After weeks of silence, Mayor-elect Eric Adams on Thursday vowed to keep New York City’s vaccine mandate in place for private sector employees. The requirement, which was passed by Mayor Bill de Blasio and is the first of its kind in the country, went into effect on Monday, during Mr de Blasio’s last week in office.
“Our focus is vaccines and tests, vaccines and tests, vaccines and tests,” said Mr Adams, before turning to Dr Dave A. Chokshi, Mr de Blasio’s health commissioner. , who will remain Mr. Adams’ health commissioner until March.
“The mandate of private sector employers will continue into the new year, with a focus on compliance, not sanctions,” said Dr Chokshi.
Epidemiologists applauded the mandate, but its timing at the end of Mr de Blasio’s tenure confused some business owners, who were unsure whether they should stick to the mandate or just wait for Mr Adams to take over. its functions and announces its own policy. . Some also see it as a bureaucratic headache and fear that some workers may resign rather than comply.
Mr. Adams’ silence on the matter had also fueled hope among some business owners that he was planning to let the term expire.
But in the weeks since Mr de Blasio’s announcement of the policy on December 6, the Omicron variant unleashed in New York City and resulted in a surge in coronavirus cases.
On Wednesday, the city set a single-day case record for the third time in a week, and a subway line connecting Queens and Manhattan was closed as scores of transit workers became ill. City life, in some ways, has slowed down at a breakneck pace. Westminster Kennel Club postponed his January dog show, in deference to Omicron.
Omicron has already infected hundreds of thousands of the city’s residents. Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday announced that in New York, 39,591 people had tested positive the day before. And that’s an undercoverage because it doesn’t include many home tests that came back positive but were never reported to public health authorities.
Across the city, the test positivity rate is over 20%. Hospitals in the city are seeing hundreds of new Covid-19 patients per day, although many are much less sick than patients from previous waves of coronavirus, according to doctors and hospital systems. On Tuesday, the last day of the report, there were just under 3,200 Covid-19 patients in New York City hospitals. About 370 were in intensive care units.
Dr Ashish K. Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said Mr Adams’ decision was a wise one.
“Vaccines remain the way out of this pandemic,” said Dr Jha. “And asking employers, private and public, to make sure their employees are vaccinated – which creates a much safer working environment – I think that’s essential.”
Dr Jha’s enthusiasm was not universal.
Mr de Blasio’s tenure, which is now Mr Adams’, has angered some in the business sector, including large corporations, who are annoyed at having to respect both the President Biden’s tenure, which is in Supreme Court limbo and contains a loophole test for the unvaccinated, and that of New York, which does not.
“For large companies with a global and national footprint, consistency between federal policies and state and local policies on vaccine and mask mandates and Covid protocols in general is very important,” said Kathryn Wylde, Managing Director of the New York City Partnership, which represents many large corporations.
“And Blasio’s policy is not consistent in terms of timing or conditions with Biden’s policy.”