MetroFocus: April 2, 2020

SUFFOLK COUNTY CASES INCREASE BY 1000 IN 24 HOURS

COUNTY EXECUTIVE STEVE BELLONE:

“IF WE GET MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY TO COME TO LONG ISLAND, THEY WILL SAVE LIVES”

“IT’S A WAR. THE FIGHT NOW IS ABOUT SAVING LIVES”

“THINGS WILL GET TOUGHER BEFORE THEY GET BETTER”

CALLS ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO MARSHAL RESOURCES LIKE VENTILATORS AND PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT

Long Island is bracing itself for a difficult month as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise exponentially. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone says the situation will only get worse before it gets better, and calls on the federal government to do more to provide the critical supplies needed to fight the “war” against the virus. Bellone says that while hospital capacity is being increased, there is still an urgent need for medical professionals to staff the hospitals. The County Executive also talks about some of the unique challenges posed by the current crisis on the seasonal communities on the eastern tip of Long Island, as well as the impact on Suffolk County’s immigrant community.

HAVE THE SIGHT OF EMPTY STORE SHELVES SENT A CHILL DOWN YOUR SPINE? NONE TO WORRY AMERICA’S TRUCKERS ARE ON THE LINE!

When Americans first heard about the closures and cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many responded by preparing for quarantine and panic buying. An official quarantine or even shelter in place, had not been put into effect, but the
reports from other countries response to the coronavirus proved frightening.

However, those empty store shelves were less a reflection of scarcity and more a reflection of a shockwave in the supply chain. Suppliers and distributers had to reconfigure a new smooth
efficient delivery method to reanimate a stunned system. Through it all one of the most unseen heroes of the pandemic crisis are America’s truck drivers. Kendra Hems, president of the Trucking Association of New York says the supplies are there, and the truckers are ready to deliver them to your local stores.

Aired on April 2, 2020. 

TRANSCRIPT

WE'RE WORKING FROM HOME, BUT WE'RE DEDICATED TO BRINGING YOU THE IMPORTANT STORIES ABOUT HOW OUR AREA IS AFFECTED BY CORONAVIRUS.

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 PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

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

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.

IN ONE OF HIS MOST SOBERING ASSESSMENTS YET, PRESIDENT TRUMP IS WARNING AMERICANS TO BRACE THEMSELVES FOR SOME TOUGH WEEKS AHEAD AS THE GOVERNMENT PREDICTS THAT COVID-19 COULD KILL BETWEEN 100 AND 240,000 PEOPLE ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

IN LONG ISLAND OFFICIALS ARE PREPARING FOR A SURGE IN CORONAVIRUS CASES THAT COULD PUSH ALREADY STRAINED RESOURCES TO THE BREAKING POINT.

JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THOSE PREPARATIONS AND THE CHALLENGES AHEAD, SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE STEVEN BELLONE.

STEVE, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TODAY.

THANK YOU, RAFAEL, GOOD TO BE WITH YOU.

STEVE, LET ME START WITH THIS.

HOW IS THE COVID-19 SITUATION IN SUFFOLK COUNTY AS WE SPEAK AND WE'RE TALKING ON THE EVENING OF APRIL 1st.

APRIL IS A TIME OF OPTIMISM.

THE WARM MONTHS ARE COMING, FLOWERS BLOOMING, PEOPLE THINKING ABOUT GRADUATIONS AND SUMMERTIME, ALL THE WONDERFUL THINGS WE LOVE ABOUT LONG ISLAND, BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT WE'RE THINKING ABOUT TODAY.

TODAY IS FAR DIFFERENT THAN ANYTHING WE'VE EVER EXPERIENCED.

TODAY WE'RE THINKING ABOUT THE FIGHT THAT IS AHEAD.

IT HAS BEEN CHARACTERIZED AS A WAR.

I THINK THAT IS AN ACCURATE DESCRIPTION.

IT IS A WAR, AND THE FIGHT IS ABOUT TRYING TO SAVE LIVES.

HOW MANY LIVES CAN WE SAVE HERE.

EVERYBODY HAS A ROLE TO PLAY IN THAT.

I THINK THAT'S VERY SIGNIFICANT.

THERE ARE PEOPLE ON THE FRONT LINES OF THAT WAR, THE HEALTH CARE WORKERS PARTICULARLY, WHO ARE RIGHT NOW, AS WE SPEAK, ARE WORKING TO SAVE PATIENTS' LIVES DESPERATELY.

BUT EVERYBODY HAS A ROLE TO PLAY.

THAT'S SOCIAL DISTANCING AND FOLLOWING THE GUIDELINES.

THAT'S IMPORTANT BECAUSE WHEN YOU DO THAT, YOU DEPRESS THE CURVE AND YOU CAN HELP THOSE HEALTH CARE WORKERS WHO ARE WORKING RIGHT NOW.

