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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Holds Media Availability

August 3, 2021

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Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everyone. Every day we focus on the recovery of New York City, a recovery for all of us, and that recovery is well underway. You can see the energy, the activity in the city again – the jobs coming back, the livelihoods coming back, businesses coming back, you can see it all. And there's a reason, there's one reason, and only one reason – vaccines. Vaccination has made the difference. This is the whole ballgame, everyone. So, what we've seen is the biggest vaccination effort in the history of New York City. And now, we've added this hundred-dollar incentive, which has proven to be very popular already. Just a few days into it, just started on Friday, and, by yesterday, over 11,000 New Yorkers had claimed a hundred-dollar incentive with their first vaccination – 11,000 people in just a few days. This is going to be a big deal and this is going to help us go a lot farther. As of today, in New York City, 10,015,459 total doses from the beginning of our effort. But here's another major milestone we have now reached, 5 million – 5 million New Yorkers have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine – 5 million New Yorkers. We're now at this point we dreamed of and now we're going to go farther. We're going to go farther with a smart mix of incentives and mandates, because it's all about vaccination. I've been saying now over the last few weeks, we're going to climb the ladder. We're going to use every tool we've got to fight the Delta variant and to end the COVID era once and for all in this city. That means more and more vaccinations, and we know that strong, clear mandates help.   

So, we started, of course, with a mandate for our frontline health workers – Health + Hospitals, Department of Health – requiring that they get tested or vaccinated, obviously with a strong, strong preference for vaccination. Then we said, new employees will be required to get vaccinated before they could start work for the City of New York. These kind of actions are making an impact far beyond the boundaries of New York City. We're seeing our state and other states like California following suit. We're seeing the federal government following suit. New York City’s starting every time the action. We're setting the pace. And we're going to do that again today with today's announcement.   

But let me also talk about the private sector. We've seen leaders in the private sector blaze the trail here. I want to thank a great New York City entrepreneur, Danny Meyer for the announcement he made regarding his restaurants. I want to thank Equinox and Soul Cycle for the decision they made about vaccine mandates. I want to thank everyone in the Broadway community for the decision they made related to indoor performances. So, examples right there – dining, fitness, performances – where you see leaders in the private sector already saying clearly vaccination is the answer, we need these strong, clear mandates. And we've proven that even with outdoor entertainment, it makes sense. Our Homecoming Concerts are going to be amazing, but, if you want to go to one of them, you have to be vaccinated. That's a requirement. Climbing this ladder is giving us more and more ability to fight back the Delta variant. By fighting the Delta variant, we will continue our recovery and we will ultimately beat COVID.   

So, today, I announce a new approach, which we're calling the Key to NYC Pass. The key to New York City – when you hear those words, I want you to imagine the notion that because someone's vaccinated, they can do all the amazing things that are available in this city. This is a miraculous place literally full of wonders. And, if you're vaccinated, all that's going to open up to you. You'll have the key. You can open the door. But, if you're un-vaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things. That's the point we're trying to get across. It's time for people to see vaccination as literally necessary to living a good and full and healthy life. The Key to NYC Pass will be a first-in-the-nation approach. It will require vaccination for workers and customers in indoor dining, in indoor fitness facilities, indoor entertainment facilities. This is going to be a requirement. The only way to patronize these establishments indoors will be if you're vaccinated, at least one dose. The same for folks in terms of work, they'll need at least one dose. This is crucial because we know that this will encourage a lot more vaccination. We've seen it already. We've seen the impact of the mandate we put in place for City workers already starting to move people to vaccination. We've obviously seen the positive impact of incentive as well. The goal here is to convince everyone that this is the time. If we're going to stop the Delta variant, the time is now. And that means getting vaccinated right now.   

