METROFOCUS: MARCH 19, 2020

NYC COUNCIL MEMBER RITCHIE TORRES HAS COVID-19:

CAUTIONS NEW YORKERS “EVERYONE SHOULD ASSUME THE WORST CASE SCENARIO”

SAYS “MILLENNIALS LIKE ME ARE THE LEADING CARRIERS OF THE CORONAVIRUS”

LAMENTS “CATASTROPHIC” IMPACT ON THE CITY’S POOR

Torres is the first member of the city council to test positive for COVID-19 and is under quarantine for two weeks. Concerned for his 60-year old mother, who suffers from serious chronic conditions, he cautions, all New Yorkers “should assume the worst case scenario” and behave as though they already have the virus. How? By staying home to avoid spreading it to others, especially the most vulnerable.

As the youngest member of the city council, Torres also says young people should not be lulled into a false sense of security. In fact, he says, young people are disproportionate drivers of community spread.

The Bronx lawmaker also addresses the “catastrophic” impact of the pandemic on the city’s poor, as well as on local businesses in his community. He is calling on federal, state, and city officials to work together to tackle what he says is the, “greatest challenge of our lifetime” He expresses support for a shelter in place order for New York City to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Aired on March 19, 2020. 

TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI 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 PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSLYN P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND BY --

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH THE LATEST NEWS ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AFFECTING THE TRI-STATE.

GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

AS YOU CAN SEE, WE'RE NOT IN OUR NEW YORK CITY STUDIO, BUT INSTEAD IN MY HOME LIVING ROOM.

LIKE SO MANY OF YOU, WE'RE PRACTICING SOCIAL DISTANCING AND I AM WORKING FROM HOME.

NOW, THIS MIGHT NOT BE AS POLISHED AS WHAT WE USUALLY DO ON 'METROFOCUS,' BUT WE WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT WE ARE COMMITTED TO BRINGING YOU THE IMPORTANT STORIES ABOUT OUR COMMUNITY PARTICULARLY AT THIS CRUCIAL TIME.

WITH THAT IN MIND TONIGHT I'M JOINED BY NEW YORK CITY COUNCILMAN RICHIE TORRES WHO REPRESENTS PARTS OF THE BRONX.

NOW, THE COUNCILMAN WAS THE FIRST MEMBER OF THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL TO TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19.

SO AS PART OF OUR COLLECTIVE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, HE IS JOINING ME FROM HIS APARTMENT IN THE BRONX AND WE WELCOME YOU TO THE PROGRAM.

WELCOME, COUNCILMAN TORRES.

IT'S AN HONOR TO BE HERE.

SO FIRST I JUST WANT TO START OFF WITH HOW ARE YOU FEELING?

BECAUSE JUST EVERYTHING THAT'S GOING ON THAT HAS TO BE A JARRING DIAGNOSIS.

I FEEL FUNDAMENTALLY FINE.

EVERY SO OFTEN I MIGHT FEEL FATIGUED OR I MIGHT EXPERIENCE HEADACHES, BUT MY -- OVER THE WEEKEND MY CHIEF OF STAFF DEVELOPED SERIOUS SYMPTOMS, COUGHING, FEVER, NAUSEA, VOMITING.

HE THEN WENT TO SEE A DOCTOR, UNDERWENT TESTING AND CAME TO DISCOVER THAT HE HAD THE CORONAVIRUS.

SO I REACHED OUT TO A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL, HAD MYSELF TESTED AND I FOUND OUT THAT I HAD THE VIRUS AS WELL AND UPON FINDING OUT THE RESULTS OF THE TEST I HAD TO DIRECT BOTH MY CAMPAIGN AND GOVERNMENT STAFF TO IMMEDIATELY QUARANTINE THEMSELVES.

I HAVE TO QUARANTINE MYSELF FOR A PERIOD OF TWO WEEKS IN ORDER TO AVOID SPREADING THE VIRUS TO OTHERS.

I HAVE A MOTHER WHO AT AGE 60 HAS SERIOUS CHRONIC CONDITIONS AND IS PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE TO THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS, SO I'M GOING THROUGH THE NEW EXPERIENCE OF A TWO-WEEK QUARANTINE AND IT'S, OF COURSE, A CHALLENGE, BUT WE ALL HAVE TO ADJUST TO IT.

