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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Holds Media Availability

August 4, 2020

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everyone. Well, we are all watching closely as the storm advances, Tropical Storm Isaias. Obviously, something that we are very, very concerned about based on what we know now, heavy rain expected, very high winds and something new, and you're going to hear from our Emergency Management Commissioner in a moment, the threat of tornadoes now. This is a new piece of this equation. So, look, the most important message right now is everyone take this very seriously between the rain, flooding potential, the winds, even again, potential tornado. That's a lot. Don't go outside if you don't need to, during the high point of the storm, take it seriously. You'll hear from the Commissioner some of the precautions to take. I do want to say, I want to thank all the City agencies that have been involved in preparing us for this storm. Yesterday, I was down at the South Street Seaport, looking at the interim flood protection measures that are put in place the tiger dams, the HESCO barriers. This is really important work that's been done by our agencies to protect a neighborhood that went through so much when Sandy hit and to show we have all learned some important lessons from that disaster, and so many other things we've seen with global warming. So, you can see the great work that our City team did getting this set of barriers ready. I want you to hear from our Emergency Management Commissioner about the immediate work being done and the precautions you should take, and then I want us to talk a little bit more about the bigger efforts have been made to keep New York City resilient in the years and decades ahead. But let's start right now with the work, as you see there, the immediate work to protect New Yorkers and the warnings you need. Let's hear from our Emergency Management Commissioner, Deanne Criswell.

Commissioner Deanne Criswell, Emergency Management: Great. Thank you, Mayor. I talked with the National Weather Service this morning, and what we're seeing is that Tropical Storm Isaias has shifted a little bit to the west, and so what this means is that the strongest wind band that we're going to see from this storm is going to track right over New York City. We will see some sustained winds from 45 to 55 miles per hour, and still gusts up to 70 miles per hour are expected anywhere between noon and 5:00 PM today, and the National Weather Service has also issued a tornado watch effective now until 4:00 PM. We've already seen several tornadoes have landed in the Eastern States in the path of this storm, and we are likely to see tornado warnings issued here in New York City, anywhere starting from 11:00 AM through that 4:00 PM watch. I want to remind New Yorkers that a tornado warning means that a tornado is already occurring or will occur very soon. You need to go to your safe place immediately seek cover indoors on a low floor and away from windows. If you're in a high rise, you can go into a hallway if you can't get to a low floor and never use the elevators. I also encourage all New Yorkers to secure any loose furniture or equipment if you haven't already done so.

We also still have a flash flood watch in effect, and we may see heavy rain still from this storm. Additionally, coastal flood warnings have been issued for Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Southern Queens. Coastal flood advisories have been issued for Manhattan and the Bronx. The low lying parts of the city, including neighborhoods along the Jamaica Bay, like Broad Channel, Howard Beach and Hamilton Beach, which typically see tidal flooding along their shore roads may see one to two feet of water above ground from this storm, and because of the wind, we will also see significant wave action that will bring more water into these areas. Residents in this area are reminded to move their vehicles to higher ground and remember to never drive through flooded streets, dangerous rip currents are also forecast and no one should be out swimming or surfing tomorrow during the storm, a quick recap, we expect high winds, some tidal flooding and an increased threat for tornadoes. If a tornado warning is issued, seek cover immediately. If you come across flooding, whether walking or driving, turn around don't drown, and while the waves might be appealing, the rip currents from this storm can be life threatening.

Mayor: Thank you very much, Commissioner. And Commissioner, thank you to your whole team because I know everyone's working really hard to get ready for this storm and to help see New Yorkers through it, and I just want to emphasize when we talk about a tornado warning that is such a rarity here in New York City, it may sound to some people like that's not something to worry about. It is something to worry about. Look that tornado warning is in effect now through 4:00 PM today and take it serious, and I can tell you because I experienced it in my own neighborhood in Brooklyn, 2007. Literally a tornado came right through our neighborhood, literally tore siding off my house on 11th Street. Cars were destroyed by falling tree limbs. A lot of houses damaged. This is serious stuff. So, when you hear of a tornado warning, it's not business as usual. It means stay indoors, stay safe, make sure your family's safe. Also, with these high winds, everyone, just secure anything that could fly around it, just as smart to take this seriously. It's for a very limited period of time, and as always look out for your neighbors. And one other thing, Deanne said it, you know, sometimes people think during a storm, what a great time to be on the beach and the dramatic waves and all, listen, don't even think about going in the water. The beaches are closed for a reason. It's very dangerous in the water during this kind of condition. So, please everyone take this really, really seriously. If you need more information, you can turn to 3-1-1 at all times.

