MetroFocus: July 26, 2021

FRONTPAGE FORECAST

Tonight’s Frontpage Forecast features Rutgers University Professor Saladin Ambar, Political Commentator JC Polanco and The City Deputy Editor Alyssa Katz with a look at the latest headlines from across the tristate and the nation.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

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BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

THIS IS OUR WEEKLY LOOK AHEAD AT THE MAJOR STORY LINES AND THEIR IMPACT ON TRI-STATE.

TONIGHT WE BEGIN WITH A FRUSTRATED ANTHONY FAUCI.

HE WARNED THAT THE U.S. WAS HEADED IN THE WRONG DIRECTION AS COVID-19 CASES SOAR AMONGST THE UNVACCINATED.

FAUCI'S WARNING COMES AS THE DANGEROUS DELTA VARIANT SWEEPS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES WHERE DEADLY INFECTIONS HAVE REPORTEDLY SURGE D 300% SINCE LATE JUNE.

NOW MAYOR de BLASIO IS PUSHING AHEAD WITH AN EXPANSION OF THE VACCINATION MANDATE TOIN COLLUDE ALL CITY WORKERS.

AND HE'S ALSO URGING THE CITY'S PRIVATE SECTOR TO INSTITUTE VACCINE REQUIREMENTS AS WELL.

MEANWHILE, WE'RE TRACKING ANOTHER STORY.

THIS INVOLVING THE NYPD AND A NEW PILOT PROGRAM.

THE NON-PROFIT NEWS OUTLET 'THE CITY' IS REPORTING THAT THE POLICE ARE STILL HANDLING MOST OF THE CITY'S 911 MENTAL HEALTH CALLS DESPITE THE CITY'S EFFORT TO KEEP THEM AWAY.

I'D LIKE TO WELCOME OUR ROUND TABLE PANELIST.

UP FIRST, WE HAVE A PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AND SENIOR SCHOLAR AT RUTGERS UNIVERSITY.

PROFESSOR, FIRST OF ALL, CONGRATULATIONS AND, SECONDLY, WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM.

VERY KIND OF YOU, JENNA.

GREAT TO BE HERE AS ALWAYS.

WE ARE JOINED BY JC POLANCO, A CUNI FACULTY MEMBER AND A FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE NEW YORK CITY BOARD OF ELECTIONS.

JC, IT IS ALWAYS GREAT TO HAVE YOU ON.

ALWAYS GREAT TO BE HERE.

AND CONGRATULATIONS, PROFESSOR.

TONIGHT, WE WOULD LIKE TO WELCOME IN TO OUR ROUND TABLE, ALYSSA KATZ.

DEPUTY EDITOR AT THE CITY.

WELCOME BACK TO 'METROFOCUS'.

THANK YOU.

GREAT TO BE HERE.

LET'S START WITH WHAT EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT, AND THAT IS THE COVID-19 DELTA VARIANT.

WE KNOW THAT MAYOR de BLASIO IS SAYING THAT THE CITY HAS, QUOTE, REACHED ITS LIMITS OF PURITY VOLUNTARY SYSTEM WHICH I GUESS MEANS THAT WE HAVE OFFERED THE VACCINE AND ANYONE WHO IS GOING TO WILLINGLY TAKE IT HAS TAKEN IT.

SO THE QUESTION SEEMS TO BE WHERE DOES THE CITY GO FROM HERE?

AND, ALYSSA, I'D LIKE TO START WITH YOU.

WHAT DO WE KNOW OF WHAT'S COMING FOR CITY EMPLOYEES?

YEAH.

SO TODAY MAYOR de BLASIO ANNOUNCED WHAT HE'S CALLING A VACCINE MANDATE, WHICH ISN'T REALLY ENTIRELY A MANDATE, RIGHT?

HE IS SAYING EITHER AS AN EMPLOYEE HAVE TO GET FULLY VACCINATED OR BE SUBJECTED TO LEGALLY COVID TESTING.

AND THIS IS GOING TO BE A PHASED IN STARTING IN THE FALL, STARTING WITH WORKERS WHO ARE INTERACTING WITH THE PUBLIC.

SO IT ALMOST SEEMS LIKE THIS TESTING ALTERNATIVE.

I MEAN, IT DOES HAVE SOME SAFETY FUNCTIONS.

BUT IT FEELS ALMOST PUNITIVE, RIGHT?

IT IS LIKE SAYING, IN OTHER WORDS, THAT WE WANT YOU TO GET VACCINATED.

WE CANNOT WITHOUT, YOU KNOW, LET'S SAY CHANGING YOUR UNION CONTRACTS OR CONFRONTING OTHER LEGAL OBSTACLES.