OF COURSE.

OF COURSE.

I WANT TO SORT OF GET INTO A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR DIAGNOSIS BECAUSE SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE HAD UNSURE SITUATIONS WHERE THEY THINK THEY MIGHT HAVE HAD IT, THEY'VE GONE TO A DOCTOR, THEY WERE TOLD, MAYBE NOT, BUT THEY WEREN'T TESTED FOR IT.

SO I JUST KIND OF WANT TO GET A SENSE OF HOW WAS IT THAT YOU WERE ABSOLUTELY ABLE TO GET TESTED AND WHAT WAS THAT EXPERIENCE LIKE?

I MEAN, WHAT GOES ON WITH THE CORONAVIRUS TEST?

WELL, I HAD SECURED TESTING A WEEK AGO IT WOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSSIBLE.

SINCE THERE THERE HAS BEEN A DRAMATIC SCALING UP OF TESTING HERE IN NEW YORK STATE.

THERE HAVE BEEN MORE THAN 15,000 TESTS, BUT WERE IT NOT FOR THE FACT THAT MY CHIEF OF STAFF HAD SERIOUS SYMPTOMS AND WERE IT NOT FOR THE FACT THAT I HAD EXTENSIVE CONTACT WITH HIM, THEN I NEVER WOULD HAVE BEEN TESTED OVER THE WEEKEND.

BUT THE CRISIS HERE IN NEW YORK STATE HAS ESCALATED SO DRAMATICALLY THAT EVERYONE SHOULD ASSUME THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO.

YOU KNOW, I THINK OF SOCIAL DISTANCING AS MUCH AS A PATTERN OF THINKING AS IT IS A PATTERN OF BEHAVIOR.

WE ALL SHOULD ACT AS IF WE HAVE TESTED POSITIVE.

WE ALL SHOULD ACT AS IF WE ARE CARRYING THE VIRUS AND THEN ADJUST OUR BEHAVIOR ACCORDINGLY.

NOT ONLY DO WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO OURSELVES TO NOT CONTRACT THE VIRUS, WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO OTHERS TO AVOID SPREADING THE VIRUS, ESPECIALLY TO THOSE WHO ARE ELDERLY WITH CHRONIC CONDITIONS, WITH COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEMS.

THE MORTALITY RATE FOR THE CORONAVIRUS IS AS HIGH AS 15% FOR THOSE AT OR ABOVE THE AGE OF 80.

SO SOCIAL DISTANCING IS NOT SIMPLY A POPULAR HASHTAG ON TWITTER, IT'S A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH AND EVEN THOUGH IT SEEMS INCONVENIENT AND PAINFUL, IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO, IT WILL SAVE LIVES IN THE LONG RUN.

NOW, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I THINK IS TRIPPING SOME PEOPLE UP IS THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE AS WE'RE SLOWLY STARTING TO UNDERSTAND MORE AND MORE ABOUT THIS VIRUS IS THAT THEY CAN BE ASYMPTOMATIC AND YET HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS.

YES.

AND YOU, YOURSELF, WERE SAYING HAD YOU TAKEN THIS TEST A WEEK AGO WHEN YOU WERE MOST LIKELY EVEN MORE ASYMPTOMATIC AND YET INCREDIBLY CONTAGIOUS YOU WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO THAT.

SO FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE FEELING, OKAY, WELL, I DON'T HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS AND EVERYBODY KEEPS TELLING ME I SHOULD ONLY GO TO THE DOCTOR IF I HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS AND I DON'T, THEN, YOU KNOW, HOW MUCH OF MY LIFE DO I REALLY ADJUST OR YES I'M SOCIAL DISTANCING, I STILL HAVE TO GO HERE AND DO THIS AND MAYBE INTERACT WITH CERTAIN PEOPLE OR PERHAPS THEY STILL WANT TO HAVE DINNER WITH THEIR FRIENDS BECAUSE, HEY, I DON'T HAVE SYMPTOMS.

THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT.

YOU KNOW, THE IRONY IS THAT THE FIRST CONFIRMED -- THE FIRST ELECTED OFFICIAL WAS CONFIRMED TO HAVE CORONAVIRUS IS THE YOUNGEST ELECTED OFFICIAL.

THAT IS IRONIC.

