November 8, 2021
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, we continue to see the power of vaccination keeping the city safe, bringing the city back. We hit a great milestone over the weekend. 93 percent – 93 percent of our City workforce now vaccinated. Here's more proof that mandates work, that it’s helping us to protect the people who serve all of you and protect all of you in the process. This is a really good thing. I want to give you some specifics because I think they speak volumes. The Sanitation Department now at 86 percent vaccinated workforce, NYPD at 86 percent as well. The Fire Department – on the Fire side, Fire operations, we have an 82 percent level of vaccination. That continues to go up. And the same at Emergency Services, 91 percent now. The important thing is we have seen, even in the last few days, those numbers continue to go up at the Fire Department. So, this is proof that the mandates are having a real impact. Since we announced the mandates on October 20th, 27,000 City employees have gotten vaccinated. And just since the Monday deadline a week ago, we've seen almost 4,500. Since the deadline passed, almost 4,500 more, and people keep coming back. I spoke to Commissioner Dan Nigro this morning, the Fire Department's doing an outstanding job. I want to thank Commissioner Nigro and his whole team. They have done an amazing job. All units, operational. All firehouses, open. Response times, good. Sick leave has gone way down now, back to regular levels, even below. So, that's fantastic. And that proves the power of the mandate and also the great work that our team at the Fire Department did implementing it.
Now, the labor unions have continued to come forward and reach agreement with us on the implementation of the mandate. We've now got 20 labor unions, all of whom had members of the workforce for that October 20th announcement. 20 labor unions that have come to an agreement.
They represent almost 100,000 employees. So, people are moving forward together, and our door remains open, always. Any other unions that want to have that discussion on how to come to an agreement, we're ready. We've proven we can do it with some of the unions already. And for the good of New York City, look, in the end, this is what matters, every day more and more people getting vaccinated, including folks who we depend on to do such important work. I want to thank everyone who chose to get vaccinated. Even if you had concerns, hesitation, even if you waited awhile, I just want to thank everyone who chose to get vaccinated. These numbers speak for themselves. Now let's go and get everyone else vaccinated. We're ready to have that conversation at any time to get the job done.
Now, another important fact is for the first time, since this entire pandemic began just in the last few days, we finally had a vaccine for our youngest New Yorkers. We have been waiting for this for a long time. This is really good news. This is really exciting. Our five- to 11-year-olds, we want to get them all vaccinated. We want to keep them all safe. Just in the first few days now almost 17,000 kids have been vaccinated. I mean, that's amazing. It just started on Thursday and now almost 17,000 kids vaccinated. A lot of activity this morning at our public school sites and other sites. We're going to be reminding parents, starting today every public school that serves kids in that five- to 11-year-old range will have a vaccination site for at least one day between now and next Monday. And I want to remind everyone, if we see a lot of demand, we're ready to add to that schedule, but every school starts with at least one day. And to find a schedule for your school for your child, go to schools.nyc.gov/covid19. So, the bottom line is we know that our schools are safe because of vaccination. The mandate we put on all the adults, the incredible success we have had with the 12- to 17-year-olds. Now about 78 percent of them vaccinated. We're going to keep going on with that. But we want to make it really easy for parents in this youngest group, the five- to 11-year-olds. We want to make it really, really easy for them to get their kids vaccinated.
So, we are starting today with a plan that all City employees and contractors will have an additional four hours of paid sick leave per child per vaccination. So, we want to make it easy. We want to make it conducive. We want to say to parents, whatever it takes, we're going to help you do it. So, also City employees and contractors will have an additional four hours of paid sick leave to get each child vaccinated. This is something parents deserve. You shouldn't have to choose between the paycheck and a healthier family. We're applying that belief here. That's what – the whole idea that led us to do paid sick leave on an unprecedented level in this city years ago and build it out for people. Here's another example. We want to make this work. And so, we also know that that's for our City employees, but we want to go farther. We want to reach all working people in New York City. We want to make sure everyone has this right for the time they need to get the kids vaccinated. I want you to hear about this effort from someone who has devoted his energies to protecting working people and making sure that workers and consumers get the rights they deserve, and those rights are enforced and protected at all times. He's our Commissioner for the Department of Consumer Affairs and Worker Protection, Peter Hatch.
