Even as the COVID-19 vaccine continues being distributed, officials are warning to still be vigilant and be prepared for possible closures if cases don’t go down.
This week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that concern is focused on avoiding a spike in cases from Christmas and New Year’s. He warned New Yorkers about traveling.
“This is a time where we really could see an intensive spike and we can’t handle another spike, so we need to, for all of us, be careful,” de Blasio said. “Everyone, please, you’ve got to, you’ve got to wear those masks, practice social distancing, keep those gatherings small, do not travel.”
The rolling seven-day average for city residents testing positive for COVID-19 is 6.05%, up from the 5% that de Blasio wants to get back to. The hospitalization rate in the city is 3.1 per 100,000.
De Blasio also expressed concern about the new strain of the COVID-19 virus identified in the United Kingdom. The new strain is reportedly 70% transmissible but is not resistant to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Efforts are being made to prevent the new strain from coming into the United States; however, health officials say the strain has silently already arrived. De Blasio wants a travel restriction on Europe.
“It’s really, in my view, it’s time for a travel ban from Europe, given what we’re seeing with this new strain, or, at minimum, a requirement that anyone getting on a plane has proof that they have a negative test if they’re coming out of Europe. We need to be aggressive,” he said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling on the federal government to take action in the wake of a new variant of the COVID-19 virus circulating in the United Kingdom. European countries and Canada have already imposed new restrictions on individuals traveling from the United Kingdom, including banning travelers and mandatory testing measures.
“How many times in life do you have to make the same mistake before you learn,” Cuomo said. “The federal government is being grossly negligent just like the spring, and every day they do nothing on this problem, they do something. It’s high time the federal government takes swift action, because today that variant is getting on a plane and landing in JFK, and all it takes is one person.”
Cuomo said last week that the state is on the verge of a full shutdown after Christmas if cases don’t subside. He said New Yorkers should be prepared for a possible shutdown soon.
“Is a closedown possible in January? Yes,” Cuomo said. “First of all, anything is possible. Second of all, you look at these increases nationally, of course it is possible. You already see states, other states, closing down, big states closing down. Why are they closing down and we’re not? Their numbers are higher than our numbers.”
On Tuesday, de Blasio announced the launch of the NYC Vaccine for All campaign aimed to spread the word about how local residents can get a free COVID-19 vaccine. With a full rollout in January, the campaign will be in over 16 languages—including TV spots, radio, subway and digital ads, social media and more—to spread public awareness around the city’s vaccination effort.
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will also host virtual conversations with residents in 27 neighborhoods and community leaders to share information on vaccine planning and provide opportunities for community members to raise questions and concerns.
“Vaccination will put our city on the road to restoration,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. “This campaign is about bringing the vaccine to all New Yorkers in a way that ensures it is accepted and accessible to everyone. This is the beginning of an important dialogue and we look forward to the forthcoming conversations with city communities in the months ahead.”