Adams won't bring back mandates despite high Covid alertMay 18, 2022
NEW YORK — Mayor Eric Adams said Wednesday he won’t reinstate mask mandates despite raising the city’s Covid-19 alert level to high.
Adams created a color-coded alert system in March, which dictates what actions the city should take at each level. It says that when a high alert level is reached, city government should “require face masks in all public indoor settings.”
But the mayor said “no” when asked if he’s prepared to take that step.
“Variants are going to continue to come. It appears as though there’s a new normal that is settling in our city and our country,” he told reporters at City Hall. “If every variant that comes, we move into shutdown thoughts, we move into panicking, we’re not going to function as a city.”
The city reached the high alert level on Tuesday as a result of rising hospitalizations from Covid-19 when it passed the benchmark of 10 new hospitalizations for every 100,000 residents.
The jump came two weeks after the city crossed into the medium alert level due to rising virus cases.
The city’s guidelines state that at the medium level, officials should consider reinstating vaccine mandates for indoor dining and entertainment, which Adams ended in March, as well as a school mask mandate. The mayor has also declined to take those steps.
“We set a policy in place, not a law in place. I follow laws. I make policy,” Adams said when asked about his decision not to follow his health department’s guidelines.
“We have all of these tools that we did not have when we first set the color-coded system,” he said, citing the availability of home-delivered antiviral drugs and widespread testing — though those measures were created before Adams launched the alert system.
Adams also took a shot at former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s chief pandemic adviser, Jay Varma, who has been critical of the new mayor’s Covid-19 response.
“I’m hoping the doctor will respect my role as being the mayor of this city,” he said. “I’m hoping he will respect that and not constantly weigh in and allow us to do the job.”
Varma said he was not immediately available to comment Wednesday. In a Twitter post Tuesday, he cited rising hospitalizations among young children. “This prolonged #NYC #COVID surge is now steadily increasing pressure on emergency departments,” he said.