METROFOCUS: MARCH 18, 2020

Is the coronavirus turning into Mayor de Blasio’s Hurricane Katrina?

A conversation with Citymeals on Wheels Executive Director, Beth Shapiro, about how that organization is nourishing vulnerable older New Yorkers during the coronavirus outbreak.

Aired on March 18, 2020. 

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS.'

WITH RAPHAEL P. ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS.'

WITH THE LATEST NEWS ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AFFECTING THE TRISTATE.

GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

AS YOU CAN SEE, WE'RE STILL PRACTICING SOCIAL DISTANCING AT 'METROFOCUS,' BUT WE REMAIN COMMITTED TO COVERING THE COVID-19 CRISIS.

TONIGHT, WE'RE GOING TO FOCUS ON MAYOR BILL de BLASIO AND THE CRITICISM THAT HE HAS BEEN FAR TOO SLOW IN HIS ACTIONS TO SLOW THE SPREAD OF COVID-19.

SO DOES HIS DELAYED ACTIONS MAKE THIS, MAYOR de BLASIO, HURRICANE KATRINA.

THAT QUESTION WAS POSED BY 'CITY AND STATE MAGAZINE' AMID CRITICISM THAT THE MAYOR WAS LEADING FROM BEHIND MUCH THE SAME WAY THAT LOCAL AND FEDERAL OFFICIALS WERE CRITICIZED IN 20 2005 WHEN HURRICANE KATRINA SLAMMED INTO NEW ORLEANS.

TO MAKE SENSE OF THE CRITICISM, WHAT IT MEANS, IS IT FAIR AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE CITY, I'M JOINED NOW BY 'CITY AND STATE' CITY HALL REPORTER JEFF COLTIN.

JEFF, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME IN YOUR LIVING ROOM.

I'M GLAD TO BE IN WHAT I ASSUME IS YOUR LIVING ROOM AS WELL.

YES, YES.

BUT I DO WANT TO START WITH THIS ARTICLE, WHICH DOES POSE SOME PRETTY HARSH CRITICISM AND IT STARTS OFF ACTUALLY WITH THE WAY THE MAYOR BEGAN HIS WEEK THIS WEEK, MONDAY, WHICH WHAT WAS THE FIRST OFFICIAL DAY OF THE PANDEMIC.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO START WITH HOW HE CHOSE TO SPEND HIS DAY?

HE WENT TO THE YMCA AND THIS IS SOMETHING THAT MAYOR de BLASIO HAS ALWAYS DONE AND SOMETHING HE'S ALWAYS BEEN CRITICIZED FOR BECAUSE THE YMCA IS 11 MILES FROM HIS HOME AT GRACIE MANSION ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE OF MANHATTAN.

HE IS A COMMITTED GOER TO THE YMCA AND IN NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES, PEOPLE ARE ANNOYED BECAUSE HE HAS TO DRIVE REALLY FAR, AND IT TAKES UP LITE OF HIS DAY GOING TO THE GYM.

THIS IS NOT NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES.

HE WENT TO THE GYM, EVEN THOUGH LATER IN THE DAY ALL GYMS WERE GOING TO BE SHUT DOWN.

SO NEW YORK COULD NOT SPREAD COVID-19 ANY FURTHER.

PART OF THIS CITY WIDE SHUTDOWN STRATEGY AND THE MAYOR ESSENTIALLY, YOU KNOW, HE WASN'T FLAUNTING ANY LAWS AT THE TIME, BUT, I MEAN, HE WAS JUST MODELING VERY POOR BEHAVIOR WHEN IT COMES TO SOCIAL DISTANCING AND MODELING REALLY POOR BEHAVIOR WHEN IT COMES TO TRYING TO ENCOURAGE NEW YORKERS TO BE SAFE AND TO NOT SPREAD THIS DISEASE ANY FASTER THAN IS ALREADY BEING SPREAD.

WELL, YOU ALSO HAD A CHANCE TO TALK TO A LOT OF CITY HALL STAFF, AND IT IS INTERESTING WHAT YOU WERE ABLE TO GLEAN FROM HOW THEY'RE FEELING ABOUT THE WAY THE MAYOR HAS BEEN LEADING.

THAT'S RIGHT.

AND ACTUALLY A LOT OF CREDIT GOES TO THE NEW YORK TIMES, 'NEW YORK DAILY NEWS ,' EVERYBODY HAS BEEN REPORTING ON THIS.

