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New York mayor plays down statements urging residents to act normal during coronavirus pandemic

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, and Mayor Bill de Blasio discuss the state and city’s preparedness for the spread of the coronavirus, in New York on March 2.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, and Mayor Bill de Blasio discuss the state and city’s preparedness for the spread of the coronavirus, in New York on March 2.

NEW YORK >> Mayor de Blasio went on the defensive today over weeks of statements in which he urged New Yorkers to go about their daily lives as usual even as the coronavirus spread.

“We should not be focusing, in my view, on anything looking back on any level of government right now,” Hizzoner said on CNN. “This is just about how we save lives going forward.”

As recently as March 13, de Blasio told New Yorkers, “We want people still to go on about their lives. We want people to rest assured that a lot is being done to protect them.”

But the mayor refused to take any blame for contributing to the spread of the highly contagious virus, which had infected at least 30,765 New Yorkers and killed 672 as of Saturday afternoon, according to the Health Department.

“Everybody was working with the information we had,” de Blasio said, adding that his priorities then were to “avoid panic” and “keep the economy and the livelihoods together.”

He also said the city has enough medical supplies, with the exception of ventilators, to last until April 5.

He repeated calls Sunday for the federal government to send medical personnel from the military and civilian sector to reinforce exhausted workers in the Big Apple.

“Our frontline workers … are giving their all,” he said. “They’re in harm’s way and we need to get them relief.”

While the military is sending a Navy ship to alleviate the burden on the city’s hospitals, Defense Secretary Mark Esper has voiced skepticism of activating military doctors, saying many of them serve in the reserves and are already fighting coronavirus in their own communities.

Speaking in his daily Twitter video to New Yorkers, the mayor said the city shipped 1,400 ventilators to city hospitals on Saturday, but repeated his plea for more pieces of the vital equipment.

“Anybody who can get a ventilator, we need it now and we need to get it to the front line,” he said, urging anyone who can acquire or donate medical supplies to call (833) NYC-0040.

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