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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Appears Live on CNN

September 29, 2021

John Berman: Joining me now is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Mayor, thank you so much for being with us. I want to pick up on that last point Miguel made, because these two health care workers in that piece, they're in the minority now. You have some numbers for us about how the health care mandate is going here in New York City. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Our public health system, biggest in the country, 92 percent are now vaccinated. In New York City as a whole, 82 percent of all adults have gotten at least one dose. I'll tell you why John, because mandates work, they help keep people safe. And we put mandates in place about two months ago for public employees, for indoor dining, a variety of things, and since then, we've seen a 45 percent increase in vaccinations. 1.3 million more doses because we had mandates, and now we are getting out of the COVID era in this city. 

Berman: So, 92 percent now. Last week, what was it among health care workers in the city? 

Mayor: It was down several percentage points for sure, I think close to 85. 

Berman: So, you had thousands of people getting vaccinated in the last week? 

Mayor: We had – just Friday and Saturday, we had 7,000 more teachers and school employees.  

Berman: Okay, talk about teachers because by this, what Friday, if you are a teacher or in the Education Department, and you're not vaccinated, you don't have a job. 

Mayor: Well, you're put on unpaid leave, and if you don't come back in a reasonable period of time, you're not going to have a job, but look, the message to people is this: we've got to keep each other safe. We’ve got to put the COVID era behind us. The mandates have worked. John, I would say everybody out there, private sector, everyone should move to these mandates because they've been so strikingly effective. In the end, when it comes down to you have to choose, are you going to be able to keep that job, keep that paycheck, do the right thing, get vaccinated – the vast majority of people choose to get vaccinated. 

Berman: And how many teachers or how many education workers have been vaccinated and just the last week? 

Mayor: Oh, so we had 7,000 between Friday and Saturday alone. In the last 24 hours, I think has been another 3,000. It just keeps happening because people see this deadline's coming. And John, I think to some extent, this is just a human reality. We all respond to deadlines. We all respond to rules. We gave people months, and months and months the voluntary way. We really did every incentive in the possible – we could imagine we provided, but now it's time for mandates because we've got to end the COVID era. We really have to put this behind us. We can't keep living this way. And the mandates are causing the vast majority of people to do the right thing and just get vaccinated. 

Berman: What are you going to do about the teachers who don't comply, when they don't show up? How are you going to handle that shortage? 

Mayor: We have a lot of substitute teachers, a lot of young people in particular who want to go into the teaching profession, who are ready, willing, and able, who are vaccinated, who are going to take those roles immediately. Now look, I want to say to any teacher, if at first they don't get vaccinated and then they think better of it. They're ready to do the right thing. Of course, we're going to welcome them back. But the bottom line is, if you refuse, and continue to refuse, then we can't have you with our kids. We’ve got to protect our kids. On Monday, we're going to have a school system of a million kids where every adult in the building is going to be vaccinated at least one dose. It's going to create an entirely safe environment. Our parents love the fact that they know their kids will be safe.  

Berman: You're not going to require the kids to be vaccinated though? 

Mayor: No, because we still have a ways to go in convincing parents on that. And the parents make the decision for the kids. I'm not going to exclude a kid from the value of being in the classroom after a year and a half. So many kids really, really lost so much in terms of health, in terms of education, not being in that classroom. I'll tell you something: when you get every adult in the building vaccinated, you're going to see the COVID levels stay very, very low because the problem has always been— 

Berman: They're doing it in LA. They're requiring kids to be vaccinated in LA. 

Mayor: God bless them, but we want to make sure every child gets into that classroom. I want to emphasize this: think about a child who for a year and a half, hasn't seen the inside of a classroom. Think about what that's done to them socially, health-wise, educationally. We need our kids come back and stay back. If a parent says, I'm not going to get my kid vaccinated, I don't want to penalize the kid. I want that kid to get their education and get the chance to keep moving forward. 

Berman: So, Kyrie Irving who plays guard for the Brooklyn Nets— 

Mayor: Brilliantly, brilliantly. 

Berman: Yeah, but not at home this season if he doesn't get vaccinated, correct?  

Mayor: Look, I'm a fan. I'm a fan of the Nets. I live in Brooklyn. I'm a fan of Kyrie. I would just appeal to him, get vaccinated. Your fans want to see you. We all want you back. Your teammates want you back. Look, there are teams now that are 100 percent vaccinated. That's a great example to everyone else. 

Berman: But no wiggle room for you? 

Mayor: We have a rule that has to be applied, whether you're famous, whether you're not famous, you know, whether your everyday working man or woman – get vaccinated because that's what makes us all safe. 

Berman: And even if he misses the whole season, not a single home game in Brooklyn? 

Mayor: Again, I think a lot of people, the mandate, whether or not he happens to be someone who's had a high salary, obviously, but the mandate has an effect on people. When they see something's real and it's serious, and this is what everyone is doing. Listen to these numbers: 92 percent of the health care workers. Everyone said it was going to be this horrible situation. Well, how many times you've seen 92 percent of people agree on anything else, right? So in the end, I think whether it's a player, a health care worker, a teacher – for the vast majority, that mandate's going to say to them, it's time. 

Berman: Is he letting fans down? 

Mayor: It's not time to say that yet. We have weeks and weeks before the season begins. I think his fans are going to say to him “come on, join us, help us.” Let's keep everyone safe. Keep your own family safe. Keep your teammates safe. Keep your community safe. 

Berman: Mayor Bill de Blasio, nice to see you. Thanks for being here.  

Mayor: Good to see you, John. 


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