This new policy will be phased in over the coming weeks. So, we have been working with the business community, getting input. We're going to do more over the next few weeks. The final details of the policy will be announced and implemented in the week of August 16th. So, over the next couple of weeks, getting more feedback, finalizing the policy, publishing it, and beginning to implement it. We’ll then spend most of a month educating people, going out to businesses, receiving calls from businesses, answering questions and concerns, making sure everyone understands the new approach. And then, on September 13th, during that week, we'll begin inspections and enforcement. So, we want to give businesses big and small a chance to get acclimated. We want to make adjustments based on their input, but this will move forward, starting in the week of August 16th, and then full enforcement and inspection begins the week of September 13th, which is very pertinent, because that's the first full week after Labor Day when we really expect a lot more activity in this city.   

Now, I'll tell you, we know those conversations with the business community are crucial. We've had a lot of them already. What we're hearing from so many folks in the business community is, they understand this time, but they need government to lead. That's going to help them to do what they need to do. Not everyone's going to agree with this, I understand that. But, for so many people, this is going to be the lifesaving act – that we're putting a mandate in place, it's going to guarantee a much higher level of vaccination in this city, and that is the key to protecting people and the key to our recovery. That's why it's the Key to NYC. The Key to NYC pass opens a lot of doors and we need it. We'll be issuing a Mayoral Executive Order and a Health Commissioner's Order – those are the legal tools necessary to implement this approach. And we know that this is what's going to turn the tide. And we also know that people are going to get a really clear message – if you want to participate in our society fully, you’ve got to get vaccinated. You’ve got to get vaccinated. It's time. All the answers, all the information's out there. You've seen over 160 million Americans get vaccinated safely. You've seen it make the difference. The only reason we're having the recovery is vaccination. So, it's time. And this is going to send that message clearly. And the Key to NYC Pass, this is an easy approach, because to confirm vaccination all you need is your vaccination card or the NYC COVID SAFE app, or the Excelsior app from the State – any of those will do. So, it's simple. Just show it and you're in.  

Everyone, this summer already has been amazing in this city and a lot more to come. This approach has got to make clear – if you want to enjoy everything great in the Summer of New York City, go get vaccinated. It will do for you so many things. It will make your life better. It will make all our lives better. I want you to hear from folks who have been working so hard on the response to COVID and who care so deeply. I want you to hear what they think of this new, clear, strong approach, the Key to NYC Pass. First of all, the former Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, he was also a former Senior Advisor to the Biden White House COVID Response Team. He is a powerful voice for expanding access to health care in this country and I really want to thank him for joining us. My pleasure to introduce Andy Slavitt.  


Mayor: Thank you so much, Andy. I really love what you just said there – the enemy is certainly not each other. We have an enemy is going after all of us and we’ve got to do something different if we're going to make an impact. And I really appreciate your point too – this will clarify things and it will just help us at a crucial, sensitive moment. So, thank you for joining us. And most especially, thank you for the extraordinary role you played over recent years and doing so much to make sure Americans had access to health care. Really, really appreciate you.   

Now, another voice I want you to hear. She has been one of the most prominent national voices about the fight against COVID, the way to go about it the right way. She advised the Biden transition and she has been a voice for really thinking about what we always need to do ahead, getting over the horizon to the next thing we have to do to fight COVID. My pleasure to introduce, she is the Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine, Dr. Celine Gounder.  


Mayor: Thank you, doctor. As always, thank you for breaking it down and making it clear to people we have a real different threat here, and it means using new measures like this to fight back. Thank you very, very much for joining us today. Everyone, I want you to hear from some other leaders who care deeply about this. And one of them was, yesterday, at City Hall and we were talking and he said, you know, it's really time to do something different. And I said, great minds think alike. And I want you to hear from a leader of this city, representing Manhattan and the Bronx, but also a leader nationally in the Congress, and has been a strong – a strong advocate, I should say, for health care equity. My pleasure to introduce Congress Member Adriano Espaillat.  


