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De Blasio: NYC still needs more health care workers

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio thanks

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio thanks employees at Crye Precision and Lafayette 148 NY that have teamed up to make thousands of protective hospital gowns at their Brooklyn Navy Yard facilities to supply the city's health care workers on Monday. Credit: AFP via Getty Images / Bryan R. Smith

New York hospitals should have enough medical supplies to get through this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday, but the city continues to face a shortage of health care workers to battle the coronavirus pandemic that has already claimed thousands of lives across the state. 

De Blasio said late last month that he feared New York would run out of essential medical supplies by Sunday, but the federal government and additional sources have provided enough surgical gowns, N95 masks and other critical equipment to carry the city through the week. 

“More and more, the challenge is going to be personnel,” de Blasio said during a news conference at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. “We need these supplies but we also need heroes to wear them.” 

Later Monday in an interview on NY1, de Blasio said New York City had received 500 ventilators from the state.

"That is going to see us through the rest of the week," the mayor said. 

But the shortage of medical personnel to assist and relieve New York’s exhausted doctors, nurses and other health care professionals remains a looming challenge, de Blasio said at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The city will need an additional 45,000 health care professionals to get through April, and the mayor has asked the Trump administration to send 1,450 military medical personnel to New York City, and 291 arrived on Sunday. 

“That is a good start, but we need more.” de Blasio said. 

The mayor spoke to reporters after visiting two companies that have teamed up to manufacture much-needed surgical gowns that have turned their Brooklyn Navy Yard facilities into what he called “a wartime factory.” 

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Crye Precision, which makes apparel and armor for the military and law enforcement, and Lafayette 148, a high-fashion firm, will contribute 320,000 surgical gowns by the end of the month, de Blasio said. Hospitals across New York are expected to use 2.5 million gowns just in the next week, the mayor said. 

“They are absolutely crucial to protection of our health care workers and these are reusable, which is crucially important and a point where we're on a crisis footing and we have to conserve every item we have,” he said. 

De Blasio said the city also has enough N95 masks to get through the week. The city will get 600,000 N95 masks from the federal government for independent hospitals in a few days, on top of 200,000 that arrived for public hospitals on Friday. 

De Blasio said it was fitting that businesses based at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where the ships that led the Allies to victory in World War II were built and repaired, are cranking out supplies for the war against the coronavirus.

“A lot of us heard stories maybe from parents, maybe from grandparents of the epic times of the past, World War II, the Great Depression, what people had to fight through as a full community,” de Blasio said. "Now it is our time. We are living that reality now. It's our generation that has to make that imprint on history and fight that fight now.”

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