July 6, 2021
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. Well, I can tell you, I saw something wonderful this morning in Flatbush, Brooklyn, P.S. 6. The beginning of Summer Rising, what a wonderful moment. I was there with Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter and our Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong, and it was just beautiful to see kids coming back, getting together with their friends and their teachers for a summer of learning and culture and recreation. A lot of kids coming back for the first time in well over a year. The first time they're getting a chance to be back in a classroom, and what I heard from the principal and teachers was a lot of parents wanted this summer opportunity for their kids to reacclimate to school, to get ready, catch up, but also have a lot of fun this summer. I want everyone to know Summer Rising – this is unprecedented and never been done before in the history of New York City, and it is the wave of the future. We're talking about every child being welcomed to a safe, positive, nurturing environment for the summer – education, recreation, culture, all for free, and this is really going to help kids come back. After everything kids have been through in the pandemic, but it's also a better way for our future. Parents so often have to hassle and worry about what the summer is going to bring, and now they’re going to be able to find a good option. This is something I believe makes a lot of sense to have it be universal and available to all going forward. So, listen, to all the parents out there, and you're still looking for a great option for your kids for the summer and you don't have one yet, you can still sign up this week at schools.nyc.gov/summer. Every parent should know this is there for you and your child, and this is how we build a recovery for all of us, helping every child, every family come back strong.
All right, now – oh, I just wanted to offer a special thank you to everyone at P.S. 6. What a great, great community they have there, and thank you to the principal and the staff who welcomed us, and what an amazing energizing morning. We all got to do the Cha-Cha Slide together as part of our morning activities. Think we're going to institute that at City Hall next.
Okay, now speaking of Summer Rising, we do have another thing rising. That's the heat. So, a heat advisory today beginning at 11:00 AM. So, cooling centers are now up and running. The heat this week looks like it will be less intense than last week, thank God for a shorter period of time, and we expect cooler evenings. So, we're taking this seriously, but it does look noticeably better than what we experienced last week and that's a good thing. So, everyone, if you do need one of those cooling centers, you can call 3-1-1 and they will be available for you.
Okay, now talk to a moment ago about recovery for all of us, a recovery for all of us in every neighborhood, every part of the city. The recovery itself is going to make this city better in so many ways, bringing back jobs, bringing back the life and vitality of the city, and the recovery itself is going to make us safer. But we also know that public safety is crucial to the recovery. So, we are working on all fronts to bring this city back, and we know we've all been through so much, and this has happened all over this country. The horrible, perfect storm of COVID caused so many problems and ills in our society, and we lost so many people, and on top of that unleashed a wave of violence all over the nation and blue states and red states alike all over we’ve seen the same problems, but the solution is to fight back, work with communities, do what we've done before. Things that work like neighborhood policing, precision policing, bringing our social fabric back together. These are the things that will make us safe again. It'll take a lot of work, but it can be done. We introduced a month or more ago, our Safe Summer NYC plan, focused on community investments. I know that Commissioner Shea is with us. He particularly loves the investments in youth sports and recreation. Those have been so powerful for communities. Making sure we have our cops where we need them, precision policing, reopening our courts, bringing them back strong, which is making a huge difference because finally we see the criminal justice system functioning and consequences for folks who have done the wrong thing. So, a lot of progress, but a lot more we have to do.
Now, we want to show you some perspective here with this chart, because we've been through tough times before in this city, go back to the seventies, eighties, nineties, we saw tremendous challenges with violent crime, but this chart is a reminder of the ability of the city to fight back. A huge decline we saw in the nineties. We pushed that down further in the course of this last decade. Now we saw the pandemic take us in the wrong direction, but we're going to turn it around again. Today, we're going to talk about what we saw in the month of June and very important indicators in the month of June, when it comes to what's happened on our streets. Look, we have a long way to go, but we saw some real progress. We saw some change in the month of June, particularly in two crucial categories, shootings and murder, and that speaks volumes to the impact of the work of the NYPD, working with communities, but also the impact of the recovery itself. All of these pieces are starting to work together. So, comparing June of 2021 to June of 2020, shootings down almost 20 percent, number of victims down over 26 percent, murders down 23 percent, a lot more work to do. Overall crime year to date, slightly down, but a lot more work to do, and you've seen some of the indicators lately, major gang takedowns, which you'll hear from the Commissioner on the Time Square Safety Action Plan, which has had a big positive effect, the increased investment in community-based solutions to violence, Crisis Management System, Cure Violence, the impact of the economic recovery, all of these things coming together. So, we see the beginning of something better, and now to tell you about it and particularly to focus on some of the big victories the NYPD has scored with those gang takedowns, my pleasure to introduce Commissioner Dermot Shea.