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NYC mayor: Other states may be reopening too quickly

May 6, 2020 Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that rising coronavirus infection rates outside of the New York metropolitan area should serve as a warning to other states not to reopen their economies too quickly. Also on Wednesday, the city’s normally 24-hour subway system shut down for cleaning in the early morning hours, part of a new routine as the city aims to curb the spread of the virus.

New York Mayor: Learn from our example

De Blasio said on CNN’s “New Day” that new data showing rates of new coronavirus infections declining in the New York metropolitan area but rising in other parts of the country suggest that other states may be moving too quickly to open up businesses and loosen restrictions on gatherings.

“This desire to restart and open up without necessarily referencing the actual facts of what’s going on is dangerous,” de Blasio said.

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An NYPD officer cleared a train at the Coney Island Stillwell Avenue Terminal. Photo: Frank Franklin II/AP

The mayor said New Yorkers have succeeded in lowering virus infection rates by largely following social distancing orders and by covering their faces in public. “My message to the rest of the country is learn from how much effort, how much discipline it took to finally bring these numbers down and follow the same path until you’re sure that it’s being beaten back or else if this thing boomerangs you’re putting off any kind of restart or recovery a hell of a lot longer,” he said.

De Blasio said at his daily coronavirus briefing later Wednesday that advisory councils on small business, the arts and culture, faith-based institutions and other sectors are being set up to help guide the city’s eventual reopening. The councils will have 20 to 40 members each and will be led by deputy mayors, he said.

Subways close for cleaning

City outreach workers persuaded 139 homeless people to leave the subways system and enter shelters on Wednesday during the first night that the subways were closed for cleaning because of the coronavirus pandemic, de Blasio said. “That’s an extraordinary number for one night and very encouraging,” he said.

The subway system went silent from 1 to 5 a.m. Wednesday as part of a plan for the normally round-the-clock system to shut down for train cleaning.

MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye surveyed disinfection operations in Brooklyn on Tuesday. Photo: Frank Franklin II/AP

Police officers escorted people out of Brooklyn’s Coney Island station, the end of the line for several trains, and told them they would have to board buses to get to their destinations. Cleaners carrying bottles of bleach then boarded the trains.

Fewer trains had been running in the overnight hours anyway, but the shutdown allows for daily cleanings and for city workers to move homeless people who have been more visible in subway cars during the coronavirus.

The NYPD has assigned more than 1,000 officers to secure many of the system’s 472 stations, as fewer than 200 can be physically locked up.

Outreach teams made up of officers and nurses are being sent to 29 end-of-line stations to roust homeless people from trains, officials said.

MTA officials halted operations at the Coney Island Stillwell Avenue Terminal on Wednesday. Photo: Frank Franklin II/AP

De Blasio said the outreach workers engaged with 252 long-term homeless people on Wednesday and persuaded 139 of them to accept services and come inside.

Many of the people at the Coney Island station early Wednesday appeared to be homeless, though one man insisted he was not and asked officers how he was going to get to his home in the Bronx.

New York City normally has the country’s busiest public transit system, with a weekday ridership of more than 5 million. But the impact of the coronavirus and people staying at home has been severe, with overall mass transit use dropping more than 90 percent in the past several weeks.

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