching operation to test, trace and isolate coronavirus cases; Bloomberg leading effort

Newsday, April 22, 2020

New York will launch what Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called "a significant operation" to test the state's residents, trace back the contacts of those infected with coronavirus and isolate people who may have been exposed to the virus, as an effort toward exiting from crisis mode.

Cuomo said at his daily briefing Wednesday that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg "has volunteered to help us develop" the program for the state, a multifaceted effort that will require cooperation with the neighboring states of New Jersey and Connecticut — and will also need to intensely focus on the downstate area of New York City, Long Island and Westchester County where the COVID-19 virus has hit the hardest.

The state will starts with about 500 people tracking down cases and build from there an army of tracers that will include students in the medical professions recruited from the CUNY and SUNY school systems, Cuomo said.

A Cuomo aide said during the briefing that Bloomberg's own contribution to the effort would be "upwards of $10 million."

The state will also seek to double its testing capacity, a tall order that will require running the lab machines processing those tests seven days a week and around the clock, Cuomo said.

“This entire operation has never been done before, so it’s intimidating," Cuomo acknowledged. "...We’ve just never done this … and never near this scale, so it is an intimidating exercise, but I say so what, who cares? … It’s what we need to do now.”

Cuomo said the program had to be far reaching across state lines, and spread across areas like downstate, because people go across local boundaries, potentially exposing others outside their place of residence, “so all those interconnections, if you are going to do these tracing operations, you can't do it just within your own county” because “you are going to run into people who are cross-jurisdictional.”

Hospitalizations due to coronavirus declined again across New York, with a net decrease in patients, even as more than 1,000 people were admitted for treatment, the latest state figures show.

Intubations declined and the daily death count was lower than the previous day at 474 days, but Cuomo said the “number of lives lost is still breathtakingly painful" even though deaths appear to be "on a gentle decline.”

Hundreds of thousands of coronavirus tests will also be administered daily in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier, as part of a "Test & Trace" program he said would begin to ramp up next month.

Tens of thousands of people who test positive could be kept in isolation at any given time, de Blasio said Wednesday.

"It's the only way we drive this disease back," de Blasio said, speaking at his daily news conference online. He said public buildings would be converted to testing sites.

Under the program, city workers, a corps as big as 5,000 or 10,000, would seek to identify whomever an infected person has had recent contact with.

"If you were in close contact with your cousin, then we're going to go see your cousin. We want your cousin to get tested. Then we want to see if your cousin tests positive, who were they in close contact with, and just keep following it through," he said.

De Blasio said the city does not yet have the components of the testing kits and is trying to acquire them.

For people who cannot be isolated without staying away from others in a household, the city would provide a hotel room, with food service, laundry and health care, along with transportation to the isolation site, the mayor said.

Number of patients on the decline

Northwell Health said Wednesday it has 2,443 COVID-19 patients at the 19 hospitals it owns and operates, including 11 on Long Island. That's down 95 patients from the prior day. It's also the fewest number of COVID-19 patients it has had since April 1.

Northwell added that if the pace continued, Friday would fall to the lowest level since March.

However, sicker patients are remaining behind, said Terry Lynam, a health system spokesman. He said 33% of the remaining patients are in an ICU. Also, about 700 COVID-19 patients are on a ventilator. Northwell has about 1,100 ventilators.

LIJ-Forest Hills in Queens, at 97%, has the highest ICU occupancy rate at Northwell.

NYU Langone in Manhattan, which runs NYU Winthrop in Mineola, said it too has seen the number of COVID-19 patients fall about 33% systemwide to about 950.

The decrease by percentage is larger in New York City, said Dr. Andrew W. Brotman, senior vice president and vice dean of clinical affairs and strategy at NYU Langone.

Brotman, in an interview Wednesday, said Long Island also is headed lower, but is about a week behind Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Death toll inching down

An additional 481 people died of the coronavirus in New York Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday — the second day in a row when the daily death toll was below 500.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients fell Tuesday for the eighth straight day, to 16,076 from a high of nearly 19,000. The number of intubated patients — the most seriously ill — had the biggest one-day drop to date, falling by 127.

