New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams and city officials Thursday unveiled his plan to combat Covid-19 in the new year, with officials notably teasing that the private sector vaccine mandate will stay in effect and a decision on whether to mandate vaccines for students is to be decided by the spring.
Adams said Covid-19 is a “formidable” opponent worthy of a “formidable plan.”
“We must allow our city to function,” he said adding he intends to “follow the science,” promote equity in resources and overall, “be smatter, live with Covid, and protect everyday New Yorkers.”
Vaccines and booster still remain the “best weapons in our arsenal” he said, adding the overall objective is to “keep our city open.”
The plan focuses on six priorities: vaccination; supporting hospitals and congregate settings; testing; treatment; slowing the spread; and safer schools.
The current NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi, who will stay on through March, said the private-sector vaccine mandate will stay in effect in the new year.
“We will also study the need for what we are calling the up-to-date mandate which would require New Yorkers to have their booster shots under the vaccine mandates currently in place,” Chokshi added.
“Studying it encompasses both following the emerging science on the importance of booster doses with omicron as well as understanding the impact of the mandate on the settings it would apply to,” he added.
The city will set a deadline of this spring for a decision about a vaccine mandate in schools that would, if decided upon, commence later in 2022, Chokshi said.
While the city added 60 more testing sites after the emergence of Omicron, test and trace will continue to stand up more sites, he added.
The incoming NYC health commissioner said the city will also focus on upping access to monoclonal antibodies including oral medication with a “focus on equity” and reaching underserved, high risk populations.
The city also plans to distribute 2 million high-grade masks via community based organizations and city health sites, said Dr. Ashwin Vasan, who will take over for Chokshi in March as health commissioner.
Vasan also added that the city plans to come up with a universal, color-coded system that shows level of threat at any time of Covid-19 within the city and indicates clearly what level of safety measures are in place.
More on the NYC Covid-19 plan: As previously announced by the current NYC mayor and leadership, as well as the governor, on Jan. 3 the city will implement the “stay safe stay open” plan, officials said.
This includes doubling surveillance testing in schools, adjusting the situation room and contact tracing protocols, sending home millions of rapid at-home tests, and strengthening mitigation including high quality masks and ventilation.