Mayor Adams announced Tuesday that he’s scrapping the city’s coronavirus vaccine mandates for private sector employees and student athletes — but the inoculation requirement for municipal workers will stay in place.
Implemented by former Mayor Bill de Blasio, the private sector and student mandates have been in effect since late last year.
The workforce rule, which was the first of its kind in the country when rolled out by de Blasio in December, has required all private sector employees in the city to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The second policy has mandated high school students be vaccinated if they want to engage in sports and other extracurricular activities.
In a press conference at City Hall on Tuesday morning, Adams said his administration is lifting the private sector requirement effective Nov. 1. The school rule is going away immediately.
“We’re in a steady phase of pivot and shift,” Adams told reporters.
The mayor stressed that the mandate rescissions should not be viewed as an indication that he’s lackadaisical on vaccinations. He promised that his administration is launching a new citywide digital and print vaccination campaign to encourage booster shots, and got his own booster dose in front of cameras at Tuesday’s press conference.
Since taking office in January, Adams has moved methodically to peel back various COVID-19 restrictions put in place by de Blasio. This spring, Adams lifted the indoor vaccine mandate for restaurants and bars. He removed the mask requirements in public schools around the same time.
But one pandemic precaution that Adams said he’s not squashing at the moment is the vaccine mandate for the city’s municipal workforce.
“It was crucial to put that in place and we’re keeping it in place,” he said.
The mandate has required the city’s more than 300,000 municipal workers — including teachers, cops and firefighters — to be fully vaccinated. The requirement has for months prompted loud protests from a small group of unvaccinated city workers as well as Republicans in the City Council.
Despite the focus on the municipal mandate, only 1,761 city employees workers had gotten fired for refusing to get vaccinated as of Aug. 30, according to data from the mayor’s office.
The city’s COVID-19 death and hospitalization rates have trended steadily downward for months, according to data from the Health Department. However, dozens of New Yorkers are still dying from the virus every week, the data shows.
Additionally, COVID-19 case rates have ticked up slightly in recent weeks, with the current test positivity average topping 9%.
COVID-19 transmission tends to get worse during the winter months, and some public health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have raised concern about the possibility that another variant of the virus could be forthcoming.
Adams said he shares those concerns.
“There is the possibility of another variant,” he said. “We just don’t know what’s on the horizon.”
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