Commissioner Peter Hatch, Department of Consumer Affairs and Worker Protection: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. We've all seen how important sick leave is to keeping our city healthy during this pandemic. So, we here at DCWP are really happy to work with the Council to once again expand it further to get the same sick leave you've just added for City workers, extend that to New Yorkers who work in the private sector. The proposed bill, which we're working to pass with the Council as soon as possible, would add the same four hours you just mentioned – four more hours of sick leave per child up to 18 years old and per injection. And caregivers can use this time to take their child to get vaccinated, or if the child – to care for the child that they're experiencing side effects. And this new law would apply to the same families that are covered by the City's Paid Safe and Paid Sick Law today. And everyone will get this additional four hours per child. It will be, once passed, once it becomes a law, it will be retroactive to November 2nd. That's the date the CDC officially authorized vaccines for children five to 11, and I'll be taking my daughter later this week to get her vaccination. And I encourage every parent and caregiver to do the same. The City's really here to help make sure you have the time and the leave you need to do just that. For more information about sick leave in general and this new leave, as soon as it's effective, you can go to our website at nyc.gov/workers, or by calling 3-1-1 and saying, “Sick Leave.”
Mayor: Peter, I want to thank you. Thank you for all the work you're doing to make sure that parents get their rights, and their kids get vaccinated. Also, congratulations to you. Just ran the marathon. How'd it go?
Commissioner Hatch: Yes. Thank you. First marathon. Let me extend your congratulations to all the participants. What an amazing day in New York City, what an amazing symbol of our recovery. So, grateful for New York Road Runners, all our agencies, Parks, Transportation, Sanitation, Police, Fire. Thank you, Commissioner Nigro. I was fortunate enough to be able to run with FD Run Club and, of course, to all of the amazing volunteers who made it possible and the New Yorkers who cheered us along the way. It was just a fantastic day.
Mayor: Well, it's another great sign of this city coming back and congratulations to you and everyone who ran the marathon. I'm impressed. First timer in the middle of all this. Well done, my friend.
Commissioner Hatch: Thank you.
Mayor: All right, now, everyone, I want to hear from another leader who really understands how important this vaccination effort is to reach our youngest New Yorkers and how we have to really do creative things, to make sure that every child gets vaccinated. This is absolutely crucial to bring the city back strong, keeping our kids and families safe, the full recovery of the city. She understands this because she's the Associate Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center, but she's also a mother of three. And so, she can speak from both perspectives about why we got to do this the right way and make it work for our families. My pleasure to introduce, Dr. Dara Kass.
Thank you so much, Doctor. And I love that – I love that idea. Get a cake when you get vaccinated. That'll work, right? Whatever, whatever –
Dr. Dara Kass: There’s always a good reason to get vaccinated.
Mayor: Yeah. There's always a reason. Exactly. Thank you. Thank you for all you're doing to help encourage our kids to get vaccinated and help our families to move forward. Really, really appreciate it.
All right, everybody. And now let's go to our indicators because it tells us so much about why we keep moving forward as a city. Number one, doses administered to date, 12,156,504 – just a fantastic number and it keeps growing. Number two, daily number of people admitted to New York City hospitals for suspected COVID-19, today's report, 84 patients – confirmed positivity levels, 17.78 percent. Hospitalization rate per 100,000 New Yorkers is now down to 0.49. We're going to keep that going down through more vaccination. And number three, new reported cases on a seven-day average, today’s report, 782 cases. Going to now give a few words in Spanish and focusing on making sure that parents know that we're going to get people paid time off to get their children vaccinated.
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, let's turn to our colleagues in the media, and please let me know the name and outlet of each journalist.