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea: Thank you, Mr. Mayor it seems like old times, I'm here with all the papers spread out in front of me for a crime press conference. It's a great time to take stock, six months into the year, of where we are not only in June, but for the first six months of the year, and I'll talk about that in a moment. But first I'd like to talk about the work that we are doing across a broad spectrum. So, it's – I'll start by just say thank you to Jeff Maddrey and Chauncey Parker for the work that they're doing with the community relations side of the house, I mean it's imperative, and, Mr. Mayor, estimate you touched on it with the work that we're doing with kids first, across the city with community groups across the city. It's integral to what we're trying to do. Then I think of three buckets here, I think that the quality of life that we still have – we've done some good work on, but believe me, I get the complaints, and when you complain and send me those letters and emails, I read them directly so, I know that we still have work to do on a few fronts, but we have made some progress, and then you look at the crime. For June, as the Mayor said we started to reverse the trend that we've been seeing since last May have increased gun violence, and gun violence, make no mistake about it, is where our focus is right now with the NYPD you're seeing it with some of the cases that are coming down. You're seeing it with the continued increase in gun arrests that we're making, and you know why, because it's so important. It devastates families. Not just here, but in other places as well. So, when you see a 20 percent increase, excuse me, decrease in shooting incidents month over month, last June to this June, it's progress, but we know we have so much more work to do. How are we doing it? Well, I mentioned the gun arrests were up 36 percent. We're going to continue to work with our partners to make sure that the message is simple. Anyone that is carrying an illegal firearm in New York City has to have consequences and should be taken off the street. The gang takedowns – the Mayor mentioned the courts coming back, critical to what we're trying to do here. Just in the last 60 days, I'll highlight some of the work for you. We've taken down many, many cases and you can't do it alone. So, we rely on our partners at the state and federal level. We rely on our partners in different prosecutorial offices across the city, but in the last 60 days, seven critical cases have come down. Those seven cases resulted in 94 individuals, and these are the worst of the worst, 94 individuals off the street, and when you look at why they're off the street, directly tied to either gun possessions or acts of violence. How many acts of violence? 43 provable acts of violence charge with those 90 something individuals. That's how we're starting to see the gun violence dip down. A lot more work to come, but I have a hundred percent faith in the men and women of this department. When you look at what we're seeing crime-wise – I'll finish because I know that the questions are going to come and that'll take care of itself. But when you look at the overall crime in June down slightly, and when you look at the year to date through the first six months of this year, down slightly – one percent down in terms of overall crime. And when you look at month over month now for just June, that's what we're seeing about a little increase. Where are we seeing the increase? We’re seeing the increase in stolen cars, a slight increase in robberies, so we know we still have some work to do.
But Mr. Mayor, I know I'm going to get all the questions. I'll leave it there. Just one last thing to highlight to you – I'll head off the preemptive question – when you look at fireworks, believe me, I hear the complaints. So, 9-1-1 and 3-1-1 calls, I think our initiatives bore some fruit. When you look at year-to-date for 3-1-1 calls, down 60 percent over last year. When you look at 9-1-1 calls regarding fireworks, down 71 percent from last year. We know how bad last year was, so we're going to keep at that. Even last night, now past July 4th, we were still seizing some fireworks – a lot of seizures across the city with that. And when you look at the three days, July 3rd, 4th, and 5th shooting incidents in New York City compared to last year – last year, we had 45 shooting incidents – obviously, way too many. We cut that down to 24. More work to do, but we're committed. We're where we're on it with our partners in the criminal justice system and better times ahead. Thank you.
Mayor: Amen. I agree, Commissioner, better times ahead. Congratulations to you and the men and women of NYPD. And, as the Commissioner said, this is work being done with a lot of partners in government and also with partners in the community and focusing constantly on bonding the NYPD with communities, with community leaders, community organizations that are playing such an important role in helping us to fight back violence and make this city safer. So, we see some progress. We’ve got a lot more to do, but we see some real progress. Someone who's been there every step of the way, helping to make sure that there are those community-based solutions to violence and making sure that we make major investments in them. And this has been a big part of the budget we just passed – major, major investments at the community level to bring out solutions from the community, for the community. My pleasure introduce the Chair of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, Council Member Adrienne Adams.
Mayor: Thank you so much, Council Member. And congratulations, this budget that was just passed – and you were a key leader in this effort – really makes profound investments at the community level. It's going to make a big difference this summer and beyond. But also congratulations, because of the next thing I'm going to talk about, which is Summer Youth Employment. Everyone, the City Council really has championed the needs of our young people in summer and recognized how important it is to give kids hope, give them a sense of their own potential and possibility. It's the right thing to do on so many levels and it also is one of the ways to create a whole new and better environment in every neighborhood. So, Summer Youth Employment has been something we've been building now for years. I'm happy to say, this year, we're going to be matching our all-time high of 75,000 young New Yorkers in Summer Youth Employment. It's such a good thing for our young people and it gives them a real chance to find out what their futures are going to be about. And to all of you out there who are employers and if you want to help a young person, I know a lot of people who have come forward this year and said I want to help bring New York City back, I want to contribute in some way – here's a great way to do it. If you're an employer, you can hire a young person this summer. Through the Summer Youth Employment Program, you can give that young person a whole new opportunity and a chance to see their future. Anyone who’s interested, go to nyc.gov/DYCD – nyc.gov/DYCD. Help a young person. And that is the definition of how we create a recovery for all of us.
