Mayor Bill de Blasio performed two health PSAs on Tuesday evening.
After a spate of violent attacks on both subway riders and MTA workers, the Mayor has pledged to ride the subway himself in hopes of quelling commuter fears. On April 13, de Blasio did exactly that. The Mayor passed through the turnstile in the 86th Street and Lexington Avenue Station during rush hour on Tuesday evening, followed closely by his security detail.
Mayor de Blasio was scheduled to visit 125th Street where he would help New Yorkers sign up to get their COVID-19 vaccine appointments. But to make the trek Uptown, he traded his trademark SUV for the 5 train where he casually chatted with fellow riders as he sped through the underground.
Clutching onto a poll grip, he spoke with Shakia Johnson, a medical assistant from the Bronx who was shocked to be riding home alongside the city’s top elected. The Mayor complimented Johnson on her positive attitude and her company, stating: “You need to spread your positive vibes all over New York City.”
Not everybody was as happy to see him.
As de Blasio emerged on 125th Street, he was met with a mixture of cheers and jeers. Some berated him for the state of homelessness in Upper Manhattan while others merely yelled obscenities from passing taxis. Even so, among the developing horde even more flocked to his side for quick selfies.
Although the crowd seemed to swiftly grow out of control, de Blasio used the tidal wave of humanity to his advantage alongside Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to help convince enthralled New Yorkers to sign up for their COVID-19 vaccine appointments outside a Duane Reade. Talk of vaccines were not underway long before one concerned citizen asked the Mayor about the state of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after it was pulled from use.
“It looks like a very specific problem, they said it was like six cases out of seven million. I took it, I am comfortable with it, but they just suspended it for now while they investigate,” de Blasio told the inquisitive man.
After a line of Manhattanites were ready and willing to schedule their shots, the Mayor returned to the subway where he rode back to 86th Street.
On the voyage back, he spoke on the current state of the subway system and New Yorkers’ reluctance to return to public transportation amidst the ongoing pandemic.
“If you look at the actual facts, subway crime is the lowest it has ever been. Now, what we got to keep doing is keep them clean—and I believe we need to keep the cleaning going—we are going to keep the police presence out there. Look, the MTA should be telling people it’s right to come back, not discouraging them because regular, everyday New Yorkers know the subways are safe. And so, in the end, this is a part of our comeback. We need subways to work,” de Blasio said.
While the Mayor’s heart may be in the right place, it is yet to been seen how much confidence will be restored in “regular, everyday New Yorkers” after seeing a rider flanked by security guards.