BUT THIS IS -- WHAT WE'RE LOOKING AT AS WE BEGIN APRIL IS IN STARK CONTRAST TO WHERE WE STARTED THE MONTH PRIOR.

MARCH 1st, LIFE WAS NORMAL HERE.

WE DIDN'T GET OUR FIRST CASE IN SUFFOLK COUNTY UNTIL MARCH 8th.

WE DIDN'T REPORT OUR FIRST DEATH IN SUFFOLK COUNTY UNTIL MARCH 16th.

APRIL 1st, I CONFIRMED TODAY WE HAVE A TOTAL NOW OF 69 DEATHS, 25 IN THE LAST 48 HOURS.

THOSE NUMBERS JUST GIVE YOU A SENSE OF THE TRAJECTORY OF THIS THING, WHERE IT IS HEADED AND WHY THINGS ARE GOING TO GET MUCH TOUGHER BEFORE THEY CAN GET BETTER.

BUT THAT IS THE THING.

WE ALL HAVE A ROLE TO PLAY IN MAKING IT GET BETTER QUICKER.

WE'LL GET TO THAT IN ONE SECOND.

HOW ARE YOUR HOSPITALS HOLDING OUT?

DO YOU HAVE THE NUMBER OF VENTILATORS AND PROTECTIVE GEAR FOR THE HEALTH WORKERS ON THE FRONT LINES THAT YOU THINK YOU'LL NEED WHEN THE APEX OF THE VIRUS COMES TO YOUR COUNTY?

NO, THEY DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH SUPPLIES.

THEY DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH VENTILATORS.

THAT HAS BEEN CLEAR.

THE GOVERNOR HAS BEEN TALKING ABOUT THIS EVERY DAY.

I'LL GO BACK TO THE WAR METAPHOR THAT HAS BEEN USED.

AGAIN, I THINK THAT'S APPROPRIATE.

I THINK THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE.

BUT WHEN YOU FIGHT A WAR, YOU DON'T DO IT COUNTY BY COUNTY OR EVEN STATE BY STATE.

YOU FIGHT A WAR AS A NATION, AND WE NEED THAT NATIONAL EFFORT TO MARSHAL THE RESOURCES, GET THE SUPPLIES AND THE EQUIPMENT AND THE STAFFING THAT IS NECESSARY FOR FIGHTING THE BATTLE WHERE IT IS HAPPENING NOW.

THAT IS IN NEW YORK.

IT IS ON LONG ISLAND.

QUITE FRANKLY, IT'S WONDERFUL THAT FORD IS GOING TO BE MAKING TENS OF THOUSANDS OF VENTILATORS.

THAT'S GOING TO BE GREAT.

IT'S GOING TO HELP A LOT OF PLACES, BUT IT'S NOT GOING TO HELP NEW YORK.

WE NEED A NATIONAL EFFORT TO BRING THE SUPPLIES AND THE EQUIPMENT FROM OTHER PARTS OF THE COUNTRY TO NEW YORK WHERE IT'S NEEDED.

AND THE SAME THING WITH STAFFING.

THE GOVERNOR PUT OUT A CALL FOR MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO COME TO NEW YORK TO WORK WITH US, AND NEW YORK WILL RETURN THE FAVOR.

I WILL TELL YOU THIS, IF WE GET HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY TO COME TO LONG ISLAND, THEY WILL HELP SAVE LIVES, NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.

LET'S GO BACK TO THE POINT WE'RE MAKING.

I'M HEARING THAT YOU DON'T THINK THAT SUFFOLK COUNTY AS WELL AS NEW YORK STATE AS A WHOLE IS GETTING SUFFICIENT HELP FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT?

AM I RIGHT?

AM I HEARING RIGHT?

I THINK THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO MARSHAL THE SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT THAT EXIST AROUND THE COUNTRY IN THOSE AREAS THAT HAVE NOT BEEN HARD HIT YET AND DELIVER THOSE SUPPLIES TO NEW YORK.

I ABSOLUTELY BELIEVE THAT.

HOW ABOUT THE STATE?

THE STATE AND GOVERNOR CUOMO GIVING YOU ALL THE ASSISTANCE THAT YOU NEED TO THE DEGREE THAT THEY HAVE IT?

I THINK THE GOVERNOR HAS DONE AN INCREDIBLE JOB HERE.

I HONESTLY BELIEVE HE'S GIVING A MASTER CLASS ON CRISIS MANAGEMENT, THIS IS WHAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO DO WHEN YOU LEAD, IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM, BE TRANSPARENT ABOUT IT AND DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO MARSHAL ALL THE RESOURCES TO FIGHT THAT CHALLENGE, AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HE'S DOING.

WE'RE BASICALLY BUILDING ANOTHER HOSPITAL HERE IN TERMS OF BED CAPACITY.

AT STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY, THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, ALL THE RESOURCES GOING INTO BUILDING OUT THE HOSPITAL CAPACITY, THAT'S BEEN TERRIFIC AND THE GOVERNOR HAS BEEN LEADING THE EFFORT.

