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De Blasio implores Queens churchgoers to keep the faith, and avoid big gatherings, to stop COVID-19 | amNewYork

De Blasio implores Queens churchgoers to keep the faith, and avoid big gatherings, to stop COVID-19

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks to congregants at Calvary Baptist Church in Jamaica, Queens, on Nov. 22, 2020, as Pastor Victor Hall looks on.
Photo by Dean Moses

BY DEAN MOSES

Mayor Bill de Blasio had a stark message for worshippers at the Calvary Baptist Church in Jamaica, Queens during his guest Sunday sermon: Sacrifice a big Thanksgiving gathering this year to save the lives of the people you love amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Hizzoner told the attendees that he sympathized with the desire among many families to gather round the table en masse over turkey and good company. But that just isn’t possible now due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ease in which the virus spreads. 

Every New York family, de Blasio said, has a choice to make: “Are we going to do the things we do every year or are we going to do something different?” For the mayor, it’s a no-brainer.

“I will speak personally and say I wish we could do what we do every year because one of the things I look forward to each year is Thanksgiving. I look forward to the biggest possible gathering and the most family and loved ones around the table,” de Blasio said. “But this year I will not be with some of the people I love the most. This year will be different and it pains me to tell you that. This year I won’t be with some of my loved ones so I can be with them next year.” 

Keeping a socially distant Thanksgiving, he indicated, would help the city battle the virus’ second wave while continuing the strides New Yorkers have made to flatten the curve and keep virus levels low since the dark days of March and April of this year — when hundreds died of the illness every day.

“It is important, in this moment, to understand what we have all done in this city because there was a time, just months ago, when we were the epicenter of this crisis nationally,” the mayor said. “Everyone here knows it, everyone here felt it. We’ve lost people. We went through pain and then there was a choice. Were we going to lie down and give up or were we going to do what New Yorkers do and fight back? And we fought back, and we went from a matter of months from being the worst in this whole nation to being the first to being the safest place in the nation. We lived that this year in New York City and we achieved that this year in New York City.”

Diligence and vigilance remain key in the city’s battle against COVID-19, according to de Blasio. He told the gathering to continue abiding by regulations to mask up and practice socially distancing. In doing so, he emphasized a point that Governor Andrew Cuomo has made in recent weeks: that each New Yorker’s personal behavior impacts the extent of the outbreak here.

“Every time you put on the mask, and every time you practice social distancing and every choice you make, and every choice contributes to what happens to all of us,” the mayor said. “This is where it is important to say that we have something that no other city has; we have that power, that strength that goes along with the title New Yorker.”

Calvary Pastor Victor Hall reiterated the need for all to be careful in celebrating Thanksgiving this year, and urging all to hold small dinners rather than big gatherings. 

“We wish you the best thanksgiving. Please, let us be careful. You see the numbers are going up because people are traveling,” the pastor advised.

With reporting by Robert Pozarycki

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