THOSE TWO OUTLETS BOTH GOT REPORTS THAT SOME OF de BLASIO SENIOR STAFF IN THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT ACTUALLY THREATENED TO RESIGN BECAUSE THE MAYOR WAS NOT TAKING AN AGGRESSIVE ENOUGH STANCE AGAINST THIS DISEASE, AGAINST THIS OUTBREAK.

de BLASIO HIMSELF DENIED THE REPORT SAYING THAT NOBODY TOLD HIM THEY WANTED TO RESIGN, BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN THEY WEREN'T TALKING ABOUT IT BEHIND THE SCENES.

SO, YES, PEOPLE WERE NOT VERY HAPPY WITHIN CITY HALL AND, YOU KNOW, TWO OF HIS CLOSEST ALLIES, JONATHAN ROSE AND REBECCA KATZ, PEOPLE THAT HAVE BEEN WITH HIM SINCE BEFORE HE WAS MAYOR, BOTH OF THEM BRUTALLY CRITICIZED THE MAYOR, PARTICULARLY FOR GOING TO THE GYM ON MONDAY MORNING.

ALL RIGHT, SO SPEAKING OF SOME OF THE SLOW DECISIONS THAT THE MAYOR HAS MADE, HE WAS HEAVILY, HEAVILY CRITICIZED FOR HIS SLOW DECISION IN CLOSING THE CITY'S PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

HOWEVER, AFTER HE CLOSED THE CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, HE THEN DECIDED TO FIRST THERE WAS THE -- I BELIEVE THE -- NOT OFFICIAL SHUTDOWN OF THE BARS AND RESTAURANTS BUT MORE OF, LIKE, KEEP IT LESS THAN 50 PEOPLE AND THEN THEY WERE CLOSED.

I WAS WONDERING IF YOU COULD SORT OF EXPLAIN TO US WHAT THE THINKING WAS ON THE TWO DECISIONS AND WHY THESE TWO DECISIONS TOOK SO LONG.

BARS AND RESTAURANTS, ONE CROWD OF PEOPLE, CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, A DIFFERENT GROUP OF PEOPLE.

YES, ABSOLUTELY.

AND SCHOOLS FIRST, I MEAN, STUDENTS WERE CALLING FOR THE CLOSURE OF SCHOOLS SINCE THE FIRST CASE HIT THE AMERICAN SHORES.

MANY STUDENTS VERY EAGER TO GET OUT OF CLASS.

BUT THIS CALL WENT WELL BEYOND STUDENTS THAT WANTED TO EED TO CLASS.

THIS WAS THE TEACHERS UNION, THE UNITED FEDERATION OF TEACHERS, SATURDAY IT BECAME ALL THE CITY WIDE OFFICIALS, WE'RE TALKING NEW YORK CITY COMPTROLLER SCOTT STRINGER, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER CORY JOHNSON, NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC ADVOCATE JOMANI WILLIAMS.

I THINK ALL OF NEW YORK CITY'S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION.

BY SATURDAY MORNING, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM WAS CALLING FOR THE SCHOOLS TO BE CLOSED TO STOP THE SPREAD OF DISEASE.

AND ALSO THE TEACHERS UNION THREATENED TO SUE IF THEY WENT TO -- IF TEACHERS HAD TO GO TO CLASS ON MONDAY.

YOU KNOW, de BLASIO TOOK MORE TIME, EVEN MORE TIME, EVENTUALLY ON SUNDAY LATE AFTERNOON HE ANNOUNCED THAT SCHOOLS WOULD BE CLOSED.

BUT, OF COURSE, BY THAT TIME, GOVERNOR CUOMO HAD PREEMPTED HIM AND ANNOUNCED A LITTLE BIT BEFORE THAT SCHOOLS WOULD BE CLOSED.

NOT JUST IN NEW YORK CITY, BUT ON ALL OF LONG ISLAND AND IN WESTCHESTER COUNTY.

SO THAT WAS THE SCHOOL'S DECISION AND THEN --

I DO HAVE ONE QUESTION ABOUT THE SCHOOL'S DECISION AND THAT WAS THAT THERE WAS A LOT OF PUSHBACK TO THE PEOPLE WHO WERE PUSHING FOR SCHOOLS TO CLOSE, SAYING THAT THERE IS A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF VULNERABLE CHILDREN IN THE NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM, AND HOMELESS CHILDREN IN THE NEW YORK PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM AND SCHOOL IS WHERE THEY GO FOR AT LEAST TWO MEALS A DAY AND HEAT AND SAFETY, ET CETERA.

WAS THAT PART OF THE MAYOR'S REASONING?

YES, ABSOLUTELY.

