Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams on Wednesday urged city and state leadership to pause the impending re-openings currently planned for April in order to slow the spread and help New York win the race between COVID-19 vaccines and variants.
“Right now, New York is in a race between vaccines and variants,” said Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, during a press conference on the issue held with City Council Health Committee Chair Mark Levine and renowned epidemiologist, Dr. Celine Gounder.
“It’s neck and neck; and rushing to reopen, getting ahead of ourselves, will only help the virus get ahead of us in that race,” Williams added. “In this moment, when the majority of new cases of COVID-19 in New York City come from highly contagious variants and only 14 percent of New Yorkers are fully vaccinated, we need to continue to scale up vaccination while scaling back these re-openings.
“We’ve been behind throughout the pandemic, forced to be reactive and responsive, but we know what works,” he continued. “And we can win this race if we stay the course rather than declare premature victory.
“New Yorkers can do their part by getting vaccinated when eligible and adhering to health guidelines,” Williams said. “Government can do theirs by keeping those guidelines in place, providing financial incentives to reduce the economic pain of restrictions and averting the even greater pain that would come if viral spread led to even further shutdowns.
“I ask the governor to stick to the science, trust the experts, and pause the planned re-openings now before they take effect and more are infected,” he urged.
The public advocate noted that, presently, several key re-openings are set to occur in New York in the first week of April.
On April 1, stadiums and large outdoor venues will be able to open to 20 percent capacity; and on the next day, art and entertainment venues can open to 33 percent capacity.
On April 5, curfews are set to be lifted on casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, billiards halls, and gyms and fitness centers.