After Mayor de Blasio said March 17 that he believed a decision on whether to move the city to shelter-in-place status—confining residents to their homes with some flexibility to buy food, walk pets and lightly exercise—needed to be made within the next 48 hours, it took Governor Cuomo less than 24 to shoot it down the idea as impractical, notwithstanding its implementation recently in the San Francisco Bay area.

But even after Mr. Cuomo—who noted that making such a declaration was beyond the Mayor's authority—seemed to have the final say, Mr. de Blasio plugged away, although he canceled a teleconference with the interested media in favor of three interviews with NY1, CNN and WCBS-radio.

During the radio interview at 5:45 Wednesday afternoon, the Mayor insisted, "It has to be considered seriously, starting today...We need to protect people. We need more and more people to take seriously this situation."

It had been assumed that shelter-in-place would include some form of shutdown of the transit system and monitoring of roads and highways. But the Mayor said, "It is not as draconian as some people may have [believed]...we've gotta keep transit open for those essential workers, at minimum...we need the most-essential services to keep working." (Public Advocate Jumaane Williams had also endorsed shelter-in-place.)

He then veered away from that subject to address other issues that have arisen because of the toll taken by the coronavirus, saying that within 48 hours decisions would be made about which inmates in the city jails who were either there on minor charges or had serious health issues should be released.

"We've gotta balance public safety with the very real concerns in the jails," Mr. de Blasio said.

He said he was particularly gratified that a Navy hospital ship, the U.S. Comfort, would be sent to New York to allow the transfer of patients at city hospitals who do not have the coronavirus, creating more beds for those who figure to be hospitalized as increased testing produces more positives.

"We're gonna get our hands on anything and everything that can be converted into a medical facility," the Mayor said.

He also thanked the 1,000 retired doctors and nurses who volunteered their services after the city's appeal for help. "I think that's so inspiring. So many people are coming forward to help, and that's how we're going to beat this back," the Mayor said.

*  *  *

The New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health will begin daily briefings on emerging coronavirus issues March 23 from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

They are aimed at unions, workers, community organizations and workers' centers.

To sign on, go to https://zoom.us/j/940336157. The meeting ID number is also 940 336 157, and the phone number in New York is 646-558-8656.

 


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