Moderator: We will now begin our Q-and-A. As a reminder today, we're joined by Peter Hatch, Commissioner of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection; Dr. Mitch Katz, President and CEO of Health + Hospitals, Dr. Dave Chokshi, Health Commissioner; and Dan Nigro, FDNY Commissioner. With that, we'll go to our first question from Dave, from ABC7.
Question: Good morning, Mayor. How are you?
Mayor: Hey, Dave, how you been?
Question: Okay, I’m fine. I just wanted to ask, I know you talked about this on Thursday, but over the weekend, there was the development with the Mayor-elect talking in [inaudible] about that he wants to have the masks, you know, kids in schools, that they can go away fairly soon. But I just wanted to see your concern, you mentioned this on Thursday, but your concern about that and if we might be talking about this a little too early,
Mayor: Yeah. I appreciate the question very much, Dave. I think we all aspire to it. Let me be clear. I wear these a lot and I'm like every other New Yorker looking forward to the day when I don't have to anymore. And I'd love to free our kids and educators and staff from it. But right now, it's too soon for that action in my view – and I'll let our health care leadership speak to it as well – because we are going into the colder weather months, because we are still learning about COVID all the time, and because we still have a lot more people get vaccinated. So, the day will come, and I think it will come relatively soon, but we're not there yet. Let me turn to Dr. Chokshi and Dr. Katz to hear their assessment.
Commissioner Dave Chokshi, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Thank you, sir. You know, like you I think we all look forward to the day when our kids can take their masks off. But that is not today. Masks have been an important component of our layered approach to prevention, along with vaccination, improving ventilation, distancing where possible and other measures. And those protocols are why our schools are as safe as they are. So, we'll continue working toward getting our kids fully vaccinated, particularly as five- to 11-year-olds have just become eligible. And as always, we'll follow the science and the data to make adjustments to our approach over time. Thank you.
Mayor: Thank you. Dr. Katz, do you want to add? Or we don't have him right now, I guess he's not going to add. Okay, go ahead, Dave. Dave –
Question: And just, can you clarify –
Mayor: Go ahead.
Question: You can hear me?
Question: And just to clarify, on the four hours of sick leave, are we talking – I'm sorry I didn’t pay attention to what Peter was saying, and he could, maybe he can clarify – but we're talking City employees and everybody else? Just regular parents? And how will it work? I mean, you filed that with whom, you – how do you do it, how does it work?
Mayor: No, great question, Dave. For the City employees we're acting right now with the power I have to ensure that City employees get that opportunity. For the rest of New Yorkers, we're moving quickly with the City Council to pass legislation and apply it retroactively. How it's going to work – Peter Hatch, why don't you talk about how it works now and what we're trying to get done with the City Council?
Commissioner Hatch: Thank you, Mayor. Today, families that have a sick leave can use that already – the leave they have – to go and take their children to get vaccinated or to care for them if they have any side effects. Because it's relatively late in the year, we had a concern that some families might have exhausted the leave they had available, so we wanted to add an additional increment. That incremental four hours per child per shot will become available when this proposed legislation becomes law. And then it will be retroactive. So, if a family is seeking to get their child vaccinated this week, and we encourage folks to do it as early as they can for all of their eligible children, they can use their existing leave pools that they have under the City law and there's also some State leave available. If they have exhausted their leave already, they can take time off and apply when the law becomes effective and get paid retroactively.
Mayor: Excellent. Thank you very much, Peter. Go ahead.
Moderator: Next, we have Marla from WCBS880.
Question: Good morning, Mayor. The group, Advocates for Children, say that 101,000 students in the city lacked permanent housing during the pandemic. First, were you aware that the number was that high and second, how can you ensure that these families connect with the public schools and that these kids get extra help catching up if needed?
