Federal COVID advisor congratulates de Blasio on vaccine mandates

Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability on Oct. 5.
Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Bill de Blasio wanted to set an example for the rest of the country, and President Biden’s team says he has. Jeffrey Zeints, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, is in constant contact with the president of the United States about COVID protocol, and he joined the mayor at his press conference Oct. 5 to applaud New York City’s response to the pandemic.

“I think you and your team have built one of the best performing vaccination programs in the country from focusing on equity from the very beginning,” Zeints told the mayor. 

He said that de Blasio has worked creatively to get the city vaccinated, likely referring to the incentives and mandates that began in July of this year. At Monday’s press briefing, the mayor revealed just how successful his team’s creative ideas were: vaccinations among education workers shot up nearly overnight once they were confronted with the choice of getting the shot or losing their jobs. Over the last two months, the city reported $1.7 million doses given out. That’s a 45% increase in the daily rate of vaccination. 

“I think our main job is to provide leaders like yourself, Mr. Mayor, with the resources to do this, including from the American rescue plan, so that you can get help get your communities vaccinated together as a country,” Zeints said.

President Biden’s vaccine mandates coincide with what the mayor is trying to do now. All federal workers and federal contractors, anyone doing business with the federal government must be fully vaccinated. It is the same for the military and many health care facilities as well.

“In total, the President’s vaccination requirements cover about 100 million Americans. That’s two thirds of all workers in America,” said Zeints.

He and the mayor encouraged companies in the private sector to require vaccinations as well, following the lead of companies like United Airlines.

Zeints closed by saying that vaccine mandates work, and that they increase vaccination rates to 90% or greater. 

So far, all city workers and all Department of Education workers in New York City are required to get the vaccine. When asked what agency is next, Mayor de Blasio answered, “We’re looking at that right now in the coming day, but don’t have a specific deadline.”