REQUIRE EVERYBODY TO GET WHAT IS STILL AN EMERGENCY AUTHORIZED VACCINE.

SO WE'LL GIVE YOU THIS ALTERNATIVE.

WHAT REMAINS TO BE SEEN IS HOW MANY CITY WORKERS WILL SAY, OKAY, I WILL PUT UP WITH THIS MANDATORY WEEKLY TESTING VERSUS, OKAY, I WASN'T GOING TO GET THE SHOT FOR WHATEVER REASON, BUT NOW THAT MY BOSS IS TELLING ME THAT I HAVE TO, I WILL.

IT IS NOT QUITE A MANDATE, AND WE REALLY HAVE TO SEE IF IT'S A GAME CHANGER OR IF IT'S JUST SORT OF ANOTHER MAYBE LITTLE NOTCH UP IN THE VACCINATION RATE WITH A LOT OF OTHER WORKERS SAYING, YOU KNOW, THEY WILL JUST TAKE THEIR CHANCES.

WELL, JC, YOU HAVE HAD A LOT OF INTERACTION WITH THE CITY GOVERNMENT.

DOES THIS SOUND LIKE I GUESS A REASONABLE PLAN OR SOMETHING THAT COULD ACTUALLY BE SUCCESSFULLY EXECUTED?

I'M AFRAID TO ADMIT FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER THAT MAYOR de BLASIO MAY BE RIGHT HERE.

I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY.

THE FACT OF THE MATTER MAY BE THIS MAY BE HOW HE GETS AWAY WITH TRYING TO KEEP A SAFER NEW YORK CITY WITHOUT FACING AN INCREDIBLE LAWSUIT.

ALTHOUGH, AS AN ATTORNEY, YOU KNOW, WE'LL SUE ANYTHING AT ANY TIME.

SO I CAN TELL YOU THIS.

IT'S IMPORTANT THAT EVERYONE REALIZES THIS IDEA THAT YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE VACCINATED AND THAT THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES FOR THAT IS ABSURD.

WE GET VACCINATED FOR EVERYTHING.

WE HAVE CHILDREN THAT CAN'T GO TODAY CARE UNLESS THEY'RE VACCINATED.

THE FACT THAT WE LIVE IN A PANDEMIC AND THIS SEEMS TO BE THE ONLY THING THAT CAN ACTUALLY PROTECT US AGAINST THIS PANDEMIC AND LESSEN THE HIT OF THE DELTA VARIANT, I THINK IT IS A NO BRAINER.

AND I THINK THAT THE MAYOR MAY BE DOING THE RIGHT THING AS ALYSSA JUST MENTIONED IN HER REPORTING BY ALLOWING FOR EITHER/OR.

HE MAY BE PROVIDING ENOUGH COVER FOR HIS ADMINISTRATION IN A POTENTIAL LAWSUIT.

WELL, OKAY.

THEN SPEAKING OF, PERHAPS, COVER FOR HIS ADMINISTRATION IN A POTENTIAL LAWSUIT, IS THERE ANY RECOURSE THAT, YOU KNOW, CITY EMPLOYEES COULD HAVE ABOUT, YOU KNOW, UNDUE BURDEN OR SOMETHING OR, YOU KNOW, PERHAPS A, AS SOME NATIONAL POLITICIANS HAVE SUGGESTED, A HIPPA VIOLATION OF DEMANDING TO KNOW ABOUT MY VACCINE STATUS?

WELL, I WILL SAY THAT THE PRESIDENT OF LOCAL DC-37, WHICH IS A MAJOR PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNION HAS ALREADY COME OUT WITH A STATEMENT SAYING THAT ANY REQUIREMENT EVEN FOR WEEKLY TESTING WOULD BE SUBJECT TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING.

AND SO HE'S SAYING NOT SO FAST, MR. MAYOR.

WE HAVE SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT IT.

AND THE UNION COULD, I SUPPOSE, ALTHOUGH THERE IS RESTRICT ON THIS AS WELL IN THE LAW, SUE AS JC WAS SAYING.

WOW.

PROFESSOR, YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS WHERE IT IS ALSO SEEING WHAT SOME OTHER COUNTRIES ARE DOING LIKE IN FRANCE THEY'RE PRETTY MUCH REQUIRING PEOPLE TO EITHER SHOW A NEGATIVE TEST OR PROOF THAT THEY HAVE BEEN VACCINATED TO ENTER PUBLIC SPACES.

COULD THAT BE SOMETHING THAT COULD EVEN POSSIBLY HAPPEN OR DO WE -- DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE PERHAPS THIS VACCINE ENCOURAGEMENT, LET'S CALL IT SINCE IT IS NOT A MANDATE FROM BILL de BLASIO BEING SCALED UP.

I THINK SO.

