It’s been a year – though it’s felt like many more – since the first confirmed COVID-19 case in New York City.
On Monday, March 1, Mayor Bill de Blasio reflected on all the city has gone through in the past 365 days, including what he wished had gone differently and what still needs to be done.
“It’s amazing. This has been the longest year in the history of the city,” de Blasio said. “The longest year and the toughest year.”
A year ago, there was only one confirmed case of COVID-19 within the five boroughs. As it stands today, the city has confirmed over 715,000 cases of the virus that has killed more than 28,300 New Yorkers.
A Tourist Vaccination Destination
Not long before the mayor sat down to speak with members of the press on Monday, his office released data that showed a troubling disparity within several state-run vaccination sites in the city.
Over 42 percent of the shots given out at the Javits Center have been given to non-New York City residents. The issue is exacerbated at the Aqueduct Racetrack vaccination site in Queens, where over 75 percent of the shots given out have gone to non-city residents.
“Unless they are targeted properly, these big sites don’t help disparity,” the mayor said. “I want to be clear, in terms of New York City, these sites do not perform what we hoped to see.”
The jab at state leadership comes at a time when Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing calls to resign after two former staffers came forward with sexual harassment allegations.
Cuomo issued a statement over the weekend apologizing for what he said were “playful” remarks that he believes “have been misinterpreted as unwanted flirtation.”
“That’s not an apology,” de Blasio said. “He seemed to be saying, ‘I was just kidding around.’ Sexual harassment isn’t funny.”
Despite the disparities at the state’s vaccine sites, the city set a new vaccination record on Friday, inoculating 76,000 people in a single day.
In light of the record, de Blasio doubled down on his promise to vaccinate 5 million New Yorkers by June.
“That goal is in reach,” de Blasio said. “We have everything we need except the supply.”
Reflecting on how he wished the nation’s pandemic response had gone differently this past year, de Blasio diverted blame to the top.
Taking aim at the governor and former-President Donald Trump, the mayor said he wished for three things: more testing early on in the pandemic, state approval for his calls for a lockdown and a unified federal approach to the vaccine effort.
“I called for [a shelter in place] obviously, the state resisted, that was a huge mistake. We should have done it immediately,” de Blasio said, adding that he wished the Defense Production Act had been invoked in 2020 to jumpstart the production of vaccines.
“When you’re dealing with an international pandemic, you can really only do it with national leadership,” he said.
Looking forward though, de Blasio remained hopeful.
With the FDA’s recent emergency approval of Johnson & Johnson’s new one shot COVID-19 vaccine and the city’s decision to resume construction of over $17 billion in capital projects, de Blasio reveled in the city’s ability to “get back up.”
“You see the life, you see the energy in this city,” the mayor said. “What we have now is a chance to do something historic, but also to address mistakes made in the past. It’s our time, it’s our moment in history.”