Photo Courtesy of Susan Watts/Office of the City Comptroller
“My office is examining City government’s response because New Yorkers deserve an objective assessment of what we did right and what we can do better going forward,” Comptroller Stringer said.
By Forum Staff
City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Thursday launched an investigation into the City’s preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic with a request for documents received, created, or issued by City government officials and agencies related to the public emergency, and its potential impact on residents and businesses, in advance of the March 22 statewide stay-at-home order.
Stringer has indicated that his investigation will examine the period between Nov. 1, 2019 and March 22, 2020 to determine how the City became aware of the looming threat of COVID-19 and the information it was processing in the lead up to consequential public health decisions, including the shutdown of public schools and the cancellation of major events.
The comptroller said his investigation aims to learn how strategies were developed to protect public health in an effort to improve any weaknesses in future emergency response efforts.
Stringer’s probe includes a request for communications in email, memoranda, guidance, rules, advisories, or other written information received, created, or issued by the City that addressed COVID-19 such as:
- Operational and decision-making structure for the City to address the public health emergency;
- Measures that City government was advised could or should be taken to reduce the risk of New Yorkers contracting the virus, including introduction of social distancing, closure of non-essential businesses and locations, widespread testing, and availability and use of personal protective equipment by medical professionals and the general public;
- Projected transmission rates, death tolls, and geographic and demographic breakdowns of the virus’ impacts on the City including the most vulnerable New Yorkers, those with pre-existing medical conditions and New Yorkers living in overcrowded housing;
- Transmission and impacts of the virus through asymptomatic individuals and its viability on surfaces of all types;
- Impacts of COVID-19 on the city’s health care system including estimated and projected need for hospital beds, emergency room capacity, intensive care unit beds, staff, and PPE, among other relevant issues.
“New York City is the epicenter of the global COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 184,000 confirmed cases and a death toll exceeding 15,000. New Yorkers have suffered unspeakable pain, grief and heartache, and our most vulnerable residents have been left particularly exposed to the effects of this horrible virus. And this sprawling pandemic has caused our economy to shut down, bringing massive job losses and depressing City revenue just as we face an acute demand for services. Every single New Yorker deserves to know what City government did to prepare and prevent the worst,” Stringer added. “All New Yorkers have been touched by the devastating fallout of COVID-19. As the City’s independent fiscal and oversight officer, I am determined to examine what we knew, when we knew it, and what we did about it. My office is examining City government’s response because New Yorkers deserve an objective assessment of what we did right and what we can do better going forward. That’s what this investigation is all about.”