New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) on Sunday danced around a question about his initial response to the coronavirus pandemic, claiming now is not the time to be “looking back,” despite having repeatedly bashed the federal government’s inaction in previous interviews.
De Blasio was asked during an appearance on CNN’s “State Of The Union” whether his comments earlier this month directing New Yorkers to “go about” their lives contributed to his city becoming a major “hot spot” of the pandemic. But the mayor said he preferred to focus on the future instead.
“We should not be focusing, in my view, on anything looking back on any level of government right now,” de Blasio told host Jake Tapper. “Everybody was working with the information we had, and trying, of course, to ... not only protect lives, but keep the economy and the livelihoods together. ... I mean, this was a very different world just a short time ago.”
“But the bottom line is, none of us have time to look backwards,” he continued. “I’m trying to figure out how we get through to ... next Sunday, and then what we do the week after that. And that’s the only thing we should be talking about in this country.”
As of Sunday, at least 30,000 of the country’s more than 125,000 confirmed coronavirus cases so far were in New York City, far surpassing the numbers in other metropolitan areas nationwide.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance last week encouraging anyone who visited the affected areas in New York to self-quarantine for 14 days. On Saturday, the agency issued a travel advisory urging anyone in New York, as well as New Jersey and Connecticut, to refrain from domestic travel for two weeks in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.
Despite warning of the potential risk posed by the virus, de Blasio was slower to order school closures than officials in other parts of the country. He defended his reluctance at the time, warning that many of the children enrolled in the city’s public school system ― the largest in the country ― could go without meals or supervision if schools were closed. But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) eventually directed de Blasio to shut them down.
Though de Blasio suggested Sunday that it’s not a good use of his time to reflect on his initial response to the virus, he has repeatedly slammed the Trump administration for being slow to respond to the pandemic.
“He is consistently late and very marginal in what he does,” de Blasio told CNN of Trump’s inadequate response earlier this month.
Tapper pressed de Blasio on the apparent hypocrisy of his comments on Sunday.
“Mr. Mayor, you say you don’t think you should look backwards, but you’ve criticized Trump for ‘actions that are far, far behind the curve,’” Tapper said. “I mean, Mr. Mayor, weren’t your actions in this outbreak also far, far behind the curve?”
De Blasio defended his handling of the virus, suggesting he had called on the federal government to ramp up testing “weeks and weeks ago.”
“I think the big, historical point here is [that] if this country had had the testing when we needed it, this could have been a very different reality,” the mayor said. “But there’s no time to go back over that. There’s only time to focus on getting through next week and the week after that.”
De Blasio’s office did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
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