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A M Reid
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) called on the US federal government to provide all struggling states, particularly New York, urgent support.
He declared if vital medical supplies such as ventilators and masks are not sent to New York City within the next few days, hospitals will be unable to support infected patients due to supply shortages, and the COVID-19 outbreak will take lives that could have been saved.
“Every day counts because we’re literally in that very tight window,” de Blasio said Monday on CNN’s New Day. “If we don’t get a supply of ventilators quickly, our public hospital system literally after about a week or so, we will not have enough ventilators to keep people alive who could live through this crisis and could be saved.”
“That’s the blunt reality,” he added.
New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak and COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, with more cases than any other state. More than 16,000 people have now tested positive in New York, and the state now accounts for approximately five percent of coronavirus cases worldwide, with a significant majority of the cases being within New York City.
de Blasio warned that the pandemic will not be getting any better in the forthcoming months, rather, it will be getting a lot worse, but he made clear how much worse depends on Washington DC’s response.
“We have to be honest about this, this is just the beginning,” de Blasio stated. “It’s the beginning of something that will get worse throughout April and into May, and we’ve got to brace ourselves and we’ve got to change our lives, and we absolutely need help from Washington.”
He continued, “As this spreads, all of the cities, all of the towns, all of the counties around this country are going to be overwhelmed. The only way they can make it through is with federal help and right now that’s hanging in the balance in Washington.”
An emergency stimulus package, designed by Senate Republicans to lessen the blow to the economy, failed to pass in the Senate Sunday evening. To pass, the bill would have needed 60 votes, but it only received 47.
Democrats argued that the bill prioritizes corporate bailouts over supporting citizens. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said while “changes to the legislation are being made even as we speak,” there were “too many problems in the legislation.”
In contrast, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) heavily criticized Democrats for voting no and delaying the process.
“I want everybody to fully understand if we aren’t able to act [Monday], it’ll be because of our colleagues on the other side continuing to dicker when the country expects us to come together and address this problem,” McConnell remarked.
As de Blasio has been adamant about needing support as soon as possible, New Day co-anchor John Berman asked if he was suggesting “Democrats to drop their objections and just vote yes” to the package.
De Blasio responded saying he was not suggesting this.
The Democrats are “saying we should not prioritize bailouts for the airlines and the big corporations,” de Blasio said. “The first bailout should go to the American people. Millions of people have lost their jobs suddenly. So money back in the pockets of working people, and then help cities, towns, counties, states to be able to handle extraordinary, huge new needs that we simply can’t handle. You’re going to see cities and towns and counties go broke unless there is this direct aid that needs to be in this package, and of course direct aid to hospitals. That’s what Democrats are fighting for.”
De Blasio has also repeatedly stressed that social distancing is the key to delaying the spread of the virus. But despite de Blasio’s view, President Donald Trump, during a coronavirus task force news conference, said after the 15-day shutdown period had ended the government will be re-assessing its strategy. Trump implied that the current social distancing measures will be lessened, and on Sunday evening he tweeted:
De Blasio strongly cautioned against relaxing social distancing measures, telling Berman that “we have to take these extreme measures.”
“This is a disease that unless you cut of its oxygen if you will, which is to stop people from having all the kind of interaction we are used to as human beings, unless you create social distancing, it moves so fast…that it simply overwhelms any effort by the healthcare community to address it and therefore thousands of lives will be lost that could have been saved,” de Blasio explained.
“How many members of our family, especially our older relatives, who are the people really vulnerable here, are we simply saying as a nation we are going to turn away and ignore the challenges facing them? I don’t think that’s right,” he added. “If coronavirus is not checked in some ways and slowed, then you’re talking about a healthcare system that can’t function at all, including for all the people with other challenges, with all the other healthcare challenges we deal with all the time.”
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