I THINK THERE IS A REASONABLE CHANCE.

PRIMARILY BECAUSE I DO THINK THE PRIVATE SECTOR, BUSINESS, DARE I SAY FOX NEWS AND THEIR CONCERN ABOUT THE ECONOMY, ET CETERA, UNDERSTAND THAT AT THE END OF THE DAY THE DELTA VARIANT REPRESENTS A THREAT, YES, TO PUBLIC HEALTH BUT ALSO TO DOLLARS AND BOTTOM LINES ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

NO ONE WANTS ANOTHER BRUTAL, LENGTHY, COSTLY AND DEADLY SHUTDOWN.

WE ALL WANT TO SEE OUR LOVED ONES AND PEOPLE WE CARE ABOUT SURVIVE AND DO WELL FROM A HEALTH STANDPOINT.

PEOPLE ALSO RECOGNIZE THE STOCK MARKET IS REACTING WITH GREAT VOLATILITY TO WHAT'S HAPPENING.

I THINK WE ARE SEEING A BIT OF A TIPPING POINT.

AND I HOPE I'M NOT OVERLY PREMATURE ABOUT THIS, PARTICULARLY IN CONSERVATIVE MEDIA PLATFORMS THAT, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE OUGHT TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR GETTING VACCINATED, FOR TAKING IT UPON THEMSELVES TO DO RIGHT NOT ONLY BY THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES BUT BY FELLOW CITIZENS.

WHEN YOU GET GOVERNORS OF SOUTHERN STATES WHICH HAS BEEN THE CASE RECENTLY SAYING IT IS TIME TO START POINTING FINGERS AT THE UNVACCINATED, I THINK WE HAVE REACHED A TIPPING POINT.

AND IT IS NOT OUTSIDE OF THE REALM OF POSSIBILITY, ALTHOUGH IT IS HARD TO IMAGINE, PEOPLE HAVING TO ABSOLUTELY FACE THE CONSEQUENCES OF GOING UNVACCINATED MUCH LONGER.

WELL, THIS IS THE DANGER BETWEEN WHEN YOU MIX HUBRIS AND MISINFORMATION, THIS IS A REAL PROBLEM.

THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THAT GOVERNMENT CAN MANDATE THINGS ALL THE TIME.

YOU OFTEN HEAR FOLKS ON SOCIAL MEDIA COMPLAINING ABOUT GOVERNMENT MANDATES.

WE LIVE IN A WORLD OF GOVERNMENT MANDATES.

GOVERNMENT FORCES US TO TAKE TESTS.

GOVERNMENT FORCES US TO ALSO MANDATE VACCINES REGULARLY.

THE IDEA THAT WE'RE NOT GOING TO HAVE A VACCINE THAT WILL BE REQUIRED TO WORK WITH THE PUBLIC IS OBSCENE.

SO I THINK THAT MAYOR de BLASIO IS DOING A BALANCING ACT IN COURT.

ALYSSA JUST SAID, YOU WILL HAVE, YOU KNOW, WEEKLY COVID TESTS.

COURTS LIKE TO SEE MITIGATION.

HERE HE'S TRYING.

SO THAT MAY BE ENOUGH IN ORDER FOR US TO HAVE A FULLY VACCINATED CITY WORKFORCE.

I DO THINK THE REAL GAME CHANGER IS GOING TO BE WHEN THE FTC REALLY DOES DO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR THE VACCINE, NOT AS EMERGENCY USE BUT AS, YOU KNOW, A FULLY APPROVED MEDICINE OF A VACCINE.

AND I THINK THAT THAT'S GOING TO REALLY -- BECAUSE I THINK THAT THEN EMPLOYEES, ESPECIALLY, WILL FEEL MUCH MORE EMBOLDEN ABOUT ASKING THEIR EMPLOYEES TO DO IT.

RIGHT NOW THERE IS A LOT OF NERVOUSNESS AROUND THE EMERGENCY USE AUTHORIZATION AND WHAT THAT ACTUALLY MEANS.

POLITICALLY, LEGALLY AND FOR HEALTH.

OF COURSE.

OF COURSE.

NOW, ALSO NOT TO BE OUTDONE BY MAYOR de BLASIO, WE KNOW GOVERNOR CUOMO HAS COME OUT AND SAID HE WILL EAR MARK $15 MILLION FOR STATEWIDE COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS TO ALSO DO VACCINE OUTREACH.

I HATE TO ASK IT AT THIS POINT IN THE GAME, BUT IS THAT TOO LITTLE TOO LATE?

BECAUSE A LOT OF SURVEYS AND POLLING AT LEAST AS OF RIGHT NOW INDICATE THAT PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOT TAKEN THE VACCINE YET HAVE PRETTY MUCH INDICATED THAT THEY DON'T WANT TO, DON'T PLAN TO AND REALLY DON'T RESPOND WELL TO BEING PUSHED AT ALL BY ANYONE.

