NYC Public Advocate's Statement On Covid-19 Precautions Ahead Of Holidays

December 20th, 2021

Press Release

"As I continue to isolate following my COVID-19 diagnosis, I am encouraged by some of the announced efforts to protect New Yorkers amid an Omicron wave and the holiday season, and deeply frustrated that they were not already in place. While expansion in testing and provision of at-home rapid tests are essential, the long lines across the city waiting for those tests show an abundant lack of preparation by the city. Barriers to testing also disproportionately harm lower income communities of more color, showing that we are still failing to learn from the mistakes of 2020.

"Given his apparent acknowledgement of the severity of risk, it is unclear to me why the Mayor has not yet shifted city workers to remote work wherever possible ahead of the holidays, with government offices leading by example. That shift should occur immediately. It also seems clear that despite calls since September, the Mayor and administration have not prepared the necessary infrastructure to make it possible to do the same for schools ahead of the holidays. They should begin preparations now in case a remote option should be necessary after the holidays, and follow the recommendation of incoming Comptroller Brad Lander to test students and educators ahead of a post-holiday return to classrooms.

"It’s not enough, as cases increase, to tout our vaccination rates in some areas. Vaccination and booster shots are the best and most essential tool we have to protect New Yorkers, but in this moment, they are not the only tool. We need to adapt – to mask up and get tested, and also to avoid large holiday gatherings and unsafe environments – to limit this wave, reduce the burden on our healthcare system, and prevent greater restrictions. New Yorkers know what works and what they can do to protect themselves and each other, and government needs to provide the infrastructure to make those precautions possible."

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