At a press conference with the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dave Choksi and incoming DOHMH Commissioner Ashwin Vasan, the new mayor announced “The Adams Plan” aimed at combating the pandemic and the highly contagious omicron variant.
“The day has come when we must learn to be smarter, live with COVID and protect everyday New Yorkers,” said Adams last Thursday. “And that is what I’m going to do.”
Adams’ six-prong plan hopes to drive up vaccinations, but does not include plans to close schools or roll back the previous administration’s private sector vaccine mandate.
“We need to be clear that vaccinations and boosters are the best weapons in our arsenal to deal,” said Adams. “We cannot let our guards down, we must allow our city to function. We can’t shut down our city again, we cannot let the city go into further economic despair.”
Almost a month after his predecessor announced the private sector vaccine mandate, one of the toughest mandates in the country, Adams says the mandate will stay in effect with a focus on compliance, not punishment.
“We will fine those businesses who are recklessly not complying,” added Adams. “We’re going to use a light-handed approach for those businesses tempted to comply.”
Adams added that the city will also look into the need for an “up-to-date” mandate that could require booster shots. The city will also set a deadline for this spring to decide on whether or not a vaccine mandate will be implemented for the fall of 2022, which Adams expects input on from Governor Kathy Hochul.
“We have communicated with the governor to gauge her concerns around mandating vaccines,” said Adams. “Right now, we don’t believe rates in schools call for that. In April, we will see if it’s something we will look into.”
In New York City, the seven-day positivity rate climbed over 33.5 percent as of Monday, when schools fully reopened from a week-long winter break.
Adams’ plan also includes a surge of resources to city hospitals and improved safety in congregate settings like shelters, nursing homes and jails.
The city also plans to distribute an additional two million high-grade KN95, KF94 and N95 masks this month via community-based organizations and Health Department sites.
“You must understand that we are going to get through this,” said Adams. “We’re going to get through this with facts and not fear. I’m confident that we're going to look back on this day and be proud.”