'Pathetic': Ex-Aides Slam De Blasio's Gym Trip Amid Outbreak

NYC Mayor hits gym hours ahead of statewide closure order

March 16, 2020

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio worked out at his favorite gym on Monday, just as New York state ordered all gyms to shut down due to coronavirus fears.

De Blasio, a former Democratic presidential candidate, was spotted entering the public YMCA gym in Brooklyn on Monday morning. While de Blasio completed his workout, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced the closure of all gyms, restaurants, and bars in the state beginning at 8 p.m. Monday.

Former top advisers skewered de Blasio for setting a poor example for fellow New Yorkers amid an outbreak that has so far infected 463 people in the city. Rebecca Katz, a former special adviser to the mayor, called him "inexcusable and reckless." Another former adviser, Jonathan Rosen, piled on, saying the Democrat was "pathetic" and "self-involved."

De Blasio has declared a state of emergency in his city, arguing that the United States must adopt a "war-footing" to deal with the pandemic. As part of his response, he closed down the city's public schools and restricted restaurants to take-out only. He also urged city residents to stay indoors.

Less than 12 hours before the mayor attended the gym, the city's health department said that "everyone in NYC should act as if they have been exposed to coronavirus." De Blasio's spokeswoman defended the mayor's visit in a statement, saying that the mayor was attending the gym for "one last time."

"The YMCA has been a huge part of his and his family's life, like it has been for a lot of New Yorkers. It's clear that's about to change and before that, the mayor wanted to visit a place that keeps him grounded one last time," she said. "After today, gyms will close and he will no longer be visiting the YMCA for the foreseeable future."

De Blasio usually starts his day with a 12-mile cross-borough journey to exercise at the YMCA gym. He usually arrives at his office around 10:30 a.m.

Critics have long ridiculed the mayor for his morning workout routine, arguing that it takes time away from his mayoral duties. De Blasio spent only seven hours at City Hall in May 2019, the month he launched his failed presidential campaign. Meanwhile, local residents near the gym have complained that the mayor often does not wipe down the gym equipment after he uses it—behavior that has been linked to the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Under de Blasio's watch, the pandemic has claimed the lives of five New York City residents. Coronavirus cases continue to grow at a breakneck pace in the city, tripling from 154 on Friday to 463 cases on Monday. Employees in the city's health department accused de Blasio of stifling the city's response to the outbreak, according to the New York Post.