I'M THE YOUNGEST MEMBER OF THE CITY COUNCIL, I'M A MILLENNIAL, YOU KNOW, IF YOU'RE YOUNG AND MILLENNIAL AND HEALTHY, IT IS -- TO LULL YOURSELF INTO A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY AND CONVINCE YOURSELF THAT THERE IS NO NEED FOR SOCIAL DISTANCING, THAT THE CORONAVIRUS LARGELY AFFECTS AN OLDER, MORE ILL POPULATION.

THAT COULD NOT BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH BECAUSE THERE ARE YOUNG PEOPLE LIKE ME WHO COULD BE CARRYING THE VIRUS ASYMPTOMATICALLY AND COULD BE SPREADING IT TO OTHERS WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING IT.

SO INSTEAD OF SPECULATING ABOUT WHETHER WE HAVE IT, WE ALL SHOULD ASSUME THAT WE HAVE IT AND ADJUST OUR BEHAVIOR ACCORDINGLY.

WELL, WE'VE HEARD SOME REPORTS THAT ACTUALLY AS MORE TESTING GETS RAMPED UP AND THERE IS MORE ACCESS TO THE TEST THAT WE WILL START TO FIND OUT THAT MORE AND MORE PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY CARRYING AROUND THE VIRUS AND I BELIEVE THAT'S SUPPOSED TO BE PART OF THE PEAK, IF YOU WILL, OF THE EPIDEMIC AS IT SPREADS THROUGH NEW YORK CITY AND THE COUNTRY.

HOW DO YOU --

LOOK, YOU HAVE HAD -- YOU HAD AN EPIDEMIOLOGIST FROM HARVARD PROJECT THAT -- PROJECT THAT THE PANDEMIC COULD INFECT AS MUCH AS 70% OF THE WORLD POPULATION.

SO THERE ARE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD WHO HAVE BEEN INFECTED WITH THE CORONAVIRUS WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING IT.

THAT'S MY SUSPICION.

WELL, ONE MORE THING THAT I DO WANT TO, AGAIN, REITERATE HERE IS THAT WHILE YOU TESTED POSITIVE, AGAIN, YOU'RE SITTING UP, YOU'RE BRIGHT-EYED, YOU'RE TALKING TO ME, YOU DON'T SOUND LIKE, YOU KNOW, YOU'RE SHORT OF BREATH OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT, AND PEOPLE MIGHT SAY, HEY, IF I'M YOUNG, IF I'M A MILLENNIAL AND I GET IT, WHAT IF I END UP LIKE RICHIE TORRES?

I MEAN, IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE A HEADACHE.

THERE ARE TWO RISKS, FIRST, ALL OF US CARRY THE RISK OF SPREADING THE DISEASE.

UH-HUH.

IN FACT, ACCORDING TO THE DATA IN SOUTH KOREA, WHICH HAS THE HIGHEST TESTING PER CAPITA AND, THEREFORE, THE MOST RELIABLE DATA, MILLENNIALS LIKE ME ARE THE LEADING CARRIERS OF THE CORONAVIRUS.

WE ARE DISPROPORTIONATE DRIVERS OF COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION.

SO IT'S ESSENTIAL THAT MILLENNIALS PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING AND AVOID SPREADING THE DISEASE.

SECOND, IT IS TRUE THAT OLDER PEOPLE WITH CHRONIC CONDITIONS AND COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEMS ARE AT INFINITELY HIGHER RISK OF MORTALITY, BUT THERE ARE REPORTS FROM ITALY, FROM FRANCE, THAT SOME YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE BECOME SERIOUSLY ILL AS A RESULT OF THE CORONAVIRUS.

SO JUST BECAUSE YOUNG PEOPLE GENERALLY ARE ABLE TO SURVIVE THE VIRUS DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU AS A PARTICULAR YOUNG PERSON WILL ULTIMATELY SURVIVE THE VIRUS.

OF COURSE.

SO EVERYONE SHOULD BE -- EVERYONE SHOULD BE ACTING OUT OF AN ABUNDANCE OF CAUTION.

AND AS WE LEARN MORE AND MORE ABOUT THE VIRUS WHAT'S ALSO BEING DETERMINED IS WHAT KIND OF LONG-TERM DAMAGE IT COULD BE DOING TO LUNGS, WHICH I DO HOPE DOES NOT HAPPEN FOR YOU.

