New York Mayor Bill De Blasio's press secretary dubbed Gov. Andrew Cuomo a "serial sexual assaulter" after he mocked De Blasio's announcement that the city will fully reopen by July 1.
At a news conference on Thursday, De Blasio detailed his intention to reopen the Big Apple to total capacity by July 1 and boldly declared: "This will be the summer of New York City."
Cuomo tags De Blasio as irresponsible, referring to NY reopening
When asked about the announcement at his news conference later that day, Cuomo expressed his displeasure by imitating De Blasio's whiny tone and mocking him as irresponsible. "I'd like it to open on Monday. On Tuesday, I'd like to open up New York City. On Wednesday, I'd like it to open. I want Buffalo to open up on Thursday," Cuomo said in mockery.
When asked about Cuomo's remarks, Bill Neidhardt, De Blasio's press secretary, responded quickly, telling the New York Post: "Serial sexual assaulter said what?" The rebuke referred to a series of sexual harassment charges leveled at Cuomo in recent months, which De Blasio has said could force Cuomo's removal.
New York City's actual reopening date will be determined by the state, which Cuomo claimed is handling the situation using science and data. Their rivalry erupted this spring after De Blasio joined calls for Cuomo's resignation over sexual assault charges and allegations that his government covered up COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
During the Thursday press conference, Cuomo dismissed De Blasio's attacks, adding, "First, the mayor of New York, I don't know what he's indicative of." Despite Cuomo's claims, De Blasio argued that his July 1 deadline would be easily met due to high vaccine rates and New Yorkers adhering to guidelines.
More than 6.3 million vaccines have been provided in New York City, with about 36 percent of the adult population already wholly vaccinated. According to De Blasio, a 100 percent reopening entails entirely reopening restaurants and bars, stores, malls, and small businesses, such as hair salons, stadiums, theaters, and museums.
In a Daily Mail report, De Blasio said New Yorkers must continue to get vaccinated to meet the July 1 deadline. The mayor added that he has not met with Cuomo but would work with federal and state officials to reach the July 1 target.
De Blasio claims New York is ready to reopen fully
Mayor De Blasio and Governor Cuomo have had a contentious back-and-forth on the finer points throughout the reopening process. Localities must seek state consent for improvements to lockdown measures under Cuomo's continuing state of emergency, which he announced last year.
The New York City mayor also indicated that the governor's political weakness made it easier for him to take the lead. He claimed that the city's historic vaccine campaign, which has resulted in the distribution of 6.4 million shots to date, will enable the city to bounce back this summer. COVID-19 infection rates have dropped to about 3 percent in recent weeks, down from double digits during a post-holiday surge.
By June, Mayor De Blasio hopes to see 5 million New Yorkers adequately vaccinated. Many details about the city's full reopening are still being worked out, he said. When asked if the city plans to ensure that businesses and other locations will comfortably attract New Yorkers, he said his staff is already working on it.
De Blasio added it could mean using the state vaccination passport in certain places, but he did not elaborate. He said that safety rules on social distancing and mask use are also being worked out, as per New York Daily News.
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