With New York’s sixth case of coronavirus confirmed on Wednesday morning, the city has updated its preparedness efforts to keep COVID-19 at bay.
“With the best public health system in the world, New York City is ready and prepared to face the Coronavirus head on,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We will continue to take every step necessary to keep New Yorker’s safe.”
The New York City Police Department has been stock piling masks, gloves and disinfectants at commands, but has not distributed them to patrols. Chief of Department Terrence Monahan said at a City Council hearing todaay that they do not believe it is necessary to give it to street cops as yet as “there is no need for police to wear masks and cause a panic.”
Their procedures for dealing with those suspected of suffering from a coronavirus is to “remain outside of the location and allow EMS And firefighters with protective gear to remove the person if needed.” Officers are also requested to wash hands or use sanitizer “as they would during a flu epidemic.”
Chief Monahan added that several officers have returned from overseas assignments and five are currently under self isolation.
The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has instituted an early detection system for COVID-19 to lower the threshold for testing and deployed disease detectives to investigate cases and contact. DOHMH is also distributing palm cards with hand washing tips, plus FAQs, fact sheets (in 15 languages) and educational materials for the public. The Department is also launching a $6.5. million subway, digital and multi-media campaign to encourage hygiene and seeking help if you feel symptomatic, and they activated Incident Command System to laser focus agency resources on response.
The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) sent a coronavirus fact sheet to their listserv and community partners. They have also made the guidance is available at all IDNYC enrollment centers and shared with benefit partners, and the information is available in 15 languages.
The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) will also share information provided from DOHMH to the MOPD email list of 100 disability advocacy organizations and over 1,000 individuals and participated in the NYCEM and DOHMH interagency briefings.
The Department of Education is increasing deep cleanings at schools to twice a week and ensured all 1,800 schools have adequate hygiene and cleaning materials. Schools will be supplied with face masks for situations when a student exhibits symptoms and requires isolation prior to transport to a doctor and/or testing, and will encourage students to take time before meal periods for hand washing, and will adjust times accordingly so they have time to do so.
The DOE is updating its guidance international travel for school trips, including canceling all DOE-sponsored international trips to the following countries with a level-2 or higher advisory alert from the CDC: China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan; as well as advised the cancellation of all study abroad programs. Additionally, COVID-19-related absences will not impact current applications to middle or high schools.
The Department for the Aging, which has been providing guidance to the CDC and the DOHMH and updates to those who work with senior citizens, has partnered with City Meals on Wheels and prepared 100,000 meals for seniors in the event conditions require seniors to eat at home rather than visit senior centers.
New York City Health + Hospitals has activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and Incident Command System (ICS) and will conduct drills across their departments to ensure that they can implement basic infection control measures. They will conduct systemwide and faculty tabletop exercises at all of their hospitals and distribute materials to ensure New Yorkers know that H+H facilities are open to all needing medical attention regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.
Correctional Health Services and Department of Correction stated that they have developed and implemented a clinical protocol for screening, identifying, isolating and reporting, as appropriate, patients in its Enhanced Pre-Arraignment Screening Service and in jail New Admissions Intakes. If the DOC employee sees an inmate with coronavirus symptoms, they must make immediate referrals to CHS.
New York City’s Emergency Management team is coordinating with the Health Department to distribute information, FAQs, and safety tips to the public and the more vulnerable populations in the city. They will also monitor the supply chain demands to identify and mitigate any impacts in the city.
COVID-19 guidance has been distributed to the NYPD, the Department of Social Services and the Human Resources Administration, with that information also going to shelters, clients and employees. These three agencies will also have increased cleanings.
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has sent emails and robocalls to their residents and posted COVID-19 information on an intranet page and in building lobbies. NYCHA will also hold a tabletop exercise to review different scenarios, and will work with DOHMH to develop responses to specific concerns.
The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) has also sent updates to their tenants and instructed them to post the updates in their spaces. DCAS will also be posting informational fliers in their buildings and emailed updates to all city agency personnel officers and EEO officers to post in their respective agencies.
The FDNY is implementing call screening in Emergency Medical Dispatch for potential coronavirus patients, which includes asking 911 callers for symptoms of fever and/or cough and recent travel history. This will allow first responders to have the equipment they need to treat potential coronavirus patients.
The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) has declared that face masks are temporarily in short supply to prevent stores from overcharging. Stores found to be overcharging consumers will be issued a violation with a fine up to $500. DCWP encourages consumers who feel they were overcharged to file a complaint at nyc.gov/dcwp or by contacting 311.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) sent guidance to their drivers encouraging that they clean their vehicles at least every 24 hours, using standard cleaning and disinfection protocol. If passengers feel discriminated against by their driver, they are encouraged to call 311 and report it.
Finally, the Department of Small Business Services is distributing information to business owners on how to prepare for slowing sales and guidance on what to do with employees who may be sick.
For more information on COVID-19, visit the Heath Department website at nyc.gov/health.