All right. Now, talk about a recovery, the reason we've gotten this far, the reason we continue to move forward – vaccinations. And really happy to say New Yorkers continued to get vaccinated. The numbers continue to go up. We're almost to 9.5 million doses, really an unimaginable figure when you think about where we started. This has been an amazing effort. Thanks to all the folks out there, the vaccinators, the Test and Trace Corps., everyone who has been a part of this – hospitals, non-profit organizations, community clinics. As of today, 9,497,464 doses given in New York City, and we want that number to keep going up. So, we have incredible contests continuing. We've got $2,500 winners coming this week. We've got the new community-based referral effort for community organizations – the referral bonus, so they can bring money back and throw in communities while helping people get vaccinated. And in-home vaccination, anyone who needs vaccination, brought right to their doorstep. We're doing that now and it works. All of these steps are going to take us forward.
Now, we've got a lot to appreciate, because we're well underway in our recovery. We've got a lot to celebrate and we've got a lot of people to celebrate. So, tomorrow major, major celebration of our hometown heroes. The health care heroes, who, a year ago, and more, saw us through this crisis in the toughest of times. They deserve all the praise we can give them. They deserve a march down the Canyon of Heroes, because it's something that is reserved for the greatest folks in history. Well, here are some of the folks who made history in New York City's toughest hour. Our health care heroes, our first responders, our essential workers, our educators – we're celebrating all of them. So many different types of New Yorkers who are there for us in that incredibly tough moment. They saw us through. Thousands will be marching and on the floats. We want to welcome all New Yorkers to come be a part of it and celebrate our heroes. Kickoff – 11:00 AM at Battery Park and coming right up Broadway through the Canyon of Heroes. Grand Marshal Sandra Lindsay will be there. We're honoring her as the first American vaccinated and someone who really helped to set a message for everyone else on the right thing to do.
Now, we have a little bit of a challenge, because we do have some heat tomorrow in terms of the timing of this parade. Now, it's a heat advisory. We expect, thank God, again, less than what we had last week and less than what we'll have today. So, it's something we have to work with and we are going to make some changes to keep people safe. But it's heat that's less bad than some of what we've had the last few days. We'll be adding additional cooling stations and water stations along the route. We're going to change the plan – instead of having a big ceremony at the end of the parade, we'll have a much smaller stripped-down version of that. We'll be greeting the marchers in the parade, thanking them. Not a big ceremony, but the parade itself, of course, will be the central salute to our heroes. And, everyone, this is going to be memorable. This is going to be memorable. This is going to be a parade for everyday people, for working people who made a difference for this city. So, let's support them. Let's thank them, starting 11:00 AM tomorrow. For more information, go to nyc.gov/hometownheroesnyc.
Okay. Now, let's go over our indicators. As I start, I want to remind everyone, we're seeing some interesting facts here. Continually, the best information is the low, low level of hospitalization and the decline in the hospitalization rate. But we are seeing some different percentages in large measure because the school testing has changed and that was one of the biggest elements of testing we had for months and months. And, obviously, incredibly low positivity in our schools. So, you will see a higher positivity number, but we feel based on all the information, all the data, all the science that we're still well within the range that we need to be in. And, again, particularly good news on the hospitalization side. So, here are today's indicators. Number one, daily number of people admitted to New York City hospitals for suspected COVID-19 – today's report, 58 patients. Confirmed positivity, 13.56 percent. Hospitalization rate per 100,000 – 0.31. Number two, new reported cases on a seven-day average – today’s report, 191 cases. And number three, percentage of people testing positive citywide for COVID-19 – today's report on a seven-day rolling average, 0.89 percent.
Okay. Now, I want to say a few words in Spanish, going back to the progress that's been made in fighting crime. Again, a lot more to do, but this is something to appreciate and celebrate.
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, let's turn to our colleagues in the media and please let me know the name and outlet of each journalist.
Moderator: Good morning. We will now begin our Q-and-A. As a reminder, we are joined by Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter, Dan Gross, Executive Director of Citywide Events, Valerie Mulligan, Deputy Commissioner of DYCD, Emergency Management Commissioner John Scrivani, Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi, and Dr. Mitch Katz, President and CEO of New York City Health + Hospitals. Our first question for today goes to Andrew Siff from WNBC.
Question: [Inaudible] on the call. Hope you can hear me.
Mayor: Can you hear me, Andrew?
Question: Yes. Can you hear me?
Mayor: Yeah. How are you doing, man?
Question: Good. I wanted to ask with regard to the parade – and forgive me if I missed this – do you have a crowd estimate or expectation? I know that in some ticker-tape parades in the past, there've been upwards of a million people along the route. Is this a much more small-scale event in terms of public attendance?
Mayor: Yeah, look, I think it's going to be a healthy attendance, but I don't think it's necessarily going to be those traditional huge attendance for a variety of reasons. Obviously, a lot of people are not yet back at work at those buildings along Broadway, but I think you're going to see a lot of folks come out to support their fellow New Yorkers. And the important thing was, we said this last year, you know, as soon as we could reopen the city, the first thing we had to do was honor the folks who got us here. And I think it's going to be a beautiful celebration. Go ahead, Andrew.
