NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a question many are asking: In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic were public officials giving the wrong directives, sending the wrong message, and did that continue to the spread of the virus?
Westchester County officials dined at a New Rochelle kosher Chinese restaurant over three weeks ago — no six degrees of separation — to show support for businesses in the hard-hit community.
“We’re here to demonstrate support for and confidence in a neighborhood and a business community that has bore an especially heavy burden,” New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said at the time.
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Some say it was the wrong message, and that others in government are guilty of the same thing, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
President Donald Trump was certainly slow on the uptake, and for months New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told residents not to change their lifestyle.
“It’s important, just go about your lives, continue living as you have,” de Blasio said, adding at a later date, “This should not stop you from going about your life. It should not stop you from going to Chinatown and going out to eat.”
As recently as March 13, de Blasio said, “We want people still to go on about their lives.”
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CBS2 urban affairs expert Mark Peters told Kramer the mayor’s actions were a combination of a reluctance to panic people and a deep-seeded reluctance to rely on the advice of experts.
Peters said there’s a big difference between de Blasio’s words and Westchester officials eating Chinese food.
“The mayor of New York has access to the best public health and epidemiology experts in the world, so that should have allowed him to move a little faster,” Peters said.
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was also asked if he moved too slowly.
“I think we were one of the first to shut it down. Also, you want to do it in a way that doesn’t create more fear and more panic,” Cuomo said.
Mayor de Blasio said critics shouldn’t question him about telling New Yorkers to go about their lives until “this war is over.”