Now, let's talk about the bigger reality. What we're seeing here, and what we've been seeing now for years is the result of global warming. We've been seeing more and more pressure on coastal areas all around the world. Some of you may have been following the horrible flooding in Bangladesh, right now. We have a big Bangladeshi community here in this city. We're seeing problems in cities all over the world because of global warming. This is not an abstraction, especially for New Yorkers after Sandy. As I say, after Sandy, there were no more climate change deniers in New York City. We experienced it, we lived it. We're not going to ignore it. We as New Yorkers – New Yorkers are realists, and as we've shown during the coronavirus crisis, we believe in science, we believe in data and that's what protects us. So, for years now, the City of New York has been putting major measures in place to protect people from a rising sea levels, and from the kinds of storms that we see more and more, and the key is to be resilient. The key is to make sure we do it in an equitable fashion and to start the work now of re-imagining our city for the future, because as one of the great coastal cities of the world, we're going to have to constantly make change for years and decades ahead to adjust to this reality and stay the great city we are. Here to talk to you about a number of the measures that are already in place, and that are being built out as we speak in New York City, our Director of the Office of Resiliency, Jainey Bavishi.

Director Jainey Bavishi, Mayor's Office of Recovery & Resiliency: Thank you, Mayor. Whenever a coastal storm threatens New York City, we remember Hurricane Sandy and the devastation it caused. The science is clear. There will be more coastal storms as global warming worsens, and we must be prepared. Following Hurricane Sandy, the City committed to spending more than $20 billion to protect all five boroughs from climate threats, and we have made significant progress. We have deployed interim flood protection measures in the Seaport, and we also have temporary protections that can be activated in dozens of other locations, including in Red Hook and Astoria. We have built nearly 10 miles of new dunes across Staten Island and the Rockaway peninsula. We have also completed several other projects, including restoring protective wetlands in Staten Island and Queens, reconstructing the Rockaway boardwalk using resilient design and completing a new T-Groin in Seagate, Brooklyn, Brooklyn to reduce erosion.

There's much more to come. This fall, we will be breaking ground on two massive coastal infrastructure projects, the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, where we're investing $1.45 billion to protect 110,000 New Yorkers, including 28,000 NYCHA residents on the East Side of Manhattan and the Rockaway Reformulation and Atlantic Shorefront project, which we're constructing in partnership with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers. This will span roughly six miles from Beach 149th Street to Beach 19th Street in the Rockaways.

In addition to coastal protection, we're also hardening our critical infrastructure, whether it's energy, wastewater, sewer, or transportation infrastructure, and a lot of this work has been completed since Sandy. This includes improvements such as reconfiguring underground electric networks and installing new stormproof doors. We've also made transportation improvements like spending $191 million to strengthen the St. George and Whitehall Staten Island Ferry Terminals. We're also constructing thousands of curbside rain gardens to capture rainfall and prevent flooding in inland areas, and we've also improved many of our operational emergency response measures incorporating the lessons that we have learned during Sandy. All in all, we're protecting New Yorkers now, and at the same time, making good progress on many long-term projects that will make our city safer and more resilient for generations to come.

Mayor: Thank you so much Jainey, and thank you to you and all your colleagues for this extraordinary work, and we've got a lot to do and look, New Yorkers always rise to the challenge. So, here's another challenge. We're going to get by the coronavirus crisis, but then we're going to spend years and years ahead dealing with the reality of global warming. But this city is clear about what we need to do, and I'm confident about our city and our people. We take the threat seriously and we're going to do what it takes to address it. 