BUT I DO --

AND HERE IS WHY -- IF I COULD JUST --

ABSOLUTELY.

IT'S USEFUL.

IT IS SAID THAT 80% OF THE PEOPLE WHO CONTRACT CORONAVIRUS WILL EXPERIENCE NEXT TO NO SYMPTOMS OR MILD SYMPTOMS.

SO THE REAL CONCERN IS THE REMAINING 20%. IF YOU STIPULATE THAT THERE ARE 330 MILLION AMERICANS, SUPPOSE 10% OF THEM ARE INFECTED WITH THE CORONAVIRUS, 33 MILLION, AND SUPPOSE 20% OF 33 MILLION, 6.6 MILLION REQUIRE HOSPITALIZATION.

6.6 MILLION IS SEVEN TIMES MORE HOSPITAL BEDS THAN THE CURRENT CAPACITY OF THE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.

WE ONLY HAVE A MILLION HOSPITAL BEDS, MOST OF WHICH ARE IN USE.

SO THE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM CANNOT ABSORB THE SHOCK OF MILLIONS OF NEW HOSPITALIZATIONS.

SO THE CHOICE BEFORE US IS STARK.

EITHER WE SLOW THE SPREAD OF THE DISEASE OR THE SHEAR NUMBER OF CASES WILL CRUSH THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.

AND FOR A GLIMPSE OF WHAT COULD HAPPEN LOOK NO FURTHER THAN ITALY.

WE'VE ALL SEEN THE FAMOUS IMAGE OF A NURSE COLLAPSING FACEDOWN FROM EXHAUSTION.

YEAH.

WE'VE SEEN THE RATIONING OF HEALTH CARE.

PATIENTS HAVE BEEN LEFT TO DIE IN THE HALLWAY, FUNERALS HAVE BEEN POSTPONED.

RIGHT.

THAT'S THE KIND OF NIGHTMARE THAT WE HAVE TO PREVENT FROM TRANSPIRING HERE IN NEW YORK CITY HERE IN THE UNITED STATES.

SO IT'S NOT ONLY ABOUT THE RISK TO INDIVIDUALS, IT'S ABOUT THE RISK TO THE STABILITY OF THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.

I DO WANT TO PIVOT A LITTLE BIT BECAUSE YOU'VE BEEN A FREE -- MOST OF YOUR CAREER YOU'VE BEEN A VERY VOCAL ADVOCATE FOR PEOPLE LIVING IN PUBLIC HOUSING AND YOU HAVE RELATED THAT TO YOUR OWN CHILDHOOD GROWING UP IN PUBLIC HOUSING HERE IN THE CITY, HOWEVER, I DO WANT TO ASK ABOUT A LOT OF WHAT WE'RE SEEING WITH AT LEAST THE PRESS FOR SOCIAL DISTANCING SEEMS TO BE A PREP OF PRIVILEGE.

THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF BUYING, A LOT OF ORDERING, A LOT OF ET CETERA, AND IF YOU ARE A PERSON WHO IS LIVING IN PUBLIC HOUSING, YOU ARE IN A HIGH-RISE APARTMENT, YOU MIGHT NOT -- YOU MIGHT HAVE A JOB WHERE YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO GO TO WORK, YOU CAN'T AFFORD NOT TO GO, IS ALL OF WHAT'S BEING ASKED OF THE PUBLIC, IS THAT WORKING OUT THE SAME WAY?

LOOK, I LIVE IN THE SOUTH BRONX, WHICH IS SAID TO BE THE POOREST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT IN AMERICA.

UH-HUH.

AND IF YOU LIVE IN POVERTY AND YOU HAVE NO ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE OR NO ACCESS TO PAID SICK TIME AND YOU LIVE ON A FIXED INCOME, THEN YOU'RE GOING TO BE AMONG THE PEOPLE WHO ARE HIT HARDEST BY THE PANDEMIC.

SO I WORRY DEEPLY ABOUT THE FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES THAT ARE GOING TO BE RAVAGED BY THE PANDEMIC, THAT HAVE BEEN RAVAGED BY THE PANDEMIC.

I WORRY ABOUT SENIOR CITIZENS WHO FEEL A SENSE OF SOLITUDE.

THERE ARE SENIOR CITIZENS WHO DIE FROM LONELINESS.