Mayor: Thank you very much, Marla. So, a couple of things quickly. First of all, I haven't seen the report, but what I understand of it is that they counted any child who for whatever reason, for whatever time in the year didn't have a permanent home – maybe they were staying with relatives, maybe, God forbid, they ended up in shelter, whatever it may be. We've known, obviously, it's a very substantial number. This approach talks about at any point in the year, even if it's a temporary situation. What we've seen with a lot of other information is something that also tells us a lot, which is that homelessness levels in shelters have actually gone down markedly. We have many fewer people in shelter than we did a year or two ago. We have many fewer people in shelter now than when I took office. Thank God for that. And what that means typically is fewer and fewer families, fewer and fewer children. So, that's good news.
Just in the last year, we've seen a reduction in shelter population for kids, about nine percent. That's good news. We want to keep pushing that down. We also have seen that the Department of Education has done a great job getting more and more kids to engage in their education even if, God forbid, they're in temporary housing. So, attendance amongst that group of children has gone up eight percent in the course of this year. So, some real important work is being done, but we've got a lot more to do. The goal is constantly to get families to permanent affordable housing. We've done that with 170,000 New Yorkers in the last eight years. We've got a lot more to do. And to really support kids in shelter – and we do that, we send in tutors, we send in specialized help, social workers to the shelters. We got to go an extra mile to help those kids get the education they deserve. Go ahead, Marla.
Question: I just wanted to [inaudible] on the vaccines in schools, just to clarify a few things. Does a parent or an adult with the parent's consent need to be present with that child? And will the schools offer the second Pfizer shot or do parents have to find that elsewhere?
Mayor: So, I'll turn to Dr. Chokshi in a second about the second shot. We talked about this the other day that we're assuming parents are going to more typically want that elsewhere from the previous experience we had with the 12- to 17-year-olds. But if we find that there is a lot of demand, we certainly can do that in schools as well. So, that's something we're working on. That's something we'll have an update on. I've gotten handed a couple of notes here, so I got distracted. Marla, the first part of your question again.
Question: I wanted to find out about parents having to be with their child or, you know, a parent can provide written consent, but do they have to do they have to do that with another adult that brings the child into the clinic?
Mayor: No, parents – it’s great when they can come in in- person. When a parent, guardian, family member could come with a child, that's great. That's ideal. But you can do written consent. You can even do verbal consent. To give you the details on that, Dr. Chokshi, do you want to speak to that?
Commissioner Chokshi: Sure, sir. So, the way that it works at our school vaccination sites, as the Mayor said if a parent or a guardian cannot be there in-person, we do accept written consent. There's a specific consent form from the State or a phone call from the parent or guardian. But I do want to clarify that they do have to be accompanied by an adult caregiver. Either of course, the parent or guardian themselves, or if not then someone who is another caregiver for the child who comes either with that written consent or is able to call the parent or guardian to receive phone consent. I hope that clarifies, sir. Thank you.
Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead.
Moderator: Next we have Jeff from the New York Times.
Question: Hey, good morning, Mr. Mayor. I have a couple of questions about the vaccine rollout for children. We've been hearing from some parents that there seems to be more demand than supply at some schools. And that some schools only have between 50 and 100 shots. I'm wondering is that the case? And do you have a sense if there is enough supplies, are you seeing lines with the rollout this morning? What exactly is happening in terms of supply for the rollout?
Mayor: Thank you, Jeff. Very good important questions. So first of all, what I have at this moment, we had four sites that had delay in getting their supply. That's being fixed right now. We have seen some lines I'm told at 12 schools in Districts One and Two in Manhattan, District 15 in Brooklyn. It is great to see that kind of demand. We got to match it now. We laid in supply and staffing for the amount of demand we expected. If we're seeing more demand, well, that's a good thing, but we got to catch up with it quickly. Dr. Chokshi, Dr. Katz, you want to speak about how we're going to get supply around where it's needed quickly and adjust?
