New York City’s next chapter
Eric Adams, Mayor of the City, stated today that he would eliminate school mask mandates by March 7 and indoor proof-of vaccination requirements by March 7, if there are no new coronavirus cases.
This is a step towards restoring normalcy in the city, and boosting its economic recovery. It has been slower and less equal than other large cities.
Emma Fitzsimmons (City Hall bureau chief) gave me a view of where the city is heading.
What has the last few months been like for the city?
The Omicron variant was a difficult choice for us. The situation has improved in the last month. At the height Omicron, there were approximately 43,000 cases per hour. Today, we are seeing only 400 cases per hour. At the peak Omicron, we saw approximately 1,000 hospitalizations every day. Now, it is only about 30.
What precautions should the mayor take?
The first is wearing masks in schools. The second is to show proof of vaccination in order to enter certain venues. Everyone has had to show proof of vaccination when you enter indoor dining or gyms or movie theaters, and now you won’t have to do that anymore. Businesses can still ask for proof of vaccination, however. I’m actually seeing my first Broadway show in two years on Friday — “Six” — and I will be wearing my mask since they’re still required.
Adams is saying he’ll end more pandemic restrictions in the future, but for now, he’s comfortable relaxing those two mandates.
What mandates still exist?
The employer mandates are the big ones. So city workers — police officers, teachers, sanitation workers — they all must be vaccinated. And then there’s the vaccine mandate for private employers. It only applies to people who are actually working in a grocery store or tech company. So that’s the approach that they’re using to try and make sure that all adults in New York City are vaccinated — and it has worked. More than 95 percent have received at least one dose.
What are New Yorkers feeling these day?
Eric Adams has kind of become the city’s psychologist. He keeps telling us, it’s time to get back out there; New York is open for business; it’s time to get out of your pajamas. To be honest with you, I’m wearing my pajamas right now while I’m working from home, and a lot of us still are. New Yorkers feel a lot better than over the holidays and January, when everyone knew someone who had been sick.
What does New York City’s next chapter look like?
If there isn’t another serious variant and if cases remain low, then there’s a lot of hope that New York City’s recovery is on the horizon. Companies are returning to work now. There’s going to be more activity in Manhattan, and that’s really what Eric Adams is pushing for. He’s saying this is the time for our recovery. He’s saying we can get back to normalcy in a lot of ways.
I’ve been going to City Hall more since January when Mayor Adams took office. He has a very hectic schedule. He’s up at 6 a.m. doing TV hits and he stays out visiting Broadway shows until late at night so I’ve been chasing him around the city. For many New Yorkers, life has not returned back to normal. There are groups of people concerned about the next chapter. Obviously people who are immunocompromised, and I have two kids under five and they can’t get vaccinated yet. My mask is still worn at the grocery and train stations.
Although many people are ready to forget about the pandemic, New York City was the epicenter of it. We’ve lost so many people, and some people aren’t ready to return to life as it was before.
A pandemic War
While Ukraine is under attack by Russia, Ukraine’s civilian population is also under siege from the coronavirus, a situation that will likely only get worse.
According to the U.N. about 500,000 people have fled Ukraine over the past few days. This is part of a mass migration towards the west that is jamming roads, mass transit centers, and jamming roads. Video images clearly show few signs of face covers among the migrants, even though the country is just about to surpass a record in its infection rate. Only 35 percent of Ukrainians received at least one vaccine.
The coronavirus outlook for those fleeing is grim, said Dr. Eric S. Toner, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“They’re quite vulnerable, and as people huddle together, either sheltering or evacuating in crowded buses, trains and cars, maybe in hotels and refugee camps, it’s going to cause a reversal of the progress,” he said.
Dr. Toner stated that he expected a rise in Covid cases in Ukraine and additional stress on their health systems. However, these problems would be worse in Ukraine.
“They’re going to be caring for Covid patients, along with war victims,” he said. “They’re going to be understaffed because of the war, and it’s going to harm their chances of keeping patients in isolation or have social distancing. It’s going to be a mess.”
What do you think about school mask mandates being lifted?
School mask mandates are hot topics. Many parents and experts agree that school mask mandates can be detrimental to children’s academic performance and social interactions. However, masks can be an effective tool to prevent the spread and can help protect vulnerable students.
If you’re a parent, a student or an educator, we’d like to know how you feel about the ending of mask requirements in many schools across the country. If you’d like to share your thoughts, you can fill out this form here. We might use your responses in a future newsletter.
What else we’re following
What you’re doing
I am a ballof rage and despair. I live in a high-risk household and am constantly perplexed by those who see continuing to wear masks, socially distance or similar tasks as “giving into fear” and not the acts of compassion that they actually are. So many people are going back to “normal” and leaving so many of us behind. We continue to live a very shuttered life and only visit with vaccinated friends and family and only do indoor gatherings if we’re able to test ahead of time. We haven’t seen the inside of a restaurant since 2020. We’re waiting and growing ever more frustrated.
— Brooke, Michigan
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Source: NY Times