I WORRY ABOUT, YOU KNOW, POOR PEOPLE, WORKING PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO BE DISPLACED IN THEIR JOBS AND WHO MIGHT STRUGGLE WITH LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT AND HERE IN AMERICA WE HAVE AN EPIDEMIC OF DEPTHS OF DESPAIR.

UNEMPLOYMENT IS NOT SIMPLY THE LOSS OF A JOB, UNEMPLOYMENT CAN COST US LIVES, IT CAN COST US STABLE COMMUNITIES, SO THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC COULD BE LONG AND LASTING.

THE WORLD MIGHT NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN.

LIFE AS WE KNOW IT COULD BE RADICALLY RESHAPED BY THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK.

WELL, YOU MENTIONED THAT THE WORLD MIGHT NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN AND YOU DID SORT OF TOUCH ON THE FACT THAT YOU'RE ALSO CONCERNED ABOUT BUSINESSES.

THE BRONX I THINK MORE THAN ANY OTHER BOROUGH, AND YOU CAN CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG, BUT ITS LIFEBLOOD, SO MUCH OF IT IS SMALL MOM AND POP BUSINESSES AND THERE'S BEEN TALK BEFORE, SCOTT STRINGER HAS SPOKEN OF THE FACT THAT HE'S CONCERNED THAT THERE COULD BE A PROLONGED RECESSION.

I'M WONDERING IF YOU HAVE ANY SENSE OF WHAT KIND OF ECONOMIC IMPACT THIS MIGHT HAVE ON YOUR CONSTITUENTS.

CATASTROPHIC.

CONCERN IS NOT A RECESSION, THE CONCERN IS THE DEPRESSION.

THE CORONAVIRUS COMBINED PSYCHOLOGICAL TERROR OF 9/11 WITH THE ECONOMIC HARDSHIP OF THE GREAT RECESSION LIKE 2008 OR EVEN THE 1930s GREAT RECESSION.

THAT IS HOW CATASTROPHIC THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE PANDEMIC COULD BE.

BECAUSE MOST -- YOU KNOW, THE GOVERNOR HAS SAID THAT THE PANDEMIC WILL PEAK IN 45 DAYS, WHICH IS MORE THAN A MONTH.

YEAH.

AND THE PEAK ITSELF CAN LAST THREE WEEKS, SO 45 DAYS PLUS THREE WEEKS.

AT LEAST TWO MORE MONTHS IN WHICH WE ARE ALL IN A STATE OF EMERGENCY.

HOW MANY SMALL BUSINESSES CAN SURVIVE WEEKS OR MONTHS OF INTERRUPTION?

HOW MANY FAMILIES CAN SURVIVE WEEKS OR MONTHS OF LOST INCOME?

YOU KNOW, YOU CAN PREPARE FOR SOME EVENTS IN LIFE BUT NO ONE CAN COMPARE -- PREPARE FOR THE CATASTROPHIC CONSEQUENCES OF A PANDEMIC THAT INTERRUPTS NORMAL LIFE AND INTERRUPTS NORMAL BUSINESS FOR MONTHS ON THE SCALE OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES.

SO WE DESPERATELY NEED AN INFUSION OF SUPPORT FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

WE NEED FINANCIAL SUPPORT --

I WAS GOING TO SAY THAT WAS GOING TO BE MY FOLLOW-UP QUESTION IS THAT DO YOU HAVE ANY SENSE OF WHETHER OR NOT THERE'S ANY KIND OF RESCUE PACKAGE OR SOME SORT OF STIMULUS OR SOMETHING COMING FROM ANY LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT BE IT CITY, STATE, FEDERAL, SOMETHING TO PROP UP ALL OF US REALLY, IT'S NOT JUST THE BRONX COMMUNITY, ALL OF US?

IT SEEMS LIKE THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS RECEPTIVE TO A STIMULUS PACKAGE, BUT AS FAR AS I CAN TELL WHAT HE HAS IN MIND STRIKES ME AS POORLY PRACTICED.

HE IS MORE CONCERNED ABOUT CORPORATIONS LIKE AIRLINES AND NOT AS CONCERNED ABOUT THE MOM AND POP SMALL BUSINESSES IN PLACES LIKE THE BRONX.

UH-HUH.