Mayor: Thank you so much, Congress Member. And I loved your demonstration yesterday. We were at City Hall, just pulling out the card in your wallet, you had it ready at all times. And I think that's such a powerful message – it doesn't take much to meet this requirement and keep everyone safe. Thank you for your support for this initiative. And we're definitely going to work with you and leaders all over the city to get our businesses ready for it so we can do it right. Thank you very, very much.   

Now, everyone. Now, another really leading voice in this city on the fight against COVID and someone who believes in taking this kind of measure, because it's time to fight back hard and focus on vaccination even more. He's been a great voice for making sure that the people of this city get what they need to protect them from COVID. My pleasure to introduce the Chair of the Health Committee of the City Council, Council Member Mark Levine.  


Mayor: Thank you very, very much Council Member. You always tell the truth, not without controversy. That is correct. But it is the right thing to do and your support will be tremendously helpful as we make this happen here in this city. And I think it's also going to be a model that will be picked up on a lot of other places as we prove that it can work right here. So, thank you so much Council Member. And now, I want to hear from someone who has been a leader in the areas of small business and economic development, who understands how crucial it is to bring back this city, who also represents communities hit hard by COVID and understands how important it is to maximize vaccination at this moment. My pleasure [inaudible] from Queens, State Senator James Sanders Jr.  


Mayor: Thank you, Senator. And, as always, you tell it like it is. And we have to be real blunt about the fact that the danger is profound and we need strong, strong measures. So, thank you. Thank you for supporting this and your point about getting more and more of those mobile vaccination sites out, that's exactly what we believe in, and you'll be seeing them at more and more places people congregate, because we want people to right then have that moment inspiration, come get that first shot, and then they're on their way to a lot more safety and a lot more freedom. Thank you, Senator. Now, everyone, I want you to hear from two leaders of the business community and two folks who will be directly affected by this policy and believe in it, because they understand the frontline impact that COVID is having on their customers and their employees. First of all, a New York City legend – she and her family have created literally one of the greatest and most famous dining institutions in all the history of New York City, and that's saying a lot. We are arguably the greatest restaurant city in the world. I would argue with anyone on that anytime. I think we are. And to be one of the greatest of the greatest all time – well, that says a lot. I also want to thank her and her family and everyone at the restaurant, because they donated food to people in need during the pandemic. They are always there for the community and now taking a lead and helping to make sure more and more New Yorkers get vaccinated. From the legendary Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem, my great pleasure introduced Tren’ness Woods-Black.  

Tren’ness, are you out there? Let’s check. Hold on – we’ll go to the next person and come back? Okay. We’re going to hold on Tren’ness for a moment – it was a good lead-up though.  


So, another great business leader and she has created one of the great – we all love our events in New York City, and we love the food and the way the events are put together, the specialists, one of the great catering businesses in this city known for its creativity, its quality, is Great Performances, a woman who founded Great Performances and who always gives back to the city, including as founder of the Sylvia Center to improve children's health. She is always there when the City of New York needs her, my pleasure to introduce Liz Neumark.   


Mayor: I like that. That's a good combination, Liz, fighting the fight and having the party. That kind of gives you both sides of the equation, fight the fight now so we can have the party, and that's what the Key to NYC Pass is all about. And, Liz, you've been ahead of the curve, really want to thank you for helping to get the ball rolling and proving it could work, and yes, we believe when government comes into play, it's going to help so many other businesses to do the same thing you've done successfully. So, thank you as always for your leadership, Liz. All right, now let's see, I'm looking for a signal whether Tren’ness is back. That's a yes, we think. Okay. Tren’ness, can you hear me?   


Mayor: Thank you so much, Tren’ness. Very, very powerful statement, and particularly the story you told from your own family, really is – you know, it makes me feel even more strongly this is the right thing to do. And your leadership counts for a lot here, I really, really want to thank you.    


Mayor: All right, now, everyone, there you've heard it, a lot of very powerful voices who believe in this approach, we're going right away to get everyone ready for it. It's going to make a big difference and to understand once again, the challenge we're up against with the Delta variant.    