SO, JC, YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE FACT THAT THERE IS STILL ALL THIS GOVERNMENT PUSH TO TRY TO GET PEOPLE TO DO IT AND PEOPLE WHO HAVEN'T TAKEN THE VACCINE ARE SAYING, NO, I'M NOT GOING TO RESPOND TO THAT.

I THINK THE FACT THAT PFIZER AND THE PFIZER VACCINE HAS PROVEN ACCORDING TO PUBLIC INFORMATION TO BE ABLE TO ASSIST THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN VACCINATED WITH DEALING WITH SOME OF THE ISSUES THAT COULD COME FROM THE -- FROM THAT VARIANT I THINK WOULD BE A WAKE-UP CALL TO MANY OTHERS, ESPECIALLY NOW AS WE SEE MORE AND MORE CHILDREN GETTING IT, AS THE SCHOOL YEAR APPROACHES.

I THINK MORE PEOPLE THAT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN WILLING TO DO IT A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO MAY CONSIDER THIS MAY BE THE ONLY THING THEY CAN DO TO HELP THEIR KIDS GO TO SCHOOL AND LESSEN THE HIT OF ANY POTENTIAL VARIANTS.

NOW, YOU ARE ALWAYS GOING TO HAVE PEOPLE THAT ARE HARD HEADED.

WE NEED AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE WHO ARE AT LEAST OPEN TO THE IDEA BUT MAY HAVE BEEN CLOSED OUT BEFORE BECAUSE OF WHAT ALYSSA MENTIONED BEFORE, THAT BEING TEMPORARY, NOT BEING FULLY APPROVED BY THE FDA.

THIS MAY BE WHAT THEY NEED.

A $15 MILLION INFLUX OF MONEY GOING INTO COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS SPECIFICALLY TARGETING THOSE COMMUNITIES THAT ARE CONCERNED MAY PROVIDE THE DIFFERENCE THAT WE NEED IN ORDER TO GET THINGS DONE.

YEAH.

I JUST THINK WITH SO MUCH OF THIS INFORMATION OUT THERE, EVERY LITTLE BIT COUNTS GOING THE OTHER DIRECTION.

IF IT SAVES A FEW LIVES, IT'S WORTH IT.

WHAT I WAS GOING TO ASK IS -- BECAUSE WITH ALL OF THE MISINFORMATION THAT WE HAVE HEARD AND ALL THE REASONS THAT PEOPLE HAVE TALKED ABOUT, PROFESSOR, YOU BROUGHT UP SOMETHING THAT MAKES A LOT OF SENSE, BUT I DON'T THINK I HAVE HEARD THAT OFTEN IN THAT GETTING THIS VACCINE IS A FINANCIAL DECISION.

IT'S ACTUALLY ABOUT THE ECONOMY AND NOT -- I MEAN, IT IS ALSO ABOUT PUBLIC HEALTH, BUT THE ROLE THAT HAVING A VACCINATED WORKFORCE PLAYS.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT THAT NARRATIVE HAS GOTTEN LOST IN ALL OF THIS?

WELL, I THINK THAT THE CONSERVATIVE MEDIA OUTLETS WHO ORDINARILY UNDER USUAL CIRCUMSTANCES WOULD MAKE A FUSS ABOUT IT HAVE ONLY VERY, VERY RECENTLY, MEANING DAYS AND WEEKS, HAVE GOTTEN AROUND TO SEEING IT THROUGH THIS LENS AND HAVE, MAYBE, LOST SOME OF THEIR VIEWERS, FRANKLY, FOR STATING THE NEED TO GET VACCINATED.

LOOK, I'M A POLITICAL SCIENTIST.

I'M BEGINNING TO A CONFERENCE IN SEATTLE AT THE END OF SEPTEMBER, EARLY OCTOBER.

MUCH OF THAT CONFERENCE WILL BE ON ZOOM.

THAT MEANS ALL OF THE VARIOUS AIRLINES, UNITED, ALASKA AIR, ET CETERA WILL HAVE, YOU KNOW, THEIR FARES OR THEIR RIDERS CUT OR THEIR FLYERS CUT IN TERMS OF SERVICE.

AND, SO, ON IT GOES.

THE HOTEL WORKERS AND INDUSTRY.

THE TOURISM INDUSTRY AS A WHOLE, RESTAURANTS, ET CETERA.

ALL OF THAT IS AFFECTED IN A VERY SMALL WAY BY ONE SIMPLE CONFERENCE THAT ORDINARILY WOULD HAVE MAYBE FIVE, SIX THOUSAND PEOPLE ATTEND FROM AROUND THE WORLD, THE AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE CONFERENCE.