AND, I MEAN, LET'S GIVE HIM CREDIT, IT IS A VERY DIFFICULT DECISION TO CLOSE SCHOOLS, de BLASIO IS MAINLY RESTING ON THE FACT THAT THE CHILD CARE PURPOSE OF SCHOOLS, IF KIDS ARE NOT GOING TO SCHOOL, THEN MANY MORE PARENTS WILL HAVE TO STAY AT HOME AND SOME OF THOSE PARENTS HAVE ESSENTIAL JOBS IN, YOU KNOW, GROCERY STORES, IN THE MEDICAL FIELD, THAT SORT OF THING.

SO THAT IS LEGITIMATE CONCERN.

THAT SAID, THERE WERE SCHOOLS ACROSS THE COUNTRY THAT WERE CLOSING LONG BEFORE NEW YORK.

OHIO MADE THE DECISION, OR OREGON, MARYLAND, MICHIGAN, DIFFERENT STATES WITH A POPULATION LESS AFFECTED BY CORONAVIRUS.

AND THAT SAID, WHAT THE DECISION CAME DOWN TO WAS, YES, THAT THE TEACHERS UNION AGREED TO IT, THE UNION THAT CLEANS THE SCHOOLS AGREED TO IT, AND THE CITY IS JUST GOING TO HAVE TO FIND DIFFERENT WAYS TO DO THIS THING.

THERE IS GOING TO BE CHILD CARE CENTERS THAT OPEN THIS ENTIRE WEEK THE NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE STILL SERVING BREAKFAST AND LUNCH TO STUDENTS.

THAT IS NOT GOING TO BE IN EFFECT NEXT WEEK AS FAR AS WE KNOW RIGHT NOW, SO THEY MAY NEED TO FIND A DIFFERENT PLAN FOR THAT.

BUT, YES, SO PLANS ARE BEING PUT TO ANSWER THOSE QUESTIONS.

SO THEN WHAT ABOUT THE -- WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG TO GET BARS AND RESTAURANTS TO CLOSE LITERALLY THE DAY BEFORE -- THE M MORNING OF ST. PATRICK'S DAY?

YES, AND THAT IS THE -- FRANKLY THE MORE SURPRISING ONE.

LOOK I SAID, THERE WERE CALLS FOR THE SCHOOLS TO CLOSE FROM VERY EARLY DAY, SAME SITUATION WITH BARS AND RESTAURANTS.

THESE PLACES, WHERE PEOPLE ARE PACKED VERY CLOSELY TOGETHER, THEY'RE SHARING DRINKS, THEY'RE SWEATING, MANY WAYS TO SPREAD DISEASE.

AND, YOU KNOW, de BLASIO WAS VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THE CITY'S ECONOMY AND ABOUT THE JOBS OF THE PEOPLE THAT WORK THERE.

YOU KNOW, THERE IS A MASSIVE SLOWDOWN OF PEOPLE GOING TO BARS AND RESTAURANTS AND THE ENTIRE ENTERTAINMENT ECONOMY, FOOD ECONOMY, DRINK ECONOMY, IT IS GOING TO BE VASTLY AFFECTED AND VASTLY SHRUNKEN.

WE ARE GOING TO BE DEALING WITH THAT SITUATION NOW, BUT, YOU KNOW, THE HEALTH EXPERTS WILL TELL YOU THE HIT ON THE ECONOMY WOULD BE MUCH WORSE IF THESE BARS STAYED OPEN AND THE DISEASE SPREAD FASTER.

IT IS REALLY JUST ABOUT MITIGATING THE EFFECTS OF CORONAVIRUS AT THIS POINT.

AND SEEMS MOST OF THE HEALTH EXPERTS THOUGHT THAT RESTAURANTS AND BARS SHOULD BE CLOSED EARLIER THAN THE TIME THAT de BLASIO MADE THE DECISION.

AND ALSO I SHOULD NOTE THAT GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO ALSO PREEMPTED de BLASIO ON THIS ONE, de BLASIO MADE THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT BARS AND RESTAURANTS WOULD CLOSE TUESDAY MORNING, CUOMO CAME IN SAID ACTUALLY, THEY'RE GOING TO BE CLOSING MONDAY NIGHT.

OKAY.

SO VERY QUICKLY, BECAUSE I DO WANT TO GET TO ONE OF THE IMPORTANT SUBJECTS, HOW DO YOU THINK HISTORY IS GOING TO JUDGE THE MAYOR ON HIS HANDLING OF THIS, TOO SOON TO TELL OR DO YOU HAVE A FEEL FOR THAT?

IT DEFINITELY IS TOO SOON TO TELL.

YOU KNOW, I THINK THE PEOPLE WHO WILL REMEMBER THE MAYOR GOING TO THE GYM IN THIS SITUATION.

