In the two days following the release of Government data by the NYC Health Agency showing COVID-19 positivity test results approaching 15 per cent., the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio stopped releasing the data. NYC Health (Fair Use)

de Blasio administration mum as COVID-19 test data disappeared after positivity began to approach 15 per cent. in some NYC zip codes

The disappearance of the COVID-19 testing data took place after public high schools reopened, and after the positivity results for some zip codes approached 15 per cent.

By Progress New York Staff

Updated 24 Mar 2021 12:00 The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) has stopped publishing data about Coronavirus test results on the Agency Web site of NYC Health. Some testing data was published on Monday, when the positivity results for multiple New York City zip codes approached 15 per cent., according to a tweet sent by Councilmember Mark Levine (D-Morningside Heights). Monday was also the first day of return for over 50,000 public high school students for in-person learning. But delays in the full reporting of testing data reportedly began as of Sunday, according to a social media post.

According to social media posts, the Agency Web site has been announcing, since Sunday, a “Data Delay,” explaining that, “Due to delays in receiving and processing data from New York State, some data from the past week will be lower than expected. Data for those days will be updated when we receive it.” The Agency’s GitHub data repository account showed that the last day when data was uploaded was Saturday, 20 March 2021.

A request made to the City Hall press office was not answered, and a spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) would not address the blame game in the City Agency Web site’s message. In recent weeks, Mayor de Blasio has attacked Gov. Cuomo in the press, calling him to step down due to a sexual harassment scandal, mocking him over the size of his hands, and asking him to slow down the economic reopening due to the uncontrollable pandemic.

The de Blasio administration blamed New York State for delays that were the cause of the withholding of Coronavirus testing data for New York City.

The Agency Web site for NYC Health announced a “Data Delay,” blaming delays from New York State for the withholding of Coronavirus testing data for New York City. The first day when it appeared that testing data was being encumbered by delays was Sunday, 21 March 2021.

There is no consequence for the withholding of Government data, not even when the information can inform public policy that could save lives.

Mayor de Blasio’s withholding of COVID-19 testing data, and the lack of any explanation from Gov. Cuomo’s office for how the City Agency Web site blamed the State Government for the delays, comes at a time when the Federal Government is reportedly investigating the Cuomo administration for undercounting COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo have been under pressure to reopen the economy in order to encourage economic activity for their big business donors and to fund Government operations. To some extent, the Government executives have also used reopening announcements to quell criticism from the public and the press. Whereas, in other pandemic hotspots, like France, the Government there has opted for another confinement order to deal with evolving variants of the virus, the lack of vaccines, and the shortcomings of the vaccines, Democrats in the United States have faced pressure to open schools and travel, two sectors that provide day care for working parents and tourism for the service industry-focused economy, respectively.

Throughout Mayor de Blasio’s administration of City Government, he has faced criticism for the political handling of open records requests. Under open records case law, the Courts know to compel the release of Government records that may embarrass the Government. Yet, in New York, Federal Authorities refuse to prosecute the violation of open records laws, because they, themselves, often violate open records laws, too. As reported by Progress New York, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in Brooklyn and Manhattan often take the legal posture that they will not answer open records requests until they are litigated.

In 2018, the editor of Progress New York filed a complaint with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, alleging that the de Blasio administration was routinely violating open records laws, so much so that the violations had become a pattern or practise of City Hall. It is not know what inquiries or actions Federal prosecutors ever took in response to the complaint. The U.S. Attorney’s Office’s press office and an Assistant U.S. Attorney did not respond to questions submitted in advance for this report.

Correction

This report reflects an update that reveals that testing data first began experiencing delays on Sunday, 21 March 2021, not Monday, 22 March 2021. Progress New York regrets the error.

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