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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Holds Media Availability

October 20, 2021

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. Let's talk about why this city is coming back, why we are making progress against COVID. The battle is far from over, but we're making real progress. You can feel the life of the city coming back. Why? Because of vaccination. Vaccination has been the difference-maker and we’ve got to go farther and farther until we defeat COVID once and for all. My job – my job as your mayor is to keep this city safe, keep this city healthy, and vaccination is the way. We've proven it time and time again, it works. We have to keep going farther, because COVID’s not gone yet. We're not back to normal. Not everyone is safe. We need to make this whole city safe. We need to save lives and we do it with vaccinations. My goal is to end the COVID era once and for all. It can be done, but only if we keep pressing on.

Now, we've asked our public employees previously to help lead the way. And they've done such amazing work during this crisis. I want to express tremendous appreciation to everyone who works for the City of New York, everything they've done in the last year-and-a-half. We also said, we need you do lead the way on vaccination. We said it to our health care workers. We said it to the employees of our schools. And they did it – they did it overwhelmingly – 95 percent, 96 percent getting vaccinated, serving the people of this city, protecting them, serving our kids. It worked – our kids are in school, full strength, safe. It worked – our restaurants, indoor entertainment, open, thriving, jobs coming back, people safe. It worked – Broadway's back, so much of the life of the city's back, because of vaccination. So, we have set the bar high with a series of mandates. A lot of people said, oh, they're not going to work, people aren't going to do it, it's not going to work the way you planned it. Guess what? It did work. It did work. We built it and people came. People got vaccinated. People did the right thing. And now, the city is turning the corner as a result. But we're not done yet, so we have to go farther. We've seen success. As we climb the ladder, we saw more and more success. So, it's time to climb the ladder again. It's time for us to keep that success going. Climb the ladder, do more.

Today, our Health Commissioner, issuing an order, requiring all City workers to be vaccinated. This will apply to all the agencies that are not covered yet. And we want to move quickly. Obviously, we've given people a lot of time – first, in the voluntary phase, then in the vaccinate or test phase. It's time to keep moving. So, for the vast majority of the workforce not yet vaccinated, the deadline is 5:00 PM on Friday, October 29th. There is a small group of uniformed Correction officers who will have a different deadline. And, in that case, it will be for December 1st. And that's because of particular issues we're facing on Rikers island. But every single City employee not yet vaccinated will be held to the same standard, ultimately. If you're a City worker, you need to be vaccinated. We are here to keep you safe so you can keep everyone else safe. We need you to keep everyone around you in the workplace safe. We need you to make sure that people who you encounter, the people of this city, the residents of the city are safe. Everyone needs to be vaccinated. And let's be clear, our public employees, our public servants have really felt the impact of COVID horribly. Our first responders were out there for us and yet they've suffered losses. Nationwide, among law enforcement officers, horrible, tragic reality – 460 law enforcement officers have been lost to COVID nationwide, the single biggest killer of those who protect us. We've got to fight that killer. We've got to fight COVID with everything we've got.

So, I want to emphasize, over recent weeks, of course, we've had many, many conversations with labor leaders, representing the City workforce. We've heard a lot of opinions, a lot of concerns. We've taken that into account in making this decision. But the key has always been the safety and the health of our workers and our people. As we did with previous mandates, we will start impact bargaining immediately with all affected unions. And we saw that, that led us to very good outcomes previously with plans that our workers understood and could make sense of. And I think they were fair. We said, we're not firing people on the spot. We're saying in the plans that we came up with other unions – we said, please get vaccinated by the deadline. If you do, you continue on your work. If you don't, you're on leave without pay. We want you to correct – we want you to come back. We want you to get vaccinated. 3,500 schools employees who did miss the original deadline, went and got vaccinated in the last couple of weeks and have now come back. We want that. We want people to make the deadline. But, anyone who hesitates, come back.

So, we've created incentives for everyone in the city – the hundred-dollar incentive – but we're now going to offer a particular incentive for the City employees who are not yet vaccinated – an additional $500 incentive. This is out of respect for the people who've done so much for us. We think this is a smart, additional action to encourage people. Here's the bottom line – the vaccination sites, of course, will be available, as always. It will be easy to get vaccinated right up until the afternoon, October 29th. Get that card and you're good to go. If not, as we saw with health care with education, you get letter that says on November 1st, you're going to go on without pay. We don't want that for anyone. We just wanted to get people vaccinated, get them working, doing all that they do so well for this city.

