NEW YORK — When 5 million New York City residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the city can start to consider changes to restrictions and health and safety precautions, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday evening.
“Certainly not for the first half of the year,” de Blasio said in his weekly “Mondays with the Mayor” interview when political anchor Errol Louis asked the mayor at what point the city would start to dial back restrictions, such as the mask mandate.
“Through minimum June, expect to follow all of the precautions we’ve been given. Why? Because June is the goal I’ve set for 5 million New Yorkers being fully vaccinated. That’s a number where we can start to think about making some changes,” the mayor continued. “But before then, especially with the presence of the variant, it would be premature.”
Any decision to lift COVID-19 regulations would have to come from the state government.
As of 9:30 a.m. Monday, the city reported 2,827,346 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in New York City (this number includes second doses, and doses given to people eligible to get a vaccination in the city but who aren’t residents).
The mayor previously said he wanted New York City residents to be prioritized for vaccinations at sites in the city, but stressed it’s also important to inoculate people who work in the city even if they commute from outside the five boroughs. Part of the city’s vaccination total so far includes non-New York City residents.
Vaccinations have ticked up in the city in recent weeks, and President Joe Biden has ordered all states to open up COVID-19 shots to all eligible adults no later than May 1. Amid concerns the city lacks the infrastructure to vaccinate almost its entire population, the mayor told NY1 he’s convinced the city will be able to reach that goal. The last time the state significantly expanded eligibility — when it allowed people with underlying health conditions to be vaccinated — the competition for shots became fierce.
The mayor said Monday he was confident the vaccine supply will increase substantially by May. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, said recently that New York state has to "tremendously" increase capacity to vaccinate all adults.
Efforts to increase the number of vaccination sites in the city to inoculate all adults will likely require city and state coordination since the city needs to go through the state to get the shots from the federal government. De Blasio says he’s not concerned about any breakdown in public health communication or cooperation as a sexual misconduct scandal has plagued Cuomo and taken up the oxygen in Albany. But he said "Gov. Cuomo should do everyone a favor and get the hell out of the way."
. @NYCMayor tells @errollouis that Gov. Cuomo's scandals aren't impacting the government's work, and that state and city health officials are still communicating daily, but the mayor says "Gov. Cuomo should do everyone a favor and get the hell out of the way." #NY1Politics pic.twitter.com/jnSso22yeW— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) March 15, 2021
De Blasio in the interview also says he believes the city will be able to avoid layoffs of city workers with local aid coming to New York from the $1.9 trillion stimulus package the federal government passed.
The mayor also defended a plan he announced last Tuesday to create a fund to provide no-interest loans of $20,000 to medallion owners that they could use as down payments to restructure their debts. Another $9,000 could be borrowed to cover monthly loan payments.
While the New York Taxi Workers Alliance slammed the plan as a cash giveaway to lenders, one that would only increase debt for taxi drivers — who each carry debt from medallion loans that often range in the hundreds of thousands of dollars — the mayor claimed the city’s plan is “much better than what they’re experiencing now.”
“I think there will be a lot of takers. There’s a certain group of advocates who wanted a different approach, but in fact a lot of people praised the plan,” de Blasio said. “It’s going to allow them to have payment plans they can live with and protect their families.”
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Watch the full interview above.
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