MetroFocus: April 27, 2020

Arlene Stringer-Cuevas, a former city councilwoman in the 1970s and mother of Comptroller Scott Stringer, passed away just weeks ago from complications of the coronavirus. She was 86 years old. Now the Comptroller is calling for immediate action to help protect all vulnerable communities during the pandemic- from the frontline workers to small businesses and communities of color. And, as his son makes an appearance during his Zoom interview, Stringer reflects on the importance of looking out for the next generation of New Yorkers by putting out real solutions to some of the city’s real problems- today.

Making sure we all get trusted and useful information about our communities is always important, but during the pandemic- it is critical. Unfortunately, many communities across the country don’t have a local news outlet they can turn to for trusted important information about how the outbreak is impacting where they live. And how essential information from state and local lawmakers is disseminated helps to prevent the spread of misinformation while providing key stories about the impact on local economy, schools, businesses and food insecurity. So tonight we talk with the managing editor of The River, a reporting initiative covering the Hudson Valley region where just this past week, 269 residents lost their battles with COVID-19.

Aired on April 27, 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 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 PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I AM JACK FORD.

AS WE CONTINUE OUR BATTLE AGAINST THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS ON THE FRONT LINES BATTLING TO PROTECT US, OUR HEALTH AND SAFETY, AND WELL-BEING, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE DANGERS TO THEM, AND WHAT SHOULD WE BE DOING RIGHT NOW TO PLAN TO HELP THEM NOT JUST NOW, BUT ALSO IN THE FUTURE?

NEW YORK CITY COMPTROLLER SCOTT STRINGER HAS BEEN ONE OF THE LEADING VOICES IN TAKING A LOOK AT THOSE QUESTIONS AND MANY OTHERS, AND WE ARE PLEASED TO HAVE HIM JOINING US RIGHT NOW.

MR. COMPTROLLER, WELCOME.

IT'S ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU WITH US.

GOOD TO BE BACK WITH YOU.

LET ME START OFF BY OFFERING ALL OF OUR CONDOLENCES FOR THE LOSS OF YOUR MOTHER, AS A CONSEQUENCE OF THE VIRUS AND COVID-19, AND I KNOW YOU'VE SPOKEN OPENLY AND CANDIDLY ABOUT HER.

SHE SOUNDS LIKE A WONDERFUL PERSON, A TEACHER, A FORMER MEMBER OF THE CITY COUNCIL.

I WOULD SUSPECT SHE WAS SOMEBODY WHO WOULD TAKE THE TERM A TRUE NEW YORKER AND THAT WOULD BE ONE OF THE GREATEST COMPLIMENTS YOU COULD GIVE TO HER.

GIVE ME A SENSE OF THE MESSAGE THAT YOU'D LIKE TO GET OUT TO PEOPLE BASED UPON YOUR EXPERIENCE IN DEALING WITH HER LOSS, AND THE FOLKS THAT WORK WITH HER.

LOOK, IT'S A TRAGEDY OF EPIC PROPORTION FOR MY FAMILY, FOR THE KIDS.

SHE WAS A REMARKABLE WOMAN, TEACHER, MEMBER OF THE CITY COUNCIL IN THE DAYS WHEN THE CITY WAS ON THE EDGE OF FISCAL COLLAPSE, AND SHE SERVED ON THE COUNCIL DURING THAT TIME, SO I LEARNED SO MUCH FROM HER.

SHE HAD A FIGHTING SPIRIT.

SHE WAS FROM THE BRONX AND WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, SO WHAT'S HARD IS THE CLOSURE, BUT THERE'S NO FUNERAL.

THERE'S NO -- AND FOR THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FAMILIES, YOU CAN'T HAVE TRADITIONAL MOURNING BECAUSE OF THE VIRUS, AND SO WHAT I'VE RELIED ON, JACK, AND IT'S REALLY MATTERED TO ME ARE THE TEXT MESSAGES, THE EMAILS, PEOPLE TELLING STORIES ABOUT HER.

I WAS UP UNTIL 1:00 IN THE MORNING ONE NIGHT WITH MY WIFE.

I SAID IF I DON'T GO TO BED READING THOUSANDS OF THESE MESSAGES, I'M GOING TO BE UP UNTIL 5:00 IN THE MORNING SO WHAT I WANTED TO SAY TO EVERYBODY, IT IS OKAY TO TEXT SOMEONE AND EMAIL THEM.

IT REALLY MATTERS, BECAUSE ABSENT THAT CONNECTION, THERE'S NO CLOSURE, AND SO THAT IS SOMETHING I THINK EVERYONE SHOULD THINK ABOUT.

IT'S MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE FOR MY WIFE AND I.

I THINK THAT'S IMPORTANT TO KNOW.

I KNOW WE'VE LOST SOME FRIENDS AND FOLKS DURING THIS PERIOD OF TIME, AND TO SAY TO YOURSELF, SHOULD I BE SENDING A TEXT?

