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Bill De Blasio New York City

Mayor Bill De Blasio welcomes the USNS Comfort to New York City

Today New York City welcomed an iconic symbol of hope and perseverance into our harbor. Mayor Bill De Blasio went live from the dock to share this important moment with the people of our city in our most vulnerable time. We all thank the United States Navy for sharing their expertise and kindness with us, and pray that they will be successful in their most sacred mission here in our waters.

Photo of the USNS ship taken by my friend Cole Ippoliti from his apartment.
Cole is a fantastic professional photographer, and you can find more of his work on his instagram @colecoldwater.
You can also check him out at http://www.colecoldwater.com
Thank you for allowing me to share your pictures, Cole!

BILL DE BLASIO

  • The USNS Comfort arrived in New York harbor this morning, bringing with it medical supplies, personnel and a renewed spirit to the city in our hour of need.
  • This means the world to us here in New York City, and we thank the nation for sending us this aid.
  • In the past week, many New Yorkers have felt alone in this fight. But, the arrival of the USNS Comfort is a strong reminder that we are not alone. Our nation is helping us. We are not forgotten.
  • We may have differences during peacetime, but we are now at war. We need to act like it, and work together. So, with that in mind, we say thank you to Donald Trump, Mark Esper, FEMA, and of course, The United States Navy.
  • Thank you to Governor Cuomo, and everyone in our local government who helped to make this happen.
  • It was supposed to take two weeks to bring this ship here, but they did it 8 days. This incredible effort will save lives and make a real difference in our fight against the virus.
  • With this ship comes 1,200 medical staff, and 750 beds we can use immediately.
  • We need to triple our city’s hospital bed capacity by the end of May.
  • This ship is like adding an entire hospital in one day.
  • From this New Yorker, I would like all of you to know that I am grateful.
  • Thank you to all of the companies, and private citizens who have given us help. We appreciate you.
  • When the battle is done here, New York City will send help to the rest of our nation. We promise to look after the rest of our country, as you have looked after us today.
  • We’ve reached my favorite part now… A FEW WORDS IN SPANISH.
  • “No estamos solos!” ❤

REGIONAL HEAD OF FEMA, THOMAS VON ESSEN

  • Two weeks ago, they moved their team down to New Jersey on a naval base.
  • They have about 30 – 35 people working there now, working everyday to make sure that New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and The Virgin Islands have what we need. (these are the areas covered by region 2 at FEMA)
  • QUOTE: “I was driving on east river drive, and I looked across by 14th street and I had a flashback to the morning I was driving in and they told me a small plane had crashed into the trade center. And life changed at that time. And I remember the Comfort come then, I don’t remember when, a couple of weeks later or whatever… and we didn’t need it for what we need it for today. We didn’t need it for people who needed hospital care. It wasn’t necessary, but we brought it in. We needed it for crisis counseling for a lot of fire chiefs and police officers who were really, really overcome with the grief, and the death that they faced with their friends and the people that they worked with. And we needed it to house federal workers, and give them food and everything. And then we got it out of here, and we started putting them in hotel rooms. But, I’ll never forget the feeling. I talked about it this morning, the names are perfect… The Comfort and The Mercy. I was told they were here in 1918 for the pandemic we had then. Not these particular ships, but their predecessors. The federal government has always been here; the army, the navy, the marines… they’ve always been here for us when we needed them, and they’re here again for you now. And for me… the flashbacks I get, knowing that the city is under such stress now, it’s real personal for me. The fire department, I spent 30 years in it. So, when September 11th happened, it was personal. It was friends. It was leaders, people I had worked with… everybody was affected by September 11th, and that’s what’s happening now. Everybody you know is affected by the coronavirus in one way or another. A friend, a relative, a loved one that you can’t go and see because they’re in quarantine, or you don’t want to… I mean, I stopped to see a hundred year old lady last week, and just, you know, talked to her from six feet away. And I know everybody’s doing that. But, it’s important. This is a big time visible sign of what our government is like when we put it into action. And the mayor said it, and I’m really proud to be part of it now.”
  • PERSONAL NOTE: I decided to transcribe his whole quote because nothing hits me right in the heart quite like 9/11 survival stories. I am always in awe of the strength of this city when I hear people speak about that day. I moved to New York City in 2004, so I do not have firsthand experience from that tragedy. But, so many people I care about did have firsthand experience. It is a shared trauma that I will always have the utmost respect and sympathy for. I have been a New Yorker for 16 years, my entire adult life, but I will never know the pain that some of my fellow New Yorkers went through that day. Now New York City stands ready to brace for another terrible event, and I just hope to be even a tenth as brave as the people I know who survived 9/11 and went on to rebuild their lives. As a survivor once told me over at the Oculus, “victory over terror is being able to come back to the place you were attacked and say FUCK YOU, I’M STILL HERE.”. Those are words to live by, said in the most New York way possible.
  • We need to be together, but six feet apart.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN MUSTIN

  • Thank you to everyone who made this happen in record time.
  • Not all of our heroes wear military uniforms, many of them wear scrubs.
  • Like her sister ship The USNS Mercy, which is now docked in Los Angeles, the USNS Comfort will be here to support this city.
  • As a New Yorker, he is proud to be a part of this mission.