I would urge everyone out there in the private sector – come on, government's been leading the way. The Biden administration, to their great credit, leading the way. The City of New York, leading the way. We're showing it works. Vaccine mandates work. Folks in the private sector, every time you put a vaccine mandate into effect it helps all of us. We've given a great example that it can work, that it's the right thing to do. Please join us. It will help us end the COVID era.

And now, I want you to hear from the man who will be issuing this order and has been done – has done so much for the city to help us end the COVID era. Our Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.

Commissioner Dave Chokshi, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Thank you so much, Mr. Mayor. Our world has changed so much over the last 20 months. We've seen immense suffering, much of it now preventable with vaccination. That suffering will be forever seared in our memories, but it has also strengthened our resolve to end this pandemic. And that is also possible with vaccination. We, New Yorkers, have made remarkable progress in getting vaccinated and I thank each and every one of the over 6 million New Yorkers who've shown up for our city. We have also shown that vaccine requirements work, particularly when they're joined with efforts to build vaccine confidence, lower access barriers, and provide incentives. Because of those mandates and other efforts, our schools and hospitals, and our restaurants and recreation are all safer. I am grateful to Mayor de Blasio for his leadership and conviction as we continue to climb the ladder.

And today marks another historic milestone. I am issuing a Commissioner's Order, mandating vaccination for City workers. Allow me to pay homage for a moment for all my fellow public servants have done to keep our city safe and running – firefighters, Sanitation workers, police, officers, and inspectors. This is a necessary step to further ensure their safety and to help protect those whom we serve. As the Mayor said, City workers will have to submit proof of vaccination by 5:00 PM on Friday, October 29th. You can provide proof of full vaccination or your first dose. Once you've submitted proof of your first dose, if you've received Moderna or Pfizer, you'll have to provide proof of a second dose within 45 days.

To be [inaudible] 71 percent of City workers who fall under this mandate and are already vaccinated, you have my heartfelt appreciation. For those who have yet to get vaccinated, know that we are here to answer your questions and support you in making this important decision. Vaccination is restoring our most essential functions – school, work, care – by safeguarding individuals and communities. Today, we take another hopeful step forward. Thank you.

Mayor: Thank you so much, Dr. Chokshi. And now, everyone, I want you to hear from someone, one of the preeminent national leaders in the effort to get Americans vaccinated. And what an amazing effort it has been. Thank you to the Biden Administration, to President Biden, and everyone on his team. I checked this morning, I believe the number is 189 million Americans have been vaccinated. That's what's going to save this nation. And one of the leaders who has put together this absolutely awesome effort, we're so appreciative. The Vaccinations Coordinator for the White House, Dr. Bechara Choucair.


Mayor: Thank you so much, doctor. And, doctor, I really want to thank you personally for your extraordinary leadership. The amazing surge of vaccinations, you're one of the people who made it happen. And thank you, it's changing everyone's lives for the better, saving tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of lives. But I also want to accent the point you made that we saw this with our schools. When parents knew that all the adults in the schools were going to be vaccinated, I heard lots and lots of feedback from parents, it made them feel safe and secure. It made them comfortable sending their kids back to school. So, we need to recognize, it's not only the right thing to do from a health and safety point of view. It's the right thing to do if we want to bring our whole society back. When people know it's a safe environment – yup, they'll go back to work, they’ll go back to shopping. Everything will come back when we have that safety. Thank you for making such a profound contribution to this effort.

Everyone, I want you to hear from another expert who's built the policies to provide health care, but also done health care at the front line. She led a number of key policy initiatives in the Obama White House. She's a fellow at the Brookings Institution, working on the issues related to the response to COVID, but also a primary care physician in Washington D.C. So, covering a lot of range there. It's my pleasure to use Dr. Kavita Patel.