Commissioner Chokshi: Certainly, sir. Well, first of all, I'll just reiterate it's terrific news that we're seeing the demand for vaccination, that we are seeing at some of those school sites. And of course, it's our task, as the Mayor said, to ensure that the vaccine is matched up where we're seeing that demand. So, we've already made some shifts yesterday, as well as this morning, to ensure that we have adequate supply at those sites that are seeing greater demand. I also want to emphasize that, you know, if for whatever reason people are, parents are unable to get an appointment at their child's school. There is vaccine available at our City-run sites as well as at pharmacies around the five boroughs as well. So, this first day we're going to make sure that we smooth out any issues that we're seeing with respect to the uptick in demand at certain sites. And we'll also make sure to direct parents where we know there is supply because there’s adequate vaccine across the city. Thank you.
Mayor: Great. Dr. Katz, you want to add?
President and CEO Mitch Katz, Health + Hospitals: Just that we are at so many – one thousand schools. It's just great to see the demand. And then remembering that this is just day one. And we will get the vaccine to all of the kids whose parents are supporting it. So, I'm really pleased at the high demand.
Mayor: Excellent. Go ahead, Jeff.
Question: Yeah, just a follow up question on that. If a child goes to a school that does not have enough shots available this morning, will there be another day for the clinic schedule? Will there be additional days added so that those children who miss the shots today or in the next couple of days can then get it?
Mayor: Yeah, that's exactly what we want to do, Jeff. I want to make sure there's any – first of all, the first thing to do is fix it right now so that if a parent brought their child this morning, there wasn't enough supply, get the supply over there quickly, give them an opportunity even later in the day to get vaccinated. But yeah, I'm perfectly ready to add days to any school where there's that kind of demand. And we'll make that assessment in the course of today. And if our team sees any place that needs an additional day added this week or next week, we'll do it right away. Go ahead.
Moderator: Next we have Julia from the New York Post.
Question: Hey, good morning, Mr. Mayor. On a different topic, do you expect to have any role in allocating or spending federal infrastructure funds on City projects before you leave office? And if so, do you plan to consult with Mayor-elect Adams on it?
Mayor: Julia, fair question. I think first of all, we're just tremendously excited that this money is finally going to be here. It's so important for the future of New York City. We're one of the places that needs the support the most. So, I want to really express appreciation to the Congress and President Biden. But it's not going to shock you to know that that money will take a while to arrive. And some of it will be through competitive grants and other things that take a while. So, I think what it will mean is that some of the work that's already in the budget will get additional federal support and that will relieve some pressure on our budget. I don't know of anything that we need to decide in the next few weeks related to it, but I'll check with our budget team. And if anything else emerges, we'll come back with that. Go ahead. Julia.
Question: Can you point to, you said some of the work that's already in the budget will get additional federal support? Can you give me a couple of examples?
Mayor: I'll have the team get you very specific examples, but I think the overall work we're doing, for example, anything we're doing related to mass transit, roads – we obviously had a very aggressive Vision Zero effort to make our streets safer. The Biden administration has taken that as a model. We think there'll be a lot of funding for those street redesigns for bike lanes, for protected bike lanes, for busways, and select bus service. I mean, all of these things we've leaned into, I think are the kinds of initiatives that should benefit from the spending coming out of the infrastructure bill.
Moderator: Next, we have Chris from the Daily News.
Question: Good morning, Mayor. I wanted to follow up on a question earlier about vaccine supply at the pop-up sites at schools. Last week you were saying that the City had plenty of vaccine supply in stock and that there shouldn't be, you know, a supply issue at pop-up sites like this. So, given that, I guess I'm wondering why are we seeing such long lines today and parents being turned away with their kids, if the preparations were in place? I mean, clearly they were not. So, I guess why aren't you better prepared for this type of demand?
Mayor: Yeah, Chris, my understanding is at 12 schools and I want to make sure we fix it, at those 12 schools. And on day one there's something we obviously need to do a little better at those places. But I think overall what we're seeing is a lot of demand and a lot of kids getting vaccinated in our schools. And that's good news. Dr. Chokshi just, again, clarify the steps you're taking right away to increase the supply at the schools that need it.