THOSE ARE, YOU KNOW -- I WOULD HAVE REAL CONCERNS ABOUT A STIMULUS PACKAGE THAT BAILED OUT LARGE CORPORATIONS, BUT LEFT BEHIND SMALL BUSINESSES STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE.

I THINK THAT WOULD BE A TERRIBLE MISCALCULATION.

AND, AGAIN, I MEAN, THINGS CHANGE SO MUCH, EVEN AT THE TIME THAT WE'RE TAPING THIS THIS COULD CHANGE BY THE TIME OUR PIECE AIRS, BUT THERE IS TALK OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ISSUING SOME SORT OF RELIEF CHECKS FOR PEOPLE.

DO YOU SEE THAT AS BEING THE KIND OF -- AT LEAST A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION OR IS THAT TOO LITTLE TOO LATE?

I THINK WE HAVE TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO THOSE IN GREATEST NEED AND WE HAVE TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO SMALL BUSINESSES TO COMPENSATE FOR THE LOSSES OF THEIR PROLONGED INTERRUPTION AND TO PREVENT THEM FROM LAYING OFF PEOPLE.

WHAT VALUE IS ONE CHECK BUT YOU'RE STILL LAID OFF?

YOU KNOW, A FEW CHECKS WILL ONLY TAKE YOU SO FAR BUT ULTIMATELY YOU WANT TO KEEP PEOPLE THIS THEIR JOBS SO THAT YOU HAVE A LIVELIHOOD IN THE LONG RUN, SO THAT THE ECONOMY HAS STABILITY IN THE LONG RUN.

WELL, LET ME ASK --

SO IT FEELS LIKE EVERYONE AGREES ON THE NEED FOR A STIMULUS.

YES.

BUT THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS.

ALWAYS.

AND IT WILL COME AS NO SHOCK TO YOU THAT THE PRIORITIES OF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ARE QUITE DIFFERENT FROM MY PRIORITIES.

SO THEN LET ME PIVOT A LITTLE BIT FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INTO LOCAL GOVERNMENT BECAUSE WE HAVE HEARD WORD FROM MAYOR de BLASIO THAT HE HAS BEEN FLOATING THE IDEA OF NEW YORK CITY ENGAGING IN A SHELTER IN PLACE.

THAT STILL EVEN WITH THE SOCIAL DISTANCING THERE'S TOO MANY PEOPLE INTERMINGLING.

WE REALLY NEED TO LOCK THINGS DOWN SO THAT THE HOSPITALS DON'T GET OVERWHELMED.

AT THE SAME TIME -- OR RIGHT AFTERWARD -- WE HEARD FROM GOVERNOR CUOMO WHO SAID ABSOLUTELY NOT, THAT IS A BAD IDEA, YOU'RE JUST GOING TO SOW MORE FEAR IN THE COMMUNITY, YOU'RE GOING TO CREATE MORE PANIC, SO NO.

I'M WONDERING WHICH EXECUTIVE YOU SIDE WITH.

I GENERALLY HAVE MORE CONFIDENCE IN GOVERNOR CUOMO, HE'S AN EXCEPTIONAL MANAGER AND HE'S BEEN, YOU KNOW, OF THE THREE EXECUTIVES, THE PRESIDENT, THE GOVERNOR, THE MAYOR, HE'S BY FAR BEEN THE MOST EFFECTIVE.

WE'RE BLESSED TO HAVE HIM HERE IN NEW YORK STATE.

HAVING SAID THAT, I RESPECTFULLY DISAGREE.

THE PANDEMIC IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE OF OUR LIFETIME.

IT IS THE WORST PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY IN A CENTURY.

NO ONE CAN PREDICT FOR SURE HOW RAPIDLY AND WIDELY THE DISEASE WILL SPREAD.

SO IN MY OPINION WE HAVE TO ASSUME THE WORST.

WE OUGHT TO ERR ON THE SIDE OF OVERREACTION AND CAUTION AND DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO SLOW THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO A SHELTER IN PLACE ORDER.

SO I WOULD SUPPORT IT SIMPLY TO ERR ON THE SIDE OF OVERREACTION.

IS THERE ROUGHLY ANY IDEA HOW LONG YOU THINK THIS SHOULD LAST?