IS THAT IMPOSING UPON THEM, BUT IT'S CERTAINLY HELPFUL I THINK TO HEAR FROM YOU ABOUT HOW YOU EXPERIENCE AND THE BENEFIT IT PROVIDED TO YOU.

NO QUESTION.

I JUST THINK FOR US, IT WAS GREAT TO HEAR FROM PEOPLE, BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW IF ANYONE KNOWS, AND SHE HAD A GREAT STORY AND THE STORIES OF MOTHERS ARE THE GREATEST STORIES OF THEM ALL, RIGHT?

THERE IS NOTHING BETTER.

AGAIN OUR CONDOLENCES, BUT OUR CONGRATULATIONS ON A MARVELOUS LIFE.

THANK YOU.

THAT SHOEE HAD LIVED.

THANK YOU.

SCOTT, LET ME MENTION SOME OF THE THINGS I MENTIONED IN THE INTRODUCTION.

YOU'VE BEEN OUT FRONT IN TERMS OF SAYING WE HAVE TO BE PLANNING NOW TO PROTECT THOSE PEOPLE ON THE FRONT LINES, AND YOU'VE TALKED ABOUT, SORT OF A PROGRAM VERY SIMILAR TO WHAT WE DID AFTER 9/11.

EXPLAIN WHAT YOUR THOUGHTS ARE HERE AND HOW IT WOULD WORK.

WELL, AFTER 9/11, WHEN PEOPLE WENT TO THE HOSPITAL OR THE TRADE CENTER THAT DAY AND THE FIREFIGHTERS, POLICE OFFICERS, EMERGENCY SERVICE WORKERS, THEY DIED THAT DAY, AND THEIR FAMILIES WERE LEFT WITH NOTHING, AND THE VICTIMS COMPENSATION FUND, A FEDERAL FUND, WAS THERE AT THE END TO MAKE THEIR LIVES BETTER, TO RAISE CHILDREN WHO WOULD NEVER KNOW, IN SOME CASES, THEIR OWN FATHER OR THEIR OWN MOTHER, AND WE SPENT $7 BILLION IN FEDERAL MONEY TO DO THAT, AND IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO, AND THEN WE DID MORE TO MAKE SURE WE CARED FOR PEOPLE'S HEALTH ISSUES, AND SO WE HAVE A FRAMEWORK.

NOW, WE HAVE SIMILAR HEROES TODAY, BUT NOW WE MUST ADD THE NURSES, THE DOCTORS, THE PEOPLE ON THE FRONT LINES THAT INCLUDE TRANSIT WORKERS, TEACHERS, PEOPLE LOSING THEIR LIVES, BECAUSE THEY'VE GONE TO WORK TO MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR THE REST OF US.

I'D THINK ABOUT THE GROCERY STORE WORKER WHO DELIVERS FOOD.

YOU ONLY KNOW THAT PERSON THROUGH THEIR EYES, BECAUSE YOU CAN'T SEE THEM THROUGH THEIR MASK.

THEY ARE PEOPLE YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO KNOW BUT THEY'RE PROVIDING FOOD FOR YOUR FAMILIES.

SOME OF THEM ARE GOING TO PERISH, AND WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE WE CARE FOR THEIR FAMILIES AND WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT A MULTI-TRILLION-DOLLAR STIMULUS PACKAGE OUT OF WASHINGTON, IF WE CAN'T NOW ESTABLISH THAT FUND SOONER RATHER THAN LATER, WITH ALL THE MONEY WE'RE SPENDING TO FIGHT THE VIRUS AND THEN REBUILD OUR ECONOMIES OR MAINTAIN OUR ECONOMIES, THEN IT'S JUST SOMETHING WRONG WITH US SO I DO THINK WE NEED A NATIONAL VICTIMS COMPENSATION FUND.

CITIES MUST LOBBY FOR OUR WORKERS.

THIS IS CRITICAL, SO THAT PEOPLE KNOW FAMILIES WILL BE PROVIDED FOR.

YOU HAVE A VISITOR JOINING US.

THAT'S GOOD.

IT'S NICE TO SEE.

AS I SAID, I HAD -- I HAD OUR 1-MONTH-OLD GRANDSON IS LIVING HERE WITH US, AND OUR SON AND DAUGHTER AND HE MADE A SURPRISE APPEARANCE VOCALLY.

THAT'S GOOD.

OKAY.

LET ME ASK YOU THIS.

GIVEN OUR DEEPLY DIVIDED POLITICAL LANDSCAPE HERE, ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC THAT THIS TYPE OF A FUND CAN BE CREATED?

I THINK WE HAVE TO DO IT.

IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

IF YOU CAN'T BE BIPARTISAN WITH THIS, THEN I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON IN WASHINGTON, BUT LOOK.

