NEW YORK (CBSNew York) – As he prepares to take office this weekend, Mayor-elect Eric Adams outlined his plans to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday.
Adams, who will officially become mayor on Saturday, said New York City was at a critical time in the fight against the virus, CBS2’s John Dias reported.
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“I have been careful not in any way to affect the ability of the existing mayor to send a very coordinated method, a message to New Yorkers,” Adams said.
The mayor-elect laid out his ideas for tackling COVID shortly before the city reported nearly 44,000 new cases due to the Omicron variant, double what it reported on Wednesday.
“We’re going to follow the science. Science will ensure that we can effectively deal with this wave of COVID, ”Adams said. “We are no longer going to be caught off guard.”
Watch: Mayor-elect Adams outlines his plan to tackle COVID-19 in 2022
More than 74,000 cases were reported statewide as of Thursday. One-day cases have increased and the state’s positivity rate has jumped to just over 22%.
Cases nearly doubled in one day in New Jersey on Wednesday, and nearly 28,000 new cases were reported in the state as of Thursday.
FIND TEST SITES: Click here for the New York City test site locatorincluding mobile sites and home appointments
Adams’ comprehensive plan, which will focus primarily on vaccines and testing, calls for:
- Wide distribution of antiviral pills, once they are available, especially to communities in need.
- Distribution of 2 million high quality masks in January.
- Keep the vaccination mandate in place for private sector workers (Adams said his focus is on compliance, not punishment, and may eventually require reminders).
- A potential vaccine mandate for students, with a final decision likely in the spring.
Until then, the city will operate under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Stay Safe and Open” plan, which was announced this week.
As for schools, Adams promised more tests for students, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.
City health commissioner Dr Dave Chokshi joined him to explain the state of immunization mandates for schools, which are not expected to happen anytime soon and depend on the action of Governor Kathy Hochul.
“The city will set a deadline for the spring for a school vaccination mandate that will begin later in 2022,” Chokshi said.
“We’re going to go through this with faces and not with fear. We’re going to overcome that by preparing, ”Adams added.
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Adams reiterated that the city would not close, which de Blasio also objected to.
“I don’t believe in closures. We have to fight our way through COVID, and the way to do it is vaccination, ”said de Blasio.
A Bronx woman who lost her 59-year-old husband to COVID in April told CBS2 that a stop would only be worth it if more people started to feel her pain.
“If we start to have an increase in deaths again, then I think closing the city would be a good plan, but it’s very expensive,” she said.
“I think he really shouldn’t be afraid to slowly shut down the city again,” said Theo Kaubish of the Upper West Side.
“A partial shutdown, but make sure we still have essential jobs,” said another man.
Other New Yorkers have said Adams should also focus on rolling out more reliable home test kits.
“For the Omicron virus, it is not really detected by rapid tests,” said Tatiana Vera, a resident of Harlem.
The Food and Drug Administration has said that at home, rapid antigenic tests may be less effective in detecting the Omicron variant. The agency said the tests were still worth it.
“Don’t let anyone think the FDA said the tests are no longer good. They say they are less sensitive now, ”said Dr Anthony Fauci.
CityMD has temporarily closed 20 other sites in the city to preserve its ability to staff the remaining sites, officials said. So more people will need to rely on city and state-run testing facilities or home kits.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has expanded its state-funded testing operation by opening five more sites, bringing the total to seven.
Adams said he plans to open more testing sites to ease the long lines.
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Dave Carlin of CBS2 contributed to this report.