NYC Lacked Pandemic Plans, Equipment Before Covid, Stringer Says
(Bloomberg) -- New York City was unprepared to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic and was hampered by a lack of planning and coordination, according to a report issued Wednesday by the city Comptroller.
“The failure of the city to better prepare and plan for a pandemic inevitably impacted its ability to respond to Covid-19,” said Comptroller Scott Stringer in the report.
Stringer, the city’s chief financial officer, ran unsuccessfully in the June Democratic primary for mayor to replace Bill de Blasio, who is term limited and will leave office at the end of the year.
The city spent $2.6 billion on Covid response last year and has budgeted an additional $7.8 billion in fiscal 2021, but efforts to stem hundreds of thousands of Covid cases in the city were impeded by lack of preparation by city officials and the inability for agencies to work together, the report said.
Stringer said the de Blasio administration didn’t have a citywide pandemic response plan, despite a 2006 decision by health authorities and other officials to create one. There were no protocols on continuity plans for essential services, hospital surge staffing, stockpiling of ventilators and other medical equipment, or vaccine distribution.
Even once Covid was spreading around the world in January 2020, the city did not formulate a plan until early March 2020, which was incomplete weeks into the crisis when thousands of people had already gotten sick, Stringer said. That included a survey of supplies, including a stock of more than 100,000 N95 masks that the city discovered had expired at least two years earlier.
The comptroller’s office said it will continue it’s investigation into the city’s Covid response, which it said has been hindered by the de Blasio administration’s failure to cooperate.
On Wednesday de Blasio said he hadn’t yet seen the report but defended his administration for its work during the pandemic.
“There’s no way to fully understand a global pandemic until you’re in it,” de Blasio said during a press briefing. “None of us anticipated anything like this, and we needed federal leadership that wasn’t there.”
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