July 27, 2021
Mika Brzezinski: And let's bring in the Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio. And I'll take the question right to you. You heard Dr. Bailey, Mayor de Blasio. Right now, you're requiring frontline workers, I believe, to either get the vaccine or get tested. Do you think you ought to ramp up that mandate to be complete to the vaccine?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: So, Mika, first of all, what we announced yesterday, we started with hospital workers. But what I've said is now all City workers, every single New York City worker, over 400,000 people will have to either be vaccinated or tested weekly. I want to emphasize that that either/or really creates a positive pressure for vaccination, because it will be the responsibility of the employee to get tested on a regular basis. And that comes with its own challenges. We're really depending on personal responsibility there. You know what that's going to say to people, just get vaccinated, get it done, be safe, help your colleagues be safe. Don't have to go through the hassle of weekly testing. But to your larger question, look, I think we're all climbing a ladder here very rapidly. I think we need to look at every form of mandate and that's the public sector and private sector. I've said to the private sector in New York City, any private sector entity, go ahead and do a full mandate, if that's something you feel you can do and works for you do it now. Everyone's in a different situation but go as far as you can go right now because we have to stop the Delta variant.
Joe Scarborough: Are you surprised, Mr. Mayor, by so-called conservative leaders who are actually banning businesses, small businesses, small family restaurants, entrepreneurs from running their businesses the way they want to run their businesses, if they want to require somebody to get a vaccination to come into their store for business reasons, for safety reasons, for liability reasons, that some of these so-called conservatives who are actually – I say, they're actually socialists, not letting the free market take and run its course – but are you surprised by some of these actions?
Mayor: Joe Scarborough, you are leading the witness.
Scarborough: [Inaudible] –
Mayor: I really think, you honestly have a very good point here. I believe it is – if people say they believe in American values of liberty, and then they tell someone, a mom-and-pop business, you know, we're going to cancel you because you want to keep safe or you want to protect your community, I would put that right squarely in the un-American category. If you say, hey, everyone has a right to run their business – and people are trying to deal with a global pandemic. This isn't an everyday problem. It's a global pandemic that has killed huge numbers of Americans and will kill more if we don't do something about it. Of course, every private entity has a right to do that. Let me tell you, Joe, the anti-vaxxers are criminal at this point. What they are doing to this country is undermining our future. They really are. They're taking away the future of this country, because if we go backwards, if we go back to restrictions and shutdowns, this country's going to be in a horrible, dangerous place in terms of our lives, our livelihoods, our economy. And if we don't get it right on vaccination, we're going to lose a huge number of Americans. There are people out there peddling this message, this anti-vax message for their own profit and then attacking people who try and do it the right way like the small businesses you're talking about. We got to confront them. That's why I think these mandates are so crucial.
Scarborough: Well, yeah, and again, it is just so ridiculous that the same people that are running around, Mike Barnicle’s saying, that it's un-American for a mom-and-pop hamburger joint to require somebody to come in, to get vaccines, so other customers will feel comfortable and can come in as well, especially in areas where this Delta variant’s really spreading. Those people that say that’s somehow a breach of their constitutional rights not to be able to get a hamburger, they were all vaccinated with five or six vaccines to get education. They vaccinated their children five or six times before they could even go into preschool or kindergarten. So, again, it is an argument that really holds absolutely no water. After 50, 60, 70 years of the United States of America requiring vaccinations to get a public education, these arguments are out of context and out of historical context, make absolutely no sense at all.
Michael Barnicle: Joe, this country has never gone through anything like this. Never mind, we've been through a virus like this a hundred years ago, but nobody's ever been through the politicization of masks, of vaccines. And it is destroying parts of this country. And, Mr. Mayor, you got 1,800 – about 1,800 public schools in New York City. You've got 75,000 teachers. You've got over a million students. So, my question to you is how will this work out? Who will be in charge of tracking who has a vaccine or who doesn't have a vaccine, who will be in charge of testing, weekly testing at schools? Will it be done at individual schools or will it be testing centers? Mechanically, how is it going to work?
Mayor: Well, Mike, we went down this road last year because I made the decision to open our public schools. A lot of other school systems in America weren't willing to reopen. We did. We had hundreds of thousands of kids in person in New York City public schools. And thank God for it because our kids need that, and they need it again now. So, we're coming back full strength in September. We did a very extensive testing program in every school. So, we know how to do that. Our employees understand how to go through that. But what's good about our Department of Education right now is a high level of – excuse me, a high level of vaccination. And we're going to do a major vaccination drive for kids 12 years old and up. And look, I'm a parent. My kids went to New York City public schools. If my kids were going to school in September, I would be running to get them vaccinated right now. And like what said a moment ago, we used to do this as parents all the time for a variety of vaccinations. We've got to shake people at this point and say, come on now. We tried voluntary. You know, we could not have been more kind and compassionate as a country. Free testing, everywhere you turn, incentives. Friendly, warm embrace. The voluntary phase is over. We can keep doing those things. I'm not saying shut it down. I'm saying voluntary alone doesn't work. It's time for mandates because it's the only way to protect our people.
Scarborough: So, let me ask you, I'm sure you're pretty good with political history, right?
Mayor: I try –
Scarborough: [Inaudible] a leading question. Now I'm going to ask you a history – do you remember what John Nance Garner said about the vice presidency repeated by Sam Rayburn to Lyndon Johnson in 1960s?
Mayor: What warm bucket of spit, or something like that? Remind me –
Scarborough: [Inaudible] said it wasn't worth – he said the vice presidency wasn't worth a warm bucket of spit.
Mayor: Joe, we got to go on Jeopardy together, Joe – political history –
Scarborough: We really do. [Inaudible] right. So, there are some people that would think that getting tests once a week are worth no more than that as well. And we'll just say for the morning crowd, not worth a warm bucket of Gatorade. So, I'm just curious. I understand politics is often an evolution and not a revolution. I'm curious, are you going to try this weekly testing out as a phase end to an eventual full requirement that all teachers, all public employees, all cops, all, everybody get vaccines?
Mayor: Joe, look, we're in uncharted territory. You're asking the profound question. Yes, we are climbing a ladder. I'm not answering yes to your question yet. I'm answering to your evolutionary point. Yes, we're climbing a ladder. Yes, we're in uncharted territory, which means we're going to have to try and figure out what works. Try things, see what the response is, keep pushing. The ideal here is get everyone vaccinated, and it's necessary. So, what gets us there? Sometimes the voluntary approach works. I think that was true in the first months. We think now saying you got to get vaccinated, if you don't, then you're responsible for testing every single week, which is a lot of responsibility, is going to move a lot of people to vaccination. It's just going to be the moment they say, okay, to hell with it, I'm going to do it. But if that's not enough, I think we got to be ready to climb the ladder more. And I think private sector entities can do some of that right now. Public sector entities need to move as quickly as possible. This DOJ decision is important. I think that'll be helpful. We've got to put pressure on this situation. Evolutionary, but fast evolutionary.
Scarborough: All right. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, my jeopardy co-partner who also obviously read Teddy White’s, The Making of the President 1960. Thank you so much for being with us.
Mayor: One of the greats, Joe. One of the greats.
Scarborough: Still one of the greats.