Mayor Bill de Blasio offered a rare mea culpa Tuesday to ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders in Brooklyn and Queens, saying he didn’t clearly explain coronavirus regulations to the community that’s now under a second lockdown because of rising infection rates.
“I certainly got very frustrated at times when I saw large groups of people still out without masks, but I think more dialogue would have been better so I certainly want to express my regret that I didn’t figure out how to do that better,” de Blasio said Tuesday during a City Hall press briefing.
Hizzoner met with community leaders Monday night in what he described as a “positive reset” of their relationship, which had soured during the shutdown because some conservatively devout Jews feel they’re being singled out with restrictions due to their religion.
De Blasio said the leaders discussed how “painful” and “confusing” the pandemic has been for many members of their community, who’ve suffered disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 infection and death.
A few of the participants included Rabbi David Zweibel, Rabbi David Niederman and Rabbi Boruch Bender, a City Hall spokesman said.
He blamed the confusion on “so many mixed messages from Washington, DC,” without mentioning the conflicting signals he and the governor have sent about the pandemic.
“They need to know that we as the city government understand their suffering, understand the
“The No. 1 takeaway from the meeting was more dialogue, more communication, is the way forward,” de Blasio said.
He also apologized again for sending a controversial tweet in April slamming a huge funeral in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for a rabbi who’d died of COVID-19 even though organizers claimed the mayor had approved the gathering.
Still, Brooklyn Democratic Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who represents three zip codes caught in the second lockdown, says he hasn’t been able to get the mayor to return his messages.
“I’m glad he spoke to some community leaders, but I’m still waiting for a call back,” Deutsch told The Post.
“I’m here. I want to help. But if I can’t get ahold of anyone in leadership to communicate, then it’s a problem,” Deutsch said.
De Blasio also acknowledged during Tuesday’s briefing that Deutsch’s district and surrounding neighborhoods need more COVID-19 testing, yet some residents are wary of the procedure either because they don’t believe the science or don’t trust the government to accurately record the results.
While central Queens may be released from coronavirus restrictions as early as Wednesday, de Blasio said there’s still more work to do in the Brooklyn hot spots.
“Overall we do see a leveling off across the city,” de Blasio said. The Big Apple’s coronavirus positivity rate was 2.52 percent Tuesday.
Hospitalizations and deaths from the virus did not increase with the spike in cases, de Blasio said, while urging New Yorkers to “stay vigilant” against a possible second wave.