Levine, Espaillat Hint for Citywide Mandatory Vax

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Pressure on Mayor Bill de Blasio is growing to implement a mandatory vaccination requirement on indoor settings. 

That after City Council Chair of the Health Committee and Democratic nominee for Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine joined U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Bronx/Manhattan) in a virtual press conference today where the pair called for mandatory vaccination screening or proof of a negative COVID-19 test of residents before entry to local restaurants, bars, and other local venues.

It also comes as Data released by the City is showing a spike in COVID infection rates, with weekly rates rising from 780 last week to 1,233 this week. However, hospitalizations remain stable with 30 hospitalized in each of the last two weeks for the virus and three deaths in each of the last two weeks.

Espaillat said the mandate was about driving up vaccination rates.

“We feel that we must take a strong position to encourage people to vaccinate themselves. If you want to go out and have fun, you should be vaccinated,” Espaillat said. “You can’t put everybody else’s lives in jeopardy, because you just want to have fun.”

Levine said this policy has been proven effective in France, where President Emmanuel Macron has instituted a sweeping vaccine requirement for public settings.

“We’ve seen in other countries which have instituted screening for vaccination or negative tests at entertainment venues that immediately there’s been a bump up in vaccination,” Levine said. “In France, most famously, millions of people went into getting vaccinated after this policy was announced. New York City needs a similar bump.”

In an interview with PoliticsNY, Levine said that the new mandate would go light on establishments that do violate protocols. 

“I don’t think we need to be overly aggressive on enforcement,” Levine said. “At this stage, we saw that mandates like temperature checks in restaurants were overwhelmingly adhered to when they were required, even despite [the] lack of intense enforcement.”

Espaillat said he has spoken briefly with de Blasio about the mandate, but for now, he has held off on such a requirement. 

In a press conference today, de Blasio celebrated the 10-millionth dose of the vaccine administered in the city, and said incentives including the $100 rewards for those who get vaccinated has encouraged more people to seek it out.

“We saw a pickup immediately at some of our city-run sites where you can get that hundred-dollar incentive,” de Blasio said. “We expect a lot more.”

De Blasio also announced that new city hires would be required to get the vaccine, joining efforts from the private sector to get workers vaccinated. 

“[We] absolutely want to affirm and support all the businesses that are putting whatever type of vaccine mandate in place works for them, for their employees, for their customers, anything and everything they can do, we support,” said de Blasio.

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