I WISH I COULD KNOW WHO THE EMERGENCY SERVICE WORKERS WERE WHO CAME AND TOOK MY MOM TO THE HOSPITAL WHEN SHE COULDN'T BREATHE.

I DON'T KNOW WHO THEY ARE.

HOW AM I GOING TO SAY THANK YOU?

I DON'T KNOW WHAT THEIR LIFE OUTCOME IS GOING TO BE.

WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN TO THEIR FAMILY?

I THINK ABOUT THIS BECAUSE THEY RISK THEIR LIVES TO TRY TO PROTECT MY MOM, AND THAT IS SOMETHING THAT WE HAVE TO RECOGNIZE NATIONALLY.

WE CAN GET INTO THE POLITICS OF HOW TRUMP ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN, THE STUMBLING AND BUMBLING IN WASHINGTON.

I COULD TALK ABOUT THAT FOR DAYS BUT LET'S DO SOMETHING WE CAN ALL AGREE ON.

LET'S SET UP THIS NOW SO WE CAN PROTECT OUR WORKERS.

YOU'RE DOING OTHER THINGS HERE, IN TERMS OF PROVIDING GUIDANCE FOR PEOPLE IN THIS CITY, BECAUSE SO MANY PEOPLE ARE SAYING, ALL RIGHT, I'M HEARING ABOUT ALL OF THESE THINGS THAT I COULD BE DOING TO HELP MYSELF BUT I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO IT.

HOW DO I GET THROUGH THE PROCESSES, IF YOU WILL.

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE DOING TO HELP PROVIDE GUIDANCE FOR PEOPLE.

REAL QUICK, WE'VE COMPILED A LIST OF PROGRAM SERVICES.

WE'VE CALLED OUR COVID RESOURCE CENTER.

IT'S ON THE COMPTROLLER'S WEBSITE.

PEOPLE ARE DOWNLOADING IT FROM ALL OVER THE CITY.

IT'S A GREAT RESOURCE GUIDE TO GET THE SERVICES PEOPLE NEED.

WE'RE ALSO TAKING IT ONE STEP FURTHER.

A LOT OF THE DISCUSSION ABOUT SMALL BUSINESSES AND HOW WE'RE GOING TO HELP, A LOT OF THIS PAPERWORK AND A LOT OF THESE PROGRAMS ARE SO BYZANTINE, IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO NAVIGATE THEM, SO OUR TRUTH DIVERSITY OFFICER IS HOLDING BIWEEKLY WEBINARS FOR WOMEN AND MINORITY-OWNED BUSINESSES SO THEY HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING OF HOW THEY CAN ACCESS GOVERNMENT TRADITIONALLY, AS YOU KNOW.

THESE BUSINESSES ARE SORT OF ON THE OUTSIDE OF GOVERNMENT, BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT DOESN'T ENHANCE OR WORK WITH THE WMBs.

THAT'S WHY WE HAVE SUCH FEW WMBs HAVING CITY CONTRACTS.

WE'RE NOW TRANSFERRING THE WORK THAT WE DO IN THAT REGARD TO MAKING SURE THAT WE GIVE THEM THE KNOWLEDGE AND THE POWER THEY NEED TO GET THEIR BUSINESSES UP AND RUNNING.

IT'S BIWEEKLY, TUESDAYS AND THURSDAYS, JACK.

ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY.

AND CERTAINLY STRONGLY SUGGESTED.

GREAT TO PROVIDE THIS KIND OF GUIDANCE FOR PEOPLE.

YOU MENTIONED BEFORE, AND I WANT TO FOLLOW UP ON THAT, THAT WE ARE FINDING NOW IN TERMS OF OUR MOST VULNERABLE POPULATIONS THAT THEY ARE SUFFERING SO VERY DEEPLY NOT JUST FROM, AND I DON'T MEAN TO MINIMIZE THIS IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM, COVID-19 AND ALL OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF THAT, BUT ALSO WE'RE SEEING THE DIFFERENCES, THE STRATA, IF YOU WILL, THE DIFFERENCES IN THE SOCIAL STRATA HERE, HAVING AN IMPACT ON THEM.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

WHAT IS THE CITY DOING TO TRY TO FIRST IDENTIFY THESE MOST VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES AND SECOND TO HELP THEM?

LOOK, CITY GOVERNMENT HAS TALKED A GOOD GAME ABOUT TALE OF TWO CITIES BUT WHERE HAVE WE BEEN IN THE LAST MANY YEARS?

THE TRUTH IS THIS VIRUS DISCRIMINATES, IT GOES AFTER THE MOST VULNERABLE, PEOPLE WITH DIABETES AND PREEXISTING CONDITIONS.

