De Blasio says NYPD won't take enforcement action over face coverings, announces limits on access to Sheep Meadow in Central Park

Adam Warner
May 15, 2020 - 7:54 pm
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    NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that New York City is preparing for a hot summer with the coronavirus as he announced the city is limiting access to some parks this weekend and directing police to no longer enforce face covering requirements in most circumstances amid controversy.

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    New York City on Friday reported 73 new confirmed COVID-19 deaths and 1,555 new positive cases, bringing its total number of positive cases to 187,848. The city is currently reporting 15,422 confirmed deaths and 5,054 probable deaths, for a combined death toll of 20,476.

    Queens still has the most cases of any borough in New York City, with 57,865 cases; Brooklyn has 51,131; the Bronx has 42,656; Manhattan has 23,274; and Staten Island has 12,832.

    “This is going to be a different summer than any summer we’ve experienced in the history of New York City,” de Blasio said during his briefing Friday, adding that he doesn't expect restrictions to start being lifted until sometime in June at the earliest.

    “Right now, I think we’re all aligned that the first half of June is the earliest opportunity for even some lessening of restrictions,” he said. The city continues to work with the state on the issue, he added. 

    Ball games, beach outings and other summer activities New Yorkers are used to will be “different for the foreseeable future,” the mayor said. The city has to take it “day by day, week by week," he maintained. 

    “But what we can guarantee is the heat is coming no matter what,” he said, noting that last year the city saw the 10th hottest July on record.

    De Blasio said there are three goals for the city this summer: keeping vulnerable New Yorkers cool and safe at home; creating safer summer cooling options; and preventing and responding to power outages.

    Among the measures the city is undertaking: purchasing 74,000 air conditioners for vulnerable residents; subsidizing the utility bills of 450,000 New Yorkers; creating “non-traditional” cooling centers at places like auditoriums and other large venues; identifying cooling centers in hard-hit communities; creating misting oases in seating areas in low-income neighborhoods; adding about 20 more large generators across the city that can be moved quickly.

    "Beaches and pools are just not in the cards," de Blasio said. 

    The mayor also said the NYPD is limiting access to Sheep Meadow in Central Park and Hudson River Park’s Piers 45 and 46 this weekend as the weather warms. Police will also be monitoring Domino Park in Brooklyn, he said. 

    There will be enhanced Parks Department patrols in the Rockaways, on Coney Island and on Orchard Beach this weekend as well. Beaches in the city remain closed.

    De Blasio said 2,260 social distancing ambassadors and supervisors are being deployed as part of an effort to make sure people are keeping six feet apart. There will also be a dedicated NYPD car responding to 311 complaints in each precinct, he said.

    Amid controversy over the NYPD’s enforcement of face coverings, de Blasio also said that the NYPD will only take enforcement action when there’s a “serious danger to the public.” His announcement comes a day after a video showed police arresting a woman in a confrontation with NYPD officers over her mask.

    De Blasio said the NYPD will continue to enforce a ban on non-essential gatherings, prioritizing dispersing groups of six or more adults.

    At his Friday briefing, the mayor also said there are now 110 confirmed cases of an inflammatory condition, Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, that's affecting kids in New York City.

    He said 54 percent of kids with PMIS in the city have tested positive for COVID-19 or had coronavirus antibodies.

    He said the Bronx has seen 37 percent of PMIS cases; Queens has 33 percent; Brooklyn has 20 percent; Manhattan has 7 percent; and Staten Island has 3 percent.

    The breakdown of PMIS cases by race is: 24 percent African American; 14 percent Hispanic; 10 percent Asian; 9 percent white; 5 percent other.

    De Blasio said 35 percent of PMIS cases were in children ages 0-4; 25 percent were 5-9; 24 percent were 10-14; and 16 percent were 15-21.

    As far as metrics tracking the spread of the coronavirus, de Blasio said "we see some tremendous progress overall" while cautioning that Friday's report "was not everything we want it to be."

    De Blasio said there were 800 fewer new hospitalizations per day compared to late March and more than 500 fewer people in ICU than at the peak of the outbreak. He also said the percentage of residents tested who were positive for COVID-19 dropped to 12 percent from 71 percent in late March.

    Hospital admissions for suspected COVID-19 were up day over day from 59 to 78. The percentage of city residents who tested positive for the virus was up from 11 percent to 12 percent. However, the number of patients in ICUs at public hospitals was down from 517 to 506.

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