Mayor: Thank you so much, doctor. I appreciate really the passion and the sharp clarity of your message to everyone. And thank you for all you do. And, I’ve got to tell you, just like – I felt a real pain when you said you have to talk to kids who don't have a parent anymore. And I feel a real respect for the work you do and that's a very, very tough moment, I'm sure. But it's also a reminder, you should never have to do that. And the answer is vaccination. Just, thank you. Thank you for everything you've shared with us today.

Everyone, I want you to hear now from one of the leading voices in this city on the whole idea of fighting back COVID aggressively using mandates, using our all tools from the very beginning of this crisis. The Chair of the Health Committee of the City Council has stood up and believed New York City could do exceptional things to fight this exceptional crisis. He's been a strong and consistent voice. My pleasure to introduce Council Member Mark Levine.


Thank you so much, Council Member. Thank you for working with us every step of the way and helping to make all this happen. 

Okay, everyone, every day we go to indicators, and we start with the best one, which is the doses administered today. So, literally as we're having these press conferences every day, more and more people are getting vaccinated. As of today, 11,872,679 doses given, amazing, amazing number. And I know that this mandate will mean even more. Number two, daily number of people admitted to New York City hospitals for suspected COVID-19, today's report, 128 patients, confirmed 15.22 percent. Hospitalization rate per 100,000 people, 0.70. And number three, new reported cases on a seven-day average, today’s report, 958 cases. A few words in Spanish, of course, about the vaccine mandate for our public employees.  

[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'll now begin our Q-and-A. As a reminder, we're joined today by Dr. Chokshi and by Dr. Mitch Katz. First question today goes to Dave Evans from WABC. 

Question: Mayor, can you hear me – 

Mayor: Yeah, Dave, how you doing today? 

Question: Fine. Hey, I just wanted to check just a clerical question for just a second. I've seen somewhere, the figure of 160,000 City employees are going to be covered by this mandate, fire police, sanitation, and eventually in December, Corrections folks. So, who are the folks – because I think we have around 300,000, 310,000 City employees – so who does this not pertain to? 

Mayor: It's across the board between what we've done previously and what we're doing now. The total I have, Dave, is 160,500 workers covered by it. But in terms of unvaccinated among them, it's about 46,000. So, this is all City agencies, including in the first round, folks who work for Corrections. There's a separate group that'll go a month later. But this is, literally, all City agencies are affected by this Commissioner order. Go ahead, Dave. 

Question: Okay. My other question gets down to the nitty gritty a little bit. What if fire and police officers are not like teachers and health care workers and we still have, I think it's around 30 percent or so of firefighters and police officers, are not vaccinated. What if they refuse? And we find ourselves in the middle of November, late November let's say, and we're dealing with thousands and thousands of, basically, vacancies in those two essential departments? 

Mayor: All right. First of all, I want to say these are folks who serve with extraordinary distinction. They're members of organizations with very proud traditions of protecting people. They came here to do that work. And I think in the end that tradition, that commitment – there are very strong chains of command that people pay attention to and respect – I think it's really important to remember that that's going to be a big part of this. Second, we've seen other examples where these mandates went into effect, and they were honored. The City of San Francisco is one of the bigger examples. They put a mandate into effect. They're now at 96 percent of all their employees, high numbers, very high numbers with their fire and police departments. What I think is obvious, after a lot of conversation with the leadership of all of our uniformed agencies, is people are there to do a job and they believe in the work. Also, they're there for a paycheck, of course. It's a noble profession, but people want to get paid, and they want to accrue time towards that very, very important pension that they get later on, and folks are not going to give that up by and large. So, our message is simple – get vaccinated, keep with us, keep us moving forward. Anyone who isn't, will go off payroll onto unpaid leave. We, obviously, have contingencies in place for any gaps that we experience, but our uniformed agency leadership feel very strongly that they will be able to handle any scenario. 

Moderator: The next is Gloria from NY1. 

Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor, this is a very interesting announcement and I hear that you want workers back to work and the city to open up, but you're still not letting us come in there and talk to you in person, which is really troubling. This exception for Correction officers, why are they getting the longer timeline, especially given the nature of their job. They get to go out and be in contact with the world, unlike the people who are inside Rikers Island. And the rate of COVID is increasing at the City's jail. So, why do they get more time? You know, you just had a COVID death just a couple of days ago. 