THAT SAID, THERE ARE SO MANY QUESTION MARKS IN THE FUTURE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO CORONAVIRUS, HOW MUCH IT AFFECTS NEW YORK.

de BLASIO CERTAINLY HAS A CHANCE TO REDEEM HIMSELF WITH HIS LEADERSHIP, BUT I THINK MANY HEALTH EXPERTS WILL TELL YOU THAT HE HAS LEFT SOME -- HE'S BEEN DISAPPOINTING IN THE EARLY WEEKS OF THIS CRISIS.

NOW I WANT TO TURN OUR CONVERSATION TO THIS IS A BIG ELECTION YEAR, AND ACTUALLY THE LAST TIME YOU AND I SAW EACH OTHER, IT WAS AT THE QUEENS COUNTY BOROUGH PRESIDENT DEBATE, WHICH YOU CAN STILL FIND ONLINE IF YOU WANT TO WATCH THE DEBATE, BUT PLEASE TELL US WHAT HAPPENS TO THE ELECTION THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO TAKE PLACE ON MARCH 24th.

YES, IT IS INCREDIBLE HOW EVERYTHING IS BEING AFFECTED BY CORONAVIRUS.

AND THIS IS CERTAINLY ONE OF THOSE EXAMPLES.

THERE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AN ELECTION ON MARCH 24th, EARLY VOTING BEGAN ON MARCH 14th, THERE WERE A COUPLE OF DAYS OF EARLY VOTING AND THEN de BLASIO PULLED THE PLUG, SAID, NO, WE CANNOT HAVE THIS ELECTION AS SCHEDULED ON MARCH 24th.

SO AS OF NOW, AS OF TUESDAY, THE ELECTION HAS NOT BEEN RESCHEDULED.

I GOT WORD FROM CITY HALL THAT THE ELECTION WILL BE RESCHEDULED, SO THAT IS OPEN TO ALL QUEENS VOTERS, VOTING TO NAME THE NEXT QUEENS BOROUGH PRESIDENT.

AND, IMPORTANT POSITION.

BUT WE DON'T KNOW WHEN THAT WILL BE.

SO KEEPING MY EYE OUT AND HOPING THAT, WELL, I'M NOT HOPING FOR EVERYTHING.

I DON'T KNOW THE RIGHT DECISION.

WELL, VERY TRUE.

SPEAKING OF ELECTIONS, NEW YORK DOES HAVE ITS PRIMARIES FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL, DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION COMING UP IN APRIL.

DO WE HAVE ANY SENSE OF IF THAT STILL IS GAME ON OR NOT?

WE HAVE SEEN OTHER STATES POSTPONE OR DELAY THEIR ELECTIONS.

THAT'S RIGHT.

THAT -- THE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY IS SCHEDULED FOR APRIL 28th.

GOVERNOR CUOMO IS ASKED TUESDAY MORNING IF HE THOUGHT ABOUT CHANGING THAT AND HE SAID I HAVEN'T GIVEN ANY THOUGHT TO IT YET.

THAT'S STILL, YOU KNOW, MORE THAN A MONTH AWAY, ABOUT FIVE OR SIX WEEKS AWAY, THERE IS STILL TIME TO REALLY RESCHEDULE THE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY, WHAT WE HAVE SEEN FROM OTHER STATES, THEY ARE PUSHING BACK THE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES.

BUT NO DECISION HAS BEEN MADE FOR NEW YORK YET.

AND, OF COURSE, THE -- THERE IS NO REPUBLICAN PRIMARY IN NEW YORK.

TRUMP IS JUST GOING TO BE THE NOMINEE AND DEMOCRATIC WHO KNOWS WHETHER WE'LL HAVE TWO CANDIDATES IN A MONTH AT THAT POINT THAT REALLY MIGHT BE DOWN TO ONE CANDIDATE, MEANING THE NEW YORK PRIMARY WILL BE FRANKLY LESS IMPORTANT.

ALL RIGHT, WELL, CITY AND STATE SENIOR CITY HALL REPORTER JEFF COLTIN, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US AGAIN.

I'M SURE WE'LL BE IN TOUCH.

AND STAY SAFE AND BE WELL.

I'M GLAD WE COULD STILL DO THE INTERVIEW GIVEN THE CIRCUMSTANCES.

GREAT TALKING TO YOU AS ALWAYS.

ABSOLUTELY, THANK YOU.

> ACCORDING TO THE CDC, THOSE WHO ARE AT HIGHER RISK FOR THE CORONAVIRUS INCLUDE OLDER ADULTS AND PEOPLE WHO HAVE SERIOUS CHRONIC MEDICAL CONDITIONS LIKE HEART DISEASE, DIABETES AND LUNG DISEASE.

