NY’s Cuomo, de Blasio Delayed Distancing, Increasing Death Toll
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, and Mayor Bill de Blasio discuss the state and city’s preparedness for the spread of the coronavirus, Monday, March 2, 2020, in New York. (Mark Lennihan/AP)
The New York Times reports that initial efforts by the state’s officials to combat the coronavirus outbreak were delayed and could have led to the city becoming the epicenter of the pandemic.
The first confirmed coronavirus case in New York City took place on March 1. A woman traveling home from Iran on Flight 701 from Doha, Qatar to John F. Kennedy International Airport in late February tested positive.
The next day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio held a news conference promising to track down everyone on that flight. They didn’t.
A day later a lawyer from New Rochelle, who had no travel history, tested positive indicating the community spread of the virus was underway. Health officials now know the virus likely was already in New York prior to the first confirmed case.
On March 5, de Blasio was telling the public not to worry and to go about their normal activities. New York leaders touted having the best hospitals in the world and that plans to contain the spread were in place.
Several days before that Gov. Cuomo expressed a similar standpoint.
“Excuse our arrogance as New Yorkers — I speak for the mayor also on this one — we think we have the best health care system on the planet right here in New York,” Cuomo said on March 2 during a press conference. “So, when you’re saying, what happened in other countries versus what happened here, we don’t even think it’s going to be as bad as it was in other countries.”
But that wasn’t the case and New York’s cases continued to grow. New York reported back-to-back record numbers of deaths this week with 731 deaths announced on Tuesday and 779 announced Wednesday. The overall death toll in New York is 6,268 people.