How Mayor De Blasio Botched NYC’s Response To COVID-19
Even as liberals whine about President Trump’s petty feuds with reporters and his newfound insistence that the country — or at least sizable parts of it — get ‘back to work’ by Easter (April 12), his approval rating has continued to climb, as Americans rally around the president during times of crisis (and, to be fair, Trump stepped up during that one Friday press conference where he sounded reassuring presidential, even if his promises about ramping up testing ultimately never came true).
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose laughable presidential campaign is still not too far in the rearview mirror. Remember how even de Blasio’s own wife expressed doubts about his suitability for the presidency? Well, as Politico documents in an in-depth report about de Blasio’s handling of NYC’s response to COVID-19, during the weeks before the city emerged as the country’s biggest hot spot, even as the suburbs immediately surrounding the city succeeded in quelling outbreaks of their own, de Blasio dithered and put off critical decisions.
The result was he waited too long to close schools and way too long to close restaurants and other “non-essential” businesses. The result is that the city’s hospitals are now being overwhelmed faster than any other hospital system in the country, like the hospital in Elmhurst where 13 people died from COVID-19 in a single day earlier this week.
All of this isn’t a coincidence: It’s a direct result of de Blasio’s decision not to take the outbreak seriously, and to wait for “more information” before deciding on critical closures.
Even once the threat at hand had been made clear, de Blasio made critical mistakes during the response, including failing to outline a response protocol for municipal employees that kept thousands coming into the office longer than they needed to.
Meanwhile, the gaffe-prone mayor, who is one of the least popular big-city mayors in the country, and is perhaps best known for his long-time feud with Andrew Cuomo, the New York governor who has emerged as a national star of the outbreak, continued to do what he does best: produce embarrassing gaffes. His piece de resistance was going to the gym the morning he ordered all non-essential businesses (including gyms) to close.
De Blasio, who uses a public gym because he’s a “man of the people” (okay pal like there’s not a gym at Gracy Mansion? You’re wasting municipal resources to cart your ass back to Brooklyn for these workouts) responded by claiming “There was almost no one there. I had heard that information prior..I suspected that we were all going to be about to close them down, and this would be the last time to get some exercise.”
There was almost no one there because most responsible New Yorkers were practicing social distancing, including avoiding public places. What kind of message does it send when the mayor doesn’t obey his own guidance.
And it was exactly these types of mixed messages that hampered the mayors response and proved his critics — who insist that he is an inept administrator and even worse politician who is only in office thanks to the well-timed implosions of his political rivals — correct.
Some even questioned whether the death of a Brooklyn principle, who succumbed to the virus this past week, is directly a result of de Blasio’s reluctance to close the schools even after the teachers unions, members of his staff and health officials pushed him to. His reason for the delay? The urgings of the city hospital system administrator, who urged him to have a plan in place for the students because she worried it would affect staffing levels at city hospitals if parents had nothing to do with their kids.
To that end, de Blasio kept schools open for days after parents, teachers and members of his own administration urged him to close them, touching off a feud with the teachers union, which chastised the health department this week after a 36-year-old principal died from the coronavirus.
Three city officials familiar with his decision-making process said he was relying on advice from Mitchell Katz, head of the city’s public hospital system, who worried school closures would compromise staffing levels at hospitals during an emergency. De Blasio was also concerned about the lopsided impact it would have on low-income students and single-parent households.
He insisted schools would remain open during TV interviews on the morning of March 15, even as he was preparing to announce a system-wide closure later that day.
“You know I hated closing the schools. I thought it was going to cause all sorts of other problems and of course it has,” de Blasio said during a radio interview Friday morning. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been granted public hero status during this crisis, similarly reversed his stance on closing schools within a matter of hours that Sunday.
And then there was that senseless feud with Cuomo’s office over the “shelter in place” order, some nonsensical semantics that is a moot point now: everybody’s staying inside — people are only leaving to get food and other essential things.
He also dithered when it came to canceling the St. Patrick’s Day parade, waiting far longer than other national mayors.
He and de Blasio were also at odds over whether to require New Yorkers to “shelter in place,” an argument of semantics that went on for days as residents were left without clear guidance. De Blasio was calling for the policy earlier than Cuomo, while also signaling confusion about its implementation.
“What is going to happen with folks who have no money? How are they going to get food? How are they going to get medicines?” he asked during a news conference on March 17. “There’s a lot of unanswered questions.”
In another example of his mixed messaging, he has said he will make a “first attempt” to reopen schools by April 20, while also calling President Donald Trump’s push to bring businesses back by Easter, which falls on April 12, “false hope.”
Yet on Friday de Blasio tweeted that April 5 is “the day the strains we’re seeing right now on medical supplies and personnel could overwhelm us if we don’t get the help we need. This is a race against time.”
De Blasio spent days deliberating over whether to cancel the St. Patrick’s Day parade, even after other cities canceled theirs, did not provide clear guidance over a municipal work-from-home policy, according to multiple agency leaders, and argued with library officials who wanted to close their branches before he was ready.
The mayor also played down fears that city hospitals might face shortages of space and equipment and supplies, all of which now appears to be happening.
Shortly after the World Health Organization deemed the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, the mayor was asked to respond to expected recommendations about a possible quarantine.
“I think we can say at this point in time we’re looking at all the guidance, but with a bit of a trust-but-verify worldview,” he said. He also said the city’s hospitals were ready for an influx of patients. “We have 1,200 beds that we can activate readily,” he said on March 8.
“Just the fact that you’ll turn off a lot of non-essential things and turn all that talent and capacity to a crisis, should give New Yorkers a lot of confidence that, you know, even with hundreds of cases, we’d be able to handle it.”