WE'RE DOING EVERYTHING WE CAN TO SUPPORT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STATE'S BATTLE PLAN AND WORKING WITH THE HOSPITALS TO SUPPORT THEIR EXPANSION AND EFFORTS AS WELL.

BY THE WAY, THE GOVERNOR NOW BELIEVES THE SURGE WILL COME AT THE END OF APRIL, APRIL 30th.

DO YOU BELIEVE THAT'S MORE OR LESS WHEN THE SURGE WILL COME TO SUFFOLK COUNTY?

IT'S HARD TO TELL EXACTLY.

I'VE ALWAYS THOUGHT WE'RE A LITTLE BEHIND NEW YORK CITY, MAYBE A WEEK, MAYBE TWO.

IT'S HARD TO SAY.

WHAT I CAN TELL YOU IS WE LOOK AT THE NUMBERS EVERY DAY ON HOSPITALIZATIONS, COVID-19 PATIENTS BEING HOSPITALIZED, AND THOSE NUMBERS GO UP EVERY DAY.

WE'VE BEEN TRACKING OVER THE LAST FOUR OR FIVE DAYS, ABOUT 100 NET INCREASE EVERY DAY.

OVER THE LAST 24 HOURS WE'VE SEEN A JUMP OF ABOUT 200.

SO THE NUMBERS CONTINUE TO RISE.

SO WHAT UNIQUE CHALLENGES OR CONCERNS ARE YOU FACING IN SUFFOLK COUNTY DID YOU THINK MIGHT BE A LITTLE DIFFERENT THAN WHAT THE REST OF THE STATE IS FACING?

I THINK MANY OF THE CHALLENGES ARE SIMILAR.

IT'S ABOUT EXPANDING THE CAPACITY.

THE PHYSICAL SPACE, AS CHALLENGING AS THAT IS, BUILDING A NEW SYSTEM IN A WEEK'S TIME ISN'T THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE.

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IS GETTING THE EQUIPMENT, SUPPLIES AND STAFFING THAT'S NECESSARY.

ONE OF THE CHALLENGES WE HAVE FACED HERE IN SUFFOLK COUNTY IS WE HAVE A LARGE IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY, AND THIS IS ALWAYS A DIFFICULT COMMUNICATE WITH COMMUNITY.

WE'VE SEEN IN THOSE AREAS HIGHER NUMBERS THAN ELSEWHERE.

SO WE'RE DOING A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT THINGS TO TRY TO GET THE MESSAGING ACROSS TO THAT COMMUNITY, THAT SOMETIMES HAS MORE DENSE POPULATION THAN OTHER AREAS OF THE COUNTY AS WELL, SO THAT CREATES ADDITIONAL CHALLENGES.

SO WE'RE WORKING WITH THE SUFFOLK COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT, OUR SPANISH-SPEAKING OFFICERS, TO GO INTO THOSE COMMUNITIES, TO DEAL WITH BUSINESSES DIRECTLY THERE AND GIVE THE MESSAGING ABOUT STAYING HOME, ISOLATING, WASHING HANDS, ALL THE MESSAGING WE'VE BEEN DELIVERING ACROSS THE COUNTY, BUT REALLY TRYING TO HONE IN ON THAT HARD-TO-REACH SEGMENT OF THE POPULATION.

ARE THERE RESIDENTS FROM THE NEW YORK METROPOLITAN AREA THAT HAVE CHOSEN TO RIDE OUT THE VIRUS IN PARTS OF YOUR COUNTY?

AND IF SO, HAS THAT BEEN A PARTICULAR CHALLENGE?

IT HAS PRESENTED SOME CHALLENGES, OF COURSE.

THEY'RE HOMEOWNERS HERE AND PART OF OUR FAMILY AS WELL.

WE ENCOURAGE TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE FOR PEOPLE TO STAY WHERE THEY ARE.

THE RESOURCES ON THE EAST END OR ON FIRE ISLAND, FOR INSTANCE, THEY'RE NOT THERE IN THE OFF SEASON.

THE STAFFING IS NOT THERE.

THE RESOURCES -- I'LL GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE.

GROCERY STORES.

THE GROCERY STORES OUT THERE AND SUPER MARKETS, THEY'VE STOCKED THE SHELVES WITH A SUPPLY THAT'S BASICALLY FOR THE END OF WINTER, BEGINNING OF SPRING-TYPE NUMBERS.

THEY ARE NOT STOCKING IT FOR THE SEASON.

THEY CERTAINLY HAVEN'T STOCKED IT FOR A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

YOU'VE SEEN A LOT OF SHORTAGES OUT THERE.

THAT'S JUST ONE EXAMPLE OF THE CHALLENGES THAT THAT PRESENTS.

IN THE SUMMERTIME, THEY'RE STAFFED UP AND READY, THEY'RE RESOURCED.

THE SUPPLIES ARE THERE.