Question: [Inaudible] choice voting – your assessment after the first night results were reported was in line with what a lot of political experts said, which is as long as the first-place leader had a margin of five or higher, or eight or higher, that the ranked choice tabulations typically and historically didn't really matter that much. Well, then we saw the results last week, and, obviously, that's not the case anymore here. Regardless of what happens later today and later this week with the results, what did you and some of the other experts not see in this case?
Mayor: It's – look, first of all, for a lot of us, we're getting used to this. And I do think it's important, Andrew, to say, I expect that most of July will transpire before we are 100 percent settled here with all the various elements of the process, and the certification, and if there's any legal actions, things like that. We'll know, you know, I believe, at some point in July, once and for all, finally, who the Democratic nominee is. But I think we're getting used to this approach. And it's had some pros and cons, but, you know, one of the things that we're going to find out when we actually see everything, including the absentee ballots and all, we'll get a sense of who the winner was and we'll get a sense, obviously, of what the voting patterns were. I want to see, did people use their bullet ballots to the fullest? This is the question for me, the ballots being fully utilized with numbers one to five, really empowering voters versus, you know, the concern I've had all along that maybe a substantial number of voters would only put their first-place choice and not do anything more and waste their vote. So, we need to get that whole analysis to understand fully what happened here and what we need to do about it for the future.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Juliet from 1010 WINS.
Question: Hey. Good morning, Mr. Mayor, and everybody on the call. So, I did want to follow up on the election. Were you disappointed with the turnout in this election, given that this was a mayoral election and election for major New York City posts?
Mayor: No, I – not at all, Juliet. I mean, look, turnout was strong under all the circumstances we're talking about here. We're coming off of COVID, June primaries [inaudible], ranked choice voting, everything in the mix there. I think turnout was strong. I would love to see it keep going up, because, obviously, 2020 was stunning turnout and I'd love to see that become the norm. But I think it's hard to fully assess given all the aberrant realities. So, no, I'd say strong under the circumstances. I want to see us do better going forward. Go ahead.
Question: Okay. And this is both for you and for Commissioner Shea. What do you say to people who continually defy police? You know, we've had incidents at Washington Square Park again over the weekend, people who are not dealing with the curfew and continuing to make noise or not leave. And when they defy police and then they complain when they're getting arrested or getting summons – there are consequences. What do you say to them? And Commissioner, what do you say to them?
Mayor: Yeah, I'll start, and I'll turn to the Commissioner. Look, I think the approach that we have taken, and this goes back years and years, and we've reiterated again now is folks are told really clearly what those boundaries are, and if after getting repeated instructions from police, you ignore those instructions, of course there's going to be consequences. I don't know why some people think it's the right thing to do. It's the wrong thing to do, obviously, you do not ignore the instructions of a police officer, period. But I want to say, Juliet, it's very, very few people. It's a city of 8.5 million people. The vast, vast majority of whom are law abiding and want to work with the police. The number of people you're talking about at this point is really infinitesimal, and we should keep that in perspective. Go ahead, Commissioner.
Commissioner Shea: Yeah, Juliet, I think there's a range when you look at some of these situations we’re seeing. You try to handle it, you know, through a dialogue, maybe it escalates to a summons being issued. So, there's a range of ways that it can be handled, and then, you know, the summonses is, in many ways that should have consequences. Somebody should have to answer to that and pay that summons, whatever it is. But I want to be clear, what we saw again this weekend, was a small number of people actually putting their hands on cops or spitting on a cop. And now we're into a different reality, in my view, and I think somebody should go to jail and I'm going to continue to say that to, in this case the Manhattan DA, or whatever borough it comes up at. There should be stiff consequences, or it is a very slippery slope in incidents like that.
Mayor: Go ahead.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Michael Gartland from the Daily News.
Question: Morning guys.
Mayor: Hey Michael, how you been?
Question: I'm good. A couple of questions, I wanted to ask about a shooting that occurred about a month ago in Bushwick, and the thing about it that that kind of jumped out at me is the fact that in this incident they were three guns involved. And, you know, what I mean, there was a shooting itself, of course, in broad daylight, but the fact that three people felt comfortable enough to carry guns around in the middle of the day and take them out seemed like something we haven't seen before, like three people out of a group of, I don't know, seven or eight. And I was wondering if Commissioner Shea could comment on the fact that it seems like these three people felt that emboldened to do that and talk about, you know, what the deterrence for that should be. I mean, is there enough deterrent to prevent people from feeling comfortable enough carrying guns around in the middle of the day and letting them off in the middle of the day?
Mayor: Yeah, Michael, let me start and turn to the Commissioner. I appreciate the question. I know it's earnest. I'm always a little amazed when people say these things we haven't seen before in New York City. I and many New Yorkers have seen many things like that for a long in this city, it's not something that just started in this new reality. It's unacceptable. We won't stop until it's resolved, but we went through hell this last year, we went through a perfect storm that brought out some things, but I also want to say, unfortunately, we have seen things like this in the past, and the answer is always to fight them back. That's why that chart you saw earlier, Michael, reminding us of what we went through decades ago and how we overcame it, NYPD and communities together, things like CompStat, things like precision policing and neighborhood policing, and we we'll do it again here. I agree with you that there always has to be a sense of consequence, and I think the increased number of gun arrests, the fact that the court system is now functioning better, you see the gang takedowns, you see more and more people who have committed violent crimes going to prison, we need more of that to continue to show people consequences, but I really do begin – believe it has begun in earnest now. Go ahead, Commissioner.