THE CORONAVIRUS IS HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS, BUT THERE ARE WAYS TO FIGHT BACK BECAUSE OF THE MAKEUP OF THE VIRUS ITSELF.

THIS IS AN ENVELOPE VIRUS.

WHY DO YOU WANT TO KNOW THAT?

GOOD NEWS IS ENVELOPE VIRUSES ARE EASY TO GET RID OF IF YOU CLEAN THEM OFF.

CLEANING THEM OFF YOUR HANDS, CLEANING THEM OFF OF SURFACES, AND IN GENERAL BEING ATTUNED TO WHEN YOU ARE TOUCHING WHAT.

CLEANING PRODUCTS THAT DESTROY THE CORONAVIRUS INCLUDE SOAP AND WATER, BLEACH, ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL AND HYDROGEN PEROXIDE.

WIPE DOWN COUNTERTOPS, DOOR KNOBS AND OUR SURFACES FREQUENTLY TO REDUCE YOUR RISK.

> SENIORS ARE ONE OF THE MOST VULNERABLE POPULATIONS TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC.

THAT'S WHY RIGHT NOW IT IS IMPORTANT FOR MANY SENIORS, A LOT OF WHOM ARE ALREADY HOME BOUND BEFORE THE OUTBREAK BEGAN, TO RECEIVE PREPARED MEALS EVERY DAY.

SO HERE TO TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW THAT FUNCTIONALITY IS STILL HAPPENING, ESPECIALLY DURING A TIME OF CRISIS IS BETH SHAPIRO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CITY MEALS ON WHEELS, NEW YORK'S FIRST RESPONDERS FOR THE CITY'S SENIORS.

BETH, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

JENNA, THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

SO, FIRST, THAT SEEMS TO BE THE BIG QUESTION RIGHT NOW IS HOW IS MEALS ON WHEELS STILL FUNCTIONING, PARTICULARLY NOW?

WE ARE IN CRISIS MODE, IT IS ACTUALLY WHAT WE DO WELL, UNFORTUNATELY.

BUT WE ARE DOING ALL THAT WE CAN TO MAKE SURE HOME BOUND ELDERLY NEW YORKERS ARE GETTING THE FOOD THEY NEED TO SURVIVE THIS CRISIS.

WE HAVE AN EMERGENCY MEAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER UP IN THE BRONX.

IT IS IN FULL SWING, PACKING SHELF STABLE FOOD, THINGS THAT CAN SIT, YOU KNOW, IN THE HOUSE, IN THE CUPBOARD FOR A WHILE WITHOUT HAVING TO BE REFRIGERATED.

BUT TO MAKE SURE THERE IS NOURISHMENT ON HAND FOR WHEN SENIOR CENTERS HAVE TO CLOSE.

AND, OF COURSE, WE HAVE BEEN HEARING THAT SENIOR CENTERS DO HAVE TO CLOSE AND THAT BRINGS US TO ANOTHER BIG ISSUE THAT I HEARD AT LEAST THAT MEALS ON WHEELS HAS BEEN VERY ADEPT AT ADDRESSING AND THAT IS THE ISSUE OF ISOLATION AND LONELINESS.

HOW IS IT THAT VOLUNTEERS AT LEAST ONES YOU HAVE NOW ARE BEING ABLE TO HANDLE THAT, BECAUSE I'M ASSUMING THAT THAT IS THE ANXIETY HAS GOT TO HAVE GONE UP.

YEAH, YOU KNOW, CITY MEALS IS ALWAYS DEALING WITH HOME BOUND ELDERLY NEW YORKERS, PEOPLE WHO ARE ISOLATED, THEY HAVE OUTLIVED FRIENDS, FAMILY, OFTEN EVEN THEIR OWN CHILDREN.

SO FOR US IT HAS BEEN ONGOING ISSUE WHERE SORT OF WE'RE NOURISHING BODY AND SOUL, THE VISIT THAT COMES TO THE DOOR EVERY DAY IN A NORMAL SITUATION IS A SAFETY NET, A REAL LIFELINE.

BOTH OF FOOD AND CONNECTIVITY.

WE HAVE A FRIENDLY VISITING PROGRAM THAT PAIRS MEAL RECIPIENTS WITH THE VOLUNTEER THAT VISITS ONCE A WEEK FOR AT LEAST AN HOUR.

WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO SWITCH THAT PROGRAM TO PHONE CONVERSATIONS.