Mayor: Yeah. And Gloria, I want to say and that's very – it's extremely sad when we lose anyone. We really, really try with everyone in Corrections, whether they are an employee or an inmate, to convince them to get vaccinated, to convince them, if, God forbid, they contract COVID, to receive treatment. But there are people who refuse vaccination, refuse treatment. This is a bigger challenge we face. But to your core question, we have a particular situation at Rikers. So, what we said is, okay, if you work in the health care elements at Rikers or in the hospitals related to Corrections, we need you vaccinated right away. If you're a civilian employee, we need you vaccinated right away. We're giving a few more weeks for the uniforms because we're in the process right now of bringing back a number of uniformed officers who weren't present and we're in the process of intensely lowering the population. So, we need to finish that out. We can do that by December 1st. But the overall reality of addressing COVID in Rikers, I think has been clear. And I want to turn to Dr. Katz because he and his team lead this effort, they've taken tremendous precautions to protect people. As, particularly, the population has been going down, they can do that even better. So, I think ensuring that we have enough personnel is the key to all of it, including the key to making sure people get prompt medical treatment. So, we got a couple of different challenges at once, but with that few weeks, we think it will make a big difference to get us where we need to go. Dr. Katz, do you want to add? 

President and CEO Mitchell Katz, NYC Health + Hospitals: Yes, thank you, sir. Thank you for this announcement and for ensuring that our inmates in our health care areas will right away have Correction officers who are fully vaccinated. Staffing of Corrections is key to good health for the inmates. We need for there to be a sufficient number of Correction officers to bring patients who – inmates who are ill to our clinics. And so, I fully support the idea that in the next month, making sure we have a full workforce is key to the health of all of our inmates. And again, I think by requiring that the Correction officers in the health areas are fully vaccinated right away, we've handled the most critical portion. Thank you, sir.  

Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead, Gloria. 

Question: Okay. Well, I can assure you, the press corps is definitely vaccinated. I want to ask you about the women transfers from Rikers Island. There's a petition that is going around, it has been signed by 70 women and transgender detainees, asking for the transfer not to happen. It's my understanding this transfer is going to free up about 400 Correction officers from Rosie's to work at other facilities. So, is that really what's behind the transfer because this is a facility that wasn't really seeing many issues as part of the overall crisis. And it's being seen as you just shuffling people around to get a handle on the officer situation. Now, these people may potentially be away from their families and their lawyers in order to help you get a hold of the staffing crisis there. 

Mayor: Gloria, look, we absolutely want to make sure that all these individuals have the best possible situation. The State facility the Governor made available is a quality facility where we can actually provide more support than what we could do in the space we have at Rikers. And we're going to absolutely accommodate families, lawyers, everyone. And we have a bigger mission that we have to achieve. And we've been working closely with the State on this, reduce population, bringing more of the officers back, find ways to have other functions handled by other people so the officers are freed up. We're doing all these things simultaneously to improve health, safety, the overall environment, as we make bigger changes. So, I think this is a fair and smart way to do this. I'm going to be very, very respectful of these individuals and their families. But it's also temporary while we solve an immediate reality.

Moderator: The next is James Ford from PIX 11

Question: And good morning, Mr. Mayor and to everyone on the call.

Mayor: Good morning, James. How are you today?

Question: I appreciate your asking very well. I hope you're well as well.

Mayor: Thank you indeed.

Question: A question about the taxi drivers’ hunger strike, which is going to be starting today just a few hundred yards outside of your office. Could you respond to the fact that it's happening at all? And say whether or not you're willing to offer a more generous relief package for them? And if so, how generous? Would you even be willing to promote a total debt forgiveness?

Mayor: James, thank you for the question. I want to say, first of all, I've met a lot of the drivers over the years. I appreciate they've been part of the heart and soul of New York City and I feel very badly for what's happened to them. And we all know a lot of things changed in their world that create a very, very tough situation. But we've tried to answer that in so many ways including – James, can you hear us, James?

Question: Yes, hello?

Mayor: Yeah. I just want to make sure – I'm in the middle of the answer, but I could hear some feedback. Can you hear me okay?

