Williams hails new COVID-19 safety requirements for city workers

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams peaks at rally against Asian hate in New York
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
REUTERS/Mike Segar/File

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams on Monday welcomed Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement of a new health care mandate requiring all city workers to provide one-time proof of vaccination or weekly COVID-19 tests beginning Sept. 13.

“Like so many New Yorkers, I had been excited to see our case rates declining in recent months and to return to some pre-pandemic activities with limited restrictions,” said Williams. “But now, the speed and spread of the Delta variant has changed our trajectory, and, unfortunately, must also change our mindset, our behaviors and our policies.

“I commend the mayor for implementing a required vaccination-or-testing policy for city workers, and urge that, in coordination with union leadership, the proposed timeline be accelerated and requirements be expanded to twice weekly testing,” he added. “Both changes would dramatically improve our ability to control the spread of the Delta variant.”

In addition, and in accordance with the scientific guidance on current risks, Williams said public and private spaces should require masks to be worn indoors — not only for city workers but for all New Yorkers.

“We know that, despite some breakthrough cases, vaccinated individuals are primarily protected,” he said. “But we also know that, until New York can increase rates of injection and lower rates of infection, an added layer of protection is a small sacrifice to make for the safety of our neighbors.

“Our city and state have brought case rates down before, protecting ourselves and our fellow New Yorkers, and I am confident that we can do it again,” Williams added.

Mayor Bill de Blasio made the announcement along with Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner (DOHMH), Dr. Dave A. Chokshi and NYC Health + Hospitals (H+H) President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Mitchell Katz.

In advance of this benchmark, the city is mandating 45,000 city workers and contractors in residential and congregate care settings by Aug. 16.

Both of these recent mandates are in addition to the Health Worker COVID-Safe Requirement the mayor announced last week, requiring NYC Health + Hospitals employees and those working in Department of Health and Mental Hygiene clinical settings to provide either a one-time verification of immunization, or weekly proof of a negative COVID-19 test by Aug. 2.

“This is what it takes to continue our recovery for all of us while fighting back the Delta variant,” Mayor de Blasio said. “It’s going to take all of us to finally end the fight against COVID-19.”

Dr. Chokshi said these new requirements “reflect our commitment to each other and the people we serve.

“In the tug of war between vaccines and the variants, we should continue to bet on the vaccines,” he said. “But now is the time for our whole city to pull together to defeat Delta.”

Dr. Katz said: “We’ve come a long way from once being the ‘epicenter of the epicenter’ of COVID-19,” but added that “this pandemic is not over yet.

“We have a moral responsibility to take every precaution possible to ensure we keep ourselves, our colleagues and loved ones safe,” he said. “Our city’s new testing requirement for city workers provides more piece of mind until more people get their safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.”

The mayor also made an official call for the private sector to enact vaccine and test mandates at their offices, workplaces, stores and restaurants.

The Mayor’s Office said that about 4.9 million New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

This includes over 100,000 doses from mobile vaccination sites, 280,000 doors knocked by canvassers, and 20,000 doses given in-home to anyone who needs it.

There have also been more than $80,000 in Referral Bonuses given to community organizations, the Mayor’s Office said.

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