I MEAN, SHOULD IT BE THE FULL POSSIBLE THREE TO FOUR WEEKS OF THE PEAK OR, AGAIN, AS GOVERNOR CUOMO SAID THE CAT IS ALREADY OUT OF THE BAG.

WE WAITED TOO LONG TO START TAKING DRASTIC ACTION.

WE DID WAIT TOO LONG, BUT THE SOLUTION IS TO ACT AS AGGRESSIVELY AS WE CAN RATHER THAN -- BECAUSE IF WE WERE TO SEIZE SOCIAL DISTANCING THEN THE CONSEQUENCES WOULD BE EVEN GREATER.

OKAY.

SO, THEN, WITH ALL OF THAT IN MIND, WE'VE BEEN HEARING FROM SOME PEOPLE WHO ARE STILL GOING TO WORK, I'M ASSUMING AT THIS POINT IT'S BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO, AND WE ACTUALLY HAD ONE COMMENT FROM A FACEBOOK VIEWER WHO WAS SAYING THAT SHE IS AN EMPLOYEE OF CITY HALL AND SHE'S STILL BEING EXPECTED TO COMMUTE INTO HER JOB AND THAT THAT'S EXPOSING HER TO, YOU KNOW, GERMS ON THE SUBWAY, GERMS AT THE OFFICE, SHE'S BRINGING GOD KNOWS WHAT AT HOME TO HER FAMILY EVERY NIGHT.

I WONDERING IF ALL EMPLOYEES OF AT LEAST CITY GOVERNMENT AND OF COURSE NOT FIRST RESPONDERS, WE DO NEED THEM STILL OUT IN THE FIELD, BUT IF YOU ARE WORKING IN AN OFFICE OR SOME SORT OF ADMINISTRATIVE JOB IN CITY GOVERNMENT, SHOULD YOU BE WORKING FROM HOME RIGHT NOW?

WITHOUT KNOWING THE DETAILS OF HER CASE, IT SEEMS TO ME IF YOU CAN OPERATE EFFECTIVELY FROM HOME, THEN SOCIAL DISTANCING DICTATES THAT YOU SHOULD REMAIN AT HOME.

OF COURSE.

THAT'S THE WISEST THING -- THE MORE PEOPLE WE HAVE AT HOME, THE BETTER.

SO ONE OF THE OTHER THINGS THAT I DID WANT TO TALK ABOUT IS WE HAVE -- NOW WITH ALL OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS CLOSED WE HAVE A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF CHILDREN WHO ARE ALSO HOME, APARTMENTS WHO ARE COOPED UP PARTICULARLY IN NEW YORK CITY WITH KIDS IN APARTMENTS AND SO WE'VE BEEN HEARING STORIES ABOUT PARENTS TAKING YOUNG CHILDREN TO PARK TO PLAY TOGETHER BECAUSE RIGHT NOW WHAT WE'RE HEARING IS THAT KIDS DON'T NECESSARILY GET THE CORONAVIRUS.

AND AT THE SAME TIME YOU ALSO HAVE OLDER CHILDREN, PARTICULARLY HIGH SCHOOLERS, WHO SINCE THEY DON'T HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL AND AS MOST TEENAGERS TEND TO THINK THEY ARE INVINCIBLE, WOULD BE INCLINED TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO GO HANG OUT WITH FRIENDS.

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO NEW YORK CITY'S PARENTS WHO HAVE KIDS WHO SAY I HAVE TO GET THIS KID OUT OF THIS APARTMENT, I CAN'T KEEP THEM COOPED UP, THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO PLAY WITH THEIR FRIENDS?

I FEEL FOR THOSE PARENTS AND SOME BEHAVIORS CARRY MORE RISK THAN OTHERS, BUT, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE TO BE HONEST.

WHEREVER THERE IS CONTACT WITH POTENTIALLY INFECTED PEOPLE OR WHEREVER THERE'S CONTACT WITH POTENTIALLY INFECTED SURFACES THERE COULD BE THE RISK OF A SPREADING OF THE DISEASE.

SO THE SAFEST THING TO DO IS TO REMAIN AT HOME, BUT I UNDERSTAND THE NEED TO ALLOW CHILDREN TO PLAY IN PARKS.

THAT'S CERTAINLY MUCH SAFER THAN, YOU KNOW, CROWDING STUDENTS TOGETHER IN CONFINED CRAMPED SPACES.

