The guidance on the New York City Health Department's website is unambiguous: "All New Yorkers should get a COVID-19 diagnostic test, whether or not they have symptoms or are at increased risk." Yet Mayor Bill de Blasio, who called out sick on Monday, says he has not gotten a coronavirus test, and has no plans to get one in the future.
The Mayor's Office cited "gastrointestinal symptoms" for de Blasio's illness. "Based on what he is experiencing, the mayor does not believe there’s a need to be tested," de Blasio spokesperson Freddi Goldstein wrote in an email.
Yet the CDC clearly lists diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting as one of COVID-19's many symptoms. "Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting or diarrhea," says the city's DOH. One third of COVID-19 patients experience a loss of appetite, nausea, and diarrhea, according to a Stanford University study released in mid-April.
"Up until very recently, the guidance was to only get tested if symptomatic, which he has not been," Goldstein said.
That guidance changed 12 days ago, when the de Blasio administration began urging all New Yorkers, regardless of whether they experienced any symptoms, to get a coronavirus test.
“Widespread testing holds the key to re-opening our city safely,” de Blasio said in a statement announcing the new policy. “After months of fighting, we are finally able to say that every New Yorker who needs a test will get one."
On June 10th, the mayor again urged all New Yorkers to get tested:
De Blasio spent the weekend in close proximity to a wide swath of New Yorkers. On Saturday, he toured a Cure Violence site in Jamaica, Queens.
On Sunday he spoke to a group of protesters at the Exodus Transitional Community in Harlem, and was seen painting a Black Lives Matter mural in Bed-Stuy with Councilmember Robert Cornegy, Jr.
A representative for Councilmember Cornegy did not immediately respond to our questions about whether the mayor seemed sick, or if the councilmember thought de Blasio should get a coronavirus test.
The Mayor's Office said that they do not keep track of how many of the administration's department heads have gotten a COVID-19 test.
Gothamist has asked that question of a handful of the administration's leaders—at the Department of Health, the NYPD, the Department of Buildings, the Department of Education, the Parks Department, and the Correction Department—and will update if we get responses.
[UPDATE / JUNE 16] At his daily press briefing Tuesday morning, Mayor de Blasio said he will get a COVID-19 test.
"I intend to get one, I've asked all New Yorkers to get one. I feel fine today and I think I just had a 24-hour kind of thing," de Blasio said. "I'll follow my own guidance."
Additional reporting from Elizabeth Kim.