• James Patchett, President and CEO of the NYCEDC briefs journalists on his agency’s efforts to manufacture face shields and gowns for healthcare workers on the front lines; innovate “bridge” ventilators; build a new supply chain for test kits; and support small businesses planning for reopening and recovery. 

    Libby Mattern, the founder of Course of Trade, discusses her new business partnership with NYCEDC.  Course of Trade, a woman-owned workforce development nonprofit in Sunset Park that trains fashion manufacturers, has hired 400 New Yorkers to produce 520,800 gowns for NYC hospitals facing a shortage of personal protective equipment.    


MODERATOR:  It’s a little after 4 o’clock, and I think we’re going to go ahead and get started.  We have a quorum of journalists in the – who’ve joined us this afternoon, and I will – let’s get started.

My name is Daphne Stavropoulos and I’m today’s moderator.  Welcome to the Foreign Press Center’s briefing on New York City’s COVID-19 response and economic development.  Please keep your microphone muted until you’re called on to ask a question.  If you have technical problems during the briefing, you can use the chat feature and we’ll try to assist you.  And as a reminder, today’s briefing is on the record.

I’d like to take the opportunity to introduce our two briefers today:  Mr. James Patchett – he’s the president and the CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation – and Ms. Libby Mattern who’s the founder of Course of Trade.

This press briefing is an opportunity to hear about the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s efforts to help New Yorkers recover from the COVID-19 crisis.  Ms. Mattern is the founder of Course of Trade, and she will discuss her new business partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation.  And as a reminder, our briefers’ opinions are their own and don’t represent those of the U.S. Government.  Mr. Patchett and Ms. Mattern will provide some opening remarks and then I will open our meeting to questions and answers.

And with that, Mr. Patchett, welcome and thank you for joining us, and please go ahead.

MR PATCHETT:  Thanks, Daphne.  Thanks for having us.  Libby, good to see you.  And welcome everyone.  I hope everyone’s doing well in the context of this challenging time.  Good to connect with you, albeit virtually.

I just want to say, first and foremost, obviously, the dissemination of facts, data, and science is just more critical than ever right now, and I really appreciate the role that journalists play in ensuring that people are informed about what’s really going on.  And so I tremendously respect the work you all are doing and efforts to get the truth out there, so thank you for that.

So I think you all certainly are aware from your coverage and just from the world the impacts COVID-19 is having on health and as well as the economics and just on humanity generally.  And I think you’re also aware that is a really challenging time for the city of New York.

I want to use today’s forum as an opportunity not just to discuss the challenges we face, but the extraordinarily – extraordinary work of New Yorkers.  And I’m joined by an extraordinary New Yorker today, Libby Mattern, who has helped do remarkable work in this challenging time.

What’s happening in New York right now is unprecedented.  When you look around, you see images and articles that show a city shut down, empty streets, restaurants, and offices.  Broadway is dark and New Yorkers are adapting to a new way of normal.  It was just a few weeks ago that New York was deemed a new epicenter of this pandemic, but today it’s remarkable progress that we’re seeing.  The curve is flattening and overall hospitalizations are decreasing, intensive care cases are trending downward, and these are positive signs in what has been a really difficult period for New York.  In fact, over the last few days our hospitalization rate is down to below 2 per 100,000, which is a remarkable recovery from where we were at the peak of this and a demonstration of the effectiveness of the collective efforts of New Yorkers to get us to a safe place.

As we continue to address this immediate health crisis, we also need to turn our eyes towards a recovery.  The unemployment numbers we’re seeing everywhere are staggering, and it’s particularly staggering because it was just a few weeks ago that New York City had essentially full employment.  So returning from a crisis like this is going to take time, and it won’t be easy.  But as challenging as it’s been, there’s one message that I want to deliver today:  New Yorkers are incredibly resilient and so is this city.

