De Blasio Offers Few Details About 'Temporary Burials'

WCBS 880 Newsroom
April 06, 2020 - 1:42 pm

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — With the number of coronavirus fatalities rising in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio offered little detail about temporary burials but said the city has the capacity for it.

"We're going to try and treat every family with dignity, respect religious needs of those who are devout and the focus right now is to try and get through this crisis and obviously also put all of our energy and resources into saving those we can save," de Blasio said during a news conference Monday.

City Council Member Mark Levine, who chairs the health committee, tweeted that "temporary internment" will start soon, likely using city parks for burials. He said trenches will be dug for 10 caskets in a line.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he is unaware of any plans to bury the dead from the coronavirus in local parks.

A spokeswoman for the mayor says if necessary, the city might us Hart Island for temporary burials. More than 1 million people are buried there.

As far as the need for medical supplies goes, the mayor said the federal government is supplying New York City with 600,000 N95 masks on top of the 200,000 that arrived for public hospitals on Friday.

Speaking at the Brooklyn Navy Yard where battleships were built during World War II, de Blasio on Monday described a present-day war effort against the invisible enemy.

Manufacturers at the Navy Yard are now stepping up to make surgical gowns to keep our healthcare workers safe.

Last week, hospitals across New York City used 1.8 million surgical gowns and are projected to use 2.5 million this week as the crisis worsens. He said 9,200 surgical gowns will be created in one day at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Public hospitals have at least a week’s worth of surgical gowns to protect their workers, but private hospitals and nursing homes are running low.

The Navy Yard will be able to produce approximately 9,200 gowns in one day.

"By the end of the week, almost 19,000, but the end of the month 320,000," de Blasio said.

But he said the city needs more heroes to wear them.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling for 45,000 more medical workers to come to the city to help on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.

"This is just the beginning for this city and for many cities and states all over the country. I'll continue to say we need to have an enlistment structure to find enough medical personnel from all over the country, civilians who would come forward as volunteers, be compensated for sure, and then be mobilized by our military and sent where they are needed most," de Blasio said.

On Sunday, 291 military medical personnel arrived in the city, but de Blasio said the city needs 1,450.

The city has also decided to end the Safe Streets pilot program, which involved the closure of four streets to vehicular traffic across the five boroughs to help promote social distancing while giving New Yorkers access to more open public space.

Officials say there were not enough people utilizing those closures and enforcements of social distancing rules proved challenging with NYPD personnel down amid the outbreak.

"The problem with the additional street closures is you have to attach enforcement to them. If you don't attach enforcement to them we're very concerned they become new gathering points," de Blasio said. 

Dog runs at city parks are closing and the city's parks department will also  remove any remaining basketball rims and tennis nets and lock up all courts with a gate, including handball courts. On Friday, the City closed all playgrounds. Parks will remain open for the people, and dogs, to enjoy.

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