De Blasio, who oversaw the city’s response during the worst waves of the virus, held nearly daily virtual virus briefings, sometimes inviting outside health experts such as Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, and Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease expert at New York University. He implemented some of the most aggressive health measures in the country, including a vaccine mandate for city workers and private employers that is still in effect.
Mr. Adams has relied on a handful of key advisors to shape his virus response: Dr. Vasan, an epidemiologist who previously led a nonprofit mental health organization; dr. Mitchell Katz, the head of the city’s hospital system; Ms Williams-Isom, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services; Dan Weisberg, first deputy school chancellor; and dr. Ted Long, executive director of the city’s Test and Tracing Corps. The group meets almost every morning via a virtual call to discuss the latest data.
Mr Adams said the message from hospital and school leaders was clear: “They all say the same thing. They say, ‘Listen, we’ve got this. We are not overwhelmed.’”
But dr. Chokshi, the former health commissioner, said in a recent interview that during each new wave of cases in the city, elected officials and New Yorkers often had “collective amnesia” about how to respond.
“People would say, ‘Well, it’s just cases that are increasing. Let’s see what happens with hospitalizations,'” he said. “For me, as someone who is steeped in this, and especially to understand the epidemiology, it’s hard not to blow your head when you feel the public, and in many cases the political conversation, going in those circles. And you think, ‘Wow, when are we going to learn it.’”
Some health experts agreed that it would be difficult to reinstate broad mandates at this point in the pandemic unless the health system became seriously overburdened. At the same time, having a warning system in place but not following the recommendations can confuse the public and weaken confidence, especially if the change is not explained carefully.