THE FOLKS WHO ARE SUFFERING THE MOST ARE PEOPLE IN NEIGHBORHOODS THAT TRADITIONALLY HAVE BEEN VICTIMIZED BY POLLUTION AND LACK OF PROPER PLANNING FOR HEALTH CARE, OBESITY ISSUES, INCOME DISPARITY, HOUSING ISSUES, PEOPLE LIVING TWO, THREE, FOUR PEOPLE IN ONE APARTMENT IN A SMALL ONE-BEDROOM, THAT IS CONTRIBUTING TO THE SPREAD.

SO PEOPLE OF COLOR ARE BEING HIT HARDEST BY THE VIRUS, AND THE GOVERNMENT, AS WE THINK ABOUT OPENING THE ECONOMY, WE'VE GOT TO MAKE IT RIGHT FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS THAT ARE BEING HIT THE HARDEST, NEIGHBORHOODS THAT TRADITIONALLY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HIT HARD.

YOU KNOW, SOMEONE'S TELLING ME WHEN A COLD COMES IN, A COLD COMES TO A CITY, IN THIS CASE THE VIRUS, IT'S PNEUMONIA IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR, BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF RESOURCES.

I WANT TO CHANGE THAT STRATEGY AS WE BEGIN TO OPEN UP THE ECONOMY, AND WE WILL BEAT THIS VIRUS, SO THAT WE'RE NEVER IN THIS POSITION AGAIN, AND I HOPE THAT WE CAN DO THAT, AND MY OFFICE IS GOING TO LEAD THE CHARGE ON THIS, BECAUSE WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT BUDGETING, YOU GOT TO LOOK IN THE EYES OF THE PEOPLE WHO SUFFERED THE MOST, BURIED THE MOST FAMILY MEMBERS, AND ONCE AGAIN, PREEXISTING HEALTH CONDITIONS HAS BEEN OUR CLARION CALL FOR 20 YEARS AND LOOK WHERE WE ARE TODAY.

PEOPLE ARE DYING BECAUSE WE DID NOT THINK THROUGH ONE CITY FOR EVER EVERYBODY AND THAT'S WHAT'S CAMP CATCHING US NOW.

I WONDER IF YOU THINK IN SOME WAYS, AND WE'VE SEEN THIS IN THE PAST SOMETIMES WE NEED CRISES TO DRIVE SIGNIFICANT CHANGE.

WE TALKED ABOUT THIS FOR DECADES BUT NOW WE'RE CONFRONTED WITH A REALITY AND A CRISIS.

I ASKED YOU BEFORE ABOUT BEING OPTIMISTIC.

ARE YOU AT ALL OPTIMISTIC THAT NOW ONE OF THE CONSEQUENCES, ONE OF THE POSITIVE CONSEQUENCES OF THESE TROUBLED TIMES IT WE MIGHT SAY NOW WE'RE REALLY GOING TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS?

IT'S AN INTERESTING QUESTION.

AM I OPTIMISTIC?

I AM.

I GREW UP, AND YOU KNOW MY MOM SERVED ON THE CITY COUNCIL DURING THE CITY'S FISCAL CRISIS IN THE '70s, WE WEATHERED 9/11.

WE HAD THE HURRICANE HIT OUR CITY.

WE HAD THE ECONOMIC MELTDOWN.

WE HAVE SEEN THE HURT, THAT THINGS WE DON'T SEE WHEN IT HITS US, WE SEE WHAT ENDS UP HAPPENING TO SO MUCH OF OUR PEOPLE, SO I'VE SEEN THIS AS MANY NEW YORKERS HAVE.

WE GOT TO COME OUT FIGHTING BIGGER AND STRONGER ON THESE ISSUES, BUT I DO THINK WE HAVE TO KIND OF GET OUR ACT TOGETHER.

ENOUGH CLOWNING AROUND.

IT REALLY IS A TIME TO LOOK AT WHERE WE ARE FINANCIALLY IN THE CITY.

CITY COUNCIL, THE MAYOR SIMPLY DID NOT SAVE ENOUGH FOR A RAINY DAY.

THAT HURTS US NOW, AS WE DEAL WITH OUR HUGE BUDGET DEFICIT.

WE HAVE TO START LOOKING AT THE CITY PROGRAMMATICALLY, INSTEAD OF THROWING MONEY AT PROBLEMS, WE HAVE TO ACTUALLY MEASURE RESULTS, SO WE COULD FINALLY GET OUR HANDLE AROUND HOMELESSNESS AND HEALTH CARE ISSUES.

THE GOVERNMENT IS ASKING ME TO LOOK AT OUR HOSPITAL SYSTEM.

WE'RE DOING THAT AND GOING TO DO A LOT MORE IN THE COMPTROLLER'S OFFICE IN TERMS OF AUDITING AND INVESTIGATION, AS A WAY OF FINALLY PUTTING OUT REAL SOLUTIONS TO SOME OF THE CITY'S REAL ECONOMIC PROBLEMS AND BY THE WAY, IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT YOU AND I, JACK.

IT REALLY IS ABOUT THE NEXT GENERATION OF NEW YORKERS.