Commissioner Shea: Yeah, Michael, thank you for the question. I mean, I’ve obviously, this is a topic I've spoken about many times. This chart here details gun arrests in New York City. It goes back 23 years. As far back as this chart exists, we've seen more gun arrests in June for the last 23 years, and my belief is it goes even further. For the first six months of this year, we've made more gun arrests in at least the last 23 years. So, to your point, we are seeing more guns on the street. We've made tactical assignments of personnel, whether it's upstaffing at the end of last year into the beginning of this year our Gun Violence Suppression Division, that's how you see these cases come down, targeting the worst of the worst. We also have, obviously, officers out in the right spots, deployed intelligently, operating constitutionally, and making on body camera arrest after arrest after arrest of individuals with illegal firearms. This will change when you start to see consequences. I was at Nathan's this past weekend, as was the Mayor. I'm still scarred for life watching 76 hotdogs be eaten, but you had a large crowd of people and we have not figured out how to do trials or speed the trials up or move that process along quicker over the last 18 months. The Mets beat up on the Yankees this week at Yankees stadium, and we had a packed house. We need to move the courts quicker, particularly and send a message regarding individuals to carry guns. And I would ask how many people have been convicted of an illegal firearm possession in the last 18, 24 months that wound up with them being sentenced to prison, and then you're going to see why criminals feel there's no consequences.
Mayor: Go ahead, Michael.
Question: Thanks for that. The other question I want to ask – and excuse me, if you hear my daughter singing happy birthday to herself in the background –
Mayor: Michael, will you, will you extend an official happy birthday on behalf of all New Yorkers to your daughter, please.
Question: It’s actually tomorrow, it's tomorrow. So, you know, we're wrapping up here. I wanted to ask you when you were elected in 2013, there was, you know, discussion about, is there a mandate, you know, there's a plurality, not a majority vote. You know, there was that kind of discussion back then, and with rank choice, we're seeing, you know, what is now a pretty thin margin and for whoever emerges victorious here, I was wondering if you could talk about kind of the challenges that go along with that? I don't know if you kind of agree with my assessment, you might not, but, you know, I mean, there are going to be some challenges I think for whoever wins because of, you know, how close things are, and I was wondering if you could talk about that and maybe talk about what some of those challenges might be if you kind of agree with the premise there?
Mayor: I don't actually, Michael. You know, in my case, in the primary, it was 41 percent in 2013, and then in the general it was 73 percent, I don't know how you get more of a mandate than that. I found that whole discussion very strange back then, I've been watching elections for a long time. You know, the folks who choose to vote are the stakeholders, and when they make a decision, they make a decision, period. You know, the bigger the margin, the better in terms of clarity, but it does not matter if it's one vote difference that people still decided. So, I would put that aside, I'd say the next mayor will, by definition, have a mandate. They will have gone through a really rigorous selection process and prevailed over a lot of other, you know, talented candidates. They will be the mayor. They will have the mandate, period. Now they need to, of course, work with everyone and, you know, continue to build a sense of as much consensus as possible in this city, particularly as we're recovering. But I just – I find it not accurate to say that a mandate isn't a mandate when it's clear there's been extremely, you know, careful, exhaustive process and someone's a winner, period.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Katie Honan from the Wall Street Journal.
Question: Hey, good morning, Mayor de Blasio. How are you?
Mayor: Good, Katie, how you doing?
Question: I’m good. I have a question, and about tomorrow's parade, is there any specific reason why it was held July? You know, I know hot weather in July, it's not really a big surprise and this isn't tied to a championship or anything. So, considering the heat and how it will affect, you know, I think essential workers probably deserve a huge crowd and a long ceremony. Is there a specific reason why it was July enough later on in the year –
Mayor: Absolutely. It was about us reopening and we said it was going to be one of the first things we did, happened to be July. But in the end, I think it is the right thing to do to honor these heroes, the first available opportunity. You know, look, yeah, its summer, it's hot, but as the Commissioner just said, you know, Yankees Stadium was full this weekend, et cetera, the people are coming out to events. We really need to honor the people that saw us through, and I think they're going to have a great reception and it's going to be a historic moment any way you slice it. Go ahead, Katie.
Question: Thanks, and my second question is speaking of the heat, I had read a story I believe in The Post and a few other places wrote about, what's seen as a lifeguard shortage at city beaches, fewer, I think, a couple hundred fewer than they usually have, and then even what's been popular or what's been seemingly every year at Rockaway Beach, where there seems to be different staffed guards at various beaches, perhaps it's issues with the union. I just wanted to get your take on if there is a lifeguard shortage and if there's a concern because the beaches have been particularly busy?
