The Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, announced Monday that he will walk between 65 and 160 kilometers of the streets of the Big Apple with the aim of guaranteeing social distancing and the safety of passers-by through the closure of roads, the expansion of sidewalks and the launch of additional bike lanes, especially in those districts hardest hit by the pandemic.
During his daily conference, De Blasio explained that this pedestrianization would be carried out in different ways and pointed out that up to 96 kilometers of asphalt could be obtained from streets through which there is now vehicular traffic, especially those adjacent to or inside the parks.
Likewise, the mayor stressed that they would widen the sidewalks for a total of four kilometers and estimated the widening of the bicycle lanes by an additional 16 kilometers.RELATED
“This summer will be unlike any other in our city’s history. We are going to give New Yorkers more ways to get them out of the house while staying safe from COVID-19,” said the mayor.
The attempt to pedestrianize New York streets is one of the big pending issues for the city, which already this month had to stop a pilot project to pedestrianize the main roads of each district due to the lack of police resources to guarantee safety, especially after the increase in sick leave that the body has registered since the appearance of the pandemic.
In that test plan, stretches of emblematic streets such as Park Avenue, in Manhattan; Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn; Grand Concourse, in the Bronx; or 34th Avenue, in Queens, was opened to citizens for a few days so that they could walk with more space and thus reduce the risk of contagion.
However, the measure had to be withdrawn because it required more than 80 police officers a day to ensure compliance with the traffic shutdown, and because the streets were also not being as busy as expected.
New way of doing tests
In addition, the mayor reported a change in the way of conducting the COVID-19 screening tests, which until now required several professionals and a “complex” sample extraction system that, when introduced deep into the nose , used to end with a sneeze from the patient, jeopardizing the safety of the health personnel performing the test.
From now on, with the new method, which de Blasio has called “self-swab”, the patient will introduce the swab himself, although under medical supervision throughout the process.
“When you are going to do the test, instead of the doctor having to prepare himself with personal protective equipment and all that to introduce a long swab down your throat, now the doctors will simply explain to the patient how the test should be performed and then the person will go to another room, with more privacy, and he will take the sample himself, “said the mayor, who insisted that the new method is simpler, faster and will lessen the great exposure that health workers have suffered so far in NY.
According to de Blasio, with this change, the city’s capacity to test will increase from 15 to 20 per hour.
Hiring of more than 1,000 health professionals
In addition, during the press conference the mayor announced that the city needs to hire about 1,000 health professionals and invited them to send their CVs.
The goal of these new employees will be to work with patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and track all people with whom they may have come into contact to ensure tests are performed and isolation measures are met.
“Testing will be vital to reopen the city,” said De Blasio, who said that hospitalization statistics continued to be positive compared to the previous days.