Now, talking about our future. Look, we've been through a very tough five months, but I keep talking about why people should never bet against New York City and our strength and our people and our talent. And now we have a really interesting piece of news today that speaks to our future. And a lot of folks have been asking the question, will the business community continue to invest in New York City? What will our future be? Well, we've got a piece of information now that I think really speaks to it and it’s a decision made by Facebook to make a major commitment to its presence in New York City. This is extraordinary. And that company has leased all, all of the office space in the James Farley Building, the former Post Office building, the largest Post Office in Manhattan. All of that space now will be part of Facebook's growing presence in New York City. That will take their job total to almost 10,000 employees in New York City. And this is one company, one company in a crucial sector that has been growing for years and years in New York City, our tech community. As recent as February, over 350,000 people employed in the tech ecosystem in New York City, a big part of our future and what a vote of confidence in our future that Facebook has made this decision. This is the first major new lease for the post-COVID era. And you can see that's a huge facility. And it will be part of our economic rebirth.

So, to everyone, look, the bottom line about New York City has been true for generations. It's more true than ever. Extraordinary talent here. Extraordinary creativity. If you want to get anything done, come to New York City because this is where it happens. And this is where you will find the talent to make it happen. Businesses all over the country, all over the world are going to be realizing that more and more, but seeing Facebook take the lead will send a message to all the others that this is a smart time to start the reinvestment in New York City.

Let me go over indicators. Number one, daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19, threshold is 200, today’s report 73 patients. Number two, daily number of people in Health + Hospitals ICUs, threshold is 375, today's report 271. And number three, percentage of people testing citywide positive for COVID-19, threshold 15 percent, today, once again, lowest we've seen, one percent. That is fantastic. And that is because of your hard work. Keep going. Now a few words in Spanish –

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

With that, let's turn to our colleagues in the media. Please let me know the name and outlet of each journalist.

Moderator: Hi, all. We have with us here today Commissioner Criswell, Jainey Bavishi, the Director of the Office of Resiliency, and Senior Advisor Dr. Varma. With that, we'll start with Juliet from 1010 WINS.

Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor, how are you?

Mayor: Good, Juliet. How are you?

Question: I'm okay, thank you. I did want to divert a little bit and ask you about the crime statistics that were released yesterday. Given the surge in shootings and murders and that gun arrests are down, at what point do you think you need a different or perhaps more immediate strategy to address those numbers?

Mayor: Juliet, the gun arrests are coming up. I spoke to Commissioner Shea about this yesterday. Because of the redeployment of officers to the areas where we're seeing the biggest problems, we're starting to see the gun arrests come up. And the strategies I believe as they have many times before are going to help us address this and stop this challenge. So, we're seeing this unfortunately, all over the country, this challenge because of the coronavirus. But what I know is the NYPD has the capacity to address it. The strategies are being implemented more every day, the community is engaged in helping the NYPD more and more. And the gun arrests are definitely going up. Go ahead.

Question: Okay. Just to follow up, how much time do you give this program before you say more immediate action is required? Yes, there is the community component and even the Commissioner said more time needs to be given for that to sort of work. But the numbers are going up precipitously and how was that keeping this community safe?

Mayor: Juliet, again, we are dealing with a perfect storm. And every major city in America is dealing with their version of this because so much has been dislocated because of the coronavirus crisis. We have got to get all the pieces re-glued. And this is why it's really important. We want school back. We want people back to work. We want to get our criminal justice system working again. We all need to work together to make that happen. But there's no question again, that when you apply more and more officers to targeted areas, it has a real big impact. And as the Commissioner said, they are very specific areas where we're seeing the biggest problems. And then as the court system comes back and more and more prosecutions and trials start to occur. I know that's going to have a profound impact. So, we just have to stick with this strategy. We have done it before and overcome challenges. We will do it again.

Moderator: Next we have Gloria from NY1.

Question: Thank you, Mr. Mayor, I want to follow up on Juliet's question actually. And this is more specifically about the way that you have been talking about the reason for the increase in shootings. Part of what the New York Times is reporting today, along with other outlets in the last couple of days, is that there is no clear correlation between the courts only being operating, in a virtual setting now, and the increase. It actually says that the number of arrests for gun crimes has plummeted precipitously. So, when do you start to actually look at the larger picture here? And have you considered that maybe you have been blaming the courts for this, you know, wrongly?

