Resurfaced Tweets Show New York and San Francisco Mayors' Strikingly Different Coronavirus Messages on Same Day One Month Ago

Five weeks ago, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and New York City Bill de Blasio's approaches to COVID-19 management were notably dissimilar. A pair of tweets, initially shared to the social media platform on March 2 and resurfaced by Vox correspondent German Lopez on Monday, illustrated the two mayors' contrasting attitudes about the virus.

"Prepare for possible disruption from an outbreak," Breed wrote at the time, in a bullet-pointed list that encouraged residents to be mindful of potential changes ahead and plan accordingly. In her tweet, she told San Francisco residents to obtain adequate reserves of "essential medications," arrange for child care in case of unexpected illness and stay informed about altered school schedules. She also advised families to exercise awareness about the disease in order to safely "care for a sick family member w/out getting sick yourself."

Maybe not a coincidence.

— German Lopez (@germanrlopez) April 6, 2020

The sentiments expressed in Breed's March 2 tweet juxtaposed those communicated by de Blasio in his own tweet to New Yorkers that same day. San Francisco's shelter-in-place order went into effect roughly two weeks later, on March 17, and New York's "PAUSE" mandate followed on March 22. However, at the time, about 100 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed across the United States, and New York City had seen little indication of the mass hospitalizations and rising death toll to come.

"Since I'm encouraging New Yorkers to go on with your lives + get out on the town despite Coronavirus, I thought I would offer some suggestions," de Blasio wrote in his own tweet on March 2. He went on to recommend that New York City residents attend a screening of Italian filmmaker Marco Bellocchio's 2020 Oscars contender, The Traitor, at Lincoln Center. "If 'The Wire' was a true story + set in Italy, it would be this film," he finished.

As Lopez noted in the comments section of his compilation tweet Monday, the new coronavirus has effected significantly more damage on New York City's population than on San Francisco's since the mayors' original messages were posted. While San Francisco has so far confirmed 583 COVID-19 cases and nine deaths, New York has become the outbreak's national epicenter, with New York City reporting the bulk of the state's cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

New York City, Coronavirus
New York City residents and United States military personnel walk down a midtown sidewalk wearing masks on April 6. The city's Department of Health has confirmed close to 68,000 COVID-19 cases since the start of the outbreak. Kena Betancur/Getty

According to the NYC Health Department's most recent statistics, close to 68,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday morning, and at least 2,475 residents have died as a result. The vast majority of diagnoses and fatalities have occurred over the past three weeks—since March 17—when the Health Department's report indicated that less than 1,000 New Yorkers had tested positive for COVID-19 and 10 had died.

The influx of coronavirus patients experiencing severe symptoms over such a short period of time has overwhelmed New York City's health care system to such a degree that Governor Andrew Cuomo has called for a statewide merging of public and private hospital networks as individual facilities reach capacity. Manhattan's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center has been reconstructed to serve as a makeshift hospital as has the U.S.N.S. Comfort, a U.S. Navy ship docked at Pier 90.

Speaking at New York's April 6 coronavirus press briefing, Cuomo said 130,689 people have now tested positive for COVID-19 statewide. Of them, 4,758 have died and 16,837 are currently hospitalized. During Sunday's briefing, the governor released statistics that showed between 65 and 75 percent of the state's total COVID-19 hospitalizations have taken place in New York City since March 16.