Question: Yes. Yeah,

Mayor: I'll finish up the answer. So, I was going to say, we've tried to help them in a variety of ways including creating a relief program to reduce debt, to make it more manageable with a major City investment. And that's the way we think makes sense to handle this. Ultimately, it could achieve as much as a half a billion dollars in debt relief. And we see, I think we've got already over a hundred drivers have signed up and there's a thousand in the pipeline. This is something that's going to make a huge difference. I've been asked many times before, could we do a full bailout? We cannot. We've been really clear about that. That's hundreds of millions of dollars. And it has a lot of other ramifications for other folks who have gone through tough situations and could ask for a bailout. We are really trying to be as helpful as we can in a smart way. This plan was passed by the City Council with a $65 million investment. And I urge all drivers, take advantage of this opportunity now to get some of this relief because we want to, we want you to have a better situation. Go ahead, James.

Question: Thank you for that. Also, on behalf of my colleague, Henry Rosoff, another question to Correction officers. I mean, you described their situation relative to the vaccine mandate as being a situation. And that the situation in which they are, is a problem right now. But can't it also be said that crime fighting can be a problem or fighting fires can be a problem? Why should their situation be different from say firefighters or police? And what legal issues do you anticipate related to this mandate?

Mayor: I don't anticipate legal issues. I've had this conversation with our Corporation Counsel, Georgia Pestana many times. We have seen uniformly courts agree and support vaccine mandates by governments, certainly by this government, state courts, federal courts, multiple reviews. Every time, came back the same way. The mandates were an appropriate way to protect employees and the people they serve. In terms of Correction, for months now, we've been dealing with a very particular issue. Everyone knows it. But they still are under a vaccine mandate. They have to get vaccinated. We're staggering it a little bit to achieve a very particular goal in a very particular setting. There's no place quite the same conditions, obviously as a jail system. But I believe the larger truth that we talked about earlier is true, James. We have given all of our public servants ample time. First, the voluntary approach, then the vaccine or test approach. The numbers are still not high enough. It's time for a mandate. We're offering another incentive. We're offering time for people to go and get the vaccine. And then everyone can move forward. I think a lot of people are going to take us up on it. And for those who don't, I think some of them will come back pretty quickly. And we will be able to handle these scenarios. We prepared for them. It's time for this now. It is just time.

Moderator: The next is Michael Gartland from the Daily News.

Question: Hey, good morning, Mr. Mayor. How are you doing?

Mayor: Good, Michael. How you been?

Question: I'm doing all right. So, I want to go back to something you said before during this press conference. You said that, you know, this incentive, this $500 incentive will be offered out of respect for people who have done so much for the city. I want to ask you, you know, this incentive wasn't offered to school workers. So, how is it fair to award it to cops, firefighters, and other employees when you didn’t offer it to school workers? I mean, shouldn’t they have received the same respect? Can you explain the logic applied here?

Mayor: Michael, over time, we've tried different approaches to figure out what will work. It's really about what works and what keeps people safe, what keeps the whole city safe. Once upon a time we had no incentives, then we added a variety of different incentives. Then we added a $100 incentive. In this particular instance, we think the $500 incentive will help get something done for everyone. So, that's really, that's the whole idea, is what's going to get the job done? Go ahead, Michael.

Question: Alright, thanks for that answer. On Monday you were on Errol Louis’s show, and he asked you for specific examples, this is on the Department of Investigation’s prob about, you know, you've started inaccuracies in that report they put out and he asked you for examples. And you know, the examples you offered, I mean, there really weren't any specifics there. I think you said let's see, you said there are all sorts of times where they alleged, somebody said something, somebody did something that I know for a fact didn't happen. And there's a bunch of circumstantial evidence treated as definitive. Can you please site for us specific examples of what is inaccurate in this report? Because that answer doesn't really give a sense of that. Well, what are you citing to support your claim that that report is inaccurate?

Mayor: Well, Michael. I don't have it in front of me. I can tell you, there were times where they said, oh, the Mayor said something to someone, where I didn't do it. I know that because of my own experience. And just, yeah, again, it was, I believe what they did was they took pieces of information and extrapolated, without having facts. And then clearly on the whole issue of how the security standards were set, how everyone, myself included, my family was instructed. There was this absolute gap in terms of acknowledging how that happened and where that came from, including the leadership of the NYPD who handles these matters. So, there's many kinds of inaccuracies starting with the fact that the security experts who created the whole approach to security weren't even asked how they did it, why they did it, how things were handled? It's just consistently inaccurate.