Commissioner Chokshi: Certainly, sir. What we're doing is we're ensuring that all of the sites have their vaccine supply, not just for today, but in certain cases for other days later this week as well. This morning, where we do need to shift around supply because we're just seeing higher demand at a small number of sites. We are shifting that vaccine supply. And then the final thing that I'll just reiterate is that you know, we have hundreds of access points across the city in addition to our school clinics where we also have a supply of vaccine so that if parents prefer to get it at their pediatrician or at one of our City-run sites or at a pharmacy that we've covered those bases as well.
Mayor: Good. Thank you. Go ahead, Chris.
Question: Thank you. And switching gears a bit, I wanted to ask about your NYPD security detail? Your press secretary told us yesterday that allegations about wrongdoing in the details stems from lawsuits brought by disgruntled ex-members. And that those lawsuits have still been dismissed. Have since been dismissed, sorry. But that's not entirely true since at least one of those lawsuits from retired Detective Karl Rugg is still pending in Manhattan federal court. And I'm bringing this up because this seems to kind of follow a pattern that goes back to 2019, where we report something about your security detail and your press team gets back to us with a misleading answer. So, I guess I'm wondering why should we trust what you and your press team are saying about the usage of your NYPD detail when you keep coming back with misleading answers about it?
Mayor: I really think we've covered this. There's been an immense amount of inaccurate reporting. I would say people should really focus on the facts. These claims are baseless. There's nothing there. And it's just not even worth talking about. So, that's all I got to say.
Moderator: Next we have Bob from the Chief Leader.
Question: Yes. Thank you for taking the call. I was hoping that Commissioner Nigro could update us on, I guess there's some, maybe 2,000 folks who applied for either a medical waiver or religious exemption? And I guess it's on the Fire side. So, while you mentioned that DC 37, many of the unions signed an agreement. So, there's a framework, right? So, people can understand how to apply for these exemptions and I guess there's a schedule. What's the status for the Fire officers and UFA members who were in this cohort of folks that have applied for these medical exemptions and waivers? And I guess have been permitted in the interim to test as a prior arrangement?
Mayor: I'll just start and I'll turn to the Commissioner. Bob, we've said before, that group of people have put in for any kind of accommodation, that's going to be processed. But it's a several step process. There's appeal, you know, there's different elements to it. But in the meantime, you're right, people keep working. But if someone has given the accommodation that will be respected. If they ultimately don't get an accommodation, they'll be expected to come back to work. Or else if they choose not to, it's leave without pay. But in terms of how things are going on the ground at this point, Commissioner Nigro, you want to give an update? I think you may be muted, Dan? There you go. There you go.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro: Initially we have not quite 2,000 folks who put in for this accommodation. It is somewhat of a process as the Mayor described in which we will review it. And see if there's any basis in fact, for this accommodation, whether it's medical or religious. In the meantime, all of the people that put in before the – at the time that they had to put it in, are working and being tested. And while these are being reviewed and they will continue working, continue being tested for COVID. We'll see how that works out. Anyone that put in past the deadline, there is no agreement yet to include those with the initial group that made the deadline.
Mayor: Okay, thank you. Go ahead, Bob.
Question: So, throughout this tribulation of the pandemic, the patchwork response across the country have been problematic. But you're seeing now that – Bruce Blakeman, I guess whose looks to be the Nassau County Executive-elect says he's not going to impose the vaccine mandate on police. We have Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida offering actually a $5,000 bonus to unvaccinated police officers. And can you and maybe your experts also speak to this. That it is point of fact police officers and firefighters are as Dr.[inaudible] instructed me, actually medical care providers. And can we make that linkage that this question about vaccination it's – these are not folks that are paper pushers. These are people that encounter people that are in medical need often.
