As cities and states around the country shut down schools and nonessential businesses, one prominent official refused to shut down his city: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
He proclaimed on Thursday that "We are going to do our damnedest to keep the schools open," and argued that it was unfeasible to close schools because of the number of New York City children who rely on the school system for hot meals, and the difficulty of health care workers having to supervise their children with school out.
But on Sunday, de Blasio finally relented and announced New York City schools would close until at least April 20, and possibly the whole school year. To compensate, schools would be open for "grab-and-go meals" the first week of the closure.
What made de Blasio change his mind? According to The New York Times, de Blasio was finally pressured to act in part because some of his top aides threatened to resign.
"There had been arguments and shouting matches between the mayor and some of his advisers; some top health officials had even threatened to resign if he refused to accept the need to close schools and businesses, according to several people familiar with the internal discussions," stated the report. "Teachers were threatening not to show up to school on Monday. A growing number of public health experts and politicians were calling for much of the city to be shut down to curb the spread of the virus."
The report continued: "On Sunday, the mayor was shown a graph depicting the sharp upward trajectory of the coronavirus epidemic curve, and another showing the capacity of the city’s health systems to handle the influx. The information painted a disastrous picture of the days and weeks to come unless the mayor took immediate action."
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