YOU KNOW, THERE'S ONLY SO MUCH WE CAN DO TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF DISEASE.

SHORT OF EARED KAGT HUMAN CONTACT.

YEAH.

THERE ARE LIMITS TO WHAT WE CAN DO, BUT OF COURSE THERE'S A RISK.

IT'S THE SURFACES IN A PARK ARE INFECTED THEN THERE'S A CLEAR RISK OF TRANSMISSION.

WHAT ABOUT ALSO I JUST WANT TO STAY ON THE KIDS FOR A LITTLE WHILE BECAUSE THERE WAS SO MUCH CONSTERNATION AND BACK AND FORTH ABOUT WHETHER THE MAYOR SHOULD CLOSE THE SCHOOLS AND HOW LONG HE TOOK TO MAKE THAT DECISION.

PART OF THE PUSH BACK WAS SO MANY OF NEW YORK CITY KIDS ARE POOR, THAT THEY RELY ON THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOR MEALS, FOR SAFETY, FOR MEET IN SOME CASES, AND SO DO YOU KNOW IF THERE'S ANY PLAN RIGHT NOW THAT'S IN THE WORKS TO PROVIDE THE SUPPORT TO THOSE KIDS THAT THEY WERE GETTING AT SCHOOL THAT THEY ARE NOT NECESSARILY GETTING RIGHT THIS SECOND?

THERE ARE PLANS IN PLACE SO EVERY PUBLIC SCHOOL IS FUNCTIONING AS A FOOD DISTRIBUTION CENTER.

IT IS A GRAB AND GO DYNAMIC, SO YOU CAN GO TO A PUBLIC SCHOOL, GRAB A BAG AND THEN GO.

SO FOOD IS AVAILABLE TO PARENTS AND CHILDREN WHO NEED THEM AND THEN WHEN IT COMES TO ESSENTIAL PERSONNEL, THERE'S GOING TO BE CHILD CARE AVAILABLE TO THOSE PEOPLE AS WELL.

ALL RIGHT.

WELL, THAT'S ALSO HELPFUL.

I JUST WANT TO CIRCLE BACK ONE MORE TIME TO YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH GETTING TESTED.

NOW, DO WE KNOW IF THE TESTS ARE NOW AVAILABLE CITY-WIDE SO THAT ANYBODY WHO AT LEAST IS AT THE POINT WHERE THEY ARE EXPERIENCING SYMPTOMS CAN GET A TEST AND THEN SECONDLY WHAT IS THE NEXT MOST CRUCIAL STEP IF YOU TEST POSITIVE?

TESTING IS MORE AVAILABLE NOW THAN IT WAS PREVIOUSLY BUT THE EXPERIENCE VARIES WIDELY.

THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE THAT HAVE HAD TROUBLE ATTAINING A TEST, SOME PEOPLE THAT HAVE UNDERGONE A TEST BUT HAD TROUBLE FINDING OUT THE RESULTS.

THE BEST ADVICE I CAN GIVE IS TO FOLLOW THE ADVICE OF YOUR DOCTOR, BUT I WANT TO ECHO WHAT I SAID EARLIER, WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT FOR US AS INDIVIDUALS IS SOCIAL DISTANCE, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU HAVE TESTED POSITIVE.

YOU SHOULD ACT AS IF YOU HAVE TESTED POSITIVE.

SO EVEN IF YOU UNDERGO A TEST, IT SHOULD HAVE NO BEARING ON YOUR BEHAVIOR BECAUSE YOU SHOULD BE STRIVING TO REMAIN HOME IN THE FIRST PLACE.

ALL RIGHT.

WELL, LISTEN, COUNCILMAN TORRES, I WANT TO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO JOIN US.

I ALSO WANT TO WISH YOU FROM ALL OF US AT 'METROFOCUS' AND WNET A VERY SPEEDY AND HEALTHY RECOVERY.

WE HOPE TO KEEP TRACK OF YOUR PROGRESS AND SPEAK TO YOU AGAIN ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR TIME.

LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING YOU IN PERSON, VIRUS-FREE.

ABSOLUTELY.

ME, TOO.

THANK YOU.

TAKE CARE.

ALL RIGHT.

BYE BYE-BYE.

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

GOODNIGHT AND STAY SAFE.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSLYN P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019