Mayor: Gloria, I never blamed them and I want to be clear. I said, perfect storm more times than I could count. This is not one thing. Young people are not going to school. People are not going to work. Everything that's been the foundation of our society has been unglued. There's a powerful article yesterday in the Wall Street Journal that points out how this has happened around the country. You cannot take away all the underpinnings of normal life and expect the same outcome. And then when you don't have all of the pieces of the criminal justice system working, that does affect the reality. Because there's not going to be a trial and there's not going to be consequences, it does affect behavior. And it affects the ability to ensure that someone who should not be on the streets, isn't. These are facts. If – again, if the court system didn't matter, then why do we have one? And it's not about blame. Everyone is trying their best to overcome this and come back. But this has been a profound jolt to all of us. Every part of our society. What we do need to do, unquestionably, is continue to deepen the NYPD’s strategies, work more closely with the communities, increase the gun arrests, no question. But we can't complete the equation, if we don't start to put some of these pieces back together and get closer to normal.

Question: My next question is about the comments you made regarding the Facebook lease and comments that you made on our show last night regarding the rezoning of Industry City. What are you doing to bring more deals like the Facebook deal into the city? And in regards to the comments you made yesterday, it just seemed like you were taking a somewhat passive approach to big, big deals like that, that could bring a lot of jobs at a time that are desperately needed. So, what is in the pipeline? What are you working on? What are you doing to bring some of these big companies into the city at the time?

Mayor: Gloria, look, on the rezoning, it's a private application. It's not one of the ones sponsored or supported specifically by the City. It is a private application. I absolutely acknowledge that it comes with a lot of jobs and that's important. But it has to be resolved with the City Council. That's the right way for this to proceed. The bigger picture? We are constantly doing the work. And our Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, Vicki Been, and her team. James Patchett at the Economic Development Corporation, everyone is doing this work every day, talking to business leaders about how New York City is going to come back and how it's the place they should be investing now looking forward to the future. And the business leaders I've spoken to from the beginning, I have to say, have shown a lot of confidence in the future of New York City. So, that's ongoing work. As specific deals are achieved, as specific plans are put together, we'll be announcing them, but a lot of work is happening right now to bring back our economy.

Moderator: Next, we have Jillian from WBAI.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor, good morning.

Mayor: Hey, Jillian, how are you?

Question: I'm well, I owe you an explanation about the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Mets because you were confused. National League. That's the answer. They're the only National League team in New York. And they started playing in ‘62 out of the Polo Grounds.

Mayor: No, I agree. There's no question, a lot of Dodger fans converted into Mets fans. But when you said it at first, it sounded so Dodger specific. Some maintain their loyalty even to Los Angeles, but you're right, a lot, a lot changed into Mets fans. A lot of New York Giants fans turned into Mets fans when they went to San Francisco. So, you and I are aligned.

Question: Well, that's all true. So, my first question is about this Facebook leasing deal. What agencies were involved and what kind of tax breaks or incentives are they getting, if any?

Mayor: Yeah, we'll get you the details. To the best of my knowledge, there's not a specific incentive package, but let me get that for you. This is obviously something that just came together. So, we'll get that to you later today.

Question: Okay. Well, I'm still waiting for the arbitration information, too.

Mayor: I have that for you. So, this is a good example to you and your colleagues in the media, that questions that really cause us to do some good internal work. And I think it's – what we've seen when we look at the piece of legislation you referred to, is there are real questions about how much it would work in practice, consequences, both intended and unintended, legal questions about whether it would pass muster. But the conversation led us to the realization, we have to create methodologies for mediation and/or arbitration. And so, thank you, Jillian, because that has caused a team now to say, okay, we're going to put together a different proposal to try and achieve a lot of the same things to help small businesses. It was definitely something missing in the lineup and something we needed to do. But we think we have another way to achieve it that will work better. So, thank you for spurring us on.

Moderator: Jillian. Did you have a follow up?