And the number of newly admitted coronavirus patients remained at about 1,300 from the previous day, but that was down from about 2,000 four days prior.

In Nassau, County Executive Laura Curran said Tuesday that hospitalizations “continue to go down," dropping by 44 patients, for a total of 1,999. Use of ventilators dropped by 12, for a total of 458. Another 402 residents tested positive for coronavirus on Monday.

As of Tuesday, the county had 31,079 positive cases of COVID-19, and 1,390 resident deaths, with an additional 61 tallied on Monday.

Suffolk County on Tuesday had 492 new positives, for a total of 28,154 confirmed coronavirus cases, and 29 deaths of residents Monday for a total of 888.

Long Island had a total of 59,233 confirmed cases of COVID-19 by the end of Monday, state figures showed, while the state had 251,690.

Long Island has lost a total of 2,278 people to the virus, while the death toll statewide reached 14,828.

With Matthew Chayes and David Reich-Hale.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Friday, April 10, 2020

New York City Waits To Re-Open After Widespread Tests Are Available

We have heard no date from Mayor Bill de Blasio for the opening of schools, however as of today April 10, 2020 the Courts open the first week of May and Broadway shows not until June.

Most people believe these dates will be moved to July or August.

Stay tuned.

New York City could begin to ease some coronavirus restrictions in late May or June — but it will require widespread testing of residents for the virus, which the city does not yet have the ability to do.

Even as the death toll continues to surge — reaching 5,150 on Thursday, according to state data, with more than 84,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 — the city has begun to plan for a gradual return to normalcy down the road, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

“People have been following the rules, and that’s why we’re starting to see some improvement. And we are far from out of the woods,” de Blasio said, citing hopeful signs like a stabilization in hospitalizations. “If we really work hard, we have a chance of seeing change in May or June.”

The de Blasio administration has in recent weeks downplayed the importance of testing for the virus, telling New Yorkers not to get tested unless they’re sick enough to be hospitalized and shutting down its own walk-up testing sites at public hospitals.

But the mayor said Thursday widespread testing would be key to moving to the next phase of the outbreak, where transmission is low and some restrictions can be eased. Yet the city is far short of the test capacity it will need, and has no concrete plan for a large-scale expansion.

“We would need more testing. And we don’t have it yet,” de Blasio said, adding the federal government still has not sent an adequate supply of test kits.

“If we could get widespread testing, it would start to change the entire strategy,” de Blasio said. “We have had to, from Day One, ration testing in a way none of us wanted to do.”

He said he hoped the feds would come through by late May or June.

To begin easing restrictions, the city will have to see consistent improvement for two consecutive weeks in three data points: the number of people testing positive for the disease, admissions to hospitals, and admissions to intensive care units. The city will begin publishing those statistics on Monday.

“We will not jump the gun. Unless we have sustained hard evidence that things are getting better, we will not relax any of the tough standards,” de Blasio said.

“We should be very worried about resurgence,” he added. “The last thing we can afford is to let down our guard and let this disease back in the door and then see the numbers spike up.”

To reduce infections, the city is also looking to provide hotel rooms where sick residents can isolate themselves to avoid infecting their family members by sheltering at home. De Blasio said that would happen “over time,” but did not provide a timeline.

The city has rented 10,000 hotel rooms to turn into hospital rooms and hopes to offer them up for people in quarantine as the need for treatment eases.

All New Yorkers have been ordered to stay home whenever possible, and bars, restaurants and all nonessential businesses are closed. Theaters, museums and cultural venues are shuttered, gatherings of any size are banned and people are ordered to stay six feet away from each other.

Some of those rules will stay in place for months even if others begin to loosen in May or June, de Blasio said. The city will urge New Yorkers to continue working from home for as long as possible. A decision is expected in the next few days on whether to cancel the rest of the school year, which would normally go through late June.

“We don’t know exactly what the new level of normal will be,” said Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot.