Park Row, Downtown, Blue Room, City Hall, New York City, New York
Good day everyone on the call.
Not long ago, the NYC Council cronies ratified a bill into law that revoked the NYPD from issuing press credentials to journalists, a truly historically groundbreaking paradigm shift in city policy of what was a standard procedure for approving access to events, briefings and police crime scenes for decades. This came about after the NYPD basically sabotaged themselves last summer and in the following months when reporters became collateral damage as they got caught up in the throes of the NYPD’s overtly aggressive militaristic tactics battling and kettling protesters during last summer’s George Floyd protests and various BLM demonstrations and rallies that followed that have occurred in later months. Thanks to the menacing optics of a police state in NYC, it actually justified the necessity of this bill.
So now in a year’s time, the issuing of press passes will be approved by the officials inside the Mayor’s Office of
Film And Television Movies And Entertainment. While it sounds progressive and better than having a law enforcement agency determining the qualifications of a news source and who they assign, in essence the determination of who is a journalist or not will be mostly under the purview of the Mayor of New York City.
Why this is being brought up now is to illustrate what an actual danger this will be considering who is mayor as well as who the next mayor will be. And in the last week since this transfer of press duties was ratified, Mayor de Blasio is setting up a very dangerous precedent with his office’s recent actions regarding his daily briefings. Actually it even started days when the press cred bill was being written up.
Back in January, de Blasio put out a 25 minute b-roll video and passed it out as his State of the City address. Entitled “A Recovery For All Of Us”, the overarching theme of the video was about how the city will make a gloriously historic comeback from the pandemic, optically highlighting programs and policies that will be dispensed equitably that will return the city to normalcy (or at least a semblance of it). In the last 3 months since his office produced that feature, The Blaz has with persistent repetition brought up his “recovery for all of us” during his briefings, aligning his brand title with his self-proclaimed gold standard re-opening of schools and revival of city culture with the widening spread of vaccine distribution.
But The Blaz’s recovery, well the “recovery for all of us”, has hit some snags. The vaccine distribution has been not been as equitably distributed, as higher income neighborhoods have received the vaccine than lower income areas and the school re-openings have resembled more of a brown standard than gold according to frustrated parents and students. Then there was the sudden vanishing of the COVID case data map for three days after it revealed about 30 zip codes with over 15% of the population with positive cases, which revealed that even with hundreds of thousands of citizens inoculated, the contagion was still prevalent and persistent.
As for the contagion, COVID-19 as evolved to four different variants, including a New York strain for fuck’s sake. But it’s the UK strain that’s been the most stubborn as cases continue to plateau again in the five boroughs despite the prevalence of vaccines. What’s disturbing about these variants is how they mostly effect younger people.
About those vaccines, there’s been a little hitch there too, especially with Johnson and Johnson brands. If there wasn’t a problem with them being 30% less effective than the Moderna and Pfizer vacs, the Big Pharma corporation recently had to trash 15 million vaccines because they got mixed up with another brand at the warehouse building where both were being manufactured. It should be noted that the warehouse wasn’t even approved by the FDA.
The FUGAZIed vaccines presents a major quagmire for The Blaz, because he has been utterly dependent on these vacs for the recovery for all of us in New York City. And he was surely hedging his bets for them to correlate nicely with his recent decision to bring all his city employees working remotely from of their $2,500 studio apartments and back to the city offices in the merry month of May even though commercial office buildings still have to follow pandemic guidelines and keep staff levels low.
Somehow, having all city employees back in municipal buildings is tied to de Blasio’s recovery, along with his mission to revive NYC culture by having entertainment spring up on the streets and to open up Broadway by prioritizing vaccine access to theater workers and entertainers with mobile sites.
The Blaz has to explain how all this is going to work and because of his notorious proclivity for being secretive and unaccountable when it comes to his policies and decisions. When he does his weekday media availability (even that sounds Orwellian), it airs on the city’s station on Channel 25 and streams live on the Mayor’s Office youtube channel. Then the Mayor’s Office uploads the entire video to their channel not long after it’s done before noon. But on three recent uploads, de Blasio’s and even his crack quack health commission squad of Dr. Chokshi, Dr. Varma and Dr. Katz responses to questions regarding recovery and COVID cases were suddenly memory holed.
Fortunately, the Mayor’s Office website has the entire transcript of his daily briefings, which makes the butchering of these videos a fool’s errand (especially when the one giving the orders is a fool), but not necessarily moot because the video medium is still the one people go to and is easily available, so it makes sense from the standpoint of a scoundrel looking to cover his ass even though it won’t stop anyone from releasing his words in full. Like on this blog here.
All the statements and misinformation that the Blaz found too incriminating, contradictory, and/or stupid will be hyperlinked and written in bold type.
When Andrea Grymes of CBS New York asked him a basic question about his decision to bring his entire administration back to the office, de Blasio’s response was immediately abrupted and then it suddenly went to a zoom vid response from Health and Hospitals commissioner Dr. Mitchell Katz talking about vacs and then Dr. Chokshi telling us to wash our hands and distance for the millionth time.
Mayor: Great. Thank you. Go ahead, Andrea.
Question: Thank you. And my other question, I know you’ve advocated for a slower reopening in certain sectors in the state, I’m curious why now you feel like it’s good to bring the office workers back, May 3rd, why now?
Mayor: Different realities that I think need to be handled different. It’s a great question, Andrea. I – look, I believe we have proven, for example, with our schools we have the gold standard of health and safety, and now we have the CDC saying even further we can bring back more kids to our schools. And in fact, what our health care leaders always say, that’s in the interest of health of our children and our families, mental health, physical health, to get them back in school. I think with our public workforce, we need them to come back to their offices. We’ll make more impact that way. We’ll serve more people that way. I think they’ll send a powerful message to the city about our comeback as well, but there are some areas that need to be handled differently. Obviously, our health care team vehemently disagreed with the Governor and the State of New York on reopening fitness classes, which are very different than schools, very different than offices. Why? Because people are in the middle of exertion, physical exertion, they’re expending a lot of a breath. They’re not, in some cases going to be wearing masks, we all know that, or they’re going to have masks that have gotten wet and are not effective. They’re in small, enclosed spaces, that did not make sense, and I hope that we’ll be reconsidered. Equally, I’ve said the other day, we’ve gone far enough on indoor dining. Thank God, you know, one thing I’m very proud of, we have outdoor dining for every restaurant that wants to take advantage of it. We’re – there’s takeout and delivery and restaurants up to 50 percent. That’s enough to keep everyone safe. Again, a setting where people take off their mask because they’re eating and drinking, special limits and carrier needs to be taken there, while we see what happens with the next weeks as we deal with some outstanding questions like the variants. So, it really depends on the specific activity and how you can apply the health and safety measures to it. That’s my quick overview. I just want to see if Dr. Chokshi wants to add anything?
Commissioner Dave Chokshi, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Sir, nothing to add to what you’ve said.
Mayor: Okay, great. Thank you. Go ahead.
The only time the Blaz actually answered Ms. Grymes question about lifting restrictions for city office workers during his blathering talking point dominated response was a bunch of distinguished theories about exerted breath emissions in gyms and restaurants which was as ludicrous and dangerous as his imbecilic theory that the virus spreads more in upstate New York than in Manhattan as the pandemic was starting a year ago. Dr. Chokshi, who has been quite a reliable patsy defender for Hizzoner’s pandemic decisions, wisely decided to not to legitimize the Blaz’s epidemiological brain farts. Chokshi will need a new job once the Blaz is gone on Jan. 1.
Not only did de Blasio keep Grymes question off the video record, but his aides also deleted questions from three other reporters and 7 other de Blasio responses, including responses from Dr. Varma and Dr. Chokshi. At least 20 minutes of public information regarding the pandemic and the Mayor’s recovery plan were redacted. Starting with Micheal Gartland, City Hall reporter of the NY Daily News, who inquired about the Mayor’s brand new Racial Justice Commission. It should be pointed out here that the majority of questions here focus on this addition to the already oversaturated bureaucracy that’s in de Blasio’s administration.
Moderator: Next up is Michael from the Daily News.
Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor: Hey Michael, how are you, been?
Question: I’m good. Thanks for getting me in with the questions this morning. I wanted to ask you a question about the commission, and this is where you and Jennifer Jones Austin. Jennifer talked about the need to dismantle systems that enable racism. So, my question is, you know, in city government, what are the systems that enable racism? What do we need to dismantle here and how do we go doing that?
Mayor: Well, you’re asking the giant question, Michael, that in fact is the reason we need this commission. I’ll turn to Jennifer for her views, but I’ll just start by saying this is historic work, historic because it’s never been attempted anywhere in the country on this scale before, but historic also because it requires looking at the big picture in a way that we just don’t do in the day-to-day work of government. A piece of this equation you saw recently in the work that Jennifer and her colleagues did working with the NYPD, a very important beginning, and I commend Commissioner Dermot Shea, who, you know, and his speech at the greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce issued a formal apology for the institutional racism that had existed in the NYPD and still needs to be weeded out, and obviously, in the letter that he wrote accompanying the second reform report. This is something that you’ve never seen before from a police commissioner. I think it was a very important contribution that was accompanied by a whole host of tangible reforms to address issues, not just structural racism, but a host of issues. I think that is an indicator of the shape of things to come. The commission’s going to look at everything. So, I said, every city agency, the work of the city, the City Charter itself, but they’re also going to invite in the private sector, cultural sector, the academic sector, that they can participate and step forward with their own acknowledgements and their own action plans and work with the commission on that, which I think is another really exciting part of this work. So, I think, you know, hugely important mission that this commission will now shape together and then bring to the people of this city. Jennifer, you want to add?
Chair Austin: Yes, I very much appreciate the question and I very much appreciate your response Mayor. You know, we, we don’t yet know all that we need to know, but what we do know is that in this nation, time and time again there have been laws, there have been policies, practices that have been designed and implemented. And while, sometimes at face may not seem to be racist or discriminatory in nature, the impact is all – points to racism at every turn. And so, what we’re going to be doing is looking at our laws, our policies, our practices, the systems that hold these laws, policies, and practices up and trying to really get at what is, you know, is it the design that is problematic? Is it the law in itself? How do we need to message it or do things differently so that the outcomes, the impact that results, is not disparate, is not discriminatory? Much work to be done, but we have enough evidence in places and spaces here in New York City and around the nation that tells us this is the work we need to do.
Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead, Michael.
Question: That, and I have a question on the May 3rd reopening. You know, I understand that the commission is tasked with kind of identifying these things, but you know, these systems, I mean, it seems like you do have some sense of what they are, and I’m wondering if, you know, is there a reluctance to kind of talk about them on the front end to get more information or can you just kind of share some sense of where you think you’ll be focused on, you know, their particular laws or policies in general you know, that you’re looking at kind of taking on, and then I have another.
Mayor: Yeah, no, Michael, this, respectfully, is your second question, so, let’s stay there, and we can, you know, the team will follow up with you on other matters. The – look, here’s what I’d say, if you look across city agencies, you will see issues have been raised by leaders, by community members for a long time. We all know a lot of work went into changing the composition of the Fire Department. That work needs to deepen. We all know there’ve been real issues with the Department of Education, ensuring diversity at all ranks of the department, looking at the curriculum. Even something you might not think about at first blush, but it’s been in the news a lot lately. How we go about preserving the city’s history, the work of our Landmarks Preservation Commission, but ensuring it is focused on everyone’s history, you know, the folks who built this city, the communities of color that often were left out of previous official histories. It really is across all areas. So, there’s not, again, there’s not a litmus test. There’s not a preexisting mandate to act on this specific issue. This commission has got a lot to do, but its job is to look across the whole city government to look at the very foundational document of the city, which is our charter. But again, also to invite in non-city actors to join in this effort and to work on their own issues with us as well, and I think a lot of people are going to want to be a part of this, Michael, I think this is historic. It’s the right moment in history where people need to come to grips with this, and this is going to be the vehicle to do it. Jennifer, would you like to add?
Chair Austin: I will simply add that we’re moving into this and we’re doing this work because we know as you just pointed to that, there are examples that can be done here and there that have devastated communities, individuals, families, and so we have enough of what we’ve experienced to help us appreciate the importance of leaning in, but there is no, there’s no report that’s yet been written that is not yet being surfaced. That’s not what we’re doing here, and we are going to remain as open as we possibly can so that we don’t miss critical issues.
Apparently, going by these opaque responses, this racial justice commission has no plan and no indications of how to determine what’s can be construed as racist. But plenty of answers on how the implementation of this plan is so historic.
If there is an indication of why the Blaz and Ms. Austin thinks the city needs this commission now and will be able to crack down on internecine racism in civic and government services, it’s obviously tied to the Blaz’s order to lift COVID restrictions and fill up municipal office space again, as if this racial justice commission can’t stop racism on zoom for a few more months.
Now back into the memory hole as he fields then will later vanish questions from Steve Burns from WCBS880 who brings up the Blaz’s contradictory and health risky May reopening and the extremely belated arrival of the racial justice commission.
Mayor: Go ahead.
Moderator: We have time for two more. First, we’ll go to Steve from WCBS Radio.
Question: Hey, good morning, Mr. Mayor, how are you?
Mayor: Good, Steve, how you been?
Question: I’m alright. First on the return to work here. I take it, there’s some amount of signaling and messaging here as well to New York’s larger business community that it would be okay to bring their workers back as well, that the city is doing it. How amenable or flexible do you think they’ll be, given we just saw the Partnership for New York City survey saying half of workers still won’t be back by September, still going to be a lot of hybrid working, if you will, going forward. How flexible do you think, and do you hope, New York’s broader workforce will be based on what the city is doing here?
Mayor: It’s a great question, Steve, first of all, I mean, we saw in the news earlier today about Morgan Stanley bringing back a lot of its workforce. You’re seeing more and more of these announcements. I think we should separate the question of, you know, blending and hybrid of in-office and remote work. I think you are going to see every company approach that differently, how much they need their folks full-time in the office, part-time in the office, some days, other days, you know, that every different company is going to work out. Let’s put that question aside. I think the question I would focus on that you raise is, are folks ready to start bringing back the workforce in whatever way makes sense, as quickly as possible? I certainly want to encourage that. We’re going to have five million people vaccinated by June. I think for a lot of companies they’ll make that decision to act in the next few months. I think a lot of other companies are going to wait until September as the natural inflection point with schools coming back fully, et cetera. But what we do see is this issue is now on the front burner, Steve. Companies are now seeing it’s time to come back. It’s time to recognize that there’s progress happening, and it’s going to help companies to do their work, and it’s going to help surrounding communities to have those workers back and it’s going to help small businesses. So, I think you’re going to see a lot more of that in the coming next few months. Go ahead, Steve.
Question: Thanks for that. On the Racial Justice Commission here. This is a concept that I remember you raised almost a year ago now during the protests, and now that it’s coming to fruition here, you know, nine months later. So, the process means it’ll fall to the next mayor to implement this and inherit this. Is there a reason why there was such a delay here to make this so that it falls to the next mayor to really see the results here?
Mayor: I don’t – I appreciate the question, but I wouldn’t agree with the way of framing it. So, this Commission, we’re going to set it up, that they can continue their work through this year and if they choose to into next year, and I think whoever the next mayor is, is going to value this work, and certainly look at these extraordinary leaders who are part of this Commission. But the Commission plans on by the end of the year, doing a report, and at that point, determining what steps they’re recommending initially. They, again, can easily continue that work. There’s a lot to do here that could play out over multiple years, but they will have a body of work this year and the ability to send items to the ballot. So, I have no question in my mind, you’re going to see a lot of high-impact work, and then I would advise in advance, since we don’t know who the next mayor is going to be, I would advise them to take this model and keep running with it because this is work that we need to do until the mission is done, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s worth putting several years of effort in to.
It has been suspected for quite some time that Mayor Big Slow is just biding his time until his term is up and also that his programs were designed for the next mayor to take over (like his affordable housing ruse program) and it’s clear that this was the plan for this commission too, which seems like another ruse and an excuse for de Blasio to have allies in house when the new mayor is elected. (Unless that mayor is a Republican).
The whole thing, for lack of a better term, looks like a shit sandwich and smells like it. And it sure sounds like Henry Goldman of Bloomberg News caught a whiff of the stench too in his last questions that were annihilated from the public record
Moderator: Last, we’ll go to Henry from Bloomberg.
Question: Mr. Mayor, how are you doing today?
Mayor: Hey, Henry, how you been?
Question: I’m good. I guess my question is very similar to the last question. But I would also frame it differently than either one of you, which is –
Mayor: Yeah, Henry, that is you being yourself right there. (Such a snotty, classless dig)
Question: I guess so. In 2013, you ran this campaign that was on this whole insight that economic inequality is one of the central issues with not the issue of our time, and now it’s 2021, and we’re getting a commission to identify the areas in which economic and racial inequality has kept society’s foot on the neck of people of races other than white races. So, I’m just wondering, given the fact that this was central to your reason for running for office, why are we getting this commission at this late date?
Mayor: Henry, you know, we, here’s, here’s the summation of how I’ve followed through on the vision of attacking the tale of two cities. We have redistributed now tens of billions of dollars to working people and communities of color. We fundamentally changed education with Pre-K for all, and now 3-K. Fundamentally changed the approach to affordable housing. You go down the list of things, obviously the police reforms, you know, that work followed through on the initial vision that I brought to office, but what has happened in the meantime is a deeper understanding of the fact that institutional and structural racism require not just a set of policy changes or not even individual and profound acts of redistribution, but the entire structure now has to be questioned, and as I said, right down to each agency in the city government, each major institution of our society, and the city charter and the city’s laws itself – this is a deepening of the original mission, and as we’ve done this work, I think I’ve certainly been satisfied, the impact of each major policy change that really is reaching, you know, hundreds of thousands or millions of people. But I also become more and more convinced that we have to look at the entire structure and identify even more profound changes. So, I think this commission will do it. It’s obviously the first in the nation. I think it will be a model for other places in the country, and I also think it’ll be really tough work because it’s never been done before, but I have faith that this group of people will find a way forward for us. Go ahead, Henry.
Chair Austin: May I just add one thing to that.
Mayor: No, please. I’m sorry, Jennifer. My apologies.
Chair Austin: I just want to add that, I mean, we all know, we all are appreciating more and more that structural and institutional racism in this country has been in, has been in place and has been built upon now for better than 400 years. To even begin to suggest that in seven years we would dismantle it in its entirety – you know, we can’t get into that. We can’t get into that. We need to center on what needs to be done in this moment to deepen our work, to look at these structural barriers, that even when we put new policies and initiatives in place will not get us where we ultimately need to be, and so this needs to be a time where we are building on the significant work that has been done and not getting too much into well did we not do enough, or did we not do the right thing?
This Miss Austin is quite a character. She’s seems more adept at running protection for the mayor, herself and this commission they concocted at the last minute than solving racial justice. But what’s interesting is how she weasels an excuse about how you can’t solve 400 years of racism in 7 years, but apparently it’s possible in 7 months and change. And in the hopes of another 4 years if the mayor they want to win emerges victorious.
Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead, Henry.
Question: Okay, I mean, I don’t want it to really be literate, but a few years ago I was, you know, in front of the Justice Department and the demonstration, and 98 percent of the people who surrounded me weren’t aware that it was structural racism that was causing a lot of this country’s problems and inability to confront things. Maybe it was 97 percent, I don’t know. (Shaaaaade)
But here here’s my second question. It has to do with the stubbornness again of these positivity rates and infection rates, and it seems out of whack with this sense of optimism and reopening. We had Scott Gottlieb pointing out that there are all these ZIP codes with over 15 percent positivity in New York City. I counted 30 with 10 percent or more or rounding off 10 percent or more. So, given this state of affairs and the fact that the data is still coming in slow, we’re three days behind instead of two, why isn’t there a greater sense of concern and worry that the infection rates are not coming down as sharply as you would think they should be?
Mayor: It’s a – I know your questions with a full heart Henry, but I do think there’s an editorial component. There’s plenty of concern, plenty of vigilance, and I don’t know anyone who worries more all day long than our health care team. I’m going to turn to them, I’ll turn to in order and in just a second, Dr. Varma, Dr. Katz, Dr. Chokshi, but I want you to hear from them the way they’re seeing the current situation. We are watching all that data all the time, and we’re listening to different voices. Although, as you know, Henry, there’s different voices in the medical field and in academia that have different views and you take each one in, but you can’t treat anyone as gospel. I think that the three health care leaders that you hear every day from this gathering have led us through this war with extreme ability, and I really appreciate all their efforts and I would summarize it this way: everyone’s watching the data constantly. There’s a strong sense of vigilance. There’s real concern about the variants, but we do see progress unquestionably, and we also are watching the steady pace of vaccination. We know it’s about to uptick intensely and we believe that’s the most critical factor. So, we’re making decisions about what can be moved with all that in mind, but we’re also saying some areas where we don’t think there should be changes or needs to be a different approach. So, it’s really, I think pretty fine-tuned, but let me do in order. Dr. Varma, then Dr. Katz, then Dr. Chokshi on each have their own view of the state of play. Go ahead, Dr. Varma.
Senior Advisor Dr. Jay Varma: Yeah, thank you very much for the question Henry and I think I would just really try to emphasize, I mean, we speak on these press conferences every day, and if there is a one thing that we are absolutely consistent in, is that we are deeply concerned about the fact that the rates of infection have not declined as dramatically as they should be. It’s the reason we raise caution about people participating in indoor activities, it’s the reason we released, you know, a very extensive guidance on how to die in safely for people that choose indoor dining, and the reason we keep emphasizing how important it is for people to be observing the importance of masks, distancing, hand-washing and frequent testing, and then of course, getting vaccinated as soon as possible.
Now, that is absolutely what we’re concerned about right now, and we think that there’s a real critical importance for people to maintain that vigilance over the next several weeks and possibly a bit longer. At the same time, we also know the effectiveness of these vaccines. We know the effectiveness from clinical trials. We know the effective this from real world lived experience looking at the UK, looking at Israel, looking at other selected datasets where individual populations have been vaccinated. So, we also know that even though we need to be incredibly persistent right now, there is promise on the horizon, and so it certainly does make sense to plan for a future that will be better while at the same time also recognizing that you need a plan B – if things don’t go the way you want, you need to redirect, and so that’s the way we’re looking at it right now, and I just really do want to emphasize that we want people to get the message that now is not the time to let up. But there will be a time, some point in the future and we have a pathway to get there.
Mayor: Thank you, go ahead, Dr. Katz.
President and CEO Mitchell Katz, NYC Health + Hospitals: Yeah. Dr. Varma has done such a great job. I don’t have a lot to add other than to say that there’s been unanimity among your health experts. We talk to each other every day, we support each other. We believe in the work we’re doing together. I’m very pleased to see decreases in the number of deaths and decreases in the number of patients who are seriously ill and require ventilation, and I believe that is because of the success of the vaccines. I believe that once we’re able to vaccinate the entire population you’ll see that the cases themselves begin to decrease more dramatically, but as a physician, of course, the thing I’m most worried about is losing life or people having prolonged hospitalization, and I’m glad that the vaccines are so effective at preventing that, even when there are variants the vaccines still are effective at decreasing the severity of this disease. Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor: Thank you, and now, Dr. Chokshi.
Commissioner Chokshi: Yes, thank you, and thanks for the question Henry which I appreciate you know, what I would just add is that this is not something inexorable that is happening to us. This is something that we as New York City have a lot of agency with respect to how we can continue the fight against COVID-19. All of the things that you’ve heard us say that we know works with respect to beating back the virus masking distancing, handwashing, getting tested, getting vaccinated when it’s your turn. Those are the things that will help us in what is ultimately, you know, a tug of war between nature and New Yorkers, and in that match, I’m going to bet on New Yorkers because we’ve shown that we can do the things that do work with respect to curbing the spread of COVID-19. Now is the time for us to recommit to do that, to hold on so that we can make that the homestretch of what has been a marathon for the city.
Mayor: The very quotable Dr. Dave Chokshi – tug of war between nature and New Yorkers, we’re betting on New Yorkers. Thank you, I agree, Dr. Chokshi, and look, as we conclude today, everyone – I’m betting on New Yorkers too. I’m betting on New Yorkers all the time, and that is a bet that we win regularly
Evidently, the Blaz and his media minions in the Mayor’s Office didn’t find Dr. Varma’s and half of Dr. Katz’s responses about the rise in variants and hospitalizations worth quoting for video viewing. Nor Hizzoner’s talking point gaslighting in this clip. Dr. Varma clearly points out the still prevalent risks of having normal capacity in the workplace and other indoor venues and clustering with the pandemic’s resurgence which de Blasio’s May order for his administration coming back to offices clearly, irresponsibly and hazardously conflicts with. The fact that de Blasio is willing to undermine his own doctors advice by cutting them out of the conversation on the city’s youtube channel is about as dangerous as Trump telling people to stick a syringe of bleach into your lungs.
And just like how a serial killer can’t stop after he/she kills one person, de Blasio and his minions continued to strike reporters questions and the mayor’s incriminating moron responses and gaslighting about the pandemic off the video record. And the Blaz does it again to Henry Goldman question about the city’s case data and to Dr. Varma, his senior health advisor of the COVID response and recovery and as well as to the other poor saps of his health commission, striking their responses from the public record with bolts of narrative control lightning.
Moderator: Next is Henry from Bloomberg.
Question: Hello, Mr. Mayor, how are you doing today?
Mayor: I am doing well, Henry. How’ve you been?
Question: I am good. Baseball season is just days away.
Mayor: Days away. It’s palpable. It’s in the air, Henry.
Question: The Red Sox first loss of the season just days away. (Lolz)
Mayor: Ouch, Henry. That’s awfully personal, Henry. Let’s just be a – what’s the word I’m looking for – a good loser, a good winner, not a sore winner, whatever it is.
Question: All right. Well, my first question is really, you know, these numbers are very stubborn on infection rates, positivity. I’ve asked this question a million times and others have too, but has the City’s priorities shifted toward really caring about hospitalization and death rather than looking at the numbers of cases and the positivity rate? Are those indicators really kind of falling by the wayside, as vaccinations increase? What is the reality here?
Mayor: It’s a great question. You know, you have raised it and I think I felt like we spoke to this over time, but it’s good to come back to it. I think there was a, and I’ll turn to Dr. Varma and Dr. Chokshi, and I also will get Dr. Long in this because of the experience that we’re seeing in Health + Hospitals, which is really, really important to your question.
Henry, simply put, job one has been to save lives, from the very beginning. We knew in the beginning what we didn’t know, right? COVID was so new, the approaches in the hospitals just weren’t ready and the immense stress on the hospital system, and, and we were trying with everything we could to just keep the hospital system able to tend to people and save lives. But when we got a year later to the point where the hospitals, the medical world had really learned a lot more about how to address COVID, we saw a very different reality. We saw people go into the hospital and come out alive much more often, thank God, and we did see the number of deaths go down and we saw very, very different reality, and that’s the most important thing, is saving lives. We take seriously the case numbers, for sure. We want to drive them down, and the best tool to drive him down is vaccination, and then the next best thing is all the following all the guidance that that health team has given. That still is overwhelmingly what New Yorkers are doing. So, I think we take both seriously, but undoubtedly, we start with, you know, saving lives and avoiding the kinds of hospitalizations that mean someone’s going through a really, really tough time. So, Dr. Varma, Dr. Chokshi, Dr. Long, just let’s do lightning round, but give your quick responses.
Senior Advisor Varma: Yeah, I mean, this is obviously – it’s a very hard and difficult topic to discuss, but let me just say a few really quick points. One is, you know, Henry, as you know, none of these indicators is absolutely perfect and that’s why we have always emphasized the importance of looking at all of them together, and as you note, this is –we are at a very high plateau that we want to get down from, and there are ways to get down from that, (ZAP!!!) and one is to make sure that people continue to do all of those personal measures that are important. Number two, they get vaccinated when it’s their turn, and number three, they continue to get tested and to observe you know, the precautions, if they do take risks or, you know, enter into the situation where they’re traveling or something to continue to emphasize those precautions, particularly in those higher risk scenarios.
I think the second point is that, you know, one of the most effective ways that we can prevent death is through vaccination. I think what has really been consistent throughout all of the different vaccines has been the remarkable impact that they have on hospitalizations and deaths. So, we absolutely to continue to prevent infection through all the methods that we know, but we also know that the vaccines are going to be very effective at that more severe outcome.
Mayor: Thank you. Dr. Chokshi.
Commissioner Chokshi: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I’ll just add briefly you know, as the Mayor said, our job at the end of the day is to save lives and prevent suffering, and that’s why we do look at hospitalizations and deaths so closely and carefully and deploy all of the strategies that Dr. Varma mentioned to try to prevent those numbers from rising, and you know, we see the numbers every morning. We think about them not just as epidemiologists or, you know, from the mathematical perspective, but the very human suffering that is behind each of the 2,600 people who are hospitalized across New York City as of today. But that leads to the other part of your question, which is we do look at cases and test positivity because those are also related to avoidable suffering that we are trying to prevent. Cases and test positivity in particular, are often the leading indicator, meaning we have a beat on what’s happening sooner when we see the trajectory of those numbers. So, we look at all of them together but they inform, at the end of the day, the strategy that we have to try to avoid those outcomes that we take so seriously.
Mayor: Thank you, and Dr. Long, you can speak for what’s happening in the hospitals directly.
Executive Director Ted Long, NYC Test & Trace Corps: Yeah, thank you, sir. So, Henry going back to the last March and April, I was on the front lines of our hospitals where we quadrupled the size of our ICU’s. We cannot go back to that. So, what we’ve done here, with respect to the second wave in the city, is we’ve sought to delay and diminish the number of cases that we’re seeing here in the second wave, if you will, and that’s resulted in us being able to save lives, but also importantly, to Dr. Chokshi’s point, keeping our hospitals going so they can continue to provide the excellent care that we know that they can. Through our second wave, we actually have had in New York City, one third fewer per capita that’s of New Yorkers think compared to the rest of the country, and that’s because again, New Yorkers came together, wore their masks. 96 percent of the time we’re reaching every single new case from a contact-tracing perspective.
Now we’re doing more testing than almost any other country in the world. Those things came together to delay the onset of our second wave, diminish its peak, and that resulted in saving lives, and in particular, by keeping our hospitals going. You walk into the door of any of our hospitals now at Health + Hospitals, it looks different than it did last March and April. And it will continue to look different because of what New Yorkers do and are willing to sacrifice every day. Now, on a note of cases, I just want to make the point that it’s not an issue of whether cases are more important than hospitalizations and deaths, but rather it’s Dr. Chokshi’s point, they serve a different purpose. Where we see cases going up, that enables us to strategically deploy our resources. We see cases going up, testing going down in the community. I, and Test and Trace, have 40 mobile units, all of which have rapid testing capabilities. 20, soon to be 40 mobile units, with vaccines. We can deploy our resources where we need to, and that also helps us to break chains of transmission and save lives. Thank you.
Mayor: Thank you, Ted. Go ahead, Henry.
Question: Okay, thanks. Here’s a question that is kind of weird. It’s – Mr. Yang took a shot at you yesterday, not a vaccine shot, but kind of, he threw some shade on your administration. And in the course of enunciating one of a bunch of policies in which he seems to be sort of either uninformed or off, just not factually correct. For example, he wants you to declare a subway fare holiday which would mean taking money out of the City treasury to pay people, literally, to take the subway, which as we all know, is a State-run facility. He’s also asked you, or demanded really, that you not spend all of the federal relief money in one year when we know that it’s going to be dispersed at least over two years. He’s also called the City’s reserves, a rainy day fund [inaudible] that the State law prohibits the City from establishing a rainy day fund, and he’s called on you to tax Columbia and NYU, they can pay property taxes, and we know that that would require a State action to do that. And so, my question to you is, you know, obviously, you know, the whole history of the City is that incumbent mayors don’t get involved in the politicking for the person who’s going to succeed him or her. But he also has called for spending a billion dollars out of the City treasury on 500,000 people who would receive basically $167 a month. So, in giving all of these policies that really either run a [inaudible] of what you’ve done or are really impossible under State law, do you feel an obligation as the incumbent, as the mayor, as somebody who has spent the last seven plus years dealing with these issues to somehow set the record straight and inform the front runner, or at least the population of New York City, that these ideas would take a heck of a lot of work to implement if not being impossible?
Mayor: I appreciate the question. I certainly would just say to everyone, we for years worked very hard to shed light on the fact that the State runs the MTA. I just want to pull out that one piece. I think it’s really important. Early on in my administration, I would go to town hall meetings and there was obviously – people would raise concerns about the subway, and I would ask them, you know, who runs the subways and there’ll be a lot of confusion. You know, Henry, the MTA was set up purposefully decades ago in part to create that confusion purposefully, to keep accountability from residing in any elected official. Well, obviously over the years, the State became the one place where decisions were made about the MTA controlling the leadership, controlling the budget. And I think we did a good thing in these last years by clarifying that, really creating accountability.
Typical of the disingenuous Mayor to call for lightning round answers from three doctors responsible for the health and safety for all citizens regarding the steady rise in COVID cases and then strike them down with narrative control bolts like Zeus with a thin skin. Funny thing, is that they didn’t answer Mr. Goldman’s question either and responded with a bunch of obvious takes not much different than de Blasio’s.
Also notable and truly sad is how the Blaz’s media minions wiped out Henry’s question and de Blasio’s wishy washy answer about Andrew Yang’s platform proposals in an attempt to make the dilettante neoliberal candidate and his ideas not only irrelevant but non-existent.
Now here’s where de Blasio’s video redactions start to resemble a serial killer’s pattern, as another media availability upload a week later had minutes erased. And whether it’s coincidental or even personal considering the dig against the Red Sox, the mark getting suppressed again is Henry Goldberg.
Question: Thank you. Another question, Mr. Mayor, was about the Cleaning Corps. you just announced. I’m wondering, does this differ at all from what the city does, for example, during snow days and hiring workers? is this like a temporary sort of job? I’ve heard some concerns expressed about hiring during the pandemic and whether that is the best use of the stimulus money. So, are these going to be long-term hires or are they temporary hires? Could you give a little more details about the status of these folks –
Mayor: Yeah, Jeff, these – it’s different than what we do on, you know, that very, very temporary basis. This is for the remainder of the year and we’ll assess obviously toward the end of the year, but the goal is for the year 2021 to maximize the cleanup really, you know, roll out the red carpet all over this city that the city’s coming back. We definitely saw more littering on sidewalks, you know, during the pandemic, we got to clean that up. We saw some more graffiti, we got to clean that up. We got to get to where we were before the pandemic and even better to really foster a recovery for all of us. So, the goal here is hire as many people as possible, as quickly as possible for employment in 2021 and only 2021, and then as we get to later in the year, we’ll assess what makes sense to do going forward.
Moderator: The next is Henry from Bloomberg.
Question: Hello, Mr. Mayor, how are you doing?
Mayor: I’m good, Henry, how you been?
Question: I’m good. Very good. Thank you. I wanted to ask you about the State Budget. It appears that the Governor has gotten his way, and there’s a $1.3 billion item in there to support this expansion of Penn Station which will involve using eminent domain, there’s a lot of local opposition to it. The local Council people are opposed to it, and it appears that the State can overrule any local land use oversight on this. What’s your feeling about this?
Mayor: Henry, I want to check the latest because that’s not what my understanding was as of late yesterday. What the Governor proposed is a mistake. It’s not that Penn Station isn’t an important area for the city, it is, and I certainly believe we need more development as part of how we come out of this pandemic, but it has to be the right kind of development. It has to be with communities, not against communities. It has to include the voices of communities. It has to respect what people need in a community and achieve something for that community and not just be a giveaway to big developers. So, the Governor’s plan was very developer friendly, not community friendly. Last I heard the legislature was taking measures and steps to create balance, and I want to get the latest on that. We absolutely need that kind of balance when it comes to Penn Station. Go ahead, Henry.
Question: Okay. Well, I’m probably going to want to hear from your staff your reaction when you find out the latest on this. My second question, I guess, has to do with the unions concern about schools that a lot of the new infections are occurring in young people, they’re occurring in school age people, partly probably because they’re not vaccinated, but for the teacher’s union and other people who are in the schools, they think this raises the risk that the schools could still be a vector for infection despite how well the schools have been able to prevent that from happening. What is your view on that?
Mayor: Well, I’ll turn to Dr. Varma and Dr. Chokshi, but I would say this just to put in perspective. I’m really struck by what Dr. Chokshi said yesterday, after 700,000 tests in our public schools. I think the composite figure was 0.57 percent positivity. That’s just night and day compared to, you know, everything else happening in New York City. I mean, they have been the safest places in the city, continually, well before people were vaccinated. Further, we now know that over 65,000 school employees have been vaccinated, and more getting vaccinated every day. So, even with the challenge of the variants, I think we are clearly doing very well in the schools, and in fact, our position gets stronger all the time as more and more people get vaccinated. So, I would say, I think regardless of some recent developments, that fundamental formula still holds very, very true, but first Dr. Varma then Dr. Chokshi.
Senior Advisor Jay Varma: Great. Thank you very much. I would echo really the points that the Mayor has made. So, first of all we went through a difficult second wave in January where we peaked at over 6,000 cases a day, and during that time, we were able to demonstrate that all of the measures that we use to protect adults and children in schools continued to be effective. So, we know that our defensive measures, our methods to prevent infections, can work even when there’s high levels of community transmission. The second is, as the Mayor has rightly pointed out, we have now added the single most powerful layer of defense, and I would strongly encourage any adult – or really anybody now, 16 and older, that participates in in-person learning in some way, to get vaccinated. That is the single most powerful layer of defense that we could have to help protect against you know, people getting severely ill. And I think a related point to that is from our detailed analysis of cases from October through December, over 80 percent – or I’m sorry, approximately 80 percent of the incidents that involve transmission occurring in the school setting involved an adult being the index case. So, yet another way to prevent and make our schools safer is to protect adults from infection through vaccination, and we know vaccine isn’t a 100 percent effective at protecting adults from being infected, but it is tremendously effective. So again, I would really lean into the importance of one, our defensive protective measures have worked, and second of all, we now have this additional layer of vaccination.
Mayor: Thank you. Dr. Chokshi?
