de Blasio, Cuomo remain apart on shelter-in-place plan for New York City

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a news conference for the outbreak of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at City Hall in the Manhattan borough of New York
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a news conference for the outbreak of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at City Hall in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 17, 2020. (REUTERS/Jeenah Moon)

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo continue to disagree on whether or not to issue an shelter-in-place order in New York City during the coronavirus outbreak. 

“The state ultimately has to make this decision, but I want to be honest with New Yorkers that this is something that we have to be prepared for,” said de Blasio during an interview on WCBS radio Wednesday afternoon. About an hour before the interview, the mayor said, he spoke to Cuomo about the possibility of a shelter-in-place order and said they would “be talking more over the next 24 hours.”

The mayor clarified that he is advocating for a shelter-in-place model like what has been placed in California’s Bay Area, where only essential workforce members like police, transit workers and healthcare workers can travel to work. 

About half an hour after the mayor finished with WCBS, Cuomo jumped into an interview with CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer to repeat his opposition to the measure. 

“I’m not in favor of quarantining a city, I’m not in favor of imprisoning people,” he said

Early Wednesday morning, de Blasio said he would try to convince Cuomo to place a shelter-in-place order as the number of positive coronavirus cases continues to climb in New York City. 

There were 1,871 positive cases of the novel coronavirus in New York City and 11 deaths as of 5:45 p.m. on March 18, according to Mayor de Blasio.

Blasio said during an interview on NBC’s the Today Show Wednesday morning that the would first need to work out how New Yorkers would get food and medicine before the mayor would urge the governor to consider such a major restriction on public life. 

Tuesday, the mayor said that a decision on a shelter-in-place order would be made within the following 48 hours. An anouncement he explained during a Wednesday morning interview with New York City-based radio show Ebro in the Morning was done to just emotionally prepare New Yorkers such an measure. 

“I want to quote a wise person, our First Lady—Chirlane said to me the other day, remember that people need to get acclimated to new things, they need time to get used to things, that’s just human…and this could well be where we end up,” said de Blasio. 

But after his announcement on Tuesday, the governor’s office was quick to squash any notion that the state is considering such a measure.

Melissa DeRosa, a top Cuomo aid, said in a statement that “any blanket quarantine or shelter in place policy would require State action and as the Governor has said, there is no consideration of that for any locality of this time.”

After de Blasio’s media blitz Wednesday morning, Cuomo reaffirmed his opposition to a New York City-only shelter-in-place order, stating that such a policy would only work if the geographic footprint was large enough to fully stop movement. 

“I’m from Queens, if you tell me shelter-in-place and I’m living in Queens, I’ll go stay with my sister in Westchester and I’ll go out and have a good time,” Cuomo told reporters at a March 18 press conference.

For a shelter-in-place order to work in New York City, the governor added, it would have to also be applied to the rest of the state.

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