QUESTIONS

  • QUESTION: There has been a lot of concern about the budget up in Albany, do you have concerns about it?
  • DE BLASIO: Yes. We need money for healthcare. We cannot afford medicaid cuts during this dire moment, and he says the state must accept the medicaid funding that was in the third stimulus bill. So, basically, he totally disagrees with Cuomo’s take on this. He says that he is also in the middle of finding places to cut the budget for the city, but he absolutely will not cut funding to healthcare. He urges the state not to cut medicaid.
  • PERSONAL NOTE: As I mentioned in a previous post, I am a longtime patient at Bellevue. When I first moved to New York, I was 19 years old. I came here on a greyhound from Detroit, Michigan, with just a backpack and a duffel bag to my name. I didn’t know anyone here, and I didn’t have any help. I moved around a lot in the first year, and I remember being so poor that I sometimes couldn’t afford food. But, I made amazing friends along the way, and one of them gave me a piece of advice that I never forgot. She said “if you ever get really sick and you feel like you’re going to die, go to Bellevue. It’s a public hospital, and they will take care of you even if you can’t pay the bill.” Flash forward about a decade later, and I found myself with a viral infection that had swollen my throat to the point that I could not comfortably take in air. Rather than calling for an ambulance, I dragged myself over to Bellevue. When I got to the triage, I was in such bad shape that I fell over on the floor gasping for air. I will never forget that moment because, as I was being lifted onto the stretcher, I heard some man yell from the other side of the triage area “SHE DIDN’T EVEN WAIT IN THE LINE!”. I remember wanting to laugh before briefly passing out. I had a temperature of 104, and I ended up being in the ICU for a week. When all was said and done, I received a bill for $30,000. I came back to the hospital in tears because the illness had cost me so much time away from my job that there was no way I could pay it. They talked me down to just $150 for the entire stay. I could not be more grateful for this city and the care that we give our people.
  • QUESTION: What kind of services will this ship provide, and how will it be decided who goes here?
  • DE BLASIO: Intensive care units used to be a small part of our hospitals, now we are faced with a situation where every hospital bed in our city’s hospitals needs to be an ICU bed. After we’ve done that, what happens to everyone else who doesn’t need intensive care? We have to have hospitals for them too. This ship and the Javits Center will provide all of those other patients with a place to go.
  • REAR ADMIRAL MUSTIN: We’ve been working with the local hospitals to make sure we have a process in place, and the hospitals will determine who would be best to send here.
  • QUESTIONS: Will families be able to visit sick relatives on The Comfort?
  • DE BLASIO: We are still working that out.
  • QUESTION: Why are the playgrounds still open?
  • DE BLASIO: We are working on this issue with the state, and there is no uniform standard on this. He says that the police are now authorized to give fines to people who do not comply with social distancing, and that the police think most people are in fact complying. This is another thing he disagrees with Cuomo about. If people do not stop playing sports, he says they will remove the basketball rims and the tennis nets.
  • QUESTION: Do you have any predictions about the death toll in New York City?
  • DE BLASIO: We assume at least half of all New Yorkers will contract this virus. We know 80% of people who get it do fine without intervention. We will see a horrible increase in the number of deaths though, and he says he has been honest that this will continue to get worse all month.
  • QUESTION: What are our morituary logistics?
  • VON ESSEN: We have many refrigerated trucks, and we are asking for federal aid for more solutions to this problem.
  • QUESTION: How much more help does New York City need? How many more places like the Comfort would it take?
  • DE BLASIO: The Comfort could hold up to 1,000 beds. To get New York to what we are projected to need, we would need about 40 more locations of this size. We believe we can get there.
  • QUESTION: Are you distributing supplies to private hospitals as well?
  • DE BLASIO: Yes. We are all sharing.
  • QUESTION: How are you getting COVID patients to the Comfort?
  • ME: PAY ATTENTION! THE SHIP ISN’T FOR COVID PATIENTS! UGH! It’s like I’m back on a training call at work and everyone is asking stupid questions about things that were covered in the power point. Lol
  • QUESTION: Do you support allowing people to use their security deposit as a current month’s rent?
  • DE BLASIO: Yes, I support that. It will require state intervention though.
  • QUESTION: Where are we at with PPE?
  • DE BLASIO: This week, we are fine. That may change down the road. The thing we are worried about now is Ventilators. We are still very concerned about making it to April 5th.
  • QUESTION: You said you will need to cut 1.3 billion from the budget, has that changed?
  • DE BLASIO: Yes, that number will go up.
  • QUESTION: Will patients on The Comfort have to pay their medical bills as usual? Or will this be paid for by the federal government?
  • REAR ADMIRAL MUSTIN: We are not checking for insurance cards, nor were we instructed to send bills. Our mission here is to help patients.
  • QUESTION: Will patients start coming today?
  • REAR ADMIRAL MUSTIN: The ship is still being docked, and patients will start coming tomorrow.

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