THIS LITTLE GUY SITTING NEXT TO ME IS A PUBLIC SCHOOL KID.

HE'S REMOTE LEARNING.

HE'S A BIT OF A CHARACTER, BUT I WANT TO MAKE SURE THIS GENERATION OF NEW YORKERS GET THE BEST OF NEW YORK, AND THAT'S WHAT MOTIVATES ME.

RIGHT, AND THAT'S MOST IMPORTANT AS YOU KNOW.

ONCE AGAIN NEW YORK CITY COMPTROLLER SCOTT STRINGER.

AGAIN OUR CONDOLENCES FOR THE LOSS OF YOUR MOM, A WONDERFUL PERSON.

THANKS FOR JOINING US AND YOUR BUDDY FOR JOINING US ALSO.

YOU ALL STAY SAFE AND WELL AND WE'LL LOOK FORWARD TALKING WITH YOU AGAIN REAL SOON.

THANK YOU.

TAKE CARE, SCOTT.

SAY GOOD-BYE.

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

MAKING SURE THAT WE ALL GET TRUSTED AND USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT OUR COMMUNITIES IS ALWAYS IMPORTANT, BUT CRITICAL DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.

UNFORTUNATELY, MANY COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY MAY NOT FULLY KNOW HOW MUCH THE CORONAVIRUS HAS IMPACTED THEIR LOCAL COMMUNITIES AND WHAT THE RESPONSE HAS BEEN, BECAUSE THEY LACK A LOCAL NEWS OUTLET.

THE DISSEMINATION OF CRUCIAL INFORMATION FROM STATE AND LOCAL LEADERS HELPS PREVENT THE SPREAD OF MISINFORMATION, AND ALSO PROVIDES COMMUNITY STORIES ABOUT THE LOCAL ECONOMY, SCHOOL AND BUSINESS CLOSURES AND THE WORK THEY'RE DOING ONLINE, AS WELL AS THE NEEDS OF LOCAL FOOD BANKS.

SO JOINING ME NOW TO TALK ABOUT LOCAL COVERAGE OF THE CORONAVIRUS, NEW YORK'S HUDSON VALLEY REGION IS PHILLIP PA PANTUSO, MANAGING EDITOR OF 'THE RIVER,' A LOCAL NEWS INITIATIVE FROM CHRONIC MEDIA THAT PROVIDES IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM ON THE COMMUNITIES NORTH OF NEW YORK CITY.

AND HE JOINS ME NOW.

PHILLIP, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME, JENNA.

SO FIRST, I DO WANT TO START OFF WITH JUST THE FACT THAT YOU GUYS ARE COVERING THIS AREA.

NOW I WANT TO GIVE FULL TRANSPARENCY AND SAY THAT A LOT OF MY INTEREST IN 'THE RIVER' IS BECAUSE I WOULD BE ONE OF YOUR READERS AND ALSO I LIVE IN THE AREA, BUT I WANTED TO GET YOUR TAKE ON WHAT IT WAS THAT YOU'RE FINDING OUT ABOUT HOW THE CORONAVIRUS IS SPREADING IN THIS AREA, BECAUSE WE'RE NOT A HOT SPOT NECESSARILY LIKE NEW YORK CITY, BUT WE DO HAVE A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF CASES.

YES.

IT REALLY KIND OF DEPENDS WHERE THE HUDSON VALLEY YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT.

SO, BECAUSE THE PANDEMIC IS HITTING DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE VALLEY DIFFERENTLY.

SO IN ROCKLAND AND WESTCHESTER, THE LOWER HUDSON VALLEY, SUBURBS TO THE CITY, CONFIRMED CASES THERE ARE TWO OR THREE TIMES HIGHER PER CAPITA THAN THE STATE AS A HOLE SO THIS PLACE HAS HOT SPOTS.

THERE WAS THE AREA IN NEW ROCHELLE AND THE FURTHER UP YOU GO, FEWER CASES THERE ARE.

SORT OF LIKE A GRADIENT, AND THEN AS YOU GO FURTHER OUT INTO THE CATSKILLS, PLACES WITH LESS DIRECT CONNECTION TO THE CITY, THE SPREAD HAS BEEN SLOWER, AND THERE YOU SEE IT SORT OF SOME OF THE AREAS ARE REALLY RURAL, AND THE CONNECTIONS INTERNET AND RESOURCES ISN'T AS STABLE AND SOME PEOPLE DON'T HAVE INTERNET, SO THERE'S A PROBLEM OF A LACK OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION, PEOPLE NOT TAKING SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES QUITE AS SERIOUSLY, THINGS LIKE THAT, AND I THINK YOU'RE ALSO SEEING SOME TENSION BETWEEN LOCAL RESIDENTS AND SECOND HOMEOWNERS.

OH, YES.

