Archives of Rudolph W. Giuliani

Mayor's WINS Address
Sunday, September 12, 1999

Hear the Mayor's Message

Addressing a Virus
by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani

I want to talk for a moment about the recent cases of St. Louis encephalitis that were discovered in New York City over the past ten days. So far there have been nine confirmed cases of the disease-eight of which have been found Queens, and one of which has been traced to central Brooklyn. Tragically, three of the cases have resulted in death, with some others placed in very serious condition.

This is obviously a grave situation that the City is very concerned about, but people should be careful not to panic, to overreact, or to distort the facts. We're doing everything that we can to work as hard as we can to reduce the possibility that this disease will spread any further.

Beginning on Friday and continuing through the weekend, we've been spraying in all five boroughs, and I'm sure that many of you have seen either the helicopters or the trucks that have gone through your neighborhood. The insecticide that they're using, which is somewhat different for the air than on the ground, is safe, and should not be a cause of great concern to anyone.

And after this round of insect control, we'll have to continue over the next four to five weeks on a more sporadic basis to continue to spray in order to make sure that the mosquitoes don't return. We'll have to do that, in fact, until the frost sets in. We're taking every necessary precaution - and maybe to some extent we're overdoing it so that shouldn't be a cause of alarm. We're doing it to make certain that we wipe out as many of these mosquitoes as possible, arrest the spread of this disease as quickly as possible, and make certain that it doesn't return. You don't need to alter your behavior; you don't need to worry inordinately about this problem. Make sure you wear insect repellent in the early evening hours and then in the morning. And also just do the best that you can when the spray is coming around your neighborhood to stay indoors. But if you're outside, nothing serious is going to happen to you. So, to the extent that anyone is overly worried about that, why don't you leave that to all the professionals that are working on this and go about your business in the way that you normally would. There's no reason for you not to.

Based on the expert and the tireless work of our New York City Health Department under Dr. Neal Cohen, and the work of the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management under Jerry Hauer, we've been able to limit the damage to our citizens. They've been working around the clock, and they've gotten significant help from Nassau County, from Suffolk County, from Bergen County, and we're very appreciative of that. We've also gotten a tremendous amount of help from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Federal Center for Disease Control, all of whom have worked together with our Department of Health and with our Mayor's Office of Emergency Management.

I want to particularly single out for our gratitude Governor George Pataki, who from the very beginning has made a tremendous amount of resources available to us, and on a number of occasions has checked with me, and kept in contact with us to make sure that we're getting all the help and all the support that we need.

Particularly I want to also thank the citizens of the city who have responded in the way New Yorkers always respond, in a cooperative way, and when a problem is a serious one, New Yorkers respond better than citizens probably anywhere in the world. That coordinated effort, from all the people working for the City, for the State, the Federal government, and all the citizens of the city, has reduced the damage, and hopefully has us on the right track.

If you have any specific concerns, or reports or questions about this, please call the hotline. It's 1-888-663-6692. That's 1-888-663-6692. From Gracie Mansion, this is Rudy Giuliani.

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