This city has inherent strategic advantages that have made it a major economic center for centuries.  Time and again we have seen its strength.  The fiscal crisis in the ’70s, 9/11, the Great Recession, and Superstorm Sandy are just a few examples of that.  And every day I see the work of New Yorkers that convinces me that we’re more resilient than ever.  They step up and fight for one another and fight for our city.  It’s just what New Yorkers do.

And I’ve seen this firsthand with my partners at EDC.  We’ve been supporting the city’s response to COVID-19 from the very beginning.  We’ve turned our cruise terminals into hospitals; we’ve worked with local manufacturers to produce critical medical supplies; and we’ve advocated for more federal resources for our businesses.  And while these have certainly been long days, I am incredibly inspired by the innovation, the creativity, and the tenacity that my team and the people all across the city have shown.

It was mid-March when we were asked to do the seemingly impossible: to build a new ventilator.  In that moment, if you had asked me to explain the term HEPA filter, PEEP valve, or manual resuscitator bag, I would have been at a loss for words.  It’s amazing how quickly things change.  When the mayor first asked me, it seemed crazy that we could ever do this.  A ventilator is an incredibly complicated instrument, and the thought that we could figure it out, build it, and scale production all in just a few weeks and all within New York City seemed impossible.  But we’re New Yorkers, so we got to work.

We set up a 15-person team from scratch, people who have never done anything like this before.  They quickly became experts in FDA certification, supply chains for medical grade materials, and translating medical research into manufacturing specs.  In less than a month, we identified and convened a consortium of researchers with local innovators and manufacturers to design, develop, and deliver this lifesaving technology.  These devices free up ICU ventilators for critically ill patients, which was an absolute top priority at the height of this medical crisis.

Our key partners in this ventilator effort included New Lab, an innovative space in Brooklyn that enables tech innovation.  And the ventilators were produced at Boyce Technologies in Long Island City, a state-of-the-art manufacturer.  EDC has supported both New Lab and Boyce over the last several years, and the capacity they brought to the table is the only reason we were able to design and produce these new ventilators right here in New York to respond to the crisis.  The rapid evolution in technology, the investments the city made in the tech sector, and the relationships EDC has developed for diversifying the economy and planning for the future all came together in a pivotal moment.

And beyond technology, EDC has made strategic investments in key industries like fashion and garment manufacturing, which today are playing a critical role in the city’s response.  Our partnership with Libby and the organization she founded, Course of Trade, is a great example.  At the start of the pandemic, there was a critical need for PPE like face shields and reusable gowns for our front line workers.  New York City was not getting the federal support it needed, so we did what New Yorkers do best:  We stepped up and got to work.  Course of Trade is an incredible organization in Sunset Park, Brooklyn which trains the next generation of fashion manufacturers for free.

When the pandemic struck, Libby did not hesitate to act.  In a matter of weeks, she hired 300 New Yorkers, produced over 500,000 reusable gowns in six different factories.  It’s truly an incredible effort that represents the rare win-win situation during these times.  Not only are we providing front line workers with the supplies they need, we are also putting New Yorkers back to work.  Libby, we can’t thank you enough for the work that you and your team have done.  We’re incredibly grateful.

Now, I share these stories not just because of what it says about our work to date, but also because it points to our collective way forward.  Thankfully, the surge of coronavirus cases is waning, so it’s time to look ahead to the economic recovery and getting New Yorkers back to work.  To respond to the economic devastation we’re seeing, we need to reopen our economy deliberately and do so as quickly as we can, but only if it is safe and grounded in science.  To confidently begin to reopen the economy, we must rapidly scale up testing so that New Yorkers can stay home and keep the rest of us safe – so sick New Yorkers can stay home, I should say.

Here again, New York City’s innovators are stepping up to be part of the solution.  Over the past few weeks at EDC, we built a new supply chain with local biotech companies and small manufacturers and are now in production on 50,000 COVID-19 test kits per week.  In a matter of weeks, our team consulted with experts across the country, forged relationships with local manufacturers, worked with medical professionals and city agencies to review swab designs, figured out sanitization procedures and vetting processes for medical use, and then quickly found local manufacturers to begin production.