Mayor: The beaches are safe. There's a national lifeguard shortage. That's a true statement. New York City's done better than most parts of the country, and we have the lifeguards we need for the essential work, which is keeping the beaches and pools safe and having coverage during the hours when they're formally open. We didn't get to do some of the extra programming we would normally do. But we definitely had the core we needed, in fact, we're adding more lifeguards as each week progresses, as people get trained, and they come on duty. So, no, very comfortable that they're safe and we're going to keep hiring people now and build up for the future.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Kristin from the Staten Island Advance.
Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor, how are you today?
Mayor: I'm doing well, Kristin, how you been?
Question: I'm okay. A little rough day today, not going to lie, first day back from vacation –
Mayor: You’re allowed, Kristin, you’re allowed -
Question: Sorry about that. So, I have two questions about cooling centers. We got a question, a few questions actually from some Staten Islanders wondering if pets are allowed at the cooling centers? You know, I checked the city's website, and I can't find anything that says yes or no.
Mayor: All right. Let me turn to Commissioner Scrivani and he's pretty new on the job. Let's see if he knows this one, because I actually can't formally answer that question. So, our Emergency Management Commissioner John Scrivani, what do you say?
Commissioner John Scrivani, Emergency Management: So, Mr. Mayor, you are right. I do not know the answer to that, and I will get that answer immediately and get it back to the, to Kristin and get it on 3-1-1 so we have it available.
Mayor: Yeah, on the website, Kristin, you've done us a public service. Thank you for that, because, obviously, I'm sure some people would not want to go without their pets, and we want to encourage people to come to the cooling centers. Let's figure out how is the right way to do that, and John will update you. Go ahead, Kristin.
Question: Great, thank you. And the second one is about just the availability of the cooling centers on Staten Island. I'm looking at the map and I noticed that the only two centers that are available on the North Shore say that it's for seniors only, and the next nearest one is way out in the Mid Island of Staten Island. And are there any plans to maybe add a more open one that's available to everybody and not just seniors who are looking to cool off?
Mayor: Yeah, I'll turn to John, but just say that's a very fair question. I mean, obviously our particular concern is for seniors. There's been, you know, a real vulnerability there. That's what we're trying to address, first and foremost, but we want to make sure everyone is accommodated, and we will have more centers coming online as library branches are opening up, senior centers opening up, more opportunities for folks, so that's going to keep building. John, you want to speak to the build-out and how we're going to be able to accommodate folks who are not seniors?
Commissioner Scrivani: Yes, sir. Yeah. As the Mayor mentioned, we are adding centers every day. We were adding additional last night as the partners came online. There are libraries that folks can go to that are open to everyone, and I believe all the libraries will be coming online very soon. There are also parks locations. I'm not exactly sure of where the Staten Island one is. I will find out and we will get that information, but we are trying very hard, you know, there are still some locations that have not come online that were used in the past. We were using some schools and we had to cut that back a little bit for this week because the schools are open to the Mayor's announcement earlier to the students. But we are trying hard to get as many locations online as possible.
Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Alex Zimmerman from Chalkbeat.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor, how are you?
Mayor: Good. How you been?
Question: Been doing all right. So, I just had a couple of questions here about Summer Rising. The first one is just we've been hearing from some summer school sites that they didn't get, like, complete rosters of which students are enrolled until the last minute. And therefore, like, didn't have enough staff to accommodate all of the students who were arriving today. We were at one Manhattan site where students were being directed to sit in an auditorium for the day. It also sounds like some community organizations are being asked to accommodate more students than they were contracted for in some cases. And so, I'm just wondering, like, what's being done to staff up the program right now and deal with those situations and how more additional staff are needed.
Mayor: Alex, I’ll turn to Chancellor Porter, but let me say at the outset, look, the underlying reality here is a good thing that a lot of parents and a lot of kids wanted this opportunity. We're over 200,000 now participating in Summer Rising. That really is important because a lot of these kids would not have had another option. And a lot of these kids are kids who, I said earlier, you know, coming back for the first time to a school setting in over a year. We definitely saw a surge of interest. We had to make some additional staffing additions to be able to keep up with that. That's a good thing again, but I'm very confident the resources are there, the staffing’s there. It may take a few days to all sort out in a few schools, but overwhelmingly, I think we've got what we need. Go ahead, Chancellor.
Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter: Yeah, I would agree. You know, we kept the applications open because we wanted to make sure that we could accommodate every family that wanted to be a part of this really important moment in our road back to school, and we have been working all weekend to make sure we are staffed up at all of our sites. Like the Mayor said, there may be a couple of spots that we are still finalizing as we add additional seats, but the goal is to accommodate every family. And we're excited about what we're doing.
Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead, Alex.
Question: Another question just about the planning of Summer Rising. It seems like there were a couple of pretty significant decisions about the program that were made sort of at the last minute here. The Chancellor sent an email to principals last week that were sort of directing schools to expect to enroll sort of everyone off the waitlist who had, you know, expressed interest in a specific site. There was also a last minute decision to reimburse car services for students with disabilities and those in temporary housing that was made right before the program launched. I'm just wondering why some of those, like, really significant questions weren't addressed until the week before the program started.
