With the current surge of COVID-19 cases, New York City’s new mayor, Eric Adams, who was sworn in just after midnight on New Year’s Day, said challenges lie ahead for the city, but New Yorkers must adapt to live with the virus.
Adams also stated that shutdowns for New York were unlikely during his presidency.
“It’s as dangerous as COVID if we close down our city,” Adams said. “That is where we must concentrate our efforts. So a proper balance of safety [and] keeping our economy running will allow us to make it through.”
The rapid spread of the omicron variant has dominated New York City, making it the pandemic’s new epicenter, with over 40,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in the last two days, while the daily average of confirmed cases for the last seven days has been nearly 24,000, per the NYC Department of Health.
When asked about the fast-moving variant, Adams stated, “We’ve spent $11 trillion on COVID and don’t have another $11 trillion.” So we can’t base our lives on what’s the latest variant. No. We need to figure out how to adjust.”
Stephanopoulos pressed Adams on her ability to return to normalcy in New York City, where various job sectors are currently in short supply. Adams responded that changes and pivots, such as those made to the subway system, are made “based on where the urgency is located.”
Stephanopoulos later noted that New York City’s unemployment rate is currently 9.4 percent, which is double the national average.
“We need to get New Yorkers back to work,” Adams agreed. “How do we go about doing that?” By not having an adversarial relationship with our business community. I’ve been meeting with top business leaders to discuss how to make our city more appealing to do business in.”
Adams stated that he would work with businesses that the New York City government has partnered with to help people find jobs to create a centralized database of job applications.
Adams unveiled his winter COVID-19 strategy on Thursday, which includes maintaining the city’s current private sector vaccine mandate. Adams also told Stephanopoulos that he is considering requiring city workers to get a booster shot.
Adams also reached out to those who have yet to be immunized.
“I say to those who haven’t been vaccinated: stop,” Adams said on Sunday. “It’s time to get immunized. It’s time for some booster shots. You’re endangering yourself and you’re endangering the public and your family as well.”
With schools returning from winter break this week, Stephanopoulos asked Adams what message he has for New York City parents who are concerned about sending their children back to school in the midst of this current surge.
“I tell them not to worry about sending them back,” Adams said. “The statistics are clear: inside a school is the safest place for children.”
Adams stated that “we’ve lost nearly two years of education,” and that “we want to create a safe environment with testing.”
“We’re going to identify the children who have been exposed,” he added. “We’re going to remove them from that environment, and the statistics show that just because a child is exposed in a classroom doesn’t mean the entire classroom is exposed.”
When Stephanopoulos pressed Adams on why New York City does not require testing for students to return to school, as other major cities do, Adams responded that the decision is with the governor and that he is working with the tools he currently has available to him.
Another challenge Adams faces is the rise in violent crime, which included nearly 500 murders in New York City last year. Adams explained his plan to combat the rise in crime, saying it’s critical to strike a balance that includes not only heavy-handed policing, but also public safety and justice.
When asked if he had learned anything new in the 36 hours since becoming mayor, Adams stated that he will lead his city from the frontlines.