AND IT IS IMPORTANT TO THINK ABOUT EVEN YOUR NEIGHBORS, IF YOU CAN'T, YOU KNOW, CHECK IN ON THEM, BUT TO MAKE A PHONE CALL OR KNOCK ON THEIR DOOR, NOT TO OPEN IT, BUT TO SAY HELLO AND MAKE SURE THEY'RE OKAY.

WELL, THAT ALSO BRINGS ME THEN TO A DIFFERENT ISSUE IN THAT HOW ARE YOUR -- ARE YOUR VOLUNTEERS BEING GIVEN ANY EXTRA TRAINING AND IF THEY ARE, HOW ARE THEY HANDLING THAT BECAUSE IT SEEMS AS IF SENIORS WHO MIGHT NOT HAVE ALL OF THE INFORMATION ABOUT HOW MUCH OF A CRISIS THIS VIRUS IS UNDERSTANDABLY FEELING VULNERABLE AND LONELY MIGHT WANT TO INVITE THAT PERSON AS THEY HAVE BEFORE INTO THE HOUSE.

NOW THAT MIGHT NOT BE THE BEST IDEA.

SO I'M WONDERING IF YOUR VOLUNTEERS ARE BEING GIVEN ANY EXTRA TRAINING, WHAT IS THE BEST MOST SENSITIVE WAY TO ADDRESS THAT?

IT IS NOT A GOOD IDEA RIGHT NOW TO GO INTO SOMEONE ELSE'S HOME.

SO CITY MEAL STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS ARE ALL FOLLOWING CDC PROTOCOLS AND GUIDELINES FOR KEEPING DISTANCE, YOU KNOW, SOMETIMES THE HANDOFF IS SCRATCHED, SOMETIMES IT IS ON THE DOOR, MAKING SURE SOMEONE IS THERE, THEY KNOW THE FOOD IS COMING, HANGING IT ON A DOOR HANDLE, OPENING THE DOOR AND YOU CAN STILL, AGAIN, HAVE A CONVERSATION, EVEN IF BRIEF THROUGH THE DOORWAY TO CHECK IN ON SOMEBODY.

BUT WE ARE MAKING SURE TO KEEP OUR OLDER NEW YORKERS HEALTHY, BUT ALSO STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS GOING THROUGH WHATEVER WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERYONE IS SAFE.

I ALSO WANT TO TALK JUST ABOUT THE ISSUE OF VOLUNTEERS.

WITH SO MANY NEW YORKERS THEMSELVES BEING TOLD TO SHELTER IN PLACE AND NOT GO OUT IF THEY DON'T HAVE TO, IF YOU'RE NOT A CRUCIAL WORKER, WHAT WE'RE HEARING NOW, ARE THESE VOLUNTEERS FOR CITY MEALS, ARE THEY CONSIDERED TO BE ESSENTIAL WORKERS?

ARE THEY BEING TESTED?

AND DO YOU EVEN HAVE ENOUGH TO ADDRESS WHAT MIGHT BE AN INCREASE IN NEED?

SO OUR INCREASE IN NEED IS THERE.

THE CHALLENGE IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU SAID, WHILE WE ARE PROVIDING GUIDELINE FOR PEOPLE AND WHAT THEY NEED TO DO, WE DON'T WANT ANYONE WHO IS SICK, ET CETERA, WE ARE SEEING A DROP IN VOLUNTEERS AT THIS CRITICAL TIME.

IT IS IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO PROTECT THEMSELVES AND IF THERE IS ANY RISK, CERTAINLY NOT TO BRING THAT TO ANYONE, LET ALONE THE MOST VULNERABLE IN OUR POPULATION ANY GIVEN DAY, BUT CERTAINLY RIGHT NOW.

IT WILL BE A CHALLENGE FOR US IN THE COMING DAYS AND WEEKS TO GET TO A PLACE THAT WILL HOPEFULLY BECOME OUR NEW NORMAL, YOU KNOW WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE, WHAT DOES IT MEAN, IN TERMS OF THE NUMBER OF VOLUNTEERS WE CAN COUNT ON, THE NUMBER OF STAFF WE NEED TO DEAL WITH, RIGHT?

WE ALL MAY END UP KNOWING SOMEONE THAT WE HAVE TO BE HOME AND CARE FOR.

SO IT IS A CHALLENGE THAT IS UNPRECEDENTED.

I THINK THE -- WE THOUGHT HURRICANE SANDY WAS A CHALLENGE, AND I WAS SAYING UNTIL THIS PAST WEEK IT WAS MY PROUDEST MOMENT AT CITY MEALS, BUT THIS IS A WHOLE OTHER LEVEL.

WE DID 64,000 EMERGENCY MEALS IN THE WEEK OR SO LEADING UP TO SANDY AND THE TWO WEEKS AFTER.

