NYC Mayor De Blasio Gives Speech Without Mask, Surrounded by People Shortly After Public Urged to Wear Them

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a speech without a mask on while he was surrounded by people about an hour after city officials urged the public to don face masks.

De Blasio gave a speech shortly after helping to paint a mural at 11:30 a.m. reading "Black Lives Matter" on Fifth Avenue, on a city street adjacent to Trump Tower.

The mayor was surrounded by members of the Black community, including activist Al Sharpton, when he began speaking about the importance of the mural. While the mayor did wear a mask as he painted the "L" in the mural, he did not wear one when he addressed the crowd, many of whom were in close proximity to the mayor.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the novel coronavirus spreads "mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks." The CDC recommends that people wear face coverings, which may slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The mayor's actions came soon after he and other city officials addressed residents at a 10 a.m. press conference to the most recent updates of the novel coronavirus pandemic in New York City. Deanne Criswell, the commissioner of the city's Emergency Management Department, urged the public to wear face masks at cooling center around the city "to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers."

"I want to enforce, or we want to make sure that we are following those strict guidelines of wearing face coverings, keeping separation - six feet between individuals," Criswell said, adding that officials ask New Yorkers to "follow those standard protocols...every day."

Jay Varma, one of the mayor's senior advisors for Public Health, told residents to maintain social distancing indoors and to "especially" wear face coverings."

"The same recommendations that we've been providing before continue to apply. We want people to be maintaining social distance. We want people to be wearing face coverings, especially if they are not able to maintain any social distance," Varma said.

The mayor had been critical of NYPD officers in the past for not wearing face masks while working near protesters. De Blasio spoke on the importance of New Yorkers seeing police officers wear masks at protests during a June 11 press conference.

"The Commissioner has made it very, very clear in his directives to officers that they have to [wear masks]...it's a matter of discipline if people don't. Again, there are exceptions...But it is so important that the people of the city see the people they look to, to enforce the law, actually abiding by the same rules as the rest of us. And so that has to happen to the absolute maximum extent possible among our police officers as well," the mayor said.

Newsweek reached out to the mayor's office for comment, but they did not respond back in time for publication.

Mayor Bill de Blasio
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks to the media during a press conference at City Hall on January 3, 2020 in New York City. The mayor did not wear a face mask when addressing a small crowd that surrounded him Thursday. Eduardo Munoz/Getty