Commissioner Dave Chokshi, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Mr. Mayor, I’ll just add that we are following the numbers very closely, not just that 0.57 percent test positivity rate that you mentioned, but also looking at cases and test positivity among children across New York City as a whole. When we look at those case rates and that test positivity, even as we do see the variants increase in the city, those have held stable. We are not seeing increases in the burden of cases or the positivity rate among people age zero to 17. So that’s something that we will continue to follow closely, but Dr. Varma made the most important point, which is that we do know that vaccination of school staff will help because the cases that we do see within the school setting are predominantly brought in by adults. So, this gives us a very important layer of protection that we think can make our schools even safer for in-person learning.
Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead.
Mr. Goldberg clearly got cut down because he dared acknowledged teacher’s concerns that the Mayor’s brown standard of school re-openings will lead to another rise of infections and not because he’s still getting back at him for dissing his beloved Bosox.
What de Blasio has been doing here with these videos shouldn’t be undermined and ignored, even if the transcripts are easily available (and the transcripts are still insufficiently informative, because they don’t write down the full names of the journalists). What these selective edits show is a Mayor obsessed not with making the city safe from preventing another outbreak but more with this “recovery for all of us” reality he’s relentlessly pushing by trying to control the primal forces of science and nature while COVID continues to spread through proxy strains. Which has led other nations to reinforce lockdowns again and again and to a stunning rise of cases again in New York City,making us currently number one in the nation in new infections.
This is only going to exacerbate because of the Blaz’s reliance on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which has seen some very unfortunate events in only a week. Turns out NYC will not be seeing another influx of J & J vacs for quite a while after a plant in Baltimore that wasn’t FDA approved screwed up the manufacturing of 15 million vaccines that had to be thrown in the garbage. These vacs also have resulted in harmful side effects after inoculations that a site in Georgia had to suspend service for the day. To make things even more worse for the recovery for all of us, a 30-year-old upper class White woman from Williamsburg got the Rona again after getting the J&J shot early in March. Which discredits the city’s health departments constant advisory refrain that the next available vaccine is the best one. Surely this probably will have the Blaz shitting in his britches since she is part of the Blaz’s demo to make the city’s recovery a reality. Which is bad timing since he recently debuted the city’s mobile vaccine only a few days ago, after he debuted a vaccine mobile unit for Broadway a week earlier.
So it makes sense that the mayor would prioritize entertainment over his constituents for the city to come back to normalcy, because he’s been acting more like an executive producer than a mayor or even a leader. Which is why he’s been coming up with shit like the Open Culture NYC and emceeing reopenings at entertainment venues at BAM and Lincoln Center and announcing the scheduled reopening of beaches with Spring only 2 weeks old.
But as these videos illustrate, The Blaz is trying to produce an optical illusion of a city overcoming a pandemic and is deliberately and quite nefariously trying to hide any evidence that will counter his Recovery and is willing to undermine his health commissioner and advisers to do it. This is no different than what China did when COVID-19 spread like wildfire in the Wuhan Province and no different when ex-President Trump played down the virus despite initially believing the severity of it.
But most alarmingly, what the Blaz is doing by erasing his bonehead replies regarding cases and spread and the analysis of his health team regarding infection data and medical advice is not much different than Cuomo’s and his toady staffers manipulating the data to edit his best-selling American Crisis novel. In fact, it’s probably more sinister because it’s happening currently and unlike Cuomo, de Blasio still possesses his emergency powers. And the Blaz is able to still get away with this by continuing to keep the press out of City Hall’s blue room by exploiting the pandemic protocols. Which should a beg a question from journalists on how de Blasio can lift restrictions for municipal office work and can still be allowed to continue keeping them from questioning the mayor in person.
And as Mario’s Son has already shown, with those powers brings great micro-mismanagement, it’s not hard to see in these briefings de Blasio’s influence on his doctor’s responses too even in their responses that got butchered from the uploaded videos. Most glaring is city’s doctor and health commissioner Chokshi, who’s more comfortable giving his professional advice and essential accurate information about the variants to a corporate news host than his patsy refrains of wearing masks and washing hands when he’s zooming in the blue room.
Which is why where we are still in the throes of a pandemic and why bringing up the press credential issue matters and it’s not just these videos either, his government city recidivism from covering up data of the racial makeup of those winning the affordable housing lotteries to the his most recent fucking with the public record with his inherently corrupt blackening of a FOIA of the city’s plan to bulldoze a mile of public park space by the East River and place a platform on top of it for some reason, only a few years after it was partially renovated. And after the city claimed that there was no resiliency study made for it.
Because de Blasio is fucking with the press and his constituents by pushing his narrative for his trademarked “recovery for all of us” by redacting footage from these videos and the public record. And after his most recent press briefings, de Blasio must have just realized that even his gaslighting is not going to be enough anymore in order to get this recovery he desperately is pining for, now that he has fiendishly resorted to manufacturing consent to push his comeback narrative across and doing a horrendously sloppy job at it.
Because this narrative de Blasio is desperately trying to control is obviously already having an deleterious effect with the return of people mingling and clustering in public parks again and tourists coming back to the city, it’s easy to see why the Blaz doesn’t want anyone to know if any of these current COVID cases are from re-infections and the efficacy of vaccines, particularly the weaker J & J. But another reason de Blasio is cutting up these uploaded videos is because he’s the face of the pandemic in NYC now that Cuomo has been sidelined by his scandals and has been evading journalists for months and will continue to. Especially now that the Blaz is fancying designs for running for governor.
These corrupted redactions of the public record are the culmination of The Blaz’s 7.4 years of recidivist unaccountability. Because the recovery is not really for all of us, but rather a self-serving recovery for de Blasio’s abominable political career. And the health of his constituents, his staffers and even the tourists be damned.
We seen this dystopian movie before. It’s de Blasio Vu all over again.