Moderator: The next is Amanda from Politico.

Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. How are you?

Mayor: Good, Amanda. How you doing today?

Question: I'm doing well. Thank you. So, I wanted to get your feedback on the Department of Health letter that was sent to Dr. Chokshi, I believe on October 1st. I spoke to two Health Department workers yesterday, and they expressed frustration with your response to that letter. They had said that we're reminding you that they're also the people of New York City and they don't feel like you and the Commissioner are looking out for them. And they specifically wanted to ask why the City wasn't releasing information around safety at certain work sites within the Health Department? How many outbreaks there have been? How many people had COVID? And so, they wanted to specifically why data was not being released rather than the focus on making sure [inaudible]? I wanted you to comment on that?

Mayor: Let me start. And then I'll turn to Dr. Chokshi. He can speak for himself. First of all, I'm just going to stand up for Dr. Chokshi. Because I think he's an extraordinary public servant, who has given his heart and soul to helping others. And has been one of the great leaders here and around the country in fighting COVID. I think – I haven't read the letter. I want to be honest about it. I've only gotten a summary. But I think it is disrespectful of his efforts, for employees in his agency to suggest that he would think about anything but everyone's health and wellbeing, including his own employees. The second, I think folks who swore an oath to serve the public should be thinking about the public. So, many of our City employees have been at the frontline. Were – and we're talking here about folks who came back to the office, many of whom were working remote. Well, again, I respect everyone's contribution. But we needed people to come back and do the best work possible. There were hundreds of thousands of folks who were at the frontline the whole time. So, I think there should be more respect shown to the City workers who serve through the toughest of this situation. And folks who have had the opportunity to work remotely, they should be, in my opinion, a little more respectful. If there's a specific issue, I heard, and I don't disrespect this. If they said there was a lack of soap or something needed to be handled differently, in social distancing or anything, I think you would go to Dr. Chokshi and his team and say, Hey, let's fix this together. And they would, of course. But it's the Health Department. They should have the ability to follow the rules, we've set out for everyone, rather than putting out a public letter, fix the problem. So, I just want to say logic says to me that Dr. Chokshi and his team would have been very responsive to any concerns. And I think that would have been the better way to handle this. Dr. Chokshi over to you.

Commissioner Chokshi: Thank you very much, sir. I'll just add that, of course I care deeply about the health and safety of my own staff, of my team. And everything that we've done to serve New Yorkers over the course of the pandemic is in service of that for the entire city. But also, for what we're doing here at the Health Department. With respect to the letter itself, Amanda, as you may know, I and my team responded to that letter. There were some specific points that were raised that did need to be addressed. And we have followed up on that. But I’ll also just take the opportunity to say that the vast majority of the Health Department, including people who have been working throughout the entire pandemic, are extraordinarily dedicated public servants, who we continue to prioritize with respect to their health and safety. So, if there are other steps that need to be taken along the way, certainly I'm receptive to that and we're committed to dealing with them in a transparent way.

Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead, Amanda.

Question: Thank you. And then my second question is there's been a couple of viral videos on Twitter recently of officers responding to people asking them to wear masks, particularly the ones I've seen have been on the subway. And so, with the NYPD’s vaccination rate of around 70 percent, how do you, I guess, address the issues around – and again, this is coming from the videos of New Yorkers feeling like the police are not following mask mandates, are not getting vaccinated? And then, you know, the PBA statement today around your announcement. So, I'm curious, kind of like, how do you weigh these two things and try to focus on gaining trust of the public, especially with the police and how they handled the pandemic so far? 

Mayor: Well, thank you, Amanda. I look – I think when everyone's vaccinated, it's going to make everything easier for everyone. First of all, I just think we saw this in the schools. We saw this in the hospitals, when everyone's vaccinated it creates a sense of equality, fairness, safety, that just benefits everyone, benefits the whole atmosphere. We've all been through a lot the last year and a half. We need to sort of start the process of healing. I think everyone being vaccinated actually is part of that. So, I feel good about that. 

