FLATBUSH, Brooklyn — New York City could finally begin to reopen in a matter of days.
That was the message on Thursday from both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. What was not clear was whether those days number in the single digits, or double digits. What's more clear is that the process won't be easy or painless.
"We're not there 'til the day we declare," said Mayor de Blasio at his daily news briefing, "but we are damn close."
Gov. Cuomo echoed that emphasis.
"We're gonna focus on the opening of New York City," he said, at his daily briefing at a Boys and Girls Club in this central Brooklyn neighborhood.
With state figures showing that nearly a million New York City residents have lost or have been furloughed from their jobs in the last two months, a statement from de Blasio provided a hint of hope, despite the fact that the overall situation is intensely hard for so many people.
"A minimum of 200,000 will be coming back to work, a maximum of 400,000," de Blasio said. "That's quite a range," he continued, "but we're gonna know real soon what the truth is. But even if you say 200,000, that's a lot of employees coming back to work."
The city is just a point or two shy of crossing the state's requirement of having hospitals, as well as their intensive care units, be at least 30% vacant, in case of a coronavirus surge. Also, the city is ahead of its projected deadline for hiring and training enough contact tracers to properly monitor who's been exposed to the virus, if there is a surge.
Neither the governor nor the mayor would give a firm reopening date, but the mayor said it would be "within a week or two."
To ensure that happens, the governor said it's imperative that most, if not all, people need to wear facial coverings in public, to prevent and reduce the coronavirus spread.
To help promote the more widespread wearing of masks, Gov. Cuomo brought in what he called "reinforcements."
"Chris Rock and Rosie Perez are gonna join us," he said, as the two celebrities with New York City roots walked in to the daily briefing to join the governor on the dais.
"Yes, it's in East New York, yes, it’s in Brownsville," Rock said about the coronavirus and the need to mask up against it. "But it’s also in Gerritsen Beach. It's also in Marine Park, he continued. "So everybody who can get tested should get tested, as soon as possible."
Perez supported Rock's comments, and added that she and Rock were making public service announcements for the state that were targeted at some of the neighborhoods with the highest rates of infection and death.
"We talk about how communities of color, communities of low income and poor [are affected]," Perez said. However, she added, "when you step into the communities that are affluent, where you see hipsters and yuppies walking around without a mask, I go, 'What is it, is it arrogance? Is it an arrogant, defiant act that you're doing? Do you think that you are not going to be affected?'"
"Okay, fine, that's your thing," she continued, "but you're affecting me, too, and that, I really do not understand, and people are not talking about that."
"Everyone needs to get on board. put your arrogance aside. Put your ego aside, and come together," Perez said.
Also at the daily briefing, Gov. Cuomo announced a new executive order "that authorizes private businesses to deny entrance to people who do not wear a mask or a face covering," he said.
Perez also commented on the measure. "It’s going to lessen the anxiety of going into a store," she said. "There’s enough fear going around."