YOU KNOW IT.

IT'S EXPECTED.

MUCH MORE OF A CHALLENGE NOW.

THAT'S WHY WE'VE ENCOURAGED TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE PEOPLE TO STAY IN PLACE WHERE THEY ARE AS WE GO THROUGH THIS CRISIS PERIOD.

YOU TOUCHED UPON THIS EARLIER.

ARE RESIDENTS GENERALLY FOLLOWING THE SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDELINES?

I THINK FOR THE MOST PART WE HAVE SEEN MAJOR COMPLIANCE.

WE HAVE TO REMEMBER, THIS IS SOMETHING THAT HAS TURNED PEOPLE'S LIVES UPSIDE DOWN.

WE DID NOT EXPECT THIS TO HAPPEN.

WE'VE NEVER BEEN THROUGH ANYTHING LIKE THIS.

GIVEN ALL THAT, I WOULD SAY RESIDENTS HAVE DONE A GREAT JOB RESPONDING.

HAVING SAID THAT, THERE ARE A NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOT.

WE ARE OUT THERE ENFORCING, SUFFOLK COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT IS ENFORCING.

WE'VE CLOSED A VAPE SHOP, A BEAUTY SALON.

WE'VE BROKEN UP A PARTY.

WE ARE OUT THERE COMMUNICATING.

OUR DEPARTMENT OF LABOR IS COMMUNICATING WITH ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES THAT MAY NOT BE FOLLOWING THE GUIDELINES EXACTLY.

WE ARE ENFORCING.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, WE NEED PEOPLE TO VOLUNTARILY COMPLY HERE BECAUSE THEY UNDERSTAND THEIR ACTIONS TODAY, TOMORROW AND IN THE WEEK AHEAD WILL HAVE AN IMPACT ON HOW MANY PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTY ULTIMATELY DIE FROM THIS DISEASE.

I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN AND MY GUEST IS SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE STEVE BELLONE.

STEVE, HAVE YOU HAD ANY TIME TO PONDER THE ECONOMIC FALLOUT OF THIS VIRUS CATASTROPHE ON YOUR COMMUNITY YET?

LET ME TAKE THIS MOMENT TO ASK YOU WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE THAT FALLOUT?

WE'VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT THIS FROM THE VERY BEGINNING.

OF COURSE, OUR FOCUS IS ON THE PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS.

THAT IS PRIMARILY WHAT WE'RE DOING DAY IN AND DAY OUT.

RIGHT FROM THE START WE'VE WRECK NEEDED THIS IS NOT ONLY A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS, IT'S IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWED BY AN ECONOMIC CRISIS.

FOLLOWING THAT IS A HUMAN SERVICES CRISIS.

ALL THOSE ARE ISSUES THAT ARE AT THE CORE OF WHAT WE DO IN COUNTY GOVERNMENT.

IT'S PUBLIC HEALTH, PUBLIC SAFETY, IT'S HUMAN SERVICES.

SO WE'VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT ALL THESE ISSUES.

WE STOOD UP A BUSINESS RESPONSE UNIT WITHIN DAYS OF OUR FIRST CASE AND WHAT WE'VE DONE IS REACH OUT TO ALL OF OUR BUSINESS ASSOCIATIONS CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE.

WE SET UP THE RESPONSE UNIT TO TAKE CALLS IN OUR 311 SYSTEM.

BUSINESSES HAVE BEEN FILLING OUT A SURVEY SO WE CAN GET THE DATA WE NEED AND ASKING QUESTIONS.

WE'RE BUILDING THAT DATA TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THE CHALLENGES ARE AND WHAT THE NEEDS ARE.

IT'S A DESPERATE SITUATION OUT THERE.

PEOPLE ARE AND BUSINESSES ARE STRUGGLING.

WE NEED TO HELP THEM GET THROUGH THIS CRISIS PERIOD.

ABOUT 15 SECONDS THAT WE HAVE LEFT.

HOW HAS THIS BEEN FOR YOU LEADING THIS COUNTY AT THIS MOMENTOUS TIME IN HISTORY?

IT'S BEEN 24 HOURS A DAY, SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.

WE'RE USED TO DEALING WITH CRISES.

THIS HAS BEEN DIFFERENT THAN ANY OTHER -- MY DEPUTY COUNTY EXECUTIVE WAS THE FIRST TO BE CONFIRMED OF THE POSITIVE CASE IN SUFFOLK COUNTY GOVERNMENT.

THEREFORE, OUR ENTIRE SENIOR LEADERSHIP TEAM HAD TO BE RUNNING THIS OPERATION VIRTUALLY FOR TWO WEEKS.

THAT WAS A CHALLENGE.

BUT ALL OF US HAVE HAD TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY THAN WE HAD TO BEFORE.

WE HAD TO GET THE JOB DONE.

STEVE, SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE STEVEN BELLONE, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TODAY.

THANK YOU, RAFAEL.

GOOD TO BE WITH YOU.

