Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, holds up a protective mask during a news conference at Duggal Greenhouse in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, March 26, 2020.

Demetrius Freeman | Bloomberg | Getty Images

New York City is building its own strategic reserve of medical equipment for the coronavirus pandemic, including surgical gowns, test kits and ventilators because “we can’t depend on the federal government,” Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.

“It is a very sobering, telling moment when I have to sit here before you and say that New York City needs its own strategic reserve because we can’t depend on the federal government at this point,” he said at a news briefing. “It’s sobering as all hell. I mean it’s just not something I’m happy to tell you, but it is really, really clear.”

The New York City Economic Development Corp. will coordinate with health-care leaders in the city to build the reserve, de Blasio said. He said the stockpile will be filled with locally produced face shields, surgical gowns, test kits and ventilators and the city will also buy equipment from elsewhere as needed. 

“We New Yorkers will take care of ourselves,” he said. “We have learned the hard way that we cannot depend on the federal government in the future … We certainly cannot depend on the global market.”

A number of New York City firms have already started to produce personal protective equipment for health workers, de Blasio said last week. He said eight firms in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn Army Terminal and Manhattan are manufacturing face shields now and aim to produce 620,000 per week eventually. He added that five firms in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens are now making gowns.

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