Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio called the media together, responding to the first coronavirus case in New York. Their message: We’ve got this.
By David Stone
Prompting the press conference was a 39 year old health care worker confined in New York with the virus. And first up, Cuomo assured the public. This case was under control.
Nothing to worry about. She was at home and not seriously sick.
Cuomo’s attention to detail had a We’ve got this covered conviction that carried through the session.
“Everybody is doing exactly what we need to do,” he said. “We have been ahead of this from day one.”
But some of the press missed that message in pursuit of click bait.
The New York Times was especially bad.
“Outbreak Will Spread in City, Officials Warn,” screamed their headline, but that’s not what Cuomo and de Blasio said.
“In general, there is no doubt that there will be more cases where we find people who test positive,” he reminded listeners. “We said early on, it wasn’t a question of if, but when.”
It wasn’t a warning. It was reassurance.
“We have a lot of information now, information that is actually showing us things that should give us more reason to stay calm and go about our lives,” Mayor de Blasio said.
The Times missed that too.
“The governor and mayor both pleaded for residents to remain calm,” the Times claimed. No, they didn’t.
But responding to media-led fears, using his own daughter as an example, Cuomo said, ” I get the emotion, I understand, I understand the anxiety.”
For Cuomo and de Blasio and the coronavirus, “The reality is reassuring…”
“It is deep breath time,” Cuomo added, according to the mayor’s transcript. “This – first of all, this is not our first rodeo with this kind of situation in New York. In 1968, we had the Honk Kong flu. In 2009, we had the Swine flu, where we actually closed like 100 schools in New York State. Avian flu, Ebola, SARS, MERS, measles, right? So, we have gone through this before.”
Both Cuomo and de Blasio praised New York’s health care system as the best in the world, lauding cooperation between state and city.
And de Blasio stressed public cooperation in containing the virus.
“Here’s the bottom line – don’t hesitate to get to a doctor or a health care facility. If you can, call first and let them know that you’re coming and let them know your symptoms, that’s ideal and helpful but the most important thing is not to hesitate.”
“We all know a lot of people – and particularly New Yorkers,” he added, “tend to shrug things off, tend to say, ‘I’ll get to it when I get it or my schedule is so busy, I’ve got something else I have to do.’ That’s not the way to think about this. If you have the symptoms, if there’s any possibility it may be this disease, get to health care right away.”
“There’s no need to do any special anything in the community…”
City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot, advised, “We want New Yorkers to go about their daily lives, ride the subway, take the bus, go see your neighbors.
“The important thing, as both the Mayor and the Governor have said, we want New Yorkers to lean even more into frequent hand washing and covering their mouths and their noses. And if you can’t get to a water source, make alcohol-based hand sanitizer your new best friend.”
But alcohol-based hand sanitizer vanished from most shelves, this week.
We leave it to Mayor de Blasio.
“1,200 beds are right now identified and can be used in the city without interfering with other health care activities. So, we have that in reserve.
“Now, I want to emphasize the Governor’s point earlier. Right now, we are nowhere near that kind of need. Yes, we do expect communities spread and, yes, we have to be ready for anything, but I want to emphasize that, one, you’ve got a disease that for the vast majority of people manifests as something that they can handle just by, you know, waiting it out and taking some basic steps. It is obviously dangerous to a small percentage of people, we take that very, very seriously.
“But I want us to put it in perspective.”
Categories: New York City