WHERE THE 'NEW YORK TIMES' REPORTED THE FIRST FOUR CASES IN GREEN COUNTY WHERE THERE'S STILL ONLY A COUPLE DOZEN CASES TOTAL WERE ALL NEW YORK CITY RESIDENTS, TRAVELED UPSTATE FLEEING THE HOT ZONE, POSITIVE CASES IN THE CITY.

AND SEVERAL COUNTIES HAVE ISSUED DO NOT TRAVEL WARNINGS, BASICALLY SAYING IF YOU'RE NOT HERE ALREADY, LIKE DON'T COME HERE.

SO THAT'S BEEN UNIQUE TO OUR REGION, I THINK.

YES, AND WHEN I SAY 'OH, YES,' I MEAN THERE ARE A LOT OF -- FIRST OF ALL YOU JUST HEAR THE CHATTER CONSTANTLY AMONGST LOCALS IN VARIOUS LOCATIONS, BUT ALSO ON CERTAIN ONLINE FORUMS, THERE'S A LOT OF TALK ABOUT, YOU KNOW, IF THE VIRUS MAY OR MAY NOT BE SPREADING BECAUSE WE'RE GETTING AN INFLUX OF PEOPLE COMING FROM A HOT ZONE LIKE NEW YORK, BUT BEFORE WE GET INTO THAT, I DO WANT TO SAY I DON'T WANT TO PAINT THE HUDSON VALLEY OR THE MID HUDSON AS A NEWS DESERT.

WE ARE CERTAINLY NOT.

WE DO HAVE SEVERAL NEWSPAPERS, BUT THEY ARE FOCUSED REALLY ON THE CITIES IN THE AREA.

RIGHT.

BUT ALSO THERE WERE A LOT OF WEEKLIES THAT FOCUSED ON THE SMALLER COMMUNITIES WHICH IS WHERE A SIGNIFICANT PORTION OF THE POPULATION IS AS WELL, BUT THEY HAVEN'T FARED SO WELL.

THAT'S RIGHT.

YOU HAVE A LOT OF WEEKLIES THAT HAVE CLOSED DOWN IN RECENT YEARS JUST FALLING VICTIM TO THE SAME SYSTEMIC PRESSURE THE AREAS, LOCAL JOURNALISM ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND THAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE NEWSPAPERS IN THE CITIES, TOO.

JUST THIS WEEK THE 'KINGSTON DAILY FREEMAN' OWN BY ALDEN CAPITAL LAID OFF A HANDFUL OF WORKERS, FURLOUGHING EVERYONE ELSE.

SO THEY AT A TIME WHEN THEIR COVERAGE IS MORE NEEDED THAN EVER, THEY HAVE LESS RESOURCES THAN EVER TO PROVIDE THAT COVERAGE.

EXACTLY.

YES, AND I THINK TO YOUR POINT ABOUT US NOT EXACTLY BEING A NEWS DESERT, THAT'S TRUE AND THE NEWSPAPERS AS YOU MENTIONED ARE MOSTLY IN THE CITIES, I THINK WHAT 'THE RIVER' TRIES TO DO IS COVER THE REGION AS A WHOLE, WHICH IS PRETTY RARELY DONE CERTAINLY FOR A NEWS PUBLI PUBLICATION.

YOU GET SOME COVERAGE OF THE REGION AS A WHOLE FROM A TRAVELER'S PERSPECTIVE BUT WE'RE TRYING TO CAST A PRETTY WIDE NET.

OF COURSE, AND WE'RE TALKING ABOUT MULTICOUNTIES AND MULTIPLE DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES THAT CAN RANGE FROM DENSELY URBAN POPULATIONS TO SERIOUSLY RURAL FARMLAND.

SO THAT IS NO SMALL FEAT OF WHAT YOU GUYS ARE TRYING TO DO, BUT I ALSO WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION FROM STATE AND LOCAL LEADERS.

NOW, OF COURSE, WE ARE ALL NEW YORKERS, AND OUR GOVERNOR HAS HAD NO PROBLEM GETTING NATIONAL ATTENTION, BUT ALSO I DON'T THINK AS MANY PEOPLE MIGHT BE HEARING ABOUT SOME OF THE DECISIONS THAT ARE BEING MADE BY COUNTY EXECUTIVES AND LOCAL COMMUNITY BOARDS IN REGARDS TO HOW THEY'RE GOING TO ATTEMPT TO HANDLE THE IMPACT OF THE PANDEMIC IN THE COMING MONTHS THEMSELVES.

YES, THAT'S TRUE.

SEVERAL COUNTY EXECUTIVES UP HERE HAVE BEEN PRETTY GOOD, I THINK, GETTING THEMSELVES, TRYING TO GET THEIR INFORMATION OUT.

I KNOW PAT RYAN IN OLSTER COUNTY IS DOING REGULAR SORT OF FACEBOOK LIVE TOWN HALLS.

A LOT OF THEM ARE DONE, ROCKLAND IS DOING THAT, TOO.

