NEW YORK – Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio diverted the blame on Thursday after a bomb study confirming that New York’s elected leaders stalled when it was time to take action against the spread of the corona virus .
An analysis published by Columbia University on Wednesday evening concluded that New York would have saved more than 17,000 lives in the New York Metropolitan Region if it had acted a week earlier to order people to stay home and social distance to promote.
The study assessed what would have happened to the whole country if it had acted faster, and found that around 36,000 fewer people would have died from the rapidly spreading virus if people had been forced a week earlier in March, a distance apart to keep.
The results, which were first reported by the New York Times, showed what many New Yorkers had believed in in the past two months: Cuomo and de Blasio, two Democrats who had not even had the same death toll in long-standing arguments, during the worst Crisis that they faced in their careers pulled their feet up, and as a result thousands of New Yorkers died.
But both leaders insisted on Thursday that they did not know the extent or source of the spread, and regretted their ignorance but not the timing of their decisions.
Cuomo, who dismisses the retrospective analysis more as “Monday morning quarterbacking,” has repeatedly asked questions about his answers to the data that he uses to make his decisions.
Nobody reported that the virus reached Europe from China at the end of last year, and if the true extent of the spread had been known, travel bans from both regions would have been appropriate as of December 31.
“Who should have known?” He told reporters at his Manhattan briefing. “It’s above my salary level as governor of a state, but which federal agency? Which international health organization? I don’t know. It’s not what I do. It’s not my responsibility. But someone has to answer this question.”
De Blasio also blamed the novelty of the disease and the fact that no one had a playbook for their reaction.
“I wish we knew so much more in January, February and early March. I wish we had the tests that told us what was going on, ”de Blasio told reporters on Thursday. “It’s very painful to think about whether we could have done everything differently if we had had the tests we needed.” Or if we had known then what we now know, what we could have done for people. It’s terrible. “
The first confirmed case of coronavirus was reported to the city on March 1, but experts now believe that the virus has spread much earlier in New York.
“When we received information, we responded,” said de Blasio on Thursday. “But of course it’s painful, and of course I look at it and say I wish we knew more because we could have done more.”
The mayor said the results would now show a slow, cautious approach to easing restrictions in the city, which is expected to start in June.
“Our approach will be careful and careful, and focus on health and safety,” he said. “And we’ll look at everything we can to get new research that tells us what happened before.” It can inform our next steps. “
But even when de Blasio and Cuomo worked on the same information, they tried to coordinate a coherent response.
The mayor and governor delayed the closure of schools and almost 80 city school employees have since died. De Blasio warned that an on-site placement order would be required after a block was ordered in San Francisco and mocked by the governor, who said such orders create unnecessary panic. Cuomo created one on March 22, but with a different name.
De Blasio explained that schools should be closed all year round – Cuomo said it was not the mayor’s decision to close the schools permanently for the year.
Exactly when de Blasio found out about the possible devastation of the virus, he was rooted in a dispute between him and his health department, which triggered a near revolution among the agency’s employees. As of this week, he and his select health commissioner Oxiris Barbot seemed to have settled their feud, at least for the cameras, when she rejoined his daily press conferences after freezing out.
But behind the scenes, the tension between de Blasio and the city’s Ministry of Health and Mental Hygiene has been brewing for years, explaining why New York has delayed enforcement of security measures such as school and business closings, a shelter, order and social detachment .
It was a recipe for disaster: a mayor who distrusts subject matter experts, an agency that he believes created more political problems than it solved, and a commissioner who worked with the city’s public hospital system director, Dr. Mitch Katz competed for his ear. which in early March insisted that school closure was an overreaction.
New York reported its first coronavirus case, a medical doctor returning from Iran, on March 1, believed to have contracted the virus overseas. It is now widely believed that the novel virus used to spread throughout the city.
Nevertheless, the city still had to draw up an action plan by March 6.
Cuomo began publicly discussing the spread of the virus in New York in February. A positive case is not an “if”, but a “when”. When the first cases were confirmed, his subsequent measures focused on minimizing panic and emphasizing statistics that indicated that the disease would largely spare the young and healthy. that 80 percent of those infected would recover easily at home.
An order at home, he said on March 18, was not justified. “Fear, panic is a bigger problem than the virus,” he told The Daily podcast.
De Blasio was looking for more testing capacity in the federal government back in January, but he also downplayed the disease threat and encouraged New Yorkers to go to restaurants and use the subway in early March.
“As far as we know, it cannot be completed by occasional contact, so the subway is not the problem,” said de Blasio at the time.
Since then, the virus has killed more than 23,000 people in New York, and the state, where more than 350,000 have tested positive, remains the national epicenter of the pandemic. On March 8, when the state confirmed only 105 positive coronavirus cases and no known deaths, Cuomo predicted confidence in the experts who followed the virus and shared its decisions.
“There is more fear, more fear than the facts warrant,” he said during his briefing. “This is not the Ebola virus, this is not the SARS virus, this is a virus that we have a lot of information about.”
This information has changed dramatically since then.
“They keep changing the facts about us,” Cuomo said Thursday.