December 6, 2021
Mika Brzezinski: Joining us now, the Mayor of New York, New York City, Bill de Blasio. And Bill, you are revealing right now, new measures to keep COVID infection cases down. What are they?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Yeah, Mika look, we just talked about an attack on democracy. Well, we are under attack in a different way right now from the coronavirus. And we’ve got Omicron as a new factor. We’ve got the colder weather which is going to really create additional challenges with the Delta variant, we’ve got holiday gatherings. We in New York City have decided to use a preemptive strike to really do something bold to stop the further growth of COVID and the dangers it’s causing to all of us. So, as of today we are going to announce a first in the nation measure, our Health Commissioner will announce a vaccine mandate for private sectors employers across the board. All private sector employers in New York City will be covered by this vaccine mandate as of December 27th. We are going to have some other measures as well to really focus on maximizing vaccination quickly so we can get ahead of Omicron and all the other challenges we are facing eight now with COVID.
Brzezinski: And curious, first of all, that’s anybody and everybody who works in New York City, has a vaccine mandate at this point. How do you enforce this?
Mayor: We are going to work with the business community. We’ve seen a lot of cooperation so far when we put in place our mandate for example, for restaurants, indoor entertainment, indoor fitness, we actually got a lot of cooperation. There were a few times where we had to penalize people, but it was rare. So, we are going to put together the rules, work with the business community. But I’ll tell you something Mika, the fact that this is universal, and this would be my advice to mayors, governors, CEOs all over the country, use these vaccine mandates. And the more universal they are, the more likely employees will say okay, it’s time, I’m going to do this. Because you can’t jump from one industry to another or one company to another, it’s something that needs to be universal to protect all of us.
Jonathan Lemire: So, Mr. Mayor, you see here, one of the other measures is requiring vaccination for indoor dinning, fitness, entertainment for children too. Children now have access to the vaccine, ages five to 11. I will say I am surprised that more cities have not followed New York City’s lead. Even Washington D.C. is not requiring to prove your vaccination status to come in for a restaurant. But talk a little bit more about the reason behind that. But I want to also go back to the mandate for the private sector workers. With the Biden administration efforts to do this, they are tied up in courts right now. There’s a lot of legal challenges. Do you not anticipate the same will happen here? And how confident are you that you can prevail?
Mayor: We are confident because it's universal. I don't know all the intricacies of what the Biden administration has been through, but I do know this. Our Health Commissioner has put a series of mandates in place. They have one in court, State court, federal court, every single time, Jonathan. And it's because they're universal and consistent. And they're about protecting the public right now from a clear and present danger. Our youngest kids, we got to reach them now. Right now in this city, it's about 20 percent have gotten backstage in that five to 11 range. It's new. The vaccine is relatively new. But what we're trying to say to parents is it's urgent. Before Omicron grows, before Delta continues to stress us even worse in the winter months, get your kid vaccinated. And here's an incentive to do it. A lot of parents of course, want to take their kids out to wonderful things that'll be happening in the holiday season. Here's a reminder, get your child vaccinated. Just one dose will immediately qualify any child to be able to participate in those activities. But look, I'm a parent. And I remember vividly when my kids were going to school. You know, you don't end up in a situation where a child is left unprotected. I urge parents really strongly, get that vaccination. It's safe. It's been proven. Here's another incentive to do it.
Lemire: So, one goes for children, but two now for adults, is that right for the program?
Mayor: We're going to be phasing in two for adults as of December 27th.
Lemire: Okay. And then, secondly, just on – give us an update on the Omicron variant here? We know that there was at least a couple of cases tracked to a convention that was at the Javits Center. The Governor, you and the Governor had given an announcement, I think on Friday, that gave updates with more cases throughout New York City and New York State. Where do things stand up this morning? Where are you seeing spread? How concerned are you about the new variant right now?
Mayor: Yeah, I am very concerned, Jonathan. And we have to assume community spread at this point. I mean, we'll track the cases. We have a very strong test and trace apparatus, but let's be honest. And this is true for New Yorkers and all Americans. At this point, Omicron is here. It looks like it's very transmissible. That's just going to make a tough situation, even harder. I mean, the timing is horrible with the winter months. So, I think this comes down to a recognition. We've got to put this COVID era behind us. I mean, here's the bottom line for all of us. We've been living with this now for most of two years. We got to put it behind us and vaccine mandates in my experience are the one thing that really breaks through. And we do know this, vaccines every single time, you know, every single time there's a fear of the vaccine won't have an impact on a new variant. Well guess what? Every single time the vaccines have worked. That's a good track record. Let's lean into it even more.
Brzezinski: Wow. All right. Mayor Bill de Blasio, thank you very much. And thank you for announcing that right here on Morning Joe. Keep us posted.