THAT MAY BE CUT IN HALF OR MAYBE 20% OR 15%. NOW YOU JUST COMPOUND THAT ACROSS THE COUNTRY WITH ALL THE VARIOUS ISSUES OR INDUSTRIES, I SHOULD SAY, AND YOU GET THE SENSE OF HOW THIS MATTERS ECONOMICALLY.

IF PEOPLE ARE CRASS ENOUGH TO ONLY CARE ABOUT THEMSELVES, THEN PERHAPS THAT IS THE ADDITIONAL WAKE-UP CALL THAT'S NEEDED.

AND SORRY THAT IT'S COME TO THAT, BUT AS ALYSSA SAID, THIS IS ABOUT SAVING WHOMEVER WE CAN AT THIS POINT.

WE HAVE ALREADY HIT THE ICEBERG IN TERMS OF THE TITANIC.

NOW IT IS JUST ABOUT GETTING THE LIFEBOATS OUT TO WHOEVER CAN GET THEM AND WANTS THEM TO BE SAVED.

ONE FINAL QUESTION ON THIS SUBJECT, AND THAT IS THAT WE HAVE SEEN THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION SORT OF TAKE A BIT OF A HAND'S OFF APPROACH TO THIS.

THEY'RE ALLOWING LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, EITHER AT THE CITY, COUNTY, STATE LEVEL TO REALLY SORT OF TAKE THE LEAD ON HOW BEST TO ADDRESS THIS IN DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES.

AND I'M WONDERING: DO ANY OF YOU THINK THAT THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO HANDLE THIS SITUATION, THAT WE DON'T HAVE A CLEAR, FIRM, DIRECTIVE COMING FROM THE TOP DOWN?

OR IS THIS THE WAY THAT WE HAVE BEEN SORT OF CREATING THIS PATCH WORK OF APPROACHES?

IS THAT A BETTER WAY TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO ENGAGE WITH WHAT IS BEST FOR PUBLIC HEALTH?

ALYSSA, I WILL START WITH YOU AS WE GO AROUND.

NO.

IT IS A GREAT QUESTION.

I THINK IT IS PARTLY KIND OF A RECOGNITION OF POLITICAL REALITY OF HOW FAR APART DIFFERENT STATES ARE IN TERMS OF THEIR LEADERSHIP, THEIR CULTURE AND THE PANDEMIC, WHERE THEY ARE AT IN THEIR CYCLE.

AND CERTAINLY, YOU KNOW, WHAT WE HAVE SEEN BEFORE IS THAT NEW YORK HAS TEAMED UP WITH NEIGHBORING STATES LIKE GOVERNOR CUOMO HAS REPEATEDLY TEAMED UP WITH THE GOVERNORS IN NEW JERSEY AND CONNECTICUT TO TRY TO HAVE UNIFORM REGIONAL POLICIES AND, YOU KNOW, I THINK NEW YORK HAS GENERALLY USED ITS INDEPENDENCE FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, CERTAINLY UNDER THE PREVIOUS PRESIDENT BUT UNDER THE CURRENT ONE, TOO, TO OUR ADVANTAGE.

WE HAVE THIS UNIQUE EXPERIENCE HERE OF REALLY BEING THE EPICENTER EARLY ON.

IT MEANS THAT WE HAVE A WHOLE HOST OF VERY SPECIFIC LOCAL AND REGIONAL ISSUES, INCLUDING THE FACT THAT NUMEROUS PEOPLE HAD ALREADY BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID AND HAD BOTH THE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES AS WELL AS SOME IMMUNE PROTECTION FROM THAT EXPERIENCE.

WE HAVE THE EXPERIENCE AS WELL OF THE ONGOING SCHOOL CLOSURES THAT ARE RELATED TO THAT TRAUMA OF HOW INTENSE AND HOW MUCH SUFFERING, YOU KNOW, WE HAD IN THAT FIRST AND SECOND WAVE AND CONTINUE TO DEAL WITH THOSE CONSEQUENCES OF TRYING TO GET REOPENING REALLY HAPPENING IN FULL.

I THINK SCHOOLS ARE A VERY IMPORTANT FRONT.

SO I WOULD, YOU KNOW, OF COURSE LOVE TO SEE STRONGER NATIONAL LEADERSHIP PARTICULARLY ON SCHOOLS.

BUT IF ANYTHING, I THINK ONE DOWNSIDE OF THAT APPROACH RIGHT NOW IS THAT YOU HAVE THE CDC, FOR EXAMPLE, SAYING, YOU KNOW, YOU DON'T NEED TO HAVE THREE FEET DISTANCING IN SCHOOLS, NECESSARILY, DEPENDING ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES OR YOU DON'T NEED TO CLOSE DOWN AN ENTIRE CLASSROOM IF YOU HAVE AN INFECTION, JUST ONLY, YOU KNOW, ISOLATE CLOSE CONTACT.