Question: Yeah, I do. It's not related. My second question focuses on COVID test results and the delays, and is relevant to the school reopening plan. The Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board says that our current COVID indicators, you know, hospitalization rates and infection rates actually lag. And they advocate testing wastewater for COVID because it reveals virus presence in real time, before symptoms are evident, or if the virus returns. It's globally accepted technology. It's inexpensive. And they say that New York is in a specifically good position to do this because we have these 14 wastewater treatment plants that are distributed in a specific way so it can get really, really hyper-local. You can test sewer lines. I'm wondering if this is something that they're going to consider, or they're going to expand into the current system of testing? And if not, why not?

Mayor: I’ll turn to Dr. Varma. I think this is very much the path we've been on and it's one of many indicators and different types of evidence we're using. And I think we have a good series of things we look at to keep ourselves current. But, Dr. Varma, you want to speak to that?

Senior Advisor Jay Varma: Great. Thank you very much for the question. I would echo what the Mayor says that the indicators that we're using right now are actually very well validated for our work here in New York City. Specific to your question about the monitoring of wastewater, sludge, sewage. This was actually something that New York City scientists, you know, in the New York City Department of Environmental Protection are working on very closely right now. I do agree that there have been studies that have shown its value. It's important to keep in mind that all of these studies are what we call retrospective. They're looking back in time to compare what was found in sewage to what was known in human health at that time. It can be very challenging to make sure that those are used for decision making in real time. But I can reassure you that this is something that we are working on very, very closely. There are a lot of complex scientific issues related to how you measure it, how you compare it to human health, and then of course, how you make decisions. But it is something that we're eager to work on and hopefully validate and use.

Moderator: Next, we have Julia from the Post.

Question: Hey, good morning, Mr. Mayor, how are you doing?

Mayor: Good, Julia, how are you?

Question: Good. Just yesterday we saw a federal judge order the Board of Elections to start counting some ballots that were received without postmarks, which will further delay the process and may even throw the results of some races into question. What are your thoughts on the way New York has handled mail-in ballots from the June elections? And what does that pretend for the presidential election in November?

Mayor: Well, look, the Board of Elections can do better and must do better. That's my view. I've long, for years, Julia, you know, had deep concerns about the Board of Elections and how it's structured. I think we need to move to a different approach, just create a modern, management-focused agency to do this work better in the future. But that said, I am certain they can learn from this and be prepared for the general election. Three months is a long time. You know, there are whole states in this country that do everything with mail-in and it works perfectly well. It can be done. So, I think what the Board of Elections needs to do is look at exactly where the challenges were and come up with a very systematic plan to address them and be ready for the general election. Go ahead.

Question: Thanks. On a different topic – do you know when the last time school bus companies were paid? And from a logistics and personnel standpoint, do you believe that bus companies are ready for the planned start of the school year in five weeks?

Mayor: I will get you – our team will get you the details on what's happened with payments. There's been a lot of negotiation because I think an issue that either you or some of your colleagues raised very early on was what's a fair level of payment in light of the fact that the schools weren't open and we've been very rigorous about that fact. We have to watch out for the taxpayers here. But I'm very certain based on the briefings I've gotten that school bus service will be ready up and running. As we talked about yesterday, it will be for fewer kids because we're going to have to distance within those school buses for safety reasons.

Moderator: Next, we have Erin from Politico.

Question: Hi there, Mr. Mayor. My first question is something that you were asked recently, but you said that you weren't fully up on it and you were going to look into it. So, I'm wondering if you have, and that's in regards to the NYPD blocking off blocks, barricades, you know, prohibiting people's access. In response to your comments yesterday I got a ton of complaints from people saying, you know, we can't get down blocks, we can't get to businesses, we have to show ID to get to our own homes. And in particular right around Gracie Mansion, people are apparently not having access to the waterfront area that's there. So, is this something that you can or have any interest in directing the NYPD to do differently?

Mayor: NYPD has been making adjustments over the last few weeks and reducing some of the precautions that were put in place previously and that's happening all over the city. I can certainly say around Gracie Mansion, people have access to the water constantly. There are some particular times when there's protests and those measures are put in place temporarily. And certainly on the blocks where there's police precincts, there's been some temporary measures, but everything is being reduced as time goes by. Everything that's been done has been temporary.

