Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio insisted Friday that city businesses forced to close by the coronavirus lockdown orders will be able to hang on for months longer, the New York Post reported.
"I've talked to lots and lots of business leaders, especially the smallest businesses. They're very worried about their futures understandably, but they also are hanging on and they know it can be a matter of months until they'll be back in action," the mayor said on New York public radio.
The mayor's comments come as a new Department of Labor data release shows that the city has lost 21.8% of private-sector jobs since this time last year — far outpacing the national figure of 14.5%. Also, the city's unemployment rate jumped from 4.1% to a whopping 14.2% from March to April.
A caller named Cassius from Brooklyn reportedly called into the station and pressed de Blasio's to "take a more surgical approach" in his response to the virus by protecting at-risk populations while allowing businesses to reopen.
Cassius argued, "We're on the precipice of destroying the whole city basically."
But the mayor brushed aside the caller's "doomsday" concerns and responded, saying, "I couldn't disagree more with that core analysis."
"Rushing back is consistently proven to have the boomerang effect and make things worse and cause bigger shutdowns because it's not just about a small number of particularly vulnerable people," he added.
Democratic City Councilman Mark Gjonaj, who chairs the small business committee, slammed the mayor's remarks, saying the mayor is "setting up the city for failure."
"Out of all the things that have come out of his mouth this is the most outrageous. He lives in a de Blasio land. That is the furthest thing from the truth," Gjonaj said.
In his radio interview, de Blasio specifically mentioned that small businesses would be able to manage over the coming months, but an independent nonprofit is saying the opposite.
The Empire Center's E.J. McMahon said for the city's "leisure and hospitality [businesses], including restaurants and hotels, the downturn equates to a virtual apocalypse — a job loss of 68 percent."
McMahon added that he is concerned many of those jobs have been lost for good.