During a City Hall press briefing, Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked when he would look at lifting mask mandates in New York City. He replied that they would hold the line through June and look at lifting COVID-19 related restrictions when they hit their goal of fully vaccinating 5 million residents. Talk about dangling the carrot.
“One of the things we can say to people is if you want to get rid of masks if you want to get rid of the social distancing, if you want to get rid of the restrictions — go get vaccinated. We’re going to have to keep masks and restrictions in place until we’re 100 percent sure we’re out of the woods. And the best way to know we’re out of the woods is to see those vaccination numbers go up and up and up,” de Blasio said.
One of the most controversial stances have been the outdoor mask mandates, which many experts say has notable costs and really no evidence of benefits. Nooshin Razani, epidemiology and biostatistics professor, emphasized that the real number of instances of outdoor transmissions was “probably lower” than 10% and that they have data to suggest the outdoors are very safe.
Monica Gandhi, a UCSF infectious disease doctor, said that the outdoor mask mandates have become almost too “ridiculous” as vaccinations increase and that mask-wearing has become a combination of politics and regional attitudes towards the virus – not science. Since these recommendations don’t follow any science, American citizens have lost trust in public health officials and politicians almost as much as their mainstream media outlets.
Mayor de Blasio has emphasized that the number of people vaccinated so far, it’s pushing down COVID-19 cases and making the city safer, suggesting that he “may” just lift restrictions based on vaccination rate. He has suggested it would range between 70-90% of people receiving their vaccination for the Big Apple to reach “herd immunity.” Then “normal” is likely to come.
So far, around 3.2 million New Yorkers, or 49% of the city’s adult population, have received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine. New Yorkers have been eligible for the vaccine since April 6 with thousands of slots for grab. Mayor de Blasio emphasized the 5 million vaccinated goal mark and said he hopes to reach the goal by June.
“June is, you know, one of those times in the year that we’re used to sort of a reset moment every year as we get to the end of school, beginning of summer and all. We want to hold the line through June. So, we’ll keep, you know, the masks on and we’ll do all the things we need to do. After that we’ll be able to reassess,” de Blasio said.
He said they will keep masks and restrictions in place until they know they are 100% “out of the woods” and hinted that the best way to do that is to see vaccination numbers go up. He has even suggested double masking “out of concern” over the presence of COVID-19 variants.
Despite his harsh restrictions that have resulted in lost freedoms and lost businesses, de Blasio’s office is still having “too much fun.” Mayor de Blasio has faced mounting criticism over his multiple visits to television sets, delivered remarks at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Lincoln Center, as well as pictured riding the Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island.
The lack of leadership has resulted in people leaving the Big Apple in flocks for Republican-led states. It’s clear that the Democratic state residents are getting hit harder with restrictions and lockdowns unrelated to science. While America’s political divide deepens, Republicans want the American people to get back to work and Democrats want to leverage even more political power.