Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to reassure health care workers Thursday at a time when equipment shortages and overloaded hospitals are threatening to reach crisis levels.

“You deserve, and you must have, and you will have, the supplies you need. One way or another, we’re going to get them to you every day,” the mayor said during his daily coronavirus briefing late Thursday. “If it is available anywhere in the United States of America and we can get our hands on it, those supplies will get to you immediately.”

The mayor continues to underline the need for more hospital beds, whether in existing health care facilities or elsewhere. The city aims to triple its pre-existing capacity of 20,000 beds — “an extraordinarily difficult goal,” he said. Recently announced expansions will boost capacity to 34,000.

The city is also moving to mitigate the situation at Elmhurst Hospital, which has seen a sharp spike in patients and coronavirus deaths. 40 ventilators and 56 staff members were deployed Thursday to the hospital, which de Blasio called “the epicenter within the epicenter.”

NYC Health + Hospitals CEO Dr. Mitchell Katz said the hospital had seen four deaths over the previous 24 hours, a total commensurate with the number of patients on ventilators, he added.

Also highlighted Thursday:

The city’s inmate population has dropped below 5,000 for the first time since 1949, according to de Blasio, saying “It should be noted as an important moment.” By Thursday night, 375 inmates were to have been released in response to the coronavirus crisis.

To address grocery store overcrowding, the mayor encouraged storeowners to limit the number of shoppers inside at any given time, in order maintain social distancing. He also suggested stores implement dedicated “senior hours” from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

The city estimates at least 500,000 New Yorkers will become unemployed as a result of the economic fallout of the crisis. “That’s just a staggering, staggering number,” said the mayor.

Earlier Thursday, the mayor toured a new makeshift manufacturing site at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Created in recent days inside an unused event space, the operation will deliver 50,000 face shields to the city Friday, and produce 120,000 by next Tuesday.



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