Again, the confluence of innovation and manufacturing partners was essential.  As with our efforts to produce ventilators, the ongoing production of new test kits would not be possible in New York without having innovative companies and the capacity to make things.  Print Parts in Manhattan is 3D printing swabs, and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx is following a CDC protocol to produce transport medium.  That’s the liquid that preserves the collected sample after it’s collected on its way to the lab.  And in Brooklyn, we’ve converted a coworking space, Collab, into a test kit production facility.

It’s incredible to me that we developed these extremely precise and technologically advanced materials in New York City so quickly, and I’m proud  to say these test kits are already in use.  It was at the end of last week that we delivered nearly 5,000 kits to health and hospitals which are in use in health clinics across the city.  When the first completed kits made their way off the production line, the factory erupted into cheers.  It’s incredibly inspiring to see how New Yorkers are stepping up to support their fellow New Yorkers.

Now, I share these anecdotes not only because I am proud of the work that’s happening across the city, but because they highlight my core belief that innovation, science, and New Yorkers working together will get us through this.  We know that government cannot do it alone.  New York’s business leaders and innovators are already playing a huge role in helping us respond to this crisis, and that will only grow over time.  We want to work with them.  We want to understand their challenges and ideas, and we want businesses across sectors to continue to grow in New York.

And finally, I also ask for your help.  Share these incredibly stories – incredible stories of innovation and resilience.  The world needs to know that while we are facing a tremendous challenge, this city will come through stronger than before.  And anyone who doubts that, just remember, only in New York City can you develop a ventilator in less than a month or nasopharyngeal swabs within weeks.  New Yorkers make the impossible possible, and we will do it again and again.  Thank you for your time, and I look forward to our discussion.  I’ll turn it back over to Daphne.

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Mr. Patchett, who we can see certainly has been very busy over the past few months.  I’m going to welcome Libby and ask that you make some opening remarks before we open the floor for Q&A.

MS MATTERN:  Sure.  Hello, everyone.  Daphne, thank you for moderating.  And James, it’s great to see you, and thank you for your introduction and your kind words.  I’m very grateful for this partnership.

I’m Libby Mattern.  I’m the founder of Course of Trade and the production director of fashion brand Malia Mills.  Course of Trade is a nonprofit headquartered in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and located in Industry City.  We also have a for-profit arm that manufactures goods on a contract basis.  So I’ll tell you a little bit about what we do and our partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

The EDC and I are deeply aligned on our workforce development commitment and ensuring the longevity of our domestic supply chain.  Course of Trade is dedicated to providing paid industrial sewing training and job placement assistance to New Yorkers in the garment industry since 2016.  Our goal and our guiding principle from day one has been economic empowerment both for the new garment sewers we’re training and the businesses who need sewers to continue to manufacture.

Through our partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Course of Trade has mobilized six factories in South Brooklyn, including That’s My Girl, MCM Enterprises, Direct Promotional, Malia Mills, and Fashion Poet.  Together we are providing 300 jobs for New Yorkers to help us produce hospital isolation gowns for the city, and through this partnership we are so proud to tell you that 65,000 patient isolation gowns will be produced each week by the Course of Trade fleet of factories.  It’s really amazing to watch all the factories involved mobilize so quickly and jump into action to reframe their production lines, and I’m so happy to tell everyone here that since we started the production, we’ve delivered 125,000 gowns to date with another 25,000 gowns set for delivery on Saturday, and we’re well on our way to fulfilling our 500,000-gown order.

As a result of COVID-19, factories in New York City were faced with a very uncertain future.  Orders were canceled, workers were furloughed, and the machines were dormant.  Businesses both small and large have been evaluating their plans and reassessing what it takes to stay afloat during these unprecedented times.  New York City manufacturers are uniquely poised to shift focus.  We are filling the gaps left by canceled or delayed orders and redirecting operations to alleviate shortages of the necessary personal protective equipment during this current crisis.

