A reasonable observer would expect a minimum level of professionalism by the New York City Health commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. One wouldn’t expect that someone charged with protecting New York City’s public health would instead endanger the well-being of New Yorkers by ignoring the severe health ramifications and the very real danger of the Corona virus. Yet, as most of the Democratic leadership of New York City was busy criticizing President Trump for deciding to impose travel restrictions on those entering the United States and dismissing the incoming threat of the coronavirus in February, this Health Commissioner, was quoted stating on in numerous TV interviews the following; "The risk to New Yorkers from coronavirus is low and ... our preparedness as a city is very high," Barbot said at a press conference supporting the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade and Festival. "There is no reason not to take the subway, not to take a bus, not to go out to your favorite restaurant and certainly not to miss the parade next Sunday [Feb. 9]."
The unprofessional behavior of New York City’s Health Commissioner, a Democratic Party appointee, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, has been labeled by many health officials as possibly criminally negligent. Under different circumstances she should have been forced to excuse herself and resign immediately pending further legal action. Over the past few weeks as we have witnessed the snowball effect of the rate of infection of the Corona virus, New York City officials in a Democratic administration should be held accountable for increasing the “risk” for the residents of New York City. They not only dismissed the Corona Virus outbreak and Pandemic seriously in its earlier stages, but actually encouraged unrestricted public behavior as if there is no danger of being infected, as if they knew what they are talking about. The human cost of the Democratic nonchalant policy has been deadly for New Yorkers.
Had this incredulous and negligent behavior by the Health Commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, been an isolated incident, the risk might have been contained to a minimum level. Unfortunately, Mayor Bill de Blasio also failed to shield the residents of New York City, not only through inaction but largely through indifference. As the deadly Corona Virus emerged from China, invaded Europe and began to spread at an exponential rate throughout the world, the Trump administration was formulating national policies to deal with the high mortality rate expected from COVID-19 understanding that the situation was one of life-or-death. Yet at the same time Mayor de Blasio was busy criticizing President Trump for imposing border restriction into the United States so as to prevent the import of the Corona Virus through the airports and borders.
Mayor de Blasio’s indifference to the Corona virus threat probably contributed more to New York City becoming an epicenter of Corona virus infection in the United States even beyond than the actions of his criminally negligent Health Commissioner. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the media at one of his many and highly effective coronavirus response press conferences that he believed New York City schools should have been be closed. Mayor Bill de Blasio had consistently refused till then to shut down schools despite fellow Democrats in the tri-state demanding that he do so. De Blasio’s refusal to cancel school a week and more after most other districts in the tri-state had done so, contributed significantly to the acceleration of the outbreak of the Corona virus in New York City. An additional de Blasio decision that contributed to the pace of the outbreak had to do with instituting a significant reduction schedule in public transportation, primarily with the New York City subway system forcing unusual crowding among subway riders who were largely unprotected. One would expect that at the same time the Mayor instituted a significant reduction in the subway schedule, he would authorize the cancellation of alternate side parking or cancel metered parking encouraging those still working outside their home to use private cars so as to limit exposure to the potential danger of being infected on public transportation, instead his administration encouraged use of public transportation and continued to dis-incentivize the use of private cars. Alternate side parking was suspended only a few days ago and metered parking restrictions are still in effect as of this writing.
Mayor de Blasio’s incompetent response to the Corona virus along with his administration’s Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, most likely doomed New York City to a fate similar if not worse than Italy and Spain. De Blasio’s irresponsible and reckless delays probably cost many lives that otherwise could have been avoided. The number of infected, hospitalized, and deaths is rising at an exponential rate meaning the worst is yet to come for New York City residents; 36,221 cases of Corona infection in New York City, including 790 deaths ( as of March 29th).
In recent days with social distancing and forced stay at home guidelines issued by the Federal and New York State authorities, New Yorkers should expect a major reduction in infections and deaths over the coming weeks and months. The Democratic leadership of New York City would be wise to examine their policy decisions over the past month so as to avoid repeating similar decisions that can adversely affect the good people of the City of New York.