> HEALTH CHANNEL PRESENTS CORONAVIRUS IN REALTIME.

THE USE OF TELEMEDICINE IS GROWING AS DOCTORS LOOK FOR WAYS TO TREAT COVID PATIENTS AND REDUCE EVERYONE'S EXPOSURE TO THE VIRUS.

IN CHINA THERE HAVE BEEN ABOUT 2 MILLION CONSULTATIONS VIA TELEMEDICINE TO DETERMINE IF A PATIENT SHOULD GO TO THE HOSPITAL OR BE TREATED REMOTELY.

IN THE U.S., THE GOVERNMENT HAS TAKEN STEPS TO INCREASE ACCESS TO TELEMEDICINE AS PART OF THE COVID-19 FUNDING MEASURE.

WAIVING TELEHEALTH RESTRICTIONS FOR MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES.

THAT MEANS THEY'LL PROVIDE TELEHEALTH SERVICES TO THEIR PATIENTS UNTIL NOW, MOST MAJOR INSURANCE COMPANIES ALSO LIMITED TELEMEDICINE COVERAGE TO A SMALL NUMBER OF PATIENTS, BUT MANY ARE ALSO ADJUSTING COVERAGE.

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT ALLHEALTHTV.COM.

STAY TUNED TO THE HEALTH CHANNEL FOR COVERAGE OF THIS SITUATION IN REALTIME.

> HI.

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN OF 'METROFOCUS.'

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS PRODUCED A LOT OF UNINTENDED SIDE EFFECTS THAT ARE ONLY CAUSING PEOPLE MORE STRESS AND ANXIETY.

ONE OF THOSE IS THE SIGHT OF EMPTY STORE SHELVES.

PANIC BUYING, ONE OF THE INITIAL RESPONSES AROUND THE UNCERTAINTY ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS WAS A SHOCK NOT ONLY TO SHOPPERS, BUT TO THE SUPPLY CHAIN AS WELL.

BUT THE CHAIN IS FAR FROM BROKEN.

IT JUST NEEDED TIME TO ADJUST TO OUR NEW LEVEL OF DEMANDMENT JOINING ME NOW TO TALK ABOUT THOSE ADJUSTMENTS IS KENDRA HEMS, PRESIDENT OF THE TRUCKING ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK.

KENDRA, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

JENNA, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

THIS ENTIRE STORY REALLY CAME ABOUT FROM THE FACT THAT I WAS REACHING A POINT WHERE I WAS ONLY SEEING TRUCKS ON THE THROUGHWAY.

I WASN'T SEEING ANY OTHER CARS REALLY, AND I REALIZED THAT TRUCKERS ARE ONE OF THE MANY UNSUNG HEROES OF THE SCRISIS WE'RE ADJUSTING TO.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ADJUSTMENTS ARE YOU SEEING?

WHEN IT STARTED WE WERE SEEING THE EMPTY SHELVES, THE PANIC BUYING, THE HOARDING.

BECAUSE OF THAT IT WAS MAKING PEOPLE VERY NERVOUS THAT THERE WAS A SHORTAGE, WHETHER IT WAS TOILETRIES, CLEANING SUPPLIES OR FOOD AND WATER, BUT THAT REALLY WASN'T THE CASE.

THERE'S PLENTY OF FOOD IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN.

PLENTY OF TOILETRIES IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN.

THE DEMAND INCREASED EXPONENTIALLY ALMOST OVERNIGHT.

SO THE TRUCKING COMPANIES AND MANUFACTURERS JUST WEREN'T PREPARED FOR THAT TO HAPPEN SO QUICKLY.

WE JUST NEEDED TIME TO ADJUST.

THOSE SHELVES ARE GETTING REFILLED.

I KNOW SOMETIMES IT DOESN'T SEEM LIKE IT BECAUSE IF YOU GO TO THE STORE IN THE AFTERNOON THE SHELVES MIGHT BE EMPTY AGAIN.

THAT'S REALLY A RESULT OF THE PANIC BUYING THAT YOU MENTIONED AND NOT NECESSARILY BECAUSE WE'RE NOT ABLE TO REFILM THOSE SHELVES.

THEY ARE BEING RESTOCKED.

JUST AS QUICKLY AS THEY'RE RESTOCKED, PEOPLE ARE COMING AND BUYING IN DROVES AGAIN.

ONE OF THE THINGS I ALSO WAS CURIOUS ABOUT IS HOW IS ALL OF THIS AFFECTING TRUCKERS JUST IN THEIR WORK LIVES?

OBVIOUSLY IF THERE'S MORE DEMAND, THERE'S GOT TO BE MORE DEMAND FOR WORK, AND IS THIS WORKING OUT ACROSS THE INDUSTRY AND HOW IS THAT BEING MANAGED BASICALLY?

IT'S BEEN INTERESTING.

IT IS A SHIFT LIKE WE'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE, AT LEAST SINCE I'VE BEEN IN THIS INDUSTRY.