Mayor: Oh, absolutely. And I will certainly let Commissioner Nigro and Commissioner Chokshi speak to this. But let me reiterate the numbers because I thought what you where you were going to say was that in fact, despite all the hype, look at the choices that our first responders have made. Again, reiterating for the firefighting element of the Fire Department, 82 percent now vaccinated, NYPD 86 percent, EMS 91 percent. Those numbers compare very favorably to adults in the general population in this city. So, clearly the mandates have worked and the work is being done now out there in the streets of the city, people are being kept safe by first responders who are safer themselves. So, I really think we have proof that this is the right way to do things. I would urge other mayors, count executives, governors go down this path because it works and it keeps everyone safe. Dan and Dave, just speaking about Bob's point that these first responders obviously play a crucial role in terms of the health and safety of New Yorkers? Go ahead, Dan.
Commissioner Nigro: Sure. You know, you go back to late 2020, and we were able to make a convincing argument that our, of course, our EMTs and paramedics, and also our firefighters respond each and every day to thousands of medical calls and treat patients. And for that reason, the vaccine was afforded to us very, very early. And we could make the same argument, why our members need to be vaccinated for the good of the public we serve and for their own good and their family. And we reiterate that over and over that we are medical care providers at the very tip of the spear and therefore vaccination is very important for our members.
Mayor: And Dr. Chokshi you want to add?
Commissioner Chokshi: Yes, sir. Thank you. As Commissioner Nigro said you know, my colleagues, who are first responders are public servants that are responsible for public safety and that's why they're instrumental to public health. And so, you know, I'm grateful that so many of them have stepped up to get vaccinated not just to protect themselves and their families, but also their communities and our city as a whole. And also just mention to the first part of your question, you know, I'm sincerely grateful to the Mayor for the for the leadership that he has demonstrated which was in contrast to many other elected officials, as you pointed out. And this was not an easy decision with respect to ensuring that our city workforce, including first responders, are all vaccinated, but it was certainly the right one. Thank you.
Mayor: Thank you very much. Go ahead.
Moderator: We have time for two more today. Our next question goes to Elizabeth from WNYC
Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. I also wanted to ask about the school vaccine rollout. We had our education reporter Jessica Gould at P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights this morning, and she was told that the school got 50 shots, but they had actually asked for 200. So, my question is, is how did the city and the DOE decide how many doses each school would receive this morning?
Mayor: Yeah, that's a great question, Elizabeth. I want Dr. Chokshi to respond, but I want to note that we may be seeing, again, something we need to address and we will fix very, very quickly, but we may be seeing the contrast between what we experienced with the 12 to 17-year-olds and what we're experiencing now with the five to 11-year-olds, because we had sites in the schools the whole week, the first week of school, trying to reach those 12 to 17-year-olds, and we had some good numbers, but not a huge amount of demand. We're seeing a lot of demand now. So, I think we based our numbers on what we saw before in part, I'm very glad to see the demand is higher and we'll make those adjustments immediately. But to the point you raise, if a school asks for a certain amount, got less than they asked for, why did that happen? How do we fix that? Dr. Chokshi, want to speak to that.
Commissioner Chokshi: Thank you, sir. We are looking into that and ensuring that, you know, our DOE colleagues are fully briefed on exactly how much vaccine is allocated and then ensuring that those decisions flow down to the site level. But the major point is the one that you made, which is that what we're seeing is unprecedented demand at certain school sites, that in those, you know, small number of sites is exceeding the amount of vaccine that is currently there, but we're taking steps to readdress that by shifting additional supply to those sites, and if necessary, setting up additional vaccination days. So, I want that big message to be one of reassurance for parents and their families that we will take every step that we need to ensure that anyone who wants a vaccination will be able to get it for their child at the site of their choosing. Thank you.
Mayor: Yeah, and Elizabeth, to emphasize that any school that had too much demand, more demand than the amount of supply, we're going to give them another day as quickly as possible. So, I want to emphasize that. If we have a school where there's parents who really wants to get their kids vaccinated, right? That school, we honor that, we love that, we will get not only more supply there immediately today, but we'll add another day in the coming days ahead and announce that to the school community so they know they can come back and get the vaccination done. Go ahead, Elizabeth.
