Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good evening, everyone. A very important moment as we're getting information about the first Omicron variant case here in New York City. Governor Kathy Hochul has joined me here at City Hall, and I'd like to welcome her to offer the first remarks on this development. Governor?
Governor Kathy Hochul: Thank you, Mayor de Blasio for first of all, hosting us here as we make sure that we share information real time with the constituents of our city and our state. Also, I want to make sure everyone understands this is about unity. There's a reason we're here together to signal that this is a challenge that we're going to tackle together. And ensure that everyone knows that we are focused on transparency, which means we will provide information as we get it, as well as a coordinated response from the City and the State to deal with whatever lies ahead.
As I mentioned this morning in my briefing, we still don't have specific information on how the vaccines are holding up, how the boosters are holding up to this variant, but it is real. We said it would be coming here shortly. We announced this morning that a case from Minnesota was directly tied to the City of New York for individuals who participated in a convention at the Javits Center between November 18th and the 22nd. That individual has already recovered from their symptoms. They tested positive but are already feeling well. And it was a very minor case. So, that's something I want to put an exclamation point on. While this may be highly transmissible, at least from the early evidence, and again, more information is still forthcoming. We want people to know that the early cases that have arisen are not life-threatening. They seem to be minor cases. And that is a source of good news for us right now.
But in terms of the information we received, literally, there are five cases identified today in the State of New York. The first one was in Suffolk County. I've been in communication with the County Executive Steve Bellone to alert him. This came out of a lab that is in Suffolk, and it was a 67-year-old female who had symptoms, mild symptoms of a headache and a cough. There is some vaccination history. We don't know if it's one vaccination, two, or a booster shot. And that information will be shared with the public as soon as we receive it. But there's at least one vaccination involved. This is an individual who traveled from South Africa, who tested negative upon returning to the U.S. on 11-25. And on November 30th, they took a point of care test and they did test positive. and Northwell sent the results to the – the individual, to a lab. And that person did test positive. Again, a traveler from South Africa who arrived here and is a Suffolk County resident, a 67-year-old woman. Our second case is Queens based. The vaccination status is unknown to know whether or not this person had been vaccinated or not. Third case, similar situation, no other for further personal details, but the vaccination status is unknown, Queens based. And another case is from Brooklyn, unknown vaccination status. And we just received word of another suspected traveler case here in the city that was identified in the city and in one of the five boroughs.
So, we knew this was coming, Mayor. We talked about this. You and I have been in communication already. No cause for alarm. We just want to make sure that the public is aware of information when we receive it. We don't have more information at this time, but we suspect there'll be more cases emerging. And the best thing that everyone can do is realize we're not defenseless against this variant at all. That vaccine we know is going to ensure that there's less severe symptoms. The booster is something I would highly recommend. If you're not vaccinated, get vaccinated. If you have vaccinations, both series, get the third dose, which is your booster. Ensure that our children are masked up as well as making sure that they get their vaccinations if anyone above five years old. And also recommend that people continue to wear their masks indoors. And when you can avoid large gatherings at this time.
This is not a cause for major alarm. I need to say that because we do not have enough information. We're not having shutdowns. We're not changing our protocols. We are continuing where we are, but making sure that we work in concert together and encourage people to get tested. Get tested often. Get the vaccination. And that again is our best defense. Again, Mayor, I thank you for the continued relationship that we've had since the beginning of my term. Short time, but a lot's been happening and I appreciate your leadership as we work through these issues together.
Mayor: Thank you so much, Governor. And thank you for there's been tremendous communication, you and I directly, but also your team and my team. I want to thank you for that. A very cooperative, collegial atmosphere, a lot of unity of purpose. And I want to say that to all New Yorkers, we are working together to protect you. We have a new situation, but we also know there's a lot of information we do not yet have about Omicron. We know we now have cases here in New York City. We have to assume that means there's community spread. We have to assume that means we're going to see a lot more cases. But we also have tremendous tools as the Governor said. We have a massive vaccination apparatus. And that is by far our best capacity to protect everyone against this variant or any other form of COVID.
So, the message today is let's do the thing we know works with COVID. Let's get vaccinated. To all the parents out there of the youngest New Yorkers who have not yet gotten your kids vaccinated, the five to 11-year-olds, we need you to get your kids vaccinated right away. To everyone who qualifies for a booster and has not yet gotten it, we need you to do that, to protect yourself and your family and everyone in this city. We know vaccination works. It limits the impact. We know this. It limits the impact of COVID. It helps reduce the spread of COVID. We need that more than ever. We are going to keep the public informed. Governor's made a commitment. I make the same commitment to transparency. We'll be constantly updating the public, but as the Governor said right now, the good news is there's a very strong health care team for the City and the State working to protect you. And that will be every single hour of every single day.
As for what we learned about this conference at the Javits Center and these additional cases, our Test and Trace team is out there immediately working with each individual who was affected to figure out who else they came in contact with. That contact tracing is absolutely crucial. We have the strongest test and trace team in America. Thousands of extraordinary, extraordinary committed individuals out there protecting you. They're going to make sure we identify who needs any support, anything in the way of medical support, quarantining, et cetera. Also, we're going to use every tool at our disposal. Earlier in the week, we announced a vaccine mandate for childcare employees, about 102,000 childcare employees. Earlier today, a vaccine mandate for employees of non-public schools. That's about 56,000 additional employees. Both of those go into effect December 20. There will be more new initiatives coming to protect people.