Subway to Stop for 4 Hours Every Night So Cars Can Be Cleaned – The New York Times

Posted By on May 5, 2020

[This briefing has ended. For the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak in the New York area, read Fridays live coverage.]

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Thursday that the New York City subway would halt service from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. each night starting Wednesday, May 6, so that all trains could be disinfected.

The policy will interrupt service on one of the few subways in the world that runs around the clock. It is believed to be the first time that New York Citys subway has had a regularly scheduled, systemwide halt in the 52 years since the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees it, was created.

This is as ambitious as anything weve ever undertaken, Mr. Cuomo said at his daily briefing.

The announcement followed days of tension between state and city leaders over homeless people using subway trains as a form of shelter during the coronavirus pandemic, creating what many people felt were unsanitary conditions. Mr. Cuomo called the situation disgusting earlier in the week.

Advocates have said that many homeless people are avoiding the citys shelter system because they fear getting sick, especially in dormitory-style shelters where the virus has infected many and killed dozens.

In discussing the plan, Mr. Cuomo said that shuttle buses, so-called dollar vans and even for-hire vehicles would provide what he described as an essential connector to take essential workers to their jobs when the subway is not running.

The governor also said that Mayor Bill de Blasio would help lead the effort to coordinate transportation during the nightly halt.

Its a heck of an undertaking by the mayor and I applaud him for his ambition here in stepping up and taking this on, Mr. Cuomo said.

Mr. de Blasio, who called in to the briefing, said the initiative would be helpful to homeless people, whose life on the subway he called an unacceptable reality.

Advocates for homeless people called the move counterproductive, and they again urged the mayor to move more people from shelters and into hotel rooms. They also argued that an increase in police officers to help clear out trains and stations overnight would undermine any effort to help homeless people.

By involving law enforcement officers, the initiative will discourage people from engaging with the accompanying outreach teams for fear of being criminalized, said Peter Malvan, who is homeless and an advocate for those in similar circumstances.

The governor said in an afternoon interview on 1010 WINS that the authority would pay any added cost associated with the plan and would post the routes for the essential connector on its website once the shutdown started.

The authority introduced new measures on Wednesday meant to address homeless peoples use of the subway for shelter. Riders will be barred from remaining in a station for more than an hour, and large wheeled carts, like shopping or grocery carts, have been banned from the system, officials said.

Dermot F. Shea, the police commissioner, said on Thursday that the officers had been ejecting many people from the transit system lately, about 180 a day in the past three weeks, compared with 50 to 60 a week in January.

On the front lines: Danny Montalvo, 57, deliveryman.

The Times is regularly profiling essential workers in the New York region during the pandemic.

Where do you live? Bayside, Queens.

Where do you work? U.P.S., for 26 years.

Are you nervous doing your job now?

I dont scare easy. I was working on 9/11 when the two planes flew over my head. But this is different. Were on the front lines now delivering packages to residents and the companies that are still open, be it medical supplies, food, Pampers for kids.

Do people appreciate you more now?

It feels good when youre delivering to million-dollar apartments and the person says, Hey UPS, we appreciate what you do.

Then you have people who look at you and step to the side and pull their masks on, because they think you might be infected but they still want their packages.

Has anything gotten easier?

Theres no traffic, and the citys not ticketing us for double parking.

The N.Y.P.D. enforced social-distancing rules in Hasidic communities.

The police broke up a large public funeral and issued six summonses in Brooklyn neighborhoods with large Hasidic populations on Thursday, a day after Mayor Bill de Blasio said officers would increase their enforcement of social-distancing rules.

Mr. de Blasios vow to crack down on those who violated the rules, made after he personally oversaw the dispersal of a funeral in the Williamsburg section on Tuesday, was criticized for the language he used in making it and for who it appeared to be primarily directed at.

My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed, Mr. de Blasio said in a tweet. I have instructed the N.Y.P.D. to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups.

The funeral that was broken up, in Borough Park, was for a rabbi who died earlier in the day, a law enforcement official said.

Officers, the official said, had quickly dispersed around 150 people who had gathered to watch the rabbis funeral procession pass by, but video posted on social media showed tension between Hasidic men and officers, who were shouting at each other in the street.