On the video, I saw one of the videos of a couple of officers removing someone from the subway. I was troubled by that video. I didn't like what I saw one bit. I did not see everything, except for the clip at the time when the person's being removed, but I saw the officers not wearing their masks in the subway. That's evident, that's unacceptable. We've given this instruction a thousand times and if you're going to be in law enforcement, you actually have to participate in following the law. So, I would say, we know in this case, the video, most recent video, there's an investigation underway. I expect that there will be discipline in that case because it's obvious that they were not wearing their masks. The Commissioner said many times, publicly, given the instructions, it's up to supervisors to step up now. Just tell people – if you're in the subway, we're telling everyone in the subway, you got to wear a mask. That includes police officers, period. 

Moderator: The next is Katie Honan from The City. 

Question: Hey, good morning, Mayor de Blasio – 

Mayor: Good morning, Katie. 

Question: [Inaudible] from just down the hall. But you know, can't get everything you want, I guess. My question is a follow-up. I've heard from a bunch of city employees this morning who are very upset, I guess, you know, they say, we've been vaccinated for months, I've been sharing office space now with unvaccinated colleagues, and now they're going to get a monetary incentive. I understand the psychological reason and that's the sort of effectiveness of an incentive, a financial incentive like this, but do you understand, I guess, and I mean, what is your message to city employees who already to them did the right thing, had been – they say endangering themselves by going into office with unvaccinated colleagues and now they're not going to get $500 like some of their colleagues will? 

Mayor: Yeah, Katie, you sometimes ask me do I understand how people feel? I absolutely understand how people feel. I'm someone who, you know, I didn't get an incentive and I totally appreciate that - you look at someone else got an incentive, you're like, hey, I wish I got that incentive. I get it. But I'm coming from a very practical place. I'm trying to get us to a goal. And I think this is a smart incentive to help get us there. In the end, look, we know we're dealing with a backdrop where there's been a huge amount of misinformation, unlike anything we've ever seen in history. People used to get vaccinated all the time, appropriately, were made safe by those vaccinations, those vaccinations wiped out major diseases that plagued our society. Only in this instance has there been the kind of massive misinformation and cynical effort to create misinformation, that unfortunately has affected a lot of people. Against that backdrop, we have to use different tools in different ways. Right now, this mandate, it's time. The extra incentive I think just helps us get where we need to go. Go ahead, Katie. 

Question: Thanks, and I'm not sure if this was asked before, but do we have a financial, like an estimate, of how much money the city intends to pay? I guess we can do the math easily. We could see how many employees are not vaccinated and then times that by 500. I'm sure you've got people who are better at math than me on this. 

Mayor: It's the maximum number, as I understand, it would be 46,000 employees. $500 incentive per person. Our goal is to get all 46,000. Obviously, we may not get all of them, but we're going to do our best to get everyone encouraged to do that. I am handed the note where the excellent math was done, $23 million is the maximum it could be, and again, that's real money, but against the backdrop of you know massive multi-billion-dollar effort to fight COVID over these last years, I think it's a good investment. 

Moderator: We have time for two more questions today. The next is Jeff Mays from the New York Times. 

Question: Hey, good morning, Mr. Mayor. My question is about the mandate. I'm wondering –you just mentioned how difficult it's been to get police officers to do something as simple as wear masks in the subway. I'm wondering, you know, how much difficult it might be to get them to get a vaccine. You've talked about the contingency plans that they are in place, but you have not discussed what those contingency plans are. Can you give a little detail about what exactly you're going to do if thousands of police officers and sanitation workers do not show up for work because they choose to remain unvaccinated?  

Mayor: Sure, Jeff, look, first of all, we have a lot of evidence here of how people respond. We had many, many people had real valid concerns about schools, about hospitals for a period of days, in each case, there was tremendous concern, whether it be, you know, thousands upon thousands of people not showing up. And in both cases, we saw overwhelming compliance. Now you can say, well, this is a different workforce. Yeah, but in the end, people go to work out of a combination of believing in what they're doing and also wanting to get paid. It's not like whether you wear a mask on a subway, this is an entirely different reality. Do you want to get paid or not? Well, the vast, vast majority of people in public service need that paycheck. They're not going to go without it. And in the end, we gave people lots of time. There's no question about our strength in court. Everyone sees it. So, I think we're going to see a lot of people, maybe grudgingly, but a lot of people go and just get vaccinated and continue working. In terms of contingencies, we have, and we've been through this in great detail with the different agency leaders, obviously we'll use overtime when we need to use overtime. We'll do redeployments when we need to do redeployments. We have a variety of ways we can adjust the use of the workforce. We feel confident that even if there's some temporary dynamic of some people not being ready right away, that we're going to find our way through it. Go ahead, Jeff. 

