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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio appears Live on CNN

March 21, 2020

Poppy Harlow: We do have breaking news out of New York City. The FAA tells us the control tower at JFK international airport in New York's very busy space is now closed for a cleaning – a worker there just diagnosed with coronavirus. The other huge and startling headline for New York City, the Mayor says New York's hospitals will run out of their necessary medical supplies in just two to three weeks. I'm glad to be joined by New York City Mayor bill de Blasio. Mayor de Blasio, thank you very much for being with me. Okay, so where are we this morning in terms of the urgent need for supplies? Because everyone was stunned to hear you say that yesterday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Poppy, I have to be honest with the people of my city and I have to be honest with the federal government that's not doing its job right now, and particularly the President United States who's absent. Here are the facts – as of late last night, 4,000 cases confirmed in New York City, 26 people love died. That means, right now, Poppy, we constitute 30 percent of the cases in the United States of American, about 70 percent of the cases in New York State. We are now – whether we like it or not, we’re the epicenter. And I have made repeated appeals to the federal government to get us basic medical supplies and there is no meaningful response. I've appealed to the President to activate the United States military that could actually – the one force in this nation, Poppy, that could save us because they could mobilize quickly, effectively to get us medical supplies, personnel. They could get the supplies that are elsewhere in the country here in record time. We know what they can do in wartime. They can do it in peacetime. And, you know where they are? They're at their bases right now because the President of the United States, the Commander in Chief has not given the order. And I’ve got people right now, Poppy in my city, and a lot of them are older people, a lot of them are people who are suffering from other diseases. If help doesn't come, we're going to lose people who should not die. People will die who should not die, because, in two or three weeks, my hospitals, some of the finest in the nation, will run out of ventilators, surgical masks, other protective gear, all the things that we need to run a hospital and provide care, and it will endanger our health care workers. And they're showing up Poppy, they keep coming to work. And retirees – we asked retirees to come forward from the health care field and over 2,000 already in 48 hours have said we volunteer – we're coming back to do this work to protect people. But where the hell is the federal government in the middle of the biggest crisis we've seen in generations?

Harlow: What can you update us in terms of, we know the USNS Comfort – a ship that can help and maybe take some of some of the health – you know, the people that need different treatment to treat them outside of the existing hospitals. What's the update on when that may arrive?

Mayor Look, I want to thank Governor Cuomo who helped make that happen and we’re waiting for the specific moment when that ship will arrive. My impression is it's at least a week away, maybe more, but that'll help. But we need, you know, for all of our existing hospitals, if we don’t get that reinforcement, even the fact that that ship is coming won't be enough.

Harlow: The President has said that he will only use the Defense Production Act that makes companies make this stuff in the worst-case scenario. Clearly, you think this is that moment.

Mayor: Poppy, I never in a million years thought I would have – literally, never thought I'd have to tell the people in my city, 8.6 million people, that in two or three weeks our hospitals will not be able to provide the kind of health care they are capable of because they won't have the supplies – and that will endanger everyone. This is like we're talking about, you know, a country 50 years ago, 100 years ago, or an underdeveloped country. This is not the United States of America in 2020. It is impossible to even think about, but it's happening right now. And I'm sounding the alarm. If the President would just act, mobilize the military and maximize the use of the Defense Production Act, there's still time to save us and a lot of other people around the country.

Harlow: I hear your plea to him. Finally, are you turning New York City hotels and the Javits Center into mass makeshift hospitals?

Mayor: We're going to use every building we can, particularly those near an existing hospital to become essentially annexes to hospitals. Javits Center is definitely a possibility, hotels, for sure, particularly those near our big hospitals. We're mobilizing all of them right now. We do have a lot of space, thank God. We don't have supplies. And we are going to try and get the personnel we need, but we need all three of those to massively expand our hospital system to deal with the surge that's coming in April.

Harlow: Mayor de Blasio's, as a proud resident of New York, we wish you and the entire teams all the luck in making this happen and the federal government. Thank you for your time and good luck.

Mayor: Thank you, Poppy.

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