I THINK THE COUNTY RESPONSE HAS BEEN PRETTY GOOD, BOTH OLSTER AND DUCHESS HAVE COUNTY LEVEL EMERGENCY FUNDS THAT THEY HAVE STARTED UP TO DISTRIBUTE TO HELP SUPPORT EMERGENCY RELIEF HERE, AND PART OF WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO IS WE'RE WATCHING ALL OF THOSE EXECUTIVE TOWN HALLS, WE'RE SIGNED UP FOR ALL OF THEIR PRESS RELEASES, COMBING THEIR COUNTY SITES.

MOST COUNTIES TO THEIR CREDIT HAVE SET UP AS LIKE A PAGE ON THEIR DEPARTMENT HEALTH SITES A CORONAVIRUS PAGE THAT HAS ALL OF THE UPDATES, SOME OF THEM ARE BETTER UPDATING IT THAN OTHERS, AND CASE NUMBERS, THINGS LIKE THAT.

YOU KNOW, THERE ISN'T REALLY A LOT OF CONSISTENCY ACROSS THIS REGION WITH HOW COUNTIES ARE SHARING CASES, BUT TO THE DEGREE THAT THEY ARE SHARING INFORMATION, WE'RE TRYING TO ROUND IT UP.

AND OF COURSE, THAT'S GREATLY APPRECIATED.

I'M SPEAKING WITH PHILLIP PAN PANTUSO, MANAGING EDITOR OF 'THE RIVER' A JOURNALISM INITIATIVE BROUGHT TO YOU BY CRHONOGRAM MEDIA.

WE ARE NOW LOOKING DOWN THE BARREL AS PEOPLE IN PRELIMINARY STAGES START TO CONSIDER WHAT A REOPENING MIGHT BE.

THE QUESTION REALLY I THINK REMAINS FOR THE HUDSON VALLEY, WHICH IS VERY TOURISM HEAVY IN TERMS OF ITS ECONOMY, WHAT KIND OF AN IMPACT WE COULD START TO SEE HAPPENING.

HAVE YOU GUYS GOTTEN A CHANCE TO GET ANY INDICATION ON WHAT MIGHT BE LOOMING FOR THE AREA?

I KNOW THERE'S A LOT OF FARMING UP HERE.

THERE'S ALSO A LOT OF TOURISM, AS I SAID ALREADY.

WHAT DO YOU SEE HAPPENING?

I'M KIND OF CONCERNED ABOUT THE LONG-TERM ECONOMIC IMPACT FOR OUR REGION IN PARTICULAR.

AS YOU MENTIONED, TOURISM, HOSPITALITY ARE MAJOR ECONOMIC DRIVERS HERE AND THE PREDICTIONS TO THOSE INDUSTRIES ARE REALLY GRIM.

I WAS ON A CALL JUST EARLIER THIS WEEK, IT WAS ORGANIZED BY 'THE TIMES' WHERE THEY PREDICTED, CITED ONE STUDY THAT PREDICTED UP TO 7% OF -- 70% OF RESTAURANTS MIGHT CLOSE.

70%?

YES.

THERE'S ONLY SO MUCH A STIMULUS PACKAGE CAN HELP.

WITH CONSUMER SPENDING YOU HAVE TO CONSIDER NOT ONLY WHEN THE ECONOMY WILL REOPEN BUT WHEN PEOPLE WILL FEEL COMFORTABLE GOING BACK TO RESTAURANTS, BARS AT A LEVEL SUFFICIENT TO KEEP THOSE PLACES IN THE BLACK, AND THEN YOU KNOW, WHO KNOWS PEOPLE WILL EVEN HAVE MUCH MONEY TO SPEND.

SECONDARILY, PROBABLY THE SECOND BIGGEST ECONOMIC OR THE SECOND BIGGEST INDUSTRY UP HERE IS AGRICULTURE, AND I THINK SUSTAINING THAT INDUSTRY IS A LITTLE BIT MORE STRAIGHTFORWARD FROM A POLICY PERSPECTIVE, JUST BECAUSE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ALREADY SUBSIDIZES FARMING SO THE MECHANISM EXISTS.

BUT IN NEW YORK, IT'S MOSTLY SMALL FARMS, WHICH YOU KNOW --

YES.

-- THERE'S SORT OF -- THERE'S TWO SIDES TO THAT.

THE SMALL FARMS ARE BETTER ABLE TO PIVOT I THINK, WHAT YOU'RE SEEING, A LOT OF SMALL FARMS UP HERE WHO SUPPLY TO RESTAURANTS, THEY'RE NOT DOING THAT NOW.

WHAT THEY'RE DOING IS THEY'RE SUPPLYING TO LOCAL FOOD BANKS OR HELPING SET UP LIKE A POP-UP MARKET WITH SOCIAL DISTANCING PROTOCOLS, THINGS LIKE THAT, BUT OF COURSE THE SMALL FARMS HAVE A LOT LESS MARGIN FOR ERROR, TOO.