Question: Okay, thanks. And then my second question is, there are oral arguments today in a case that Eric Garner's family brought against you and the City, and the ultimate goal of that is an inquiry that would require you to testify about your handling of the case. You know, I'm just wondering, you know, if you're confident in your handling of the case, you know, would you be willing to speak to that in court?

Mayor: Look, again the Law Departmental will handle that. There's very specific approaches when it comes to someone who plays the role of chief executive of the City and the various lawsuits that the City gets. Look, I feel so bad for the Garner family and everything they've been through. I know a lot of members of the Garner family, particularly Gwen Carr. What I believe in my heart is that the city, after that horrible, horrible tragedy, after a man died, who should not have died, we learned profound lessons and have made profound changes. And I've spoken to some things that I wish we had understood better in the aftermath and done differently. But the bottom line is we've made very big changes and, in that sense, he did not die in vain.

Moderator: Next we have Abu from Bangla Patrika.

Question:  Hello, Mayor, how are you?

Mayor: Hey, Abu, how are you?

Question: Good. Thank you so much. As you mentioned about the global warming, my question is, you know, in New York City, especially Long Island City, Brooklyn, and Bronx, and other parts of the city [inaudible] growing ruthless construction, and people are moving, the working class people they can’t stay. What are you thinking about the global warming and the ruthless construction in the city?

Mayor: Look, this is an important question, Abu. I mean, right now, I think the most immediate point is a lot was done after Sandy to change the nature of construction, to change where, you know, the mechanicals and the other key elements of the building were placed. You know, a lot is being done differently and being done with more of a resiliency mindset. That said, we're going to have to think about our bigger future, and when you think about literally decades down the line, what's this city going to look like in light of global warming. I would say, I feel good about the short term. We have a lot of work to do for the long term, and we'd better deal with global warming, which is why we need to do things. You know, it was why the City divested from fossil fuels with our pension fund dollars. It's why we have a very, very assertive program of sustainability. You know, we passed laws to change how our buildings handle their energy needs. There is so much we have to do in this city, but we have to fight global warming, go to the root cause of this. Go ahead, Abu.

Question: The question is, as you know, the TLC that the yellow cab industry, the people who bought the medallion, millions of dollars, right now, the medallions price has been down. It's like half more – less than even half-a-million and people can’t, the owner, they can’t pay the mortgage. Do you have any ideas? Do you have any plan to help the taxi industry, how they can sustain?

Mayor: Yeah, look there is so much we need to do to help taxi drivers and folks at for-hire vehicle industry. Obviously, we've made a number of moves to try and shore up those drivers – the minimum wage was a crucial part of that. There's a lot of other things that we have done and the Taxi and Limousine Commission, I want to give them a lot of credit for looking for every conceivable way to help drivers. In terms of some kind of bigger effort, that really needs to come with federal dollars, especially in light of our fiscal crisis. But I think it's important to recognize – I mean again, we are three months away from an election, if there is a change in Washington, I think the notion of potentially getting some kind of bailout becomes a much more real possibility.

Moderator: Last two for today. Next, we have Reuvain from Hamodia.

Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor, there's been discussion about residents of the Upper West Side being unhappy about hotels in their neighborhood being used as homeless shelters. Also, a friend of mine stayed in a Midtown hotel last week and said that considering the clientele there, he didn't feel safe going up and down the elevators or walking in the hall. And he wonders if maybe the City had rented some rooms there that night. So, my question is, will the City make public on an ongoing basis, a list of the hotels being used as homeless shelters and/or COVID quarantine locations, so that prospective hotel customers can know beforehand?

Mayor: I'm going to defer that question because I think there are some bigger issues there about privacy rights and what's the appropriate way to handle something like that from the individual point of view, from the business point of view, etcetera. So, our team will come back to you on that. But I do want to emphasize, we've had to do something on an emergency basis. Again, many questions, keep coming back to the same point. It's a pandemic. It has caused massive dislocation. We had to get a lot of people out of shelters temporarily into hotels, to space people out and make sure they were safe. When this crisis is over – and it's a matter of months until there's a vaccine and the crisis is over – then we're going to bring people back into the shelter system out of those hotels, and a lot of things will start to change. But in the meantime, this is actually about protecting people's lives and safety. Go ahead.

