White House counselor Kellyanne Conway took time to blast New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, already with his hands full dealing with the horrific COVID-19 crisis ripping his city, for an early misstatement downplaying the seriousness of this threat. She also said de Blasio is ultimately to blame for transforming New York into the U.S. city worst-hit by the coronavirus.
There were 23,112 confirmed cases and 365 deaths in New York City as of Thursday evening. The city accounts for 28% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S., a number that stands at 82,547.
The first case of COVID-19 in New York was confirmed March 1. The next day, de Blasio sent a surprising tweet saying, “Since I’m encouraging New Yorkers to go on with your lives + get out on the town despite Coronavirus, I thought I would offer some suggestions. Here’s the first: thru Thurs 3/5 go see ‘The Traitor’ @FilmLinc. If ‘The Wire’ was a true story + set in Italy, it would be this film.”
On March 15, de Blasio ordered restaurants and schools in the city closed to enforce social distancing after initially resisting calls to do so.
For some reason, Conway pounced on this tweet to accuse de Blasio of making NYC the U.S.’ COVID-19 epicenter. She said de Blasio should have locked down NYC sooner, a step de Blasio resisted early on. She said this decision by de Blasio resulted in SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), the virus that causes COVID-19, spreading to neighboring states such as New Jersey. New Jersey is now the second most infected state after New York.
In an interview on Fox News, Conway said de Blasio “lied to America … He said he’s on top of this from the beginning.” She then said de Blasio went to a gym and took a subway to prove the coronavirus isn’t a threat to the health of New Yorkers.
“I’m not playing politics,” she also told reporters Thursday, defending herself against criticism of politicizing the COVID-19 crisis. Critics contend Conway is going after de Blasio to deflect loud criticism of president Donald Trump, who wants to re-open the country to business on Easter Sunday despite the raging pandemic. Health experts are united in opposing Trump’s idea.
“He told people through a tweet on March 2, ‘Go live your lives and go out on the town,’ and then recommended what show everybody go see,” said Conway.
“So it’s very unfortunate that we now have the spread in the whole New York metro area, which as you all know includes many parts of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania.”
Freddi Goldstein, de Blasio’s press secretary, said the mayor “rose to the seriousness of this crisis [and] made incredibly difficult decisions” to close restaurants and school.
“On 3/3 we were pre-community spread. We were isolating the few positive cases, tracing their contacts & encouraging anyone w/ symptoms to seek help,” she tweeted.