Separately, in Williamsburg, officers found large groups of worshipers concealed in two synagogues that had their doors chained shut and black garbage bags taped over their windows, the official said.

When officers arrived, worshipers at both synagogues fled through side entrances, the official said. Officers found more than 100 children at one of the synagogues.

One of the synagogues, Congregation Yetev Lev DSatmar, received two fire code violations for chaining its doors shut, and one person there was issued a summons for violating social-distancing rules, the official said.

The second synagogue, Congregation Darkei Tshivo of Dinov, was issued three fire code violations for chaining its doors, and five people received summonses, the official said.

Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut on Thursday outlined a plan for restarting the states economy that would begin with some retailers, offices, hair and nail salons, outdoor restaurants and outdoor recreation facilities reopening by May 20 if coronavirus infections and hospitalizations continue to decline.

The potential openings which would require the businesses in question to reduce capacity, clean regularly and ensure adequate social distance between patrons would be the first of four stages in gradually easing restrictions that have brought much of life to a halt.

The final stage in the process, Mr. Lamont said, might not come for at least 10 months.

The governor offered a few examples of measures that could be required of specific businesses allowed to reopen in the plans first phase: Restaurants can have outdoor seating only and no bar service. Retails shops must strictly limit how many customers they let in. Universities may resume research programs only.

Mr. Lamont emphasized that businesses would not be required to open.

Were just saying that you have a green light to open if you want to, he said. He added: Nobody is obviously required to go. And I think a lot of people are going to self-select.

As of Thursday, when 89 new deaths were reported, 2,257 people had died of the virus in Connecticut. Mr. Lamont said that 1,650 virus patients remained hospitalized in the state.

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said on Thursday that the state had recorded 460 new virus-related deaths, a sharp one-day increase and the most the state had reported in a single day so far.

Extraordinary, Mr. Murphy said of the deaths. This is the single biggest day that weve had.

The spike came in a week when Mr. Murphy, encouraged by other measures showing New Jersey making progress in fighting the virus, began to sketch out how the state might reopen in the weeks ahead.

The plans include state and county parks reopening on Saturday, a move Mr. Murphy attributed to steady declines in virus-related hospitalizations and the rate of positive tests.

The number of patients on ventilators, 1,271, reached its lowest point since April 4, he said, and the number of new cases reported was 40 percent below the states peak.

New Jersey has had the second-highest number of virus cases in the United States, behind only New York. So far, at least 7,228 people have died of the virus in New Jersey, a figure Mr. Murphy called staggering.

The only way we can get New Jersey on the road back is if we all continue to practice social distancing over the coming weeks, to really bend this curve down and to keep it going down, Mr. Murphy said.

New Jerseys new one-day high in deaths coincided with New York officials reporting another drop in the number of fatalities there.

Thursday was the first time that New Jersey recorded more virus-related deaths than New York, but the total came with some caveats.

Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the medical director of New Jerseys health department, said the daily death tally was a very backward-looking indicator because it could take weeks to confirm that a person had died of the virus.

Today was an unusual jump due to essentially catching up with some of that data that is coming in, he said, adding that he could not provide a breakdown of how many of the deaths reported on Thursday had come in recent days except that it was a significant number.

Mr. Murphy warned weeks ago that both the outbreak in New Jersey and the states efforts to fight it trailed what was happening in New York.

Were a couple of beats behind New York, he said on April 13 at a news conference with Mr. Cuomo and several other governors.

At the time, the number of deaths in New York was surging even as hospitalizations had started to level off.

Mr. Murphy announced the record one-day death toll hours after meeting with President Trump at the White House, where the president showered Mr. Murphy with praise but stopped short of offering more financial assistance to New Jersey.

At his briefing later, Mr. Murphy said the federal government would provide New Jersey with 550,000 new test kits for the coronavirus and 750,000 swabs.

But Mr. Trump was noncommittal when the governor told him New Jersey would need $20 billion to $30 billion in federal aid to achieve a full economic recovery. The president focused instead on Mr. Murphys background in finance.

You cant have a better representative than this man, that I can tell you, Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. Plus, hes an old Goldman Sachs guy.