WE HAVE SEGMENTS OF THE INDUSTRY THAT ARE INCREDIBLY BUSY AND THEY'RE STRUGGLING TO KEEP UP.

THEN WE HAVE OTHER SEGMENTS THAT ARE VERY SLOW.

AS WE'VE HAA LOT OF WHAT THEY U TO DELIVER OR THE COMPANIES THEY USED TO DELIVER TO ARE CLOSED.

WE HAVE DRIVERS THAT ARE SEARCHING FOR WORK.

WHAT WE'RE STARTING TO SEE IS THE INDUSTRY IS REALLY HELPING EACH OTHER OUT.

WE HAVE -- WE REPRESENT TRUCKING COMPANIES ACROSS THE STATE, AND MANY OF OUR MEMBERS ARE CALLING FOR EACH OTHER.

GREAT EXAMPLE I'VE USED SEVERAL TIMES NOW, WE HAVE A FUEL HAULER IN SYRACUSE, NEW YORK.

OF COURSE, PEOPLE AREN'T DRIVING, BUSES AREN'T RUNNING.

THEY ARE VERY SLOW.

WE HAVE A GROCERY HAULER THAT, OF COURSE, IS VERY BUSY TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH THE NEW DEMAND THERE.

OUR FUEL HAULER IS ACTUALLY WORKING WITH THEM IN HAULING THEIR TRAILERS AND ALSO HAULING MILK TRAILERS AND TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH THE DEMAND IN MILK.

WE ARE STARTING TO SEE THESE PARTNERSHIPS AND THE INDUSTRY HELPING EACH OTHER TO KEEP UP WITH THE SHIFT IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN.

NOW, WHEN IT COMES TO HOW THE TRUCKERS ARE ACTUALLY WORKING -- I UNDERSTAND PRIOR TO COVID-19 THERE WERE REGULATIONS ABOUT HOW LONG YOU COULD DRIVE AND HOW LONG YOU HAD TO TAKE TIME OFF.

HAS ANY OF THAT SHIFTED, AND ARE THERE ALSO OF COURSE SAFETY REGULATIONS TO GO ALONG WITH THAT?

OF COURSE.

THIS IS A VERY HIGHLY REGULATED INDUSTRY.

WE TAKE SAFETY VERY SERIOUSLY, BUT WITH THE FEDERAL DECLARATION OF EMERGENCY, THERE WAS A RECOGNITION WE NEEDED TO PROVIDE RELIEF IN ORDER TO ENSURE THAT THE INDUSTRY COULD KEEP UP WITH THE DEMAND AND GET THE, NOT ONLY OUR GROCERY STORES, BUT OBVIOUSLY OUR MEDICAL SUPPLIES TO OUR HEALTH CARE FACILITIES AS WELL.

SO THERE HAS BEEN SOME RELIEF PROVIDED FOR THE HOURS OF SERVICE OF OPERATION.

TYPICALLY DRIVERS ARE LIMITED TO 11 HOURS A DAY OF DRIVING OR 14 HOURS TOTAL ON DUTY.

THOSE REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN RELAXED.

SO IF A DRIVER IS DELIVERING ESSENTIAL SUPPLIES, THEY CAN GO BEYOND THE 11 OR THE 14 HOURS.

AS SOON AS THEY ARE DONE WITH AN ESSENTIAL DELIVERY, HOWEVER, IF THEY DO NOT HAVE ANOTHER ESSENTIAL DELIVERY IMMEDIATELY BEHIND THAT ONE, THEY HAVE TO TAKE TEN HOURS OFF DUTY AND GET SOME REST.

SO IT IS A BALANCE BETWEEN ENSURING THE EFFICIENCY AND THE ABILITY TO GET THESE NECESSARY SUPPLIES DELIVERED, BUT ALSO MAKING SURE OUR DELIVERS ARE SAFE AND WELL RESTED.

OF COURSE.

I'M SPEAKING WITH KENDRA HEMS, PRESIDENT OF THE TRUCKING ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK.

ONE OF THE THINGS I WAS WONDERING IS, WITH SO MANY BUSINESSES THAT ARE SUDDENLY SHOULDERED OR CLOSED, DO STRUCKERS STILL HAVE THE ABILITY TO HAVE THE REST OFF THEY WOULD NEED, TO GET FOOD THEY NEED OR IS THIS THING THAT HAS TO BE INVENTED?

SO FAR WE HAVEN'T HEARD OF WIDESPREAD SHUTDOWNS IN REST AREAS.

BOTH THE STATE THROUGHWAY AUTHORITY AND OUR STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ARE KPLITED TO KEEPING THOSE REST AREAS OPEN AND SERVICES AVAILABLE FOR DRIVERS, PARTICULARLY PROFESSIONAL TRUCK DRIVERS.

THEY KNOW THE NEED FOREST AND THE ABILITY TO HAVE RESTROOMS AND FOOD AND WATER IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT.