New York City garment manufacturing is absolutely critical for the economic health of the city and the country as a whole.  We have an incredible and immensely knowledgeable workforce right here in our five boroughs.  Ensuring the longevity of this pipeline of sewers is mission critical as we weather this economic storm.  One out of every 50 New Yorkers is employed by the fashion industry in some capacity, whether it be manufacturing or retail.  That’s 6 percent of the city’s workforce.  New York City’s fashion industry, retail, and manufacturing combined pays nearly $11 billion in wages and generates almost $2 billion in yearly tax revenue, and this industry puts food on the table for tens of thousands of New Yorkers.  The erosion of the manufacturing base risks jeopardizing a vital economic ecosystem.

Through ongoing workforce development, we can continue to ensure that there is a broad and deep pool of talented makers who can remain the beating heart of fashion in New York.  I’m incredibly grateful for the partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation.  Their commitment to workforce development for New York City garment manufacturing shows vision not only in providing essential protective gear to our frontline workers and first responders but seizing this opportunity to help fortify a pillar of New York’s economy.  This is such an important time for all businesses and the government to band together to help our neighbors on the front lines, and this is what makes New York City manufacturing and the people behind the sewing machines so incredible.  We can seamlessly move to address supply chain issues and bring goods to market rapidly.

I’m a proud New Yorker, and I’m proud to support our neighbors on the health care front lines with valuable PPE, and I’m proud to have the opportunity to work with the New York City Economic Development Corporation and give New Yorkers jobs in these challenging times for individuals and businesses alike.  And most importantly, I am so proud to train the next generation of garment manufacturers in New York City.  I’m a true believer in giving back to the community and the city that means so much to me.  There’s so much to be gained when we all work together, and it truly takes a village – or in this case, a city – New York City, a resilient city.  Thank you for having me here today.

MODERATOR:  Libby, I can’t thank you enough.  I think it’s a very inspiring story, and I am sure we’re going to have a lot of questions.  I’m going to open the floor for questions.  Let’s hear first from those participating in the Zoom app, and then I’m going to turn it over to those who’ve called in.  For those of you joining via the Zoom app, please click on the raise hand button in the participant list or indicate you have a question via the chat feature at the bottom of your screen, and I’m going to call on you.  And as a courtesy to our briefers today, please provide your full name and your outlet before you ask your question.

And the first question goes to Niki.  Please, go ahead, Niki.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. Patchett.  Thank you, Libby.  My question is for Mr. Patchett.  Based on what you’re learning in real time – and it’s been an incredibly short time – what do you think your general advice would be to people who are willing and flexible enough and ready to change jobs, think about what else they can do now?  Because you are in the position that you occupy, this is my question to you:  What are you seeing around you?  What’s – of course we know the obvious things that have changed, but for people coming back into the workforce, what are those things that might have just come up because of the situation which they might be – may need to pick up new skills for?  What are you seeing around you?

MR PATCHETT:  Thanks for your question.  I appreciate it.  Thanks for participating.  Look, I think – well, one thing that I like to say is I am pretty convinced that the ability to successfully mute and unmute yourself on a Zoom call is becoming a critical work skill in that there are so many of us who’ve spent hours and hours of our collective lives accidentally speaking only to ourselves because we put ourselves on mute.  So – but I think in all seriousness, I think what we’ve seen certainly is an evolution of people thinking and adapting the importance of technology into their lives in a more – in a more dramatic and sudden way than I think anyone ever expected.

