The Democrat said Tuesday that New York can’t see schools and businesses close again like they did when COVID-19 first hit the city in 2020.
However, his pledge comes as de Blasio and the radical leftist mayors of other major cities also move to impose sweeping authoritarian restrictions on unvaccinated citizens—ostensibly to fight a strain of the virus that has proven both to be largely vax-resistant and extremely mild in those who contract it.
Although Democrats’ rhetoric has largely scapegoated conservative vax skeptics, those restrictions are likely to impact disproportionately black and Hispanic minorities who are believed to constitute the majority of unvaxxed urban residents.
De Blasio has faced questions over the past week about whether he would reinstate closures as the omicron variant surges in the city.
“Adamantly I feel this: No more shutdowns. We’ve been through them,” de Blasio said at a virtual news conference Tuesday. “They were devastating. We can’t go through it again.”
De Blasio, in the waning days of his term as mayor, will decide by Christmas whether the annual New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square will continue as planned.
The event was small and socially distanced last year, with the mayor allowing himself and his wife to be among the few attendees dancing in the street as the ball dropped.
But de Blasio claims he had hoped to hold it this year at “full strength” before reports of the flu-like COVID-19 strain’s outbreak ramped up again, leading to mass panic.
While the fate of the outdoor New Year’s Eve event remained up in the air, De Blasio’s successor, Eric Adams, postponed his inauguration ceremony, scheduled for Jan. 1 indoors at Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre.
The mayor-elect issued a statement Tuesday saying that the ceremony would be rescheduled for a later date “to prioritize” the health of attendees, staff and reporters.
“It is clear that our city is facing a formidable opponent in the omicron variant of COVID-19, and that the spike in cases presents a serious risk to public health,” Adams said.
Two other Democratic officials, Comptroller-elect Brad Lander and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, were also to participate in the ceremony and co-signed Adams’ statement announcing its postponement. Williams has been quarantining at home after recently testing positive for COVID-19.
Adams will still take over as mayor on Jan. 1. His spokesperson, Evan Thies, said it would take a lot for the mayor-elect to shut down New York City again.
“He believes that we can balance the priorities of public health and keeping New York open in a safe and responsible way as we aggressively address the Omicron threat with more vaccinations, boosters and testing,” Thies said.
It remained unclear whther Adams would enforce the Draconian policies that de Blasio shockingly sought to implement on his way out, including mandates for all New York City workers and children attending both public and private schools.
Temporary restrictions were instituted at the city’s jails late Tuesday, with the Department of Correction saying in-person visits and programs like religious services had been suspended.
De Blasio announced the city would begin offering a $100 cash incentive to New Yorkers who get a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine starting Tuesday and going through the end of the year.
The city had previously offered similar incentives for people to get their first vaccine doses.
De Blasio said the federal government is expected to help set up more testing sites in New York City and the city will increase its city run sites, including brick-and-mortar locations and mobile testing vans.
As recently as Dec. 13, the city had been averaging fewer than 3,600 new cases of COVID-19 each day. But after nearly 63,500 people tested positive in just five days, the average daily number of infections had climbed to nearly 11,000 as of Monday—an increase of 207% in a week.
Only one suspected omicron fatality in the US had been claimed as of Monday—that being a Harris County, Texas, case involving a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions.
Although reports said he was unvaccinated, the man had previously survived COVID and likely had attained natural immunity from the antibodies.
Under normal circumstances, natural immunity has been reported by health researchers to be 27x more effective than vaccinations, raising some questions as to whether the omicron case was the primary cause of death.
Despite the relatively low rate of hospitilazation or severe symptoms, President Joe Biden claimed omicron would lead to a “winter of death” for the families of the unvaccinated.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press