SO IN NEW YORK, THEY'RE COMMITTED TO KEEPING THEM OPEN.

WE DID SEE A LITTLE HICCUP IN PENNSYLVANIA EARLY ON.

UNDERSTANDING THEY WERE JUST TRYING TO PROTECT THEIR WORKERS AND PREVENT THE SPREAD, THEY MADE A DECISION TO SHUT THEIR REST AREAS DOWN.

THANKFULLY THEY RECONSIDERED THAT AND THOSE REST AREAS ARE NOW OPEN.

BY AND LARGE ACROSS THE COUNTRY WE'RE HEARING THAT REST AREAS ARE REMAINING OPEN SO THAT DRIVERS CAN GET THE SERVICES THEY NEED.

OF COURSE.

YOU SORT OF TOUCHED ON ANOTHER AREA THAT MAKES SENSE.

TRUCKING IS CERTAINLY NOT LIMITED JUST TO NEW YORK STATE, OF COURSE.

COMMERCE IS NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL SOMETIMES.

IS THERE I GUESS COMMUNICATION AMONGST DIFFERENT GROUPS LIKE, FOR EXAMPLE, COMPANIES THAT MIGHT HAVE TO CROSS THE BORDER WITH CANADA OR CROSS THE BORDER WITH MEXICO OR JUST FROM STATE TO STATE TO STATE TO STATE TO MAKE SURE THAT THE SUPPLY LINE IS MOVING SMOOTHLY JUST WITH AN INCREASED DEMAND.

YES, ABSOLUTELY.

OBVIOUSLY WITHIN THE INDUSTRY ITSELF, MANY OF THE TRUCKING COMPANIES, THE SHIPPERS, THE MANUFACTURERS, THEY ALL HAVE COMMUNICATION THAT'S OCCURRING TO ENSURE THAT THAT EFFICIENCY IS REMAINING.

BUT EVEN THOUGH I REPRESENT THE TRUCKING ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK, BUT EVERY STATE HAS A STATE TRUCKING ASSOCIATION AND WE ALSO HAVE THE NATIONAL AMERICAN TRUCKING ASSOCIATION.

WE CALL OURSELVES A FEDERATION IF YOU WILL.

WE'VE BEEN IN CONSTANT COMMUNICATION WITH EACH OTHER ABOUT THIS PANDEMIC SO THAT WE CAN ENSURE THAT WE ARE FROM CALIFORNIA TO NEW YORK AWARE OF WHAT REGULATIONS ARE IN PLACE AND THEN WE'RE PUSHING THAT INFORMATION OUT TO THE INDUSTRY.

ONE OF THE OTHER THINGS I FEEL MIGHT BE -- MAKE TRUCKERS INVISIBLE FOR PEOPLE IS THAT WE SEE JANITORS.

WE SEE PEOPLE WHO WORK IN OUR GROCERY STORES, WE SEE SO MANY OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE SUDDENLY ESSENTIAL WORKERS TO OUR ECONOMY AND OUR EXISTENCE, BUT WE DON'T NECESSARILY GET TO SEE THE TRUCKERS WHO ARE BRINGING STUFF AND MAKING DELIVERIES.

I WONDER IF YOU COULD PAINT A PICTURE FOR US, WHO IS THE AEF RAJ TRUCKER OR IS THERE AN AVERAGE TRUCKER?

WHO ARE WE TALKING ABOUT WHO IS MAKING IT POSSIBLE FOR US TO GET FOOD AND MEDICINE?

THEY'RE ALL OF US.

MOTHERS, FATHERS, BROTHERS, SISTERS.

THEY ARE AVERAGE PEOPLE THAT ARE DOING AMAZING THINGS.

THEY ARE PUTTING THEMSELVES AT RISK.

BY AND LARGE WHEN THEY'RE ON THE ROAD, THEY'RE IN ISOLATION.

ONCE THEY GET TO THAT DELIVERY POINT OR THEY'RE PICKING UP WHATEVER PRODUCT THEY'RE PICKING UP, THEY ARE POTENTIALLY EXPOSING THEMSELVES AS WELL.

I THINK YOU MENTIONED EARLY ON, KIND OF THE UNSUNG HEROES.

NOT ALL HEROES WEAR K5E7S.

THAT'S WITHOUT QUESTION OUR TRUCK DRIVERS.

I'VE BEEN IN THIS INDUSTRY OVER 20 YEARS.

EVERY TIME THERE'S ANY KIND OF EMERGENCY, WHETHER IT BE WEATHER-RELATED EMERGENCY OR SOMETHING OF THIS NATURE, THIS INDUSTRY STEPS UP.

THERE'S SO MUCH PRIDE IN OUR DRIVERS IN THIS INDUSTRY THAT WHEN THEY CAN HELP, THEY WILL HELP.

THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE DOING TODAY.

OF COURSE.

