Sunday, December 19, 2021



Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good afternoon, everybody. I wanted to give a special update today to all New Yorkers, because, obviously, we’re facing a major challenge with the Omicron variant. This is an urgent situation and we need to act urgently. We are seeing a very substantial rise in the member of cases in a way we haven’t seen previously. Now, I’m going to hasten to add – thank God, what helps us, what protects us, as always, is vaccination. So, I’m going to talk immediately about the things that can make a real impact in addressing Omicron. We take Omicron very seriously. We expect a substantial number of cases and a quickly growing number of cases. But we also know Omicron is different from previous variants in a variety of ways, and that vaccination is key to keeping people safe. There’s a lot more we need to learn about Omicron, we don’t have all the research back yet. So far, it does appear to have a milder impact, and that’s good. And certainly, I want to emphasize, that the vaccinations we use here in this city, in this country – these vaccinations work to lessen the impact of Omicron, to make sure that the outcomes for each New Yorker are better because they are vaccinated. So, clearly a challenge, a new challenge, but one we can meet.  


And what’s crucial for all New Yorkers to understand is, New York City is ready. We are ready to fight Omicron. We have extraordinary tools and weapons available to us because, for the last two years, we’ve been fighting COVID. We have better treatments than we’ve ever had. We have one of the highest levels of vaccination anywhere in the country. And we have the ability to get a lot more people vaccinated or to get them boosted very, very quickly. And that’s so crucial to what we need to do in the days ahead. And that’s where every New Yorker that comes in, you can do your part. New York City is ready. We need you to be ready too. We need you to do what you can do to keep yourself and your family and your neighborhood safe. So, it's also important to understand that we expect Omicron to be a fast and temporary phenomenon. We expect these next weeks to see a very, very big surge in a number of cases, more than we've seen previously. And then we expect after a period of time that it will dissipate. That's been so far the pattern we've seen in other places, notably South Africa, where we first saw Omicron’s presence. So, there's a lot more to learn as I said, but right now, based on what we know, we're expecting a fast uptick and then going the other way, the case is starting to come down and we move past Omicron. 


We can weather that storm if more and more people get vaccinated, more and more people go get those boosters. This temporary reality demands an urgent immediate step, which is to maximize vaccination. And that's what we're going to focus on today. So, everyone understanding that vaccination makes such a profound impact in this situation, that it is the way that we stay safe. It is the way people talk about how do we make sure our hospitals come through this okay? Get vaccinated. It's the same answer. If you want to make sure our health care system is strong? Get vaccinated that minimizes the chance you'll ever end up in a hospital. Or God forbid you require hospitalization, if you're vaccinated your chance of coming through more quickly and with better outcomes greatly increases. And that puts much less stress on the hospital. And most importantly helps you to get through well. Because of the high level of vaccination, even though we expect a lot of cases, we do not expect to see some of the very painful reality we saw certainly in the spring of 2020, or even last winter. We think the outcomes, what happens to people is going to be very much better this time. But it will be even more true, if we keep intensifying our vaccination effort. 


So, the mandates we put in place are absolutely necessary. They will be enforced. We're going to double down on those because they are necessary to fight Omicron and to make sure this is a brief period of time and one that does not leave too many scars on the people of this city. The vaccination mandates are more important than ever given from what we're seeing, given what we're seeing from Omicron on the ground.  On Thursday, we also announced a six-point plan to increase testing intensely. Testing is crucial here. We're going to be making more and more testing available all over the five boroughs. We're going to be distributing high quality masks for free all over the five boroughs. We're going to be doing a number of things to encourage people to get those booster shots. You'll be seeing new testing sites. You'll be seeing more at-home test kits made available through community-based organizations. All of these efforts will help to reduce the lines that we're seeing at testing sites, and help to make testing more available to folks who want to make sure they're okay. Or God forbid they have COVID, are ready to do the right thing and quarantine and help stop the spread. 


Now, in terms of boosters. This is key. Literally millions of New Yorkers can get booster shots now or will be eligible soon. Everyone who qualifies for boosters should get it immediately. We're doubling down on that effort with a $10 million paid media campaign. And we're going to spread the message. You've seen our doctors. You've seen the City's doctors speaking about this. You're going to see a lot more of them. Because they're going to let people know how important the booster is. It makes a world of difference in fighting Omicron and making sure people get through safely. 


We're also going to focus on nursing homes. Our Health Department is coordinating rapid access to booster doses for nursing home residents and employees all over the five boroughs. We're going to focus on kids as well, the five to 11-year-olds. We got to see a lot more vaccination there. Parents, grandparents, guardians, please get your five to 11-year-olds vaccinated. It’s time. We need you to. And to our pediatricians who we all depend on so much, we listen to, I can say, as a parent, we listen to our pediatricians deeply. We want to support you in making sure all your patients get vaccinated. And we're working, an idea we started, the State has now picked up. We're going to double down on it, making sure Medicaid reimburses you whenever you encourage your patients to get vaccinated, encourage parents to get those five to 11-year-olds vaccinated. We want to support our pediatricians in that effort. And that information will be put out starting today. 


Also, on the federal front, federal government has done so much to help New York City. I want to thank President Biden, his whole team. They've been very aggressive in supporting the kinds of efforts that we've done here. We need help now, because it's not just about vaccination. Treatment matters, of course. And we need a surge of support in terms of monoclonal antibody treatments. We need more made available from New York City. We need the authorization of the Pfizer antiviral pill to be accelerated. We need, given the amount that's needed in terms of test kits and vaccine, again would urge that the President invoke the defense production act and use every tool that the private sector has and the public sector has to continue to provide supplies here and around the country. We are feeling the Omicron wave, especially hard right now, but we know it's going to be all over the country. This whole country needs to go on a war footing to fight back. It can be defeated. It will be defeated, but having enough vaccine when we need it, having enough test kits when we need it, having enough treatment when we need it is key. And that's what we need the federal government's help with. So, I've outlined the basic approach we'll be taking and some of the immediate steps. I am absolutely confident in this city's ability to fight back with Omicron, overcome it. I'm absolutely confident in the ability of our health system to sustain this new surge. But we're all going to have to work together. And we're all going to have to focus on getting the maximum New Yorkers vaccinated and boosted as quickly as possible. 



Governor Hochul Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress Combating COVID-19 DECEMBER 19, 2021

The number of Omicron in all of New York State. Total Omicron Cases Confirmed Statewide: 192, and the total number of Omicron cases in New York City is 41. 

So Mayor de Blasio, why panic the people of New York City?

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