WE'RE ALREADY AT 145,000 MEALS AND THAT IS REALLY NOT GOING TO SLOW DOWN, THAT PACE IS GOING TO BE THERE FOR THE NEAR FUTURE AT LEAST.

IS THERE ANY CONCERN, I'M GUESSING -- I'M WONDERING AS THE NEED FOR MORE PREPARED MEALS TO BE DELIVERED TO SENIORS OR I DON'T KNOW IF THIS WOULD ALSO INCLUDE PERHAPS OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE IN ISOLATION, WHO MIGHT NOT QUITE MEET THE SENIOR THRESHOLD, IS THERE GOING TO BE A CALL UP FOR VOLUNTEERS, DO YOU SEE YOURSELF PERHAPS WORKING WITH THE ARMED SERVICES, WHICH HAS SEEN A LOT OF CALLS NOW FOR THEM TO GET INVOLVED IN HELPING THE COMMUNITY GET THROUGH THIS.

I THINK IT WOULD BE GREAT TO HAVE THEIR HEALTH.

WE ARE PUTTING OUT CALLS FOR VOLUNTEERS.

AND THERE IS A NEED FOR PACKING UP AT OUR WAREHOUSE TO GET THESE MEALS PACKED AND THERE IS A NEED FOR VOLUNTEERS AS WELL.

AND THAT WILL NOT LAST FOREVER, YOU KNOW.

IF WE'RE REALLY BEING TOLD TO SHELTER IN PLACE, PEOPLE ARE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO COME OUT AND VOLUNTEER.

SO THE SUPPORT OF THE NATIONAL GUARD, ET CETERA, WOULD BE A HUGE HELP FOR SO MANY PEOPLE.

HAVE YOU ALSO -- YOU DID MENTION A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE CLOSING OF THE SENIOR CENTERS.

I KNOW THAT WAS SUPER IMPORTANT AS NOT ONLY A SOCIAL OUTLET FOR SO MANY SENIORS, BUT, AGAIN, A PLACE TO PICK UP MEALS.

THERE ALSO HAS BEEN TALK THAT A LOT OF ORGANIZATIONS WITHIN THE CITY ARE CONCERNED THAT THEY MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO MEET THEIR THRESHOLD AND LOSE CITY FUNDING, BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF PEOPLE INVOLVED.

I'M SURE THAT WON'T BE A SITUATION FOR YOU GUYS, BUT HOW DOES THE CLOSING OF THE SENIOR CENTERS ALSO FACTOR INTO THE WAY YOU'RE OPERATING?

YEAH, WE TYPICALLY WORK THROUGH SENIOR CENTERS.

WE HAVE A NETWORK OF 30 CENTERS THAT WE TYPICALLY FUND AND SUPPORT IN PREPARING WEEKEND MEALS AND GETTING OUT OUR HOLIDAY AND EMERGENCY MEALS.

AND WE PROVIDE VOLUNTEERS TO THEM EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR.

AND, YOU KNOW, FOR THEM TO BE ABLE TO SHUT AND AT LEAST PREPARE MEALS AND HAND THEM OUT, FANTASTIC.

WHEN IT GOES TO THE NEXT STEP AND THEY'RE NOT ABLE TO HAND OUT MEALS, IT WILL BECOME CRITICAL TO GET MEALS OUT.

IN WHATEVER MEANS POSSIBLE AS DROP POINTS, RIGHT?

IF WE GO TO A DROP POINT AND PEOPLE CAN COME IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD TO EAT THEIR -- DELIVER OR PICK UP A MEAL, EATING A MEAL AND THEY'RE ABLE BODIED ENOUGH TO COME OUT, WE WILL BE DOING ALL OF THOSE THINGS, BUT IT IS REALLY, YOU KNOW, THE UNDERBELLY AND SAFETY NET OF THIS CITY IS WHAT IS BEING TESTED RIGHT NOW.

OF COURSE, OF COURSE.

DO YOU FEEL AS THOUGH YOU HAVE THE RESOURCES THAT YOU NEED?

YOU ALREADY MENTIONED, YOU KNOW, A CALLOUT FOR MORE VOLUNTEERS, BUT I'M WONDERING IF THAT ALSO INCLUDES FOOD BECAUSE WE HEARD THE MAYOR ALSO TALK ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY AT LEAST OF RATIONING.

YEAH, WOHLE'LL SEE WHAT HAPP IF THERE IS RATIONING.

WEE WE DEAL WITH FOOD SUPPLIES ALL OVER THE WORLD.

WE STARTED ORDERING IN FEBRUARY FOR WHAT WE THOUGHT MIGHT BE COMING.

