NYC Public Advocate's Statement On New Covid-19 Safety Protocols, Risk Assessment System

March 4th, 2022

Press Release

"I want to thank New Yorkers for all that they have done to protect one another and limit the spread of COVID-19, allowing us to work to move forward. There will never be a perfect time to lift these policies, and the decisions will always be difficult, but the best course of action is to move gradually and guided by the science.

"Based on recent CDC guidelines, easing masking measures can make sense, provided other standards are met. As I have said, though, it is unnecessary and unwise to suddenly remove Key2NYC, especially while simultaneously lifting other protections and amid existing vaccine disparities across neighborhoods. Vaccine requirements are helping New Yorkers both be safe and feel safe as they patronize local businesses, and we should only move forward only in a way that ensures we don’t go backward. Lifting Key2NYC sends the wrong message at the wrong time.

"Finding a new normalcy will mean continuously monitoring the level of risk and impact of new policies. To that end, I am glad to see the mayor follow through on establishing a color-coded standard for COVID-19 risk and the corresponding safety measures. My office has advocated for this for several months, and the administration has previously signaled support.

"At the same time, I believe more clarity and transparency is still needed on the metrics used to reach these declarations. Right now, the CDC’s assessment places New York City counties at “medium” risk, not low. Additionally, the city’s new definition of “low” risk protocols includes masking in some spaces where vaccination status is unverified – seemingly at odds with the administration lifting protocols, especially around Key2NYC, today. Consistency of messaging and metrics is essential to giving New Yorkers the tools they need to protect themselves and one another, and rebuilding trust that government will not repeat the mistakes of the past."

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