AND ALSO, IS THERE ANY CONCERN, AS YOU WERE MENTIONING WITH THE EXPOSURE THAT TRUCKERS HAVE -- AGAIN, THEY ARE PICKING UP STUFF FROM ALL SORTS OF PLACES AND TRANSPORTING IT, IS THERE ABILITY FOR THEM TO HAVE THE PROTECTIVE MEASURES THAT MIGHT NEED GLOVES, MASKS, ET CETERA?

THAT HAS BEEN A CHALLENGE.

WE HAVE SEEN WHERE COMPANIES HAVE STRUGGLED GETTING THE PROPER PPE FOR THEIR DRIVERS, AND WHEN THEY CAN GET IT, THEY'RE PROVIDING THEM WITH THE GLOVES, THE MASKS, THE HAND SANITIZER.

BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT'S JUST TAKING THE PROPER STEPS TO ENSURE THAT THEY'RE WASHING THEIR HANDS, THEY'RE WIPING DOWN VEHICLES, THAT THEY'RE MAINTAINING THE APPROPRIATE SIX FEET OF DISTANCE AS POSSIBLE.

A LOT OF FACILITIES ARE HAVING THE DRIVER STAY RIGHT IN THEIR TRUCK, NOT EVEN GETTING OUT OF THE TRUCK.

SO THEY'RE LIMITING EXPOSURE IN THAT WAY AS WELL.

REALLY IT'S LIKE ANY OF US.

IF WE'RE GOING TO GET OUT AND WE HAVE TO INTERACT, WE TAKE THOSE PRECAUTIONS.

I JUST WANT TO ONE MORE TIME REITERATE BECAUSE, AGAIN, THE SUPPLY CHAIN IS WORKING.

IT'S JUST NEEDED TO ADJUST.

THERE'S MORE THAN ENOUGH TO GO AROUND.

MORE THAN ENOUGH TO GO AROUND, ABSOLUTELY.

I KNOW IT CAN CAUSE FEAR WHEN YOU WALK INTO A GROCERY STORE AND SEE THOSE EMPTY SHELVES AND YOU GET VERY NERVOUS.

LIKE I SAID, THOSE SHELVES ARE BEING RESTOCKED.

IT'S JUST TIME OF DAY ON WHEN YOU GET THERE.

IF WE COULD CALM THE FEAR AND GET CONSUMERS TO UNDERSTAND YOU DON'T NEED TO PANIC BUY, JUST SHOP AS YOU NORMALLY WOULD SHOP, YOU'D SEE THE SHELVES FILL BACK UP AGAIN AND IT WOULD BE FINE.

YES, THERE'S PLENTY IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN.

WE'RE NOT GOING TO GO HUNGRY.

WE ALL HAVE PLENTY OF TOILET PAPER.

WE WILL HAVE PLENTY.

MANUFACTURERS ARE CONTINUING TO MANUFACTURE TOILET PAPER AND PAPER PRODUCTS, AND WE WILL GET THEM TO THE STORES AND FILL THEM BACK UP FOR YOU.

FINAL QUESTION.

SINCE WE'RE STILL GETTING NEW INFORMATION ABOUT HOW LONG WE'RE GOING TO NEED TO PRACTICE THIS SOCIAL DISTANCING, HOW SUSTAINABLE DO YOU SEE THIS?

IS THIS SOMETHING THAT COULD GO ON WITH THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY A FOR MONTHS PERHAPS?

THE INDUSTRY CAN ADJUST.

THEY'LL MAKE ADJUSTMENTS, JUST AS THEY ALREADY HERE.

WE'RE THREE WEEKS INTO THIS INTO NEW YORK SINCE WE HAD THE FIRST CASE DIAGNOSED.

THEY'LL CONTINUE TO ADJUST AS NEEDED TO ENSURE WE'RE MEETING THE NEEDS, WHETHER IT BE THE MEDICAL SUPPLIES BEING DELIVERED OR RESTOCKING OUR SHELVES OR GETTING PRODUCTS TO MANUFACTURERS.

THEY'LL CONTINUE TO DO WHAT THEY DO.

THE INDUSTRY HAS ALWAYS BEEN HERE AND WILL ALWAYS BE HERE.

IT'S ONE OF THOSE THINGS YOU CAN RELY ON EVEN THOUGH YOU MAY NOT RECOGNIZE IT EVERY SINGLE DAY.

WE'RE DOING WHAT WE DO EVERY DAY.

IT'S JUST THAT NOW I THINK IT'S REALLY BEING RECOGNIZED BECAUSE THE NEED HAS GROWN SO MUCH.

ALL RIGHT.

KENDRA HEMS, PRESIDENT OF THE TRUCKING ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK, I WANT TO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME ON THE PROGRAM AND GIVING US OR AT LEAST PEACE OF MIND THAT THE SUPPLY CHAIN IS WORKING.

THINGS ARE GOING TO BE OKAY?

YES, ABSOLUTELY.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

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

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Funders

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