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Mayor-elect Adams releases plan to combat Covid’s winter surge

December 30, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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On Thursday, Mayor-elect Eric Adams unveiled his comprehensive plan to combat the spread of COVID-19 at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

The unveiling of the plan comes as New York City contends with a surge in new cases and hospitalizations due to the Omicron variant. As of Wednesday, the citywide positivity rate stood at 21.7 percent – the highest recorded positivity rate since the early days of the pandemic.

“COVID-19 is a formidable opponent, and we are in a new phase of our battle against the pandemic with the Omicron variant,” Adams said. “It is now clear that we will need to learn how to live with COVID so that we can recover and thrive. The comprehensive plan we are rolling out today was created with extensive input from public health leaders, and is guided strictly by science.

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“It will invest in greater testing capacity, continue to increase vaccine and booster uptake, surge resources to our healthcare facilities, and create an infrastructure to distribute antiviral treatments as soon as they come available. Our message to all New Yorkers is clear: We are well-prepared to get through this winter surge to get back to living our lives.”

Adams was joined by Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dr. David Chokshi, incoming DOHMH Commissioner Ashwin Vasan, MD, PhD, First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo, and Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom.

“We know what we need to do to fight COVID-19,” Chokshi said. “Wear a mask. Get vaccinated and boosted if you haven’t already. Get tested regularly, especially if you are feeling symptoms. In the weeks and months ahead, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene work under Mayor-elect Adams’ leadership to promote vaccine and booster uptake, get more testing sites online, increase the availability of rapid tests, and make sure our City healthcare facilities are adequately equipped to handle the surge of patients.”

The full plan released today is available below.

The Adams Administration Winter 2022 COVID Plan

Summary

New York City is fighting its way through another COVID surge due to the new Omicron variant and will need a clear, comprehensive plan to save lives, ensure equity, and keep the City open in the new year.

Mayor-elect Adams’ plan to beat COVID back and allow our city to continue to recover follows the science and recommendations of public health professionals, including updated COVID rules and guidance as well as expanded testing, vaccination and expected treatment options. The plan aims to drive down disease and drive up vaccinations as we learn to manage the virus so that we can get our city back.

The Adams Plan

Vaccines

– The private-sector employer mandate will stay in effect with a focus on compliance, not punishment. We will create a dedicated unit that will work with small businesses, stakeholders and the mayor’s corporate engagement committee to help implement the mandate, foregoing fines if employers engage with the City to help get their workers vaccinated.

– The City will immediately study the need for an “up to date” mandate program to require booster shots for all New Yorkers currently covered by vaccine mandates and engage with unions, the business community and other stakeholders. The data shows clearly that booster shots are extremely effective against Delta and earlier COVID strains, but we do not yet have definitive data on Omicron.

– The City will set a deadline of this spring for a decision on whether or not we believe there should be a vaccine mandate in schools for the Fall of 2022. That decision will be based on expected COVID risk in City schools and vaccination rates among students.

– All other current mandates stay in place, including for masks.

Hospitals and Congregate Settings

– We will surge resources to our Health + Hospitals system to ensure we have enough capacity to address new hospitalizations from Omicron. This will include continuing to shift ambulatory care to virtual, shoring up our nurse staffing levels, and other measures.

– And we will improve safety in congregate settings (jails, shelters, nursing homes) at high risk by supporting rapid isolation and quarantine and providing ready access to vaccination and testing.

Testing

– The City will continue to increase access to testing with more sites and more tests and overall create mass-access to rapid tests.

– The City will provide clear testing protocols for specific settings, including the private sector.

– The City will surge resources to the Health Department – including over 250 staff – to keep our public health infrastructure strong and at adequate capacity.

Treatment

– We will roll out and scale up access to monoclonal antibody treatments (sotrovimab) and oral antivirals (paxlovid and molnupiravir) with a focus on equity and underserved and high risk populations.

Slowing the spread

– The City will distribute an additional 2M higher-grade masks (KN95, KF94, and N95) in January, particularly via community-based organizations and Health Department sites.

– Our public health guidance and rules will be calibrated based upon the science, equity considerations, the advice of health experts and the virus’ threat to public health.

– For public awareness and to manage COVID, the City will release a color-coded system that shows the level of virus threat and communicates clearly what level of safety measures are in place.

Schools

To fully reopen on January 3, we will implement the Stay Safe, Stay Open plan, particularly:

– Double surveillance testing and adjust Situation Room and quarantine protocols.

– Send home millions of rapid at-home tests for students and educators.

– Strengthen our mitigation measures, including higher quality masks and improved ventilation.


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