Mayor: I'll turn to the Chancellor, but Alex, I'd say a couple things again, brand new program. This has never been done before in this city. It's the biggest effort we've ever seen for a summer in this city and exactly the right time for it. So, you're always going to have some things that have to be worked out. We also saw high level demand and a lot of desire from parents to, you know, be in their home school to the maximum extent possible. So, we were really following that demand and making adjustments as we went along. And this is a big endeavor on top of another very big endeavor, which was, you know, ending the school year we were in. So, we definitely have to make some adjustments. We definitely had to learn some things to do better based on what parents were telling us, but I feel good that the pieces are coming together now in a way that will work. Go ahead, Chancellor.
Chancellor Porter: Yeah, I would agree. We will continue to make [inaudible] on the ground as needed, but we wanted me to make decisions at the time that we needed to. I also just want to say we were at – the Mayor and I were at P. S. 6 this morning where we were able to welcome families and students who were so excited about getting back and about Summer Rising. The program they’re offering, the academics in the morning, the enrichment activities, the amazing partnership with the CBO. You know, so – at the end of the day, that's what this is for. That's what this is about. It's about building a bridge back and we will continue to make decisions to ensure that we can support every family who wants to participate.
Mayor: Thank you.
Moderator: We have time for two more questions today. The next question goes to Dana from the New York Times.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor, how are you?
Mayor: Good, Dana. How you been?
Question: I'm okay. Thank you. So, my first question is about coronavirus. As we watched the positivity rate tick up again toward one percent, I'm curious if you anticipate any new guidance about vaccinated people wearing masks inside again. And relatedly, I'm wondering if Dr. Katz can tell us what percentage of the new cases are breakthrough cases in vaccinated people.
Mayor: I'll turn to Dr. Katz and Dr. Chokshi, Dana. The bottom line is we think, based on the data and the science, we're in the right place right now. We'll constantly watch, but you know, we're pushing up now to 9.5 million vaccinations. That number continues to grow. We're seeing, you know, lower and lower hospitalization. That's fantastic. So, I think we're in the right place. If we see any adjustments, we'll make them, but we do not have a plan to make additional adjustments at this point. Go ahead, Dr. Katz then Dr. Chokshi. Do we hear Dr. Katz? He's on mute. You're on mute, Mitch. Come on. You're still on mute. This is the Zoom disease. Do we have him? Okay. We might – can you sub in Dr. Chokshi until we figure this out? Mitch –
President Katz: Mitch, can you hear me now?
Mayor: There we go.
President Katz: Okay. So sorry. The important thing to keep in mind is that there is less testing going on right now [inaudible] because people know that they are protected from the vaccine, by the vaccine. So, people are generally less concerned about going for testing. So, that's affecting the positivity rate. The rate of people who are hospitalized, which is really what we care about, remains very low. The vaccines are doing their work. Yes, there are breakthrough cases. I don't have data on what percent are breakthrough cases. But what we know is that when people are vaccinated, even if they are positive for the virus, they don't get seriously ill. And again, that's what we care about, keeping people alive, saving lives. And so, we want to keep pushing on the vaccination. The vaccinations work for the Delta variant. The Delta variant is just more contagious and so poses a greater risk for the unvaccinated. So, I don't see that we're going to make any recommendations to have vaccinated people wear masks. The problem is unvaccinated people. They're the ones who are generally getting infected. Thank you, sir.
Mayor: Thank you. Dr. Chokshi, you want to add?
Commissioner Chokshi: Yes, sir. Well, first as you, as a Mayor, and Dr. Katz have said, test positivity is becoming a little bit less valuable as a metric as testing patterns change, but that's why we do also follow the other important indicators, particularly cases and hospitalizations, and those remain steady at this moment. Although we are concerned about the Delta variant, particularly for unvaccinated people, as Dr. Katz has mentioned. With respect to what we're seeing with respect to cases and hospitalizations among unvaccinated versus vaccinated people, the pattern is very clear. For both cases and hospitalizations, the vast, vast majority of those are occurring in people who are not yet fully vaccinated. And that's why you've heard the emphasis from us both today, as well as in previous weeks, that the single most important thing that we can do to protect individuals as well as for the city as a whole is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.
Mayor: Thank you very much. Go ahead, Dana.
Question: Thank you. And if Commissioner Shea is still on the line, I have a question for him –
Mayor: He’s sitting right next to me. It's even better than on-the-line. He's sitting here.
Question: Yeah. Even better. I forgot about that. So, the police have said that gangs play a big role in gun violence, but the gang takedown so far involved relatively few crimes, 43 when there were 1,600 shootings last year. So, can you give us some numbers on gang shootings and murders over the last 18 months, and why you think this takedown strategy is effective and also just how the pandemic and conversation around policing is affecting your approach?
