The predicted pre-holiday COVID-19 surge caused New York City’s COVID-19 positivity rate to double in the last three days, and concerns about the spread of the Omicron variant prompted renewed talks of more public restrictions to slow the spread.
Even so, Mayor-elect Eric Adams says it’s “going to take a lot for me to lock down the city.” At a press conference at Borough Hall Dec. 16, he talked about trusting the science as numbers rise.
When Adams becomes mayor, he said he would establish a command center for the virus in downtown Brooklyn.
“We’re going to be smarter. We learned a lot. We are already building out a COVID team that is going to consist of business and supply chains, law enforcement, medical professionals,” Adams said. “And it’s going to take a lot for me to close down the city. And we need to find out what the needs are on the ground and better coordinate our resources.”
The mayor-elect from Brooklyn also suggested reopening the Javits Center as a temporary hospital, if necessary. So far, hospitalizations are not spiking as much as the virus is spreading, thanks to the vaccination effort which has helped reduce the severity of breakthrough cases.
As for the future of the city’s top health official, Dr. Dave Chokshi, Adams said he is considering keeping him in the position.
Chokshi, the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, has been guiding the mayor’s office since August 2020 on how serious each surge has been and how New Yorkers should behave to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“When I sit down in a room with him and I talk to him, I’m going to be able to determine … can you fit on Team New York? I like him a lot,” Adams said.
Adams repeated that he is not an expert, nor is he a doctor, and he will be leaning on his experts in the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to make decisions on future mandates.
“If my Department of Health and Mental Hygiene says ‘Eric we need to be mandated booster shots,’ I’m going to mandate booster shots. If they state that we need to every year come back for new shots like we do the flu season, I’m going to do that,” he said.
No matter what, Adams said, it will be based on science, and he will do “whatever is needed” so that the city doesn’t retreat into another shutdown, as it had in March/April 2020.