That being said, I think what you’re hearing a lot of people talk about is maybe this virtual way of doing work is going to be the new normal.  I think the thing that I hear from people, although that’s a popular item and there are certainly some companies that are talking about that, is – the truth is that Zoom and virtual are no replacement for human interaction.  I mean, it was only two months ago, three months ago, where it was all about collision theory, the premise that you needed to run into people in person in order to have real interactions and that was the basis for creativity.  And I’ll tell you there’s no better place for creativity than in New York City, and I really believe that the – that it will be continued importance placed on the personal interactions.  And I’ve heard plenty of people in the tech sector – and this is in the tech sector say this – Zoom is great when you already know people or when you were in the office with them a month ago or two months ago.  It doesn’t work so well when you’ve never met them before.  I mean, are people going to onboard their entire offices remotely?  I don’t think so.

So I think our future of our world is, as always happens with these things, there will be interesting things that are permanent changes, but in reality I think most of us are going to go back to something that largely resembles our lives previously.  Social distancing is going to be part of our lives in some form for a while.  Zoom is going to be an unfortunate part of our lives for longer than many of us would like.  But the truth is I think people will find that the world returns and people forget.  I mean, it’s happened before, right?  I mean, we’ve seen this many times, and the world seems to have changed overnight, and then before you know it, the world is back to the way it used to be.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  As a reminder, if you have a question – I’ll call on you – please state your full name and your media outlet, and it would be helpful if you can also direct your question to one of our two briefers.  Let’s go ahead, Magda.

QUESTION:  Good afternoon.  My name is Magda Sakowska.  I am the correspondent to Polish TV Polsat News.  Thank you for doing this meeting.  I have two questions, one for Mr. Patchett and one for Ms. Mattern.

Mr. Patchett, although we haven’t got over the pandemic, we know that we can face the second wave in fall, so what do you suggest?  What steps have to be taken to prepare cities for the potential second wave?

MR PATCHETT:  I think that the key is going to be that we’re going to know a lot more about the science between now and the fall.  It’s also remarkable – I mean, right before – so the premise of a second wave is predicated on the idea that it’s warmer months that are – warmer weather that is driving down virus transmission rates.  There is evidence that that may be the case, but there have also been plenty of outbreaks in parts of the world that were in summer when the Northern Hemisphere was in winter.  And so I don’t think that the weather plays as big a role in this as people perceive it to, although it could be a part.

So I think fundamentally we need to work very hard to avoid a second wave, and the best approach for that is a really aggressive test-and-trace regime.  That’s what we’re working on in New York City.  This means knowing when people get sick, knowing when people are contagious, and being about to quickly track them and any contacts that they had.  That’s what you have to be able to do, and there’s an incredible amount of technology and science out there that will support us in doing this.

And I’ll just say more broadly I’m really optimistic about the incredible innovations that you’re seeing in science.  I was on the phone last night with the chief scientific officer of one of our most promising biology companies that’s located in New York, and also one of the most prominent ones globally, and they’re developing possibilities of treatments that would precede a vaccine and could be available as early as this fall.  So we shouldn’t – although I know everyone is focused on the vaccine in the long run, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that there are likely to be treatments available in the nearer term that will mitigate the impacts of this disease and put us in a position to have less fear around this.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  So Ms. Mattern, I would like also ask you about the second wave.  What impact on the economy could have the second wave of pandemic?  And don’t you think that it wouldn’t be so easy to impose lockdown for the second time to tell people stay at home and to lose your jobs once more?

MS MATTERN:  That’s a heavy question.  I think there’s – it’s a – the second wave is certainly something that’s looming on the minds of all New Yorkers and people around the world, and I think the best thing that we can do is learn from the guidance that we’ve received thus far.  And I think you’re right that it will be very difficult for people if the restrictions are put back in place and they’re directed to stay inside, especially if it happens at a time when it’s nice outside.  I mean, it’s hard enough to keep New Yorkers inside when it’s terrible outside.  Everyone wants to be doing something.  But especially when it’s warm outside, I think that’s going to be a real challenge for the city and for many cities.

But I think ultimately the human heart wins out.  People want to make sure that everyone is safe and they want to make sure that they’re doing what’s best for their neighbors.  And I think that’s what we’re – that’s going to be something that really sticks with every person as any more restrictions are put in place.