AND, IN FACT, NEW YORK CITY HAS CONTINUED TO BE MORE CONSERVATIVE, MORE CAUTIOUS THAN THE CDC IS RECOMMENDING AROUND SCHOOL REOPENING RULES.

I THINK ON THAT LEVEL IT WILL BE BETTER TO HAVE STRONGER NATIONAL POLICY.

JC, IS THAT WHAT WE'RE MISSING, A FIRMER HAND AT THE TILL IN.

I THINK THIS IS RIGHT.

THE POLITICAL REALITY IS WE MIGHT AS WELL BE 20 SEPARATE COUNTIES RIGHT ABOUT NOW, ESPECIALLY HOW WE'RE DEALING WITH COVID.

IT IMPACTS DIFFERENT PLACES VERY DIFFERENTLY.

SO IT IS THE BEST THING, I THINK, FOR THE PRESIDENT RIGHT NOW TO RECOGNIZE THOSE POLITICAL REALITIES BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY POLITICS IS INTERESTING AS THE PROFESSOR CAN TELL YOU.

YOU KNOW, YOUR DECISION ON THIS ISSUE HERE MAY IMPACT YOUR DECISION AND YOUR APPROACH ON GETTING NEGOTIATIONS DONE WITH OTHER BILLS THAT YOU MAY BE LOOKING AT.

MAYBE OTHER BILLS WHERE YOU ARE GOING TO NEED BILLIONS AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN ORDER TO FIX THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE COUNTRY.

YOU MAY NOT WANT TO OFFEND ANY WEST VIRGINIA SENATOR YOU MAY NEED HIS SUPPORT ON SOMETHING BY COMING ON HARD AS WE JUST MENTIONED, JENNA, ON A NATIONAL RIGID ISSUE THAT MAY NOT AFFECT THEM THE SAME WAY IT MAY AFFECT US IN NEW YORK CITY.

IN ORDER TO KEEP THE PEACE, I THINK HE'S GOING TO TRY TO DO THE LOCAL ROUTE.

PROFESSOR, YOU ARE THE POLITICAL EXPERT, SO --

WELL, ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL, AS TIP O'NEILL SAID.

THERE IS ANOTHER ADAGE ABOUT THIS THAT, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE DON'T CARE HOW MUCH YOU KNOW UNTIL THEY KNOW HOW MUCH YOU CARE.

AND HOW DO THEY KNOW YOU CARE?

IF YOU ARE CONNECTED TO THEIR COMMUNITY.

QUITE FRANKLY, YOU PROBABLY NEED SOME NASCAR SPOKES PEOPLE OUT THERE TALKING ABOUT THE VACCINE.

PROBABLY NEED SOME PROFESSIONAL WRESTLERS OUT THERE TALKING ABOUT THE VACCINE, YES, THEIR LOCAL DOCTORS.

BUT PEOPLE IN THEIR COMMUNITY OR WHOM VARIOUS COMMUNITIES RESPECT AND TRUST.

PERHAPS NOT EVEN DR. FAUCI WHOM, GOD BLESS HIM, CLEARLY IS REVILED BY HALF THE COUNTRY, AS ABSURD AS THAT MAY BE.

SO WHOMEVER PEOPLE CAN TRUST AT THE LOCAL LEVEL IS WHOM WE HAVE TO REACH.

NOT BECAUSE WE'RE NECESSARILY APPEALING TO THE BETTER ANGELS OF THEIR NATURE BUT PURELY ON THE BASIS OF SELF-INTEREST.

ALL RIGHT.

WELL, WITH THAT, WE ARE GOING TO AT LEAST TEMPORARILY PUT THE ISSUE OF COVID ASIDE.

ALTHOUGH, I'M SURE WE WILL CONTINUE TO REVISIT THAT.

BUT I WANT TO TURN NOW TO THE OTHER BIG STORY I MENTIONED IN THE INTRO, AND THAT WAS ABOUT THE NYPD STILL RESPONDING TO 911 MENTAL HEALTH CALLS.

NOW, I UNDERSTAND THE CITY DID A BIG INVESTIGATIVE STORY ABOUT THIS.

SO FOR PEOPLE WHO MIGHT NOT FULLY KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON, TELL US.

SET THE STAGE FOR US WITH THIS STORY.

SURE.