WE HAVE SHIPMENTS COMING IN THIS WEEK AND NEXT OF SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF FOOD.

I MEAN, YOU KNOW, TENS OF THOUSANDS TO A HUNDRED THOUSAND MEALS THAT WE WILL PACKAGE AND PUT TOGETHER.

I THINK WE SHOULD ALL BE WORRIED.

I THINK THERE IS CONCERN AND WE ARE DOING OUR BEST.

ALSO, YOU KNOW, ALL OF THIS TAKES FUNDING AND WHILE WE ARE A NONPROFIT AND DO GET MONEY FROM THE CITY, THE BULK OF OUR DONATIONS COMES FROM THE GENERAL PUBLIC AND WE HAVE BEEN VERY LUCKY TYPICALLY ALL THE TIME BUT IN CRISIS SITUATIONS OF NEW YORKERS COMING OUT AND SUPPORTING THESE -- US AND OTHER SAFETY NET ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE DOING ALL THEY CAN TO ENSURE THE WELL-BEING OF NEW YORKERS.

SO, PERHAPS, IF VOLUNTEERISM ISN'T A POSSIBILITY, A DONATION IS ALWAYS WELCOME.

A DONATION IS ALWAYS WELCOME.

IT IS VERY SIMPLE IN OUR WEBSITE, A POINT OF DIFFERENCE FOR US FOR CITY MEALS, FROM OUR FOUNDING WE HAVE GUARANTEED THAT 100% OF ALL DONATIONS FROM THE GENERAL PUBLIC GO TO MEAL PREPARATION AND DELIVERY SO THAT $8, $50, $100, WHATEVER ANYONE IS ABLE TO DONATE, THEY SHOULD BE COMFORTABLE AND CONFIDENT KNOWING IT IS GOING WHERE IT NEEDS TO GO NOW.

WE'RE ALMOST RUNNING OUT OF TIME, I WAS WONDERING, VERY QUICKLY, IF YOU CAN PAINT A PICTURE OF WHO THE TYPICAL RECIPIENT OF THIS IS, JUST KIND OF GET THE SENSE OF A LOT OF NEW YORKERS, THEY DON'T KNOW SOMEBODY WHO WAS RECEIVING THESE MEALS HAS NO IDEA WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE.

YEAH.

CITY MEALS IS FEEDING HOME BOUND ELDERLY NEW YORKERS, PEOPLE WHO ARE 80, 90, 100 YEARS OLD.

WE'RE ACTUALLY FEEDING OVER 200 PEOPLE WHO ARE 100 OR OLDER.

THEY ARE THE PEOPLE WHO BUILT THIS CITY.

I MET A WOMAN LAST THANKSGIVING, JOSEPHINE, 101 YEARS OLD, BEAUTIFUL, FRAIL, AND CAN NO LONGER GET OUT OF HER BUILDING BECAUSE THE DOORS ARE TOO HEAVY FOR HER TO PUSH.

SO EVEN IF SHE WAS ABLE TO, SHE CAN'T PHYSICALLY GET OUT.

SHE HAD A FULL LIFE, WAS A TEACHER AND JUST -- THEY CONTRIBUTED TO THIS CITY.

THEY'RE THE PEOPLE WHO BUILT THIS CITY FOR US.

AND IT IS OUR DUTY, OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO CARE FOR THEM ALL OF THE TIME, PARTICULARLY IN A TIME OF NEED.

OF COURSE.

SO, AGAIN, I JUST WANT TO CIRCLE BACK ONE MORE TIME AS NEW YORKERS VERY QUICKLY TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHAT -- HOW CAN WE HELP THE CITY SENIORS WHO ARE ALREADY IN CRISIS, WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE?

GO TO CITYMEALS.ORG, MAKE A DONATION ON OUR WEBSITE, YOU CAN LOOK THERE FOR VOLUNTEER INFORMATION, YOU CAN ALSO CLICK A GET MEALS BUTTON TO GET INFORMATION IF YOU KNOW A SENIOR WHO SHOULD BE GETTING MEALS, WE CAN TRY TO GET THAT INTO ACTION QUICKLY.

ALL RIGHT, BETH SHAPIRO, THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO TALK WITH ME AND, OF COURSE, THIS IS ANOTHER STORY WE WILL BE FOLLOWING AS WE ALL CONTINUE TO DEAL WITH THE OUTBREAK OF COVID-19.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

THANK YOU.

> THE LATEST NEWS ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AND YOUR COMMUNITY, VISIT US AT METROFOCUS.ORG, FACEBOOK AND TWITTER.

GOOD NIGHT AND STAY SAFE.

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