New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is by far one of the least popular leaders ever to reside in the Big Apple. And as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues, that popularity only seems to decrease.
This week, his leadership or lack thereof become the deciding factor in the city’s health commissioner’s resignation. And she wasn’t shy about telling America just that.
According to the New York Times, “New York City’s health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, resigned on Tuesday in protest over her ‘deep disappointment’ with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent efforts to keep it in check.”
It seems tension between Barbot’s health department office and that of City Hall, where de Blasio presides, has only grown since the onset of the COVID outbreak in March. According to Barbot herself, as well as her staff, de Blasio had a nasty habit of ignoring just about every piece of advice her office gave to him. In addition, on a number of occasions, he took tasks that were under Barbot’s command and delegated them to other health agencies or services.
Most recently, de Blasio had taken the city’s contract tracing program, which has been under the city’s health department’s control for years and suddenly gave it to Health and Hospitals, the city’s public hospital system.
Apparently, this move was the last straw for Barbot.
She wrote in her resignation letter to Mayor de Blasio, “I leave my post today with deep disappointment that during the most critical public health crisis in our lifetime, that the Health Department’s incomparable disease control expertise was not used to the degree it could have been.”
Barbot continued, “Our experts are world-renowned for their epidemiology, surveillance, and response work. The city would be well served by having them at the strategic center of the response not in the background.”
However, according to the NY Times, Barbot’s tracing program that was so recently taken from her had several complaints. Apparently contract tracers had mentioned on more than one occasion that the program was “disorganized” and had “poor working conditions.”
In addition, Barbot had come under fire some weeks prior for having a spat with New York Police Chief Terence Monahan, who had asked her for additional masks for his officers.
When she refused to give them to him, the conversation got slightly heated with Barbot even saying that she didn’t “give two rats’ asses about your cops,” and telling him others needed the masks more.
But even before that, Barbot had made a few enemies. Most notably was when she told New Yorkers to “go about your lives, take the subway, go out, enjoy life” at the very start of the pandemic in February.
Since then, she has apologized for her mistake, which likely only increased the number of cases within the bustling city.
But then again, so did the Mayor’s words when he told his citizens pretty much the same thing, only it was later in March. House Speaker Nancey Pelosi also noted that New Yorkers should go out and enjoy life, including specifically going to Chinatown and eating at Chinese restaurants.
And then how can we forget about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s epic failure when he ordered sick, elderly patients to be moved back into nursing homes, infecting even more of our nation’s most at risk.
In any case, Barbot, like everyone else, isn’t perfect. And it’s difficult to say whether her replacement, Dr. Dave Choskshi, who previously worked for the Louisiana Department of Health during Hurricane Katrina with much success, will serve New York any better.
But one thing is for sure; her sudden departure ruptures a giant hole in the story that both de Blasio and Cuomo are trying to tell the world. In recent weeks, both have purported the idea that New York and New York City have shown the world what it means to beat the pandemic and survive.
Barbot’s accusations and “deep disappointment” only furthers the idea that New York has been anything but successful in its endeavors to beat COVID-19, and in fact, maybe one of the worst responses to date.
Because you know, a whopping 23,000 deaths and a loss of life of nearly 6 percent of the state’s nursing home population doesn’t say anything but success…