SO, YOU KNOW, I JUST WANT TO SET THE STAGE WITH A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY HERE, WHICH IS THAT IN THE LAST FEW YEARS, YOU HAVE HAD SOMETHING LIKE 15 NEW YORKERS WHO WERE EXPERIENCING SERIOUS EPISODES OF MENTAL ILLNESS.

YOU KNOW, SOMEONE CALLS 911.

AND THEN THAT INDIVIDUAL ENDS UP DEAD ON THE OTHER END OF THE GUN FROM A POLICE OFFICER.

AND, YOU KNOW, THIS HAD REALLY MOBILIZED ACTIVISM TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY AND LOOK TO OTHER CITIES SUCH AS EUGENE, OREGON AND OTHER PLACES AND FIGURE OUT HOW TO HAVE 911 MENTAL HEALTH RESPONDS THAT DIDN'T LEAD TO A COP WITH A GUN SHOWING UP AND NOT NECESSARILY -- SOME COPS HAVE TRAINING IN HOW TO DEESCALATE SITUATIONS, BUT THEY ARE STILL COPS AND THEY'RE STILL ARMED AND THEY WERE STILL KILLING PEOPLE.

SO THE NYPD AGREED TO DO A PILOT PROGRAM TO SEND OUT TEAMS OF SOCIAL WORKERS IN RESPONSE TO CALLS ABOUT SOMEONE IN PSYCHIATRIC DISTRESS.

AND WHAT THE CITY REPORTED, MY NEWS ORGANIZATION, IS, YOU KNOW, THE EARLIEST NUMBER FROM THIS NYPD PILOT SHOWED THAT IN 80% OF THE CASES, COPS ENDED UP SHOWING UP ANYWAY.

OFTEN IT WAS BECAUSE THE 911 DISPATCHER, WHEN THEY HEARD THE DETAILS OR WHATEVER THE DETAILS MIGHT HAVE BEEN ABOUT THE REPORT, FOUND THAT THAT PERSON COULD BE A DANGER TO THEMSELVES OR TO OTHERS.

WHICH IS NOT UNUSUAL WHEN YOU ARE GETTING A 911 CALL IN A CASE SUCH AS THESE.

AND IN THOSE CASES, THEY SIMPLY SENT COPS OR IN OTHER CASES THE EMTs AND THE SOCIAL WORKERS SHOWED UP AND SAID, YOU KNOW WHAT, THIS IS GETTING OUT OF HAND, WE NEED POLICE BACKUP AND POLICE BACKUP WOULD COME.

SO IN 20% OF CASES, IT DID WORK.

I DON'T THINK THIS UNDERSCORES THAT THIS MODEL OF SOCIAL WORK IS GOING TO WORK IN CERTAIN CASES AND NOT IN MANY OTHERS.

JC, I WOULD LOVE TO GET YOUR THOUGHTS BECAUSE THIS SOUNDS ALMOST LIKE IT KIND OF MAKES THE CASE FOR THE ROLE THAT COPS DO PLAY, THE FACT THAT THERE ARE SITUATIONS WHERE SOCIAL WORKERS ARE SAYING THIS IS A LITTLE BIT OUT OF OUR HANDS OR WE'RE GOING TO NEED BACKUP AND SUPPORT.

IS THAT A FAIR READING OF ALYSSA'S STORY OR NOT IN YOUR OPINION?

I THINK SO.

BUT I'M NOT SURE HOW MUCH OF THIS IS GOING TO BE SOCIAL WORKER FOCUSSED.

AT THE END OF THE DAY, WE HAVE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE THAT ARE SEVERELY MENTALLY ILL IN OUR CITY.

MANY OF THEM WE DON'T KNOW WHERE THEY ARE.

POLICE DON'T KNOW WHERE THEY ARE.

POLICE OFTEN SHOW UP TO CALLS, AND THERE IS A VERY DANGEROUS ENVIRONMENT WHERE SOMEONE IS GETTING HIT, WHERE THERE IS VIOLENCE OCCURRING, WHERE SOMEONE MAY BE ABOUT TO HURT THEMSELVES.

A POLICE OFFICER SHOWS UP.

I BELIEVE STRONGLY, AND THIS IS CONTROVERSIAL, I MENTIONED THIS IN MY PUBLIC ADVOCACY CAMPAIGN IN 2017, I BELIEVE THAT LAW ENFORCEMENT SHOULD BE NOTIFIED OF SOMEONE WHEN THEY ARE APPROACHING IS AN SMI A VICTIM OF A MENTAL ILLNESS.

I THINK IT IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR US TO KNOW.

WE HAVE FOLKS BEING SHOVED INTO THE TRAIN TRACKS.

WE HAVE PEOPLE GETTING ATTACKED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY.

AT HOMES, SOMEONE IS SUFFERING FROM AN ILLNESS.