Question: My next question is about the Black Lives Matter movement, which you have expressed strong support for. So, in addition to the issue of racial equality, various factions and leaders of the movement have voiced opinions and said the movement stands for other issues as well, including opposition to Israel and opposition to the importance of the nuclear family. Your support of Israel, and you have a long marriage with a lovely wife and children – my question is, do you support everything the Black Lives Matter movement stands for only the issue of racial equality?

Mayor: I appreciate the question, and you and I have had lots of conversations. I thank you for recognizing the facts that I am a strong supporter of the State of Israel. And also, yes, I have a wonderful family and I'm blessed. The Black Lives Matter movement is a large complex movement. It doesn't, to the best of my knowledge, have a traditional hierarchical structure or national headquarters or those types of things. It's a very decentralized movement. I don't know everything that each leader and each local chapter has said. I do know the underlying point – the three words and what they mean. And for 400 years in America, people of African descent were disrespected, disenfranchised, not given their fair share. That must end. It must end now. And that declaration, Black Lives Matter, is all about changing that foundation, that reality. And that's what we're going to do in this city. But that's a different matter than what each and every member or chapter of the organization feels. I couldn't quote that to you. So, I'm talking about the big concept here.

Moderator: Last one for today, we have Reuven from The City.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor, thank you for taking my question. The NYPD’s 26th Precinct’s Twitter handle in Harlem liked multiple tweets by President Trump and several conspiracy theories. An NYPD spokesperson said that the incident was looked into and the matter has been handled internally. But community activists are asking for the Commissioner to probe what happened and to make those public – those findings public. I was wondering if I can get your take on the issue.

Mayor: Well, it's the first time I'm hearing of it and I – look, there's no place for a precinct Twitter handle to get involved in anything involved in politics, certainly. I don't know what was done here. I don't know what was retweeted. I'd need to see a lot more, but I do think people need to know that all of our precincts, all of our officers are just focused on one thing, which is upholding the law and keeping people safe. So, let me get more information about that because that one would concern me if a particular line was crossed.

Question: Separately, day camps have been open for weeks now. The City has told me that they are tracking COVID cases that are tied back to those camps, but a Health Department spokesperson has told me that they will not release those figures, although also added that there were only a few cases that tied back to those camps. Can you tell me why the City is not releasing that data, especially if it could help to inform parents who are seeking to place their kids in day camp or looking for information regarding what they should do for the upcoming school year?

Mayor: Sure. No, it's a good question. And, look, we've said very clearly about our school system, our public school system, we're going to be very transparent when there are cases. I do think with the camps, we're talking about organizations that are not part of the public sector and there probably are some real legal issues we have to navigate there and confidentiality issues, including about the health status of individual kids, where there are privacy concerns. But I think it's a real fair question. Let us come back to you on that one, both about the structure that we're taking with information and what we're doing to keep those camps safe, going forward and give people the information they need. I appreciate that question and we will get you an answer today.

Everybody, as we conclude here, first of all, just a factual update, I misspoke earlier using the phrase tornado warning. It's a tornado watch, which is less severe than a tornado warning, but doesn't change the basic reality – be aware because, again, even though we don't think of New York City as a place where you have tornadoes, it can happen here. I can personally testify to that and take it seriously. And let's be careful over these next hours. But I think the bigger point here is New York City has gone through so much, not just in these last five months, but lots of other challenges and crises. And we are not – when we look down the barrel of these kinds of realities, New Yorkers stand tough and firm, it's who we are. And I think this is part of why our rebirth will be so strong because we have inherent resiliency as New Yorkers. So, right now we are dealing with stormy skies. Right now, we are dealing with huge challenges, but the future looks very, very different. The future looks very much better. The future is one of economic recovery. The future is one of sustainability and building a city that will lead the world in addressing climate change and a city that will do the work of creating equality and fairness, like never before. That's a future all New Yorkers are ready to be a part of. And that's where our focus is going to be more and more in the weeks and months ahead as we overcome this disease. Thank you so much, everyone.

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