SO A LOT OF DAIRY FARMS UP HERE, TOO, AND A LOT OF DAIRY FARM MILK FROM DAIRY FARMS GOES TO SCHOOLS, WHICH OF COURSE ARE CLOSED.

SO WE'VE ALL I THINK PROBABLY SEEN THE STORIES OF DAIRY FARMERS DUMPING MILK, BECAUSE THE WHOLE SUPPLY CHAIN IS JUST BROKEN, EVEN IF THEY WANTED TO PIVOT TO RETAIL, THE PROCESSING PLANTS ARE CLOSED, SO THE LONG-TERM -- THE SHORT TERM ECONOMIC IMPACT, I'M KIND OF WORRIED ABOUT WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE FOR THIS REGION.

WELL, THERE HAS BEEN TALK IN AT LEAST SOME PARTS OF WASHINGTON ABOUT PERHAPS ADDING FEDERAL FUNDING FOR LOCAL NEWSROOMS IN THE NEXT RELIEF PACKAGE, AND I'M WONDERING, FROM YOUR POINT OF VIEW, DO YOU THINK THAT THAT IS A GOOD THING FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO STEP IN AND DO?

IS THIS CRITICALLY NEEDED OR AS SOME PEOPLE SAY, LET THE MARKET DECIDE WHAT HAPPENS WITH THESE OUTLETS?

I DO THINK SOMETHING LIKE THAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN.

JOURNALISM IS ESSENTIAL TO THE FUNCTIONING OF DEMOCRACY, AND THAT'S CLEAR RIGHT NOW MORE THAN EVER.

THE INFORMATION PEOPLE RECEIVE RIGHT NOW CAN LITERALLY BE A LIFE OR DEATH MATTER.

AND THE ECONOMIC DECLINE THAT'S HAPPENING AS A RESULT OF THE PANDEMIC IS JUST ACCELERATING PREEXISTING CONDITIONS BASICALLY THAT WERE ALREADY HOLLERING OUT TO THE JOURNALISM INDUSTRY, AND SO YOU KNOW, EFFECTIVELY THE BUSINESS MODEL FOR MOST FOR-PROFIT JOURNALISM HAS COLLAPSED WITH THE DECLINE IN OUR REVENUE.

'THE RIVER' ARE MEMBER AND READER SUPPORTED BUT THAT'S GOING TO BE TOUGH FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE, TOO, AND WE'RE OPERATING ON VERY, VERY THIN MARGINS, AND SO I DO THINK THAT SOME KIND OF PROVISION IN A SUBSEQUENT STIMULUS PACKAGE THAT RECOGNIZES WITH MONEY --

YES.

-- THE VALUE OF JOURNALISM RIGHT NOW IS SORELY NEEDED.

WELL, ACTUALLY THAT'S GREAT THAT YOU MENTIONED THAT 'THE RIVER' IS OF COURSE SUPPORTED WITH DONATIONS IN PART, AND SO I DID WANT TO SAY OR ASK YOU, WHERE IS IT THAT PEOPLE WHO HAVEN'T QUITE FOUND 'THE RIVER' YET, WHERE CAN THEY FIND YOU?

ONE LINE AT THERIVERNEWSROOM.COM, OUR T TWITTER HANDLE.

WE DON'T HAVE A PAY WALL, ALTHOUGH WE DO ASK PEOPLE TO DONATE.

THERE'S A VERY LOUD OBVIOUS DONATION BUTTON AT THE TOP, YOU CAN BECOME A SUBSCRIBER AS WELL TO OUR NEWSLETTER.

RIGHT NOW WE'RE SENDING OUT UPDATES OF CORONAVIRUS NEWS FROM 11 COUNTIES THROUGHOUT THE HUDSON VALLEY AND THE CATSKILLS AND STATE LEVEL AND SOME FEDERAL LEVEL NEWS, FIVE DAYS A WEEK AND ALSO RUNNING ORIGINAL COVERAGE, USUALLY TWO OR THREE STORIES PER WEEK LOOKING A WHOLE RANGE OF SECOND ORDER EFFECTS OF THE PANDEMIC, HOW SERVICE WORKERS ARE FARING, HOW FARMERS ARE FARING.

OF COURSE.

PHILLIP, I HATE TO CUT YOU OFF.

I COULD LITERALLY CONTINUE TALKING TO YOU ABOUT SERIOUSLY THE IMPACT OF THIS PANDEMIC ON THE ECONOMIC REGION AND OF COURSE THE HEALTH OF THE MID HUDSON VALLEY BUT I HAVE TO LET IT GO.

PHILLIP PANTUSO MANAGING EDITOR OF 'THE RIVER' THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, JENNA.

ABSOLUTELY.

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

GOOD NIGHT 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, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY -- '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, 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.

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