POLICE OFFICERS ARE GOING TO RESPOND TO OFTEN A VIOLENT CIRCUMSTANCE.

AND THAT'S WHERE WE NEED THE DEESCALATION.

I KNOW KENDRA'S LAW DOESN'T GO FAR ENOUGH.

BUT WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING SURE WE KNOW WHERE THEY ARE AT ALL TIMES, THAT THEY HAVE TAKEN THEIR MEDICATION?

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?

IS IT THE STATE?

BECAUSE WHEN THE STATE RELEASES SOMEONE FROM A MENTAL HOSPITAL, THEY DON'T TELL THE CITY.

IS IT THE CITY?

THERE ARE NOT OFTEN ENOUGH BEDS.

AN OFFICER WAS KILLED BY A SEVERELY MENTALLY ILL PERSON WHOSE FAMILY WAS BEGGING FOR A BED BUT THERE WASN'T ENOUGH FOR HIM.

I THINK LAW ENFORCEMENT NEEDS TO BE INVOLVED, BUT THEY NEED TO BE AWARE.

AND HIPPA VIOLATIONS AND PEOPLE CONCERNED ABOUT RIGHTS ARE GOING TO BE ANGRY.

BUT IF LAW ENFORCEMENT ISN'T AWARE THAT THERE MAY BE SOMEONE MENTALLY ILL AND TRY TO DEESCALATE IT, THEN WE WILL RUN INTO THE PROBLEM OF HAVING A SOCIAL WORKER SHOW UP.

THAT MAY BE DANGEROUS AS WELL.

JUST TO PUSH BACK ON THAT A BIT, ONE AWFUL EXAMPLE OF A POLICE KILLING IN THE PAST FEW YEARS.

WHICH ONE?

I'M SURE THERE ARE OTHERS.

BUT A MAN WAS LIVING IN SUPPORTIVE HOUSING FOR PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS.

PRESUMABLY EVERYONE RESPONDING KNEW WHAT THE SITUATION WAS IN THAT BUILDING.

THE SITUATION HAD ALREADY DEESCALATED OF ITS OWN ACCORD, AND THEN POLICE SHOWED UP, KNOCKED ON THE DOOR, REIGNITED THE CONFRONTATION AND KILLED HIM RIGHT THERE AND THERE IS VIDEO OF IT.

I THINK THE POLICE TRAINING IS A REALLY ESSENTIAL PIECE BECAUSE WE HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT POLICE WILL BE ON THE SCENE IN MANY OF THESE INSTANCES.

PROFESSOR, I WANT TO BRING YOU IN BECAUSE WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME.

WE HAVE ABOUT A MINUTE LEFT.

SURE.

WE ARE CERTAINLY ASKING THE POLICE TO DO THINGS THAT THEY SHOULD NOT BE DOING ALONE.

TO JC'S POINT, THE SIMILYMBOL OR PUBLIC ALSO HAS AN OLIVE BRANCH.

WE NEED SOCIAL WORKERS COUPLED WITH, YES, THE POTENTIAL USE OF FORCE IF PEOPLE ARE IN A DANGEROUS SITUATION.

BUT I CAN SPEAK FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.

I REMEMBER LIVING IN ESTORIA IN A BUILDING AND CALLING THE POLICE BECAUSE I HEARD SOMEONE BEING ABUSED.

IT WAS A CASE OF DOMESTIC ABUSE.

I WAS SURE OF IT.

I NEARLY WAS ARRESTED AS THE PERSON THEY FOUND WHEN THEY OPENED THE DOOR AND SAW THE BROWN FACE.

SO, YOU KNOW, I THINK WE HAVE TO RECOGNIZE THAT, YES, THERE IS AN ISSUE OF TRAINING.

THERE IS AN ISSUE OF BIAS.

THERE IS AN ISSUE OF INEXPERIENCE IN HANDLING ISSUES THEY ARE RIGHTFULLY NOT FAMILIAR WITH.

SO WE HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO PUT THE RESOURCES AND TRAINING WHERE IT BELONGS GIVEN THE PARTICULARITIES OF THE PARTICULAR SITUATION, JUST AS WE DO WITH OUR MILITARY, YOU KNOW, WHEN ABROADABROAD, RIGHT?

WE'RE NOT SO GOOD AS NATION BUILDING.

I DON'T WANT COPS NATION BUILDING SO TO SPEAK IN A DOMESTIC SITUATION.

WE HAVE PROFESSIONALS AND EXPERTS THAT CAN HANDLE THAT BETTER, I THINK.

OKAY.

UNFORTUNATELY, WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE.

I DO WANT TO THANK MY GUESTS.

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON THE ROUND TABLE ON METROFOCUS.

THANK YOU.

THANKS, JENNA.

ABSOLUTELY.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

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