This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Monday, April 20th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.
Read our guide to understanding New York on PAUSE, NY's stay-at-home order; a look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.
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DOE Reports More Deaths
2:30 p.m. The Department of Education on Monday reported that an additional 13 employees have died from coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths across the DOE to 63.
Of those known to have died, at least 51 worked regularly in classrooms: 26 were paraprofessionals who provide classroom support and 25 were teachers. The DOE has not identified the individuals nor the schools. But the teachers union, United Federation of Teachers, has been posting tributes on its website of those known to have died from the disease.
"This is painful news for too many of our communities—each number represents a life, a member of one our schools or offices, and the pain their loved ones are experiencing is unimaginable," said Richard Carranza, the New York City schools chancellor. "We will be there to support our students and staff in any way they need, including remote crisis and grief counseling each day. We mourn these losses and will not forget the impact each person had on our DOE family.”
Following calls from union members and council members to disclose the number of deaths, the department last Monday finally released data, announcing that 50 DOE employees had died.
The DOE will provide an updated death toll every Monday, according to a press release.
DOE officials have cautioned the public from assuming that infections occurred at schools, citing widespread transmission in communities. "The NYC Health Department cannot confirm the details or locations of exposure for every case, and is not confirming individual cases," read last Monday's press release.
Almost 135,000 people work full-time in the city’s public school system, according to the DOE website.
The DOE's coronavirus death tally does not include school safety agents, who are NYPD employees, that have died from COVID-19. The DOE said that it was reaching out to individual families before releasing that information.
Cuomo Urges Federal Government To Give Hazard Pay To Frontline Workers
1:10 p.m. Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday urged the federal government to compensate municipal essential workers with a 50 percent hazard pay bonus for serving on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, staking out a progressive policy response to a crisis that has disproportionately affected low-wage and minority workers.
"Thanks is nice, but recognition of their efforts and sacrifice is also appropriate," he said during a press briefing, citing healthcare workers, transit workers, police, fire fighters, and other first responders. "They are the ones carrying us through this crisis."
He said 41 percent of frontline workers in the state are minorities, while two-thirds are women. Of the women workers, one half are from low income households, he added.
Data from across the country has suggested that the virus has proven to be more deadly for black Americans. On Friday, New York City released data showing that black residents, who make up 22 percent of the city's population, represent about 33 percent of coronavirus deaths. Latinos, who make up 29 percent of the city’s population, account for about 28 percent of those deaths.
The city also revealed that in non-hospitalized cases, blacks in New York City are infected with coronavirus at nearly twice the rate as whites.
On Monday, he announced a state partnership with Ready Responders, a company that provides healthcare through telehealth and home visits, to serve New York City Housing Authority residents. The pilot program, which involved Congressional representative Greg Meeks and Hakeem Jeffries as well as state elected officials, will start this week at eight public housing complexes.
Cuomo said the state would also distribute 500,000 cloth masks to NYCHA residents as well as 10,000 gallons of hand sanitizer.
More than 400,000 people live in NYCHA's 326 housing developments, which have suffered from years of neglect and public mismanagement. On Saturday, four weeks into the crisis, Greg Russ, chairman of the NYCHA board, disclosed that six NYCHA workers had died, while 260 have been infected.
Before Cuomo's press conference, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that the city was launching a free testing pilot at a NYCHA community center in Southeast Queens this week. Details were yet to be released.
The governor began the press conference with a call for government to "reimagine" New York in the post pandemic era. Similar to his effort to coordinate actions in the region with neighboring states, he said he would tap a task force consisting of de Blasio and county executives to focus on downstate New York.
The indications are now showing that the spread of the disease is on the decline in New York, with total hospitalizations trending downward. On Monday, the state reported 478 more people as having died of coronavirus, marking the the first time the one-day toll fell below 500 since April 2nd.
At least 14,347 have died from the virus statewide. The number is an undercount as the state has yet to include people who died at home of suspected coronavirus complications.
De Blasio Cancels Puerto Rican Day Parade And NYC Pride March
10:40 a.m. Mayor Bill De Blasio announced that the city would cancel permits for city events, including the NYC Pride March and the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, in June. Last week, he said that all city-permitted events for May would be scrapped.
During a press conference on Monday, De Blasio said the events would be postponed for a later date.
"We’re going to do it when it’s the right time," he said.
The NYC Pride March, scheduled for June 28th, would have marked the 50th anniversary of the event.
De Blasio has said that the city will gradually reopen its economy, which is contingent on the rollout of widespread testing.
De Blasio began his briefing by warning that New York City hospitals will run out of surgical gowns by the end of this week. In the absence of gowns, some hospitals have resorted to using coveralls.
"But even with the fallbacks, we are not sure we are going to have enough to get to Sunday of this week," the mayor said. "That’s how tight the situation is."
The city is still scrambling to secure personal protective equipment even as new coronavirus hospitalizations decrease.
On Monday, the city reported that the daily number of patients admitted for COVID-19 fell 33 percent on Saturday, from 317 to 212. In another encouraging sign, the number of 911 calls have dropped by 46 percent over the last three weeks, from 6,527 medical emergencies in one day to 3,485.
The federal government has itself experienced a shortage of surgical gowns in its stockpile and had previously provided the city with 265,000 Tyvek suits, a number that the mayor called "substantial" but which he said would still not be sufficient going forward.
As another substitution, federal officials have also agreed to provide the city with fabric to make 400,000 surgical gowns, but de Blasio said those will not be ready until May 23rd.
The mayor once again faulted the White House with failing to use the Defense Production Act, which would order private companies to make needed medical equipment. (On Sunday, President Donald Trump announced that he would use the act to compel a Maine company to manufacture swabs for diagnostic testing.)
"Imagine the greatest country in the world...and we can’t get surgical gowns to our largest city," he said.
Confronting A $7 Billion Budget Hole, De Blasio Tries To Provoke Trump Into Providing Aid
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday appealed once again to President Donald Trump for direct federal funding to keep New York City running amidst the coronavirus crisis, citing $3.5 billion in expenses that will have to be incurred to fight the disease.
Appearing on MSNBC, de Blasio said the city had lost $7 billion in tax revenues and that the city needs money for basic services as well as to perform "hundreds of thousands of tests a day" before it can reopen its economy.
"How am I going to pay for first responders?" he said. "We’re not going to make it if we don't get help from the federal government."
He added: “Donald Trump is literally silent, he doesn’t seem to care.”
De Blasio appeared to continue his strategy of trying to goad Trump as Congress and the White House near a deal on the next stimulus bill, which will not include any direct aid to states and municipalities.
On Sunday, he compared Trump to former president Gerald Ford, who in 1975 infamously refused to sign a bill to prevent New York City from going into bankruptcy.
“So my question is, Mr. Trump, Mr. President, are you going to save New York City or are you telling New York City to drop dead?" he asked during his daily press briefing on Sunday. He later followed up his remarks with a series of tweets.
That evening, de Blasio appeared on MSNBC and said that Trump was "leaving New York City high and dry."
Trump has not responded to de Blasio's attacks, preferring to focus on Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose popularity has soared amid the crisis.
Last week, in the middle of Cuomo's press briefing, Trump criticized Cuomo in a tweet for allegedly "complaining" rather than taking action.
After saying that he would not engage in a battle against the president, Cuomo delivered a scathing attack against him for failing to manage a national public health emergency.
"If he’s sitting down and watching TV, maybe he should get up and go to work," he said.