Question: Thank you. I'm wondering tonight is the first debate for mayor between Eric Adams and that Curtis Sliwa. You've said you thought that Mr. Adams would make a great mayor. What do you think about Curtis Sliwa and why do you think Eric Adams would be a better mayor than Mr. Sliwa? 

Mayor: I literally have nothing to say about Curtis Sliwa. And why Eric Adams? I – look, I think he has proven over decades. He understands the city. He has served the city at the frontline as a police officer. He served in Albany. He knows how to address our relationship with the state government. He understands our neighborhoods, but most importantly, I think he is someone who has moved progressive ideas and policies in a variety of ways throughout his career and is going to be very effective at getting that done. I mean, look, I got to tell you, I talk to Eric Adams regularly, I am confident that he will be able to take everything that I believe we've achieved and then build upon it and go farther. So, I really am looking forward to him becoming elected our next mayor. I'm looking forward to working with him to have a very, very positive transition.  

Moderator: The last question for today goes to Julia Marsh from The Post. 

Question: Thanks for the honor. I would just second Gloria's request for return to in-person briefings. Mr. Mayor, I wholeheartedly agree with what you said yesterday, and that's some essential jobs are just better performed in-person. Journalism is clearly one of those jobs. 

This morning when you were on television, you mentioned that Eric Adams supports the mandates, but Adam says he would approach them differently. He says he’d partner with labor to make sure they're on board before announcing requirements like the one today and getting dragged into litigation and other disputes. So why not use that more collaborative approach? 

Mayor: Well, Julia, first of all what I said this morning was quoting, I said, very clearly – Eric Adams obviously is going to speak for himself - but I was quoting from what he had said previously. The approach we've taken has been in constant communication with a very wide range of our public employee unions for months. We understood after many, many conversations where the different leaders of the unions were at, what they were thinking, and it was clear that we needed to move forward, whether that was going to be warmly embraced or not, we needed to move forward for the health and wellbeing of our employees and the people they serve. We also believe we are on a very firm legal set ground, and we were, and it’s been proven in court many, many times. So, look Eric is going to do whatever he sees fit going forward. He'll have his own approach, of course, but I assured there was a lot of consultation, a lot of communication, and it became clear that this was the way to actually get something done. Go ahead, Julia. 

Question: And then back to the DOI report, can you tell taxpayers why having your detail squire your brother around New Jersey to get a rental car is a good use of public resources? 

Mayor: Well, I'm glad you asked that one, because it didn't come to mind in the previous question, but now you're asking, and I'll tell you that I have no evidence that ever happened. The only time my brother went to that place in New Jersey was with me in my car. So, this is another example of just stuff being put in there, based on whatever communication DOI looked at, things that didn't happen or misunderstandings by members of the details or bits and pieces of information. I asked him, I said, did that ever happen? He said, no. He said, I went with you to New Jersey. I said, of course, I remember going there, old family friend there that we visited. So, you guys can keep asking about the report, but I would really urge you to recognize this, a lot of holes in it, and I keep going back to the central point, why on earth, if you want to do a report on mayoral security, would you not talk to the person who's actually in charge of mayoral security at the highest level, John Miller, who sat here a few weeks ago and told you all what actually is the reality?  

Well, everyone look as we finish today, this is a historic moment for New York City. Again, this city, we were the epicenter of COVID. We have been leading the charge out of the COVID era. We've been fighting back with the strongest mandates, the incentives, the best approaches to lead us out of COVID. But we've also been showing the private sector. We've been showing the whole nation how to get it done and New Yorkers should be proud. You've gone out and gotten vaccinated, you've bought into these approaches, and this is what's going to help us win the war against COVID once and for all. Thank you.


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