QUESTION:  And what about the impact on the economy if we face the second wave?

MS MATTERN:  I think ideally there would be continued domestic production of PPE, and I think that a lot of companies are faring as well as they can with remote access to their offices.  Certainly it’s very dependent on the field that you’re in.  In terms of Malia Mills, the company that I run production for, it’s challenging because we have stores, we have retail stores that we’re trying to operate and we’re trying to staff, and it’s been a real challenge for us to figure out ways in which we can sell online and we can do remote fittings with people.  But it’s – we’re up for the challenge, but I think it’s going to be a tremendously difficult couple months for people up to probably a year, presumably.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.

MODERATOR:  Okay, the next question is going to come from Thomas from AFP.

QUESTION:  Can you hear me?

MODERATOR:  Yes, we can.  Go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hi, thanks for hosting this.  I have a question for Mr. Patchett.  I was just wondering, going back to everything you described as far as the gowns and the swabs and the ventilators and all this capacity that has been developed, I was wondering what’s the – what are the economics behind it?  Who’s footing the bill for this?  Is it entirely publicly funded?  And what’s – is there any possibility to know, like, any numbers you could share as far as the overall cost for it?

MR PATCHETT:  Yeah, I’d be happy to have my press team follow up with you on that.  I mean, I think in terms of the specific numbers, it’s probably easier to just provide them separately to address your question specifically.

I would say, I mean, overall this is part of the – our emergency response to this.  So we needed all of these items for our emergency medical response.  Most of them are covered by federal government reimbursement from FEMA, which is the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which provides funding for just these circumstances, whether it’s in like a medical crisis or a hurricane.  And so that’s the funding source that we have been tapping.  And the truth of the matter is we would have been purchasing – the plan was to – the long history of this has been acquiring these kinds of goods from overseas.  It’s just, as I think people are aware, the supply chains are not working globally in the way that they traditionally have.

And so like just to take Libby’s example, she’s used to getting – she’s used to getting material that’s – excuse me – well, many cases designers are in the position that the finished goods are being completed overseas.  We do – have historically or recently done a relatively small batch – batches of final goods in New York City.  But this situation was one where we actually had to identify and source the raw materials from within the United States, bring them to New York, hand them over to Course of Trade, and let them do the finishing, which is just an entirely new supply chain, frankly, for the City of New York.

So we were going to be buying these products no matter what.  It’s just that they weren’t available in the traditional market.  And so by virtue of this approach, we’ve had the win-win of being able to spend this money on lifesaving technologies and at the same time put New Yorkers back to work.

QUESTION:  Thanks.

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  The next question comes from Weier.  Weier, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Yes, this is Weier with China Business Network.  I have a question for Mr. Patchett.  So New York Stock Exchange will open the trading floor the day after Memorial Day.  The broker will have to wear protective masks and follow social distancing requirement.  In addition, they will be required to avoid public transportation in order to limit their potential exposure to the virus.

So first, I wonder if you can comment on this requirement of avoiding public transportation.  Will you expect other companies ready for reopen to follow the same guidelines as the New York Stock Exchange?  And to what extent do you think the New York City – the city public transportation will be ready for the opening what could be the future of public transportation in the city looks like – face covering or a limitation of passengers per car – and how can we do this?  Thank you.

MR PATCHETT:  Those are great questions.  Look, I think – well, first off, we do not expect companies to be telling their employees to avoid public transportation.  I mean, I think that we have spoken to the folks at the stock exchange.  I’m not sure that they’re going to stick to that policy.  I think overall we want to encourage people to use a variety of modes of transit.  Obviously, the subway experience is a concern for people.

But over time, this is just a question of comfort, and it’s not going to all be turned on at once.  I mean, certainly a lot of Asian countries have seen this, that this is going to happen in stages.  We are a couple weeks away from our first phase reopening, which we expect will increase transit ridership but not suddenly or dramatically.  And then weeks or a month thereafter we’ll be in the next phase of reopening, and we’re going to be carefully watching it the entire time.

