New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio participates in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
As concerns over the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus grow across America, it’s understandable that leaders at all levels of government want to demonstrate to the public that they are actively involved and engaged with the community in helping to inform citizens and to assuage fears.
But for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, his efforts got off to a really bad start earlier this week when he misinformed a resident who dialed into the 311 helpline. The caller, a woman, had recently returned from Italy and wanted to know what if anything she needed to do next:
“You’re doing exactly the right thing by calling for some guidance,” he continued. “It’s much better to seek information and seek support before you do anything else.”
The caller told de Blasio she’d recently returned from Italy — which is reeling from a major coronavirus outbreak — but, when asked by the mayor, said she hadn’t shown any symptoms.
He told her she should only stay at home and avoid contact with others if she develops symptoms.
Here’s a photo of de Blasio fielding calls at the call center:
“You’re doing exactly the right thing by calling for some guidance.”@NYCMayor Bill de Blasio answered New Yorkers’ calls to @nyc311 concerning the #coronavirus outbreak.https://t.co/anK4diFBFL
— NYC Health + Hospitals (@NYCHealthSystem) March 12, 2020
The advice the Mayor gave the caller, however, was incorrect. From the CDC’s website:
Travelers returning from the specified countries in Europe must stay home for 14 days after returning from travel, monitor their health, and practice social distancing.
Italy is one of the specified countries.
A spokeswoman later corrected the failed presidential candidate’s bad advice:
“The mayor misspoke,” spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said. “If you return from Italy you should self-quarantine regardless of symptoms. We have made contact with the caller and clarified and the mayor will be issuing a clarification, as well.”
The mayor himself also noted his error in a tweet on Wednesday:
Earlier today I misspoke with a 311 caller about one of our coronavirus recommendations. We called them back with the correct info but I want every New Yorker to be aware: We DO urge people with recent travel to Italy to self-quarantine for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) March 11, 2020
After learning the mayor “misspoke”, naturally there were folks who thought it best for the media to stop giving de Blasio the platform to keep spreading misinformation:
@MSNBC please do not put @BilldeBlasio @NYCMayor on your network to talk about #COVID19 , he was giving out misinformation when on #MorningJoe & in a separate segment on another show
De Blasio defies CDC coronavirus protocol in 311 call with constituent https://t.co/FoHq1Gi1iB
— Lynda Wright (@BroncoBaby10) March 12, 2020
The day after de Blasio’s office issued the clarification, the mayor declared a state of emergency for the city, stating that the coronavirus “could easily be a 6-month crisis” and noting that “major changes” should be expected.
(Hat tip: The Daily Wire)