This week The New York Times chronicled the nightmarish scenes from one of the city’s public hospitals, where 13 people died in a single day.
Privately, people across City Hall have begun to wonder whether de Blasio’s week of delayed action put people in danger.
And then there’s de Blasio’s decision to criticize President Trump’s push to reopen parts of the country by Easter while de Blasio promises to take a look at reopening the schools on April 20.
To be sure, some outside experts who worked with the mayor defended his approach, and even a former director of his public works department defended the mayor’s response, saying he didn’t think he would have done anything differently. Others disagree.
And at this point, with the NYPD reporting the death of the first detective on Saturday morning as both the number of confirmed cases and deaths climbs, it’s beginning to seem like the proof will be in the pudding.
The incredible meltdown of Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich.,yesterday on the floor of the House of Representatives shows how members can fuel rather than fight hysteria and panic.
The shocking scene was played out as the very task force members who she referenced are trying to rebut some alarmist predictions and estimates. Much of the nation is sheltering in place. We get it. However, Rep. Stevens seems intent on elevating not the discussion but the volume of the national discourse.
What was most notable is that Stevens was not saying anything particularly new… just saying it louder. Indeed, the Democratic Majority Whip was trying to give her the added 30 seconds that she had asked, but she was yelling over his voice.
25-Year-Old California Man With No Underlying Conditions Dies Of COVID-19; Infant Dies In Illinois
An infant in Illinois has also succumbed to COVID-19. The child’s exact age was not provided.
“There has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant. A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of death,” said Illinois Department of Health Director Dr. Ngozzi Ezike. “We must do everything we can to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. If not to protect ourselves, but to protect those around us.”
It is unknown if the infant had any underlying conditions.
Gov. Pritzker also confirmed tthat a state employee has died from the virus, according to WREX.
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While coronavirus deaths have primarily been in those above 50-years-old, the disease has also been sending younger people to the ICU in larger than expected numbers — and in some cases, claiming younger victims.
In France, doctors have reported that 50% of ICU patients are under 60-years-old, while in the Netherlands, half are under 50.
On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times noted the COVID-19 death of a 25-year-old pharmacy technician with no underlying health issues, whose body was found on Wednesday at a home in the Coachella valley neighborhood of La Quinta where they were in self-quarantine. The San Diego resident’s identity has not been disclosed.
“This is a deeply saddening reminder that COVID-19 kills the young and healthy too,” said Riverside County public health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser. “Stay safe. Keep travel and errands to essentials, and observe social distance no matter how young or well you are. Our condolences and thoughts are with everyone this pandemic has touched.”
According to the Times, the majority of coronavirus cases in the county are under 50-years-old:
This is the California age range for coronavirus patients:
“My deepest condolences go out to the family of the young adult who passed,” said Fourth District Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez. “The virus does not discriminate and age doesn’t matter. This tragedy demonstrates the need to stay in place. It’s safer at home.”
Health officials report that the deceased 25-year-old was exposed to the virus outside of Riverside county. It is important to note that while the man had no underlying health conditions, he did not go to the ER, where he could have been given one of several experimental treatments and been put on a life-saving ventilator.
His death will be added to San Diego’s number of coronavirus-related fatalities, which as of Friday afternoon stood at three. But Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s public health officer, said that data would be updated to include three more deaths, with the 25-year-old technician among them.
Wooten said the other two deaths included a male in his mid-50s and another male in his early 80s. -LA Times
There have been a total of eight COVID-19 deaths in riverside county in individuals over the age of 70 — most of whom had underlying health problems. As of Friday afternoon, there were 183 cases in the county.
The updated figures come a day after Riverside University Health System officials released new estimates indicating coronavirus cases in Riverside County will grow — possibly doubling every four to five days — and deaths stemming from viral complications could rise 125 times the current figure in the next month.
“We’re trying to change the curve and slow down the rate of infection,” RUHS Dr. Geoffrey Leung said during a news briefing at the county’s Emergency Operations Center in downtown Riverside on Thursday. “But based on forecasting and modeling … there could be a doubling of the rate of COVID-19 infection every four to five days … If we stay on the same doubling rate, (by early May) we could have over 1,000 deaths and 50,000 new cases.”
Leung said he based his estimates on local approximations and nationwide trends.
“By April 12, all hospital beds (in the county) will be used up, and if we stay on the same doubling rate, we’ll be out of ventilators in the April 22-May 5 period,” Leung said.
The one ray of hope that he referenced was a dramatic slowdown in the rate of infection in New Rochelle, New York, where a major cluster of COVID-19 infections was documented two weeks ago, but after closely monitored isolation measures were implemented, the rate dropped precipitously. -NBC Palm Springs
Following the 25-year-old’s death, Dr. Kaiser ordered all short-term lodging in the county, including home rentals such as AirBnB — to limit their business to COVID-19 response only, which includes housing patients in self-isolation, the homeless, and essential personnel.
Tenants, owners, and marketing agents are not allowed to lease any short-term rental, vacation rental, or timeshare lodging while the order is in effect throughout Riverside county.
“Now isn’t the time to visit Riverside County,” said Kaiser. “Slowing the spread of COVID-19 means folks need to stay put in their own neighborhoods. Unless you’ve got nowhere else safe to be, please visit later.
On Friday, members of the California National Guard continued setting up a temporary, 125 bed “federal medical station” hospital at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio ahead of an anaticipated surge in coronavirus cases. Another temporary hospital will be set up in western Riverside county which will have an additional 125 beds.