Our expectation is that people will be able to safely ride transit with face coverings and that I don’t think we’re going to be in a position of ultimately enforcing social distancing on trains, but I think it’s going to naturally enforce itself because we’ll be gradually increasing the number of people who are going back to work as we’re increasing our test-and-trace operations and ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to masks and the other personal protective equipment that they need to get onto – to get onto transit and to be able to go out into society until we have a vaccine or at least a very strong treatment.

QUESTION:  What is your – are there any data in terms of how, as the city reopens, what is the increase in case of people riding the public transportation?  Is there any preliminary data?

MR PATCHETT:   Yeah, I don’t have the data off the top, but if – I’m, again, more than happy to have somebody follow up with you with the specific data.  Transit ridership was very far down, as you would expect, in April.  It has started to come back up some.  We expect it will increase more in June, but we still think it will be well below where it was in – at the peak.  We expect a lot of people to continue to work from home.  And government will reopen – will say that things can reopen, and we expect businesses not to suddenly reopen the day that we say that that’s possible but follow it gradually over time.  So it’s – we’ve seen this around the world.  It’s going to be gradual.  People and employers are going to follow the desires of their employees.  When people feel safe coming back, they’re going to start to come back, and it’s going to happen over the course of months, not days.

QUESTION:  Okay, thank you.

MODERATOR:  Okay, the next question comes from Nora Quintanilla from EFE News of Spain.  She’d like to know how NYCEDC and companies like Course of Trade are preparing for phase one.  Will you continue in some way with the emergency response after some level of normality is reached?

MR PATCHETT:  Yeah.  So I think our collective – I mean, we’re still in an emergency and we need to be vigilant throughout the entire time, but I think this is about cautious reopening with a focus on safety and science first but with an understanding that New York is going to get through to the other side of this.  I have an incredible amount of confidence in our public health system.  I mean, we are able to – we prepared for a significantly greater rush of cases than we ever experienced.  We were anticipating tens of thousands more people in the hospital from the peak of this than ever actually occurred, and so we have a built-in capacity now that is much higher, and that puts us in a stronger position.  We’ve also learned the medical techniques that are much more effective at treating people.

And so we’re going to keep incredibly vigilant.  We are going to ensure that we have sufficient personal protective equipment to last us for months, not for days.  And so if we do experience changes over time and cases start to go up again, we’re going to have plenty of tools to address that, whether it’s in the form of our testing, our medical centers being prepared for it, and we’re going to be in a position to quickly ensure that those cases don’t overwhelm the system and that we can continue on a positive trend of marching more and more towards zero cases as opposed to facing a new peak, which I think we’re all confident is behind us.

MS MATTERN:  I think in terms of your question about will Course of Trade be continuing to produce PPE post the – post our contract, so our contract is through the end of June, so we’ll be producing the 500,000 gowns over the course of between now and the end of June.  And then I think just like many things in the world right now, we’re taking it day by day and we’re seeing how the city is coping and we’re seeing where the need lies and ensuring that we have what we need to be as well-prepared as we possibly can.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We just have a few minutes left.  I would like to give an opportunity to those who called in via the phone to ask a question.  If anyone on the phone has a question, please go ahead by unmuting yourself and pressing *6.

(No response.)

MODERATOR:  Okay.  Is there anyone else (inaudible) the participants who wishes to raise their hand and ask a question or type one into the chat room?  I think we have time for one more question.

(No response.)

MODERATOR:  Okay.  Well, if there are no more questions, that concludes today’s briefing.  I want to thank both you, Mr. Patchett and Ms. Mattern, for joining us here today.  We really appreciate your time, especially during this very, very busy time for both of you.  Today’s briefing, as a reminder to all of the journalists who’ve joined us today, was on the record, and I will share the transcript as soon as it’s available and share a link to the video later this afternoon.  And with that, I just want to say thank you again and have a good afternoon.

U.S. Department of State

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