Question: My second question is at what point will you ask restaurants, gyms, all of those organizations and institutions that are requiring vaccinations for adults and teenagers, at what point will you ask them to also start checking for vax cards for five to 11-year-olds?
Mayor: That’s a very good question, and honestly one we need to focus on now. We want to get to the day where we actually could vaccinate the youngest New Yorkers and get that rolling. We know it'll take a while. I mean, right now, to use the example of the 12 to 17-year-olds, very good news, we're almost at 79 percent of them. That's fantastic, but it did take a while. So, it's a great question, Elizabeth, it’s one I don't think we're going to settle immediately because it will naturally take a number of weeks for that age group to get vaccinated. But it's a question we need to answer for the weeks ahead and we'll come back on that.
Moderator: Our last question for today goes to Katie from The City.
Question: Hey, good morning, Mayor de Blasio. I have a question that is related to schools but is a little different than what everyone else has been asking. I know that the extra help that the DOE will provide to students who may have fallen behind during the pandemic on when schools were remote, I've heard from some parents whose children have IEPs and usually require paras to help them in during the school day. Their schools have told them that that won't be available to them. So, it seems sort of unfair that these are students who potentially could need – obviously need help – but they may not be able to access this after-school programming because the schools don't have that. I'm curious if, you know, A, is this required? And, B, I mean, is it something that schools should know that they should have available to students, even if it's not their usual para, but there will be a para available to them so they can get those additional help as well.
Mayor: Well, we certainly want those kids to get the additional help and that's the whole idea of this school year is to bring kids back and help them catch up, and we're providing a lot of different forms of support. So, I'm glad you're raising it. I don't know the exact way that that's being handled, but I want to make sure it is handled. We'll get you an answer from the Department of Education today. I agree with you that if a child needs that additional help, it could come from the same para they normally have or a different para, but they've got to get help. If you have specific instances, Katie, that we should know about, that we should follow up on, please share that with our team as well. Go ahead, Katie.
Question: Great. Thank you. Oh, can you hear me?
Mayor: Yeah, go ahead Katie.
Question: I'm just curious - hold on – I'm getting my second getting my second question sent to me. I did not [inaudible]. Oh yeah, do you have any of a goal for how many kids will get vaccinated, and by when? I don’t know if you have like a benchmark that you’re looking for?
Mayor: We don't have a specific number or a specific date. We certainly, you know, look with –I'm thrilled with the percentage now on the 12 to 17-year-olds. It did take a while, but now they're at almost 79 percent compared to adults in the city almost at 87 percent. I mean, that's considering adults had a lot more time, you know, that's a really, really strong number. I want to see us get to really great numbers with the youngest New Yorkers, but I think it will take time. I think a lot of parents will want to talk to their pediatricians or have the shot provided by their pediatrician because of the relationship with the child. So, we'll be talking about the kinds of goals we hope to hit over time, but we're not ready to assess that yet. We need to see this get going for a while. I am confident that, you know, we now have two specific pieces of information, what we saw with adults, what we saw with 12 to 17-year-olds, that gives me hope that we can get to a very high level, but I think it will take some time. It will take months obviously to get to that point.
Everyone, as we conclude today, just again, really great to see that parents are coming forward to get our youngest New Yorkers vaccinated, and we want to encourage that, and that's why we're making that time available, paid time available, for parents to get their kids vaccinated. That's what a compassionate city does. That's what a city does that really cares about our people. We want New Yorkers to take advantage of this. Get out there. There's going to be so many sites available to you, as we said, school sites that will be happening this week and Monday, and we'll be adding days as needed in schools that are showing high demand. Bottom line is here's an incredible opportunity to make your family safe, your child safe, your community safe, and New Yorkers are proving – and we've seen evidence now more and more – we are literally leading the nation, not just in our policies, but in terms of what you are doing and that's making all the difference. Thank you, everybody.