Mr. Murphy, who spent 23 years at Goldman, praised Mr. Trumps leadership through the pandemic.

In an interview on the Fox News show Fox and Friends before the meeting, Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, struck a diplomatic tone, calling his relationship with the Trump administration a partnership thats going to have to continue for many months.

Mr. Trump and other top Republicans like Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, have said they oppose to giving states led by Democrats more aid.

Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help? the president wrote on Twitter on Monday.

Deaths and hospitalizations continue to fall in New York.

Here are the daily coronavirus statistics that Mr. Cuomo released on Thursday:

306 more people died of the virus in New York, down from the 330 reported on Wednesday. It was the lowest one-day toll since March 30.

The number of virus patients newly admitted to hospitals declined, after having ticked up slightly on Wednesday.

The number of virus patients in hospitals dropped for the 17th straight day and is now below 12,000, down nearly 40 percent from the middle of the month, when nearly 19,000 virus patients were hospitalized.

New York has passed 300,000 confirmed virus cases and has tested over 900,000 people, or about 5 percent of the states population.

As New Yorkers stay home, air quality improves.

The coronavirus has changed New York in countless ways, most of them unpleasant. But city officials this week released one new set of statistics that offer a piece of good news: As New Yorkers have stayed home, the citys air quality has significantly improved.

The city measures air quality at sites around the city, and monitors show that the levels of particulate matter, which contribute to health problems including lung cancer and heart attacks, have plummeted.

From the beginning of February weeks before the city confirmed its first case of the virus to the end of March around the time restaurants and schools were shuttered levels of particulate matter dropped both in Midtown and at Queens College by about 60 percent, according to the data released by the city.

Air quality has worsened slightly in April, according to the data, but has not approached February levels.

Researchers noted that it is not unusual for levels of particulate matter to fall as winter turns to spring, but that high-traffic areas such as Midtown tend to have consistently higher levels of particulate matter that low-traffic areas like Queens.

This year, the two air quality in both places has tracked much more closely than usual, they said.

Officials also observed what they called a sizable decrease in nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant that emanates mostly from traffic. (The city has previously reported major decreases in traffic at the busiest bridges and tunnels.)

At a site along the Long Island Expressway in Queens, levels of nitrogen dioxide decreased by more than half between February and April, according to city data.

Mr. de Blasio announced a series of initiatives on Thursday in the citys continuing fight against the coronavirus.

At his morning briefing, Mr. de Blasio said:

City workers who have been patrolling public spaces will distribute up to 275,000 face coverings starting this week. More than 100,000 will be handed out at parks.

Two new virus testing sites one in Coney Island and one in Inwood in Manhattan will open this weekend. By next week, 11 community testing sites will be operating citywide.

New Yorks Citi Bike program will open more than 100 new stations in places like the Bronx and Upper Manhattan to aid essential workers, who will be given free one-year memberships thanks to a donation from Citibank and Mastercard.

Facebook has donated $6.5 million to a grant program for small businesses.

Mr. de Blasio briefly assailed Mr. Trump for urging the country to reopen. He called the presidents White House briefings incoherent, and said, You watch the briefings and its the magical mystery tour.

The graphics department at The New York Times, which is responsible for the tracking chart we run every day showing total virus cases and deaths in New York State, has changed its counting method.

As of Thursday morning, the tracker at the top of our briefing includes people in New York City who died without having tested positive but whom the City Health Department considers probable victims of the virus.

The citys latest figures show 5,302 of those probable deaths. That number is now being included in both the case count and the death count in our tracker.

The actual number of people who have contracted the virus, and the number who have died of it, are both unknown but are almost certainly higher than any of the official statistics.

That number, which presumably includes both people who died of the virus and indirect victims who died because they could not get adequate health care in an overwhelmed system, is thousands higher than the 17,000 deaths the city was counting, including probable deaths.

Reporting was contributed by Jonah Engel Bromwich, Maria Cramer, Jim Dwyer, Alan Feuer, Michael Gold, Christina Goldbaum, Annie Karni, Andy Newman, Azi Paybarah, Ashley Southall, Liam Stack, Matt Stevens and Nikita Stewart.

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Subway to Stop for 4 Hours Every Night So Cars Can Be Cleaned - The New York Times

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