New York City mayor Bill de Blasio reportedly “resisted drastic steps” on coronavirus until his staff, terrified that New York City could become ground zero in a devastating outbreak, threatened to quit — and despite a national outcry over his decision to break quarantine and work out at a gym in Brooklyn, in defiance of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, de Blasio says he does not understand why his private schedule is so controversial.
“For most of last week, as Mayor Bill de Blasio continued to urge New Yorkers to mostly go about their daily lives — sending their children to school, frequenting the city’s businesses — some of his top aides were furiously trying to change the mayor’s approach to the coronavirus outbreak,” the New York Times reported on Tuesday. “There had been arguments and shouting matches between the mayor and some of his advisers; some top health officials had even threatened to resign if he refused to accept the need to close schools and businesses, according to several people familiar with the internal discussions.”
Eventually, de Blasio was “shown a graph depicting the sharp upward trajectory of the coronavirus epidemic curve” and a second visual aid that showed New York City hospitals’ ability to treat and contain the virus. Both curves were shocking, the NYT says, and de Blasio was suddenly convinced that, in order to avoid an overwhelmed health care system, he needed to order school closures, restaurant closures, and quarantines.
But even as de Blasio seemed to be taking action to curb the spread of the virus, he didn’t appear to be taking the threat seriously. De Blasio “continued to travel from Gracie Mansion in Manhattan to work out at a Y.M.C.A. in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a longstanding routine that has garnered intense criticism,” and was even at the gym Monday morning, getting in one last workout before his own closure orders fell.
Mayor de Blasio is indeed here at the Park Slope YMCA this morning. Passers by have commented negatively. One called him an idot. pic.twitter.com/FIgEmlf4Gf
— andrew kaczynski🤔 (@KFILE) March 16, 2020
New Yorkers erupted in shock — a shock de Blasio says he simply cannot understand.
Appearing on CNN, de Blasio was clear: “I don’t get it.”
.@NYCMayor on outrage over his going to the gym during the coronavirus: “I don’t get it” pic.twitter.com/gNk8HngAuC
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) March 17, 2020
“I don’t get it, but we’ll move on with our lives,” de Blasio told host Alisyn Camerota. “The gyms are all closed now.”
“Is there any sense that you were late personally to get your arms around the sacrifice that’s required?” Camerota shot back.
De Blasio seemed stumped.
“No. Everyone will have to make sacrifices, but as our health commissioner said yesterday, people in new ways are going to have to get exercise,” he responded. “Whatever scenario we’re going to tell people how to stay healthy. It may be a walk, it may be a jog, but obviously socially distanced, until and unless we get to the point of literally ordering everyone indoors. So this is going in stages. Somehow people are going to have to stay healthy and sane through this and it’s going to take a lot of improvisation for sure.”
New York City followed other major cities Monday in declaring a dramatic business shutdown, after around 500 individuals were diagnosed with the virus. Seven people have died in New York City from coronavirus.