He’s somethin’ special, isn’t he?

A lot of bad and good leadership is being revealed by this crisis and it doesn’t follow partisan or geographic lines. You have Democrats like this imbecile who aren’t taking it seriously enough and you have Democrats like Andrew Cuomo from the same state who do seem to be. You have Republicans like Kevin Stitt who are personally putting people at risk and Republicans like Mike DeWine who are aggressively shutting things down to contain the spread. You have national leaders like Trump who’ve contributed to public complacency and you have national leaders like Pence who have effectively communicated the gravity of the crisis.

What makes de Blasio stand out is that his city is the country’s financial spinal cord, its biggest population center, and currently the site of the largest outbreak. He has every reason to be in full 9/11 mode about coronavirus. Instead, this:

Just one last visit to help spread the disease and kill some more senior citizens for old times’ sake before everything shuts down.

He finally did the right thing this weekend by closing New York’s schools and ordering bars and restaurants shut before a million idiots inevitably descended on them tomorrow for St. Patrick’s Day. That’s the good news. The bad news is that, as with today’s gym visit, de Blasio continues not to grasp the point that every moment counts with social distancing. His long delay in closing schools will probably mean thousands of infections in New York City that could have been avoided. And his short delay in closing bars — they can remain open today but have to close by 9 a.m. tomorrow — means that many people will doubtless pack in tonight to enjoy St. Pat’s a day early. With the mayor’s apparent encouragement:

Why the hell would a public official urge people to go out and congregate, even for a night, when the whole point of extraordinary measures like business shutdowns is to prevent them from congregating? Why didn’t he order bars closed immediately?

Does he just not grasp the problem on an intellectual level?

Per Mediaite, even some of his former staffers can’t believe he went to the gym today:

Another former staffer grumbled to the New York Post:

“Didn’t the CDC recommend no gatherings of 50 people or more? … Will he be counting the amount of people there and leaving if it’s over 49?

“If we’re supposed to be social distancing, then what does that even mean if he gets to play by his own rules? Leaders are supposed to set by example. What kind of example does this set?” the former worker said.

“Also, why is he at the gym and not hunkered down 24/7 working on this? It’s a pandemic, and people are dying. Stunning.

“How many people have to die before he stops getting chauffeured to the gym is my question. What’s the appropriate number of deaths before he finds it uncouth,” the staffer continued.

Fortunately, I think we’re at the late stage of de Blasio’s decline into a national joke that the public won’t draw lessons from his behavior. The reaction here won’t be “If de Blasio’s out and about, it must be fine for us to be out and about too.” The reaction will be “I can’t wait until this guy’s not mayor anymore.” Unfortunately, other political leaders remain fully capable of strongly influencing their supporters to take the crisis less seriously than they should:

Maybe that’s not a disaster yet. Residents in the two hottest coronavirus hotspots, New York and Washington state, aren’t taking their cues from Trump and residents of states that who are more likely to follow his lead haven’t been inundated yet. Now that the president’s message has shifted towards treating this like the crisis it is, hopefully Republican polling numbers will catch up to Democratic ones.

But in the meantime, lingering skepticism about the virus’s severity is driving some very risky public behavior at a moment when we can’t afford any more risk:

Here’s Cuomo with a grim prognosis for New York hospitals, part of his message to encourage Trump to unleash the Army Corps of Engineers and start building temporary facilities immediately. Social distancing will help shrink the tidal wave that’s coming, he says, but it’s too late to stop it.