The Corner

U.S.

Heck of a Job, Councilman Levine

Two women practice social distancing on a nearly empty Sheep Meadow in Central Park in New York City, March 25, 2020. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

In one of the more infuriating miscommunications from a public official since this crisis began, New York City councilman Mark D. Levine, chairman of the city council’s health committee, declared via Twitter that the city was preparing “temporary burials” of coronavirus victims in public parks due to the city’s limited morgue capacity. He added, “(yes you read that right)” for emphasis.

Then about two hours later, he emphasized that this was only a contingency that the city was preparing. Apparently we didn’t read it right after all.

I realize that the president likes to vent his spleen on Twitter and feels a compulsion to broadcast every thought, such as the fact that he was considering a “QUARANTINE of developing ‘hot spots’, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut,” and then announcing a few hours later that a “strong Travel Advisory” would be sufficient. I realize everyone seems to think that this is what Twitter and social media is for: If you hear something, pass it along to everyone, whether or not you know it to be true.

But when you are an elected official in a city that is already traumatized from dealing with nearly 65,000 cases, more than 14,000 hospitalizations, and more than 2,400 deaths, you have a responsibility to check on something as hugely consequential as this. You owe that to the public at large; the concept of putting temporary mass graves right next to the city’s playgrounds is horrifying and momentous enough to warrant getting it right the first time before blurting it out to the world.

And for those who read the story about New York City’s preparation for the coronavirus, yes, this is the same Councilman Levine who stated on Twitter February 9, “In powerful show of defiance of coronavirus scare, huge crowds gathering in NYC’s Chinatown for ceremony ahead of annual Lunar New Year parade. Chants of ‘Be Strong Wuhan!’ If you are staying away, you are missing out.”

Heck of a job, councilman.

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