Commissioner Shea: A lot of questions. You snuck three questions into one. On the gang issue, it's been consistent in – you know, I'll go back to our time together last eight years, for sure, and probably longer than that. The gangs are the focus. When you look at the shootings that we have, we attribute easily, you know, roughly half of the shootings to gang related and the number is higher. And I feel very confident in saying that. It's a matter though of sometimes you're dealing with individuals that don't cooperate, you're dealing with not knowing who the true target is. You're dealing with a lot of variables, but rest assured you know, gang related is the majority of our shootings. We don't see it as high in homicides. There you get into a lot of different factors at times. You know, domestic in nature, spur of the moment disputes that sometimes end horribly.
It is a factor in homicides, but not as high as we see in the shootings. Regarding the 43 acts of violence. I think it's important to note there, that's what we're proving. That's what we're charging. The number is much higher. And again, this is at the heart of precision policing, what we put into place a number of years ago, with that core concept, which is the fact, that it's a small number of people, whether you're talking burglaries, robberies, recidivism, stealing cars, or unfortunately with gunplay, it's a small number of people that can do an awful lot of damage to communities. And we see it over and over again.
So, when we choose these cases and work with our partners in the criminal justice system, to make these tough decisions, who do we go after, it is with that in mind and we pick very carefully. That's why, when you see some of these cases, I didn't read the numbers to you, but you know, one case is 19 subjects. One is 21. One is eight. One is four. One is 17. They’re not the cases you used to see of 50, 100 people. It's small, concentrated on the people doing the most. And although it’s charging 43 acts of violence, believe me, these individuals do not walk out of their house to the earlier call without a firearm being readily accessible, whether it's in the car or stashed nearby. I'm not saying anything that the people that live on the block don't know, and this is why it is so important to get these worst of the worst off the streets. To the pandemic question, Lord, we could spend hours on that. And I know the Mayor has other things to talk about.
Mayor: That is a true statement. Okay. Go ahead.
Moderator: Our last question for today goes to Nolan from the New York Post.
Question: Good morning, everybody.
Mayor: Good morning, Nolan. How you doing?
Question: I'm all right, Mr. Mayor. I'm all right. I'd like to start off with a couple of clarification questions if I might. If you'll indulge me. You've talked about declines in shootings and murders, but you haven't provided the actual numbers. So, what was the number of shooting incidents, the number of shooting victims, the number of homicides in this most recently completed month? And secondly, Commissioner, you didn't provide Dana a number. So, how many of those shootings that you just discussed had either a confirmed or suspected gang member pulling the trigger?
Mayor: The Commissioner will go over that briefly, but just confirming this information is all up now publicly. So, the Commissioner will review it, but for you, Nolan, and everyone else, the details are up publicly. Go ahead.
Commissioner Shea: We have – I think we have more transparency than most departments in terms of all our dashboards. All this should be readily available to not just the press, but to the public. For murders, I'll start with – and the murder number, remember, does change as, unfortunately, people that may have been suffered injuries will die at a later date or rulings come in from the medical examiner. But as of right now, for the month of June, 33 recorded murders, that's down from 43 last year. When you look at shooting incidents, and this is an incident where somebody is hit by gunfire, 165 for the June of 2021, that's down from 205, which is approximately a 20 percent drop. Again, we're moving, we have policies put into place, we’re dealing with a lot of complicated issues and we are – no one knows it more than the Mayor that I am never satisfied. I'm not happy with that current level, but it is progress. And that's what's important here. And to the question about how many of the – if you're referring to the 43 acts of violence, a hundred percent. Every one of these individuals is involved in a gang. These are gang takedowns. They span four of the five boroughs in New York City. These are not the only cases that came down in the last two months, but these are the most concentrated. Most of these cases, not all, most of them were done by our Violence Reduction Taskforce. And these are going after the worst of the worst.
Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead, Nolan.
Question: All right. Sorry. I think there was a bit of confusion there. I was asking about the broader number of shootings. How many of those have you tied back to someone who is either suspected or confirmed of having gang affiliation. But I do have another question I'd like to ask. And you brought the former Chief of the Department, Terry Monahan, over to City Hall. He's employed by the Economic Development Corporation. He's also gotten to keep his – to claim his Police Department pension. So, he's making give or take $200,000 a year more now than he was making at the PD. And I'm wondering what are the taxpayers getting for that extra $200,000 a year?
Mayor: A pension is a pension. It's not salary. He had that pension coming due to him either way. The work he's doing here has been extremely helpful. He's working very closely with the business community to help ensure a maximum comeback of businesses and jobs in the city. It's been very, very valuable in terms of making sure we're responding to the concerns of businesses, helping them get going, addressing their security concerns. I'm very satisfied, this has been important to everything we're doing as part of our recovery. So, what we're seeing now, thank God, is an increasingly strong economy. We're seeing jobs come back in this city. We're seeing businesses come back more intensely. We have our new quick-start approach to help them come back more quickly. These are all things we need to do as part of our recovery. And just conclude today to say, you know, here's a day where we are talking about a lot of the issues that are necessary for our recovery and moving the city forward, whether it's addressing public safety, whether it's intensifying vaccination, or doing things like giving kids a safe place to be this summer with Summer Rising. A lot going on, but what it all adds up to is a recovery for all of us. Thank you, everybody.