We'll do today's indicators, and again, the reason we are still able to keep this city moving forward is vaccination, but the only way to defeat the Delta variant, because it's coming on strong, is with more vaccination. Here are today's indicators. Number one, daily number of people admitted to New York City hospitals for suspected COVID-19, today's report is 75 patients, confirmed positivity of 29.87 percent. Hospitalization rate per 100,000, 0.74. Number, two, new reported cases on a seven-day average, today's report, 1,288 cases. And number three, again, we're going to phase this out in the morning presentations after this week, but it will be available on the Department of Health website, percentage of people testing statewide positive for COVID-19, today's report on a seven-day rolling average, 3.09 percent. I’m going to say a few words in Spanish about our new policy we're announcing today.    

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]    

With that, we 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, by Dr. Katz, and by Senior Advisor, Dr. Jay Varma. The first question today goes to Derick Waller from WABC.    

Question: Mr. Mayor, good morning.    

Mayor: Good morning, Derick. How are you doing?   

Question: Doing great. I hope you are.    

Mayor: Yes, indeed.    

Question: Well, I just obviously want to ask about The Key to New York City, and one question I had though, is how are you able to enforce this vaccine mandate when the vaccines have not yet gained FDA approval – full FDA approval?    

Mayor: Derik, a really fair question, but I'll tell you, we got a very clear message from the US Department of Justice that it was appropriate to move forward with these kinds of standards based on the existing approval. That was thorough unto itself, and obviously we've seen with our own eyes well over 160 million Americans successfully vaccinated. So, it is legally, absolutely appropriate to move forward with this mandate and it's necessary given the pace of the Delta variant right now. Go ahead, Derik   

Question: And I also wanted to ask we saw a report from our sister station actually in San Francisco reporting that San Francisco General Hospital is going to start giving booster shots, mRNA booster shots to people who took the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. I know that you took the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Have you heard anything about that? Is that something that you would do yourself? Would you take a booster shot?    

Mayor: Well, I’ll turn in a moment to my fellow Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Dr. Dave Chokshi, and obviously if Dr. Katz or Dr. Varma want to add. I'm ready to take a booster shot whenever the time is right and whenever the priority is right, because as with everything, if we're introducing any new piece to the equation, we want to make sure that those who need it most get it first. But if at any point it's determined that booster shots are advisable, I'm certainly ready when my turn comes. With that, Dr. Chokshi.   

Commissioner Dave Chokshi, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor. We are following the science very closely on this, particularly in the context of the Delta variant. At this moment, we are not recommending booster shots for any individuals based on our scientific understanding right now. However, there is some evidence, and it is growing, that booster shots may be a recommended or required a little bit further down the road. If that happens, it's most likely to be prioritized for people who are immunocompromised, potentially older individuals as well, but this is an area where we need to ensure that we follow the science as well as the recommendations from the FDA on it. So, this is an area for us to stay tuned, but I want to give that clear message that at this moment, we are not recommending booster shots for anyone, including those who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Mayor: Dr. Varma, anything you want to add? 

Senior Advisor Varma: Nothing more to add. 

Mayor: Great. Okay, go ahead. 

Moderator: The next is Lisa Rozner from WCBS. 

Question: Hi, Mayor. How are you? 

Mayor: Good, Lisa. How’ve you been? 

Question: I’ve been great. Thank you for asking. My first question is how is this pass going to work if you're not from New York City? Like you have a lot of people coming here from New Jersey and tourists, not from the area. Are they going to somehow get this pass, this card? 

Mayor: You know, great question, Lisa, obviously the vaccination card that so many of us have in our wallets is something you see from all over the country. So, that's a very straightforward way for anyone who's been vaccinated to prove it. We have the NYC app. We have Excelsior Pass. There's different options that anyone can use. The bottom line will be someone will have to have proof. They have to have proof of vaccination if they want to dine indoors or go to indoors entertainment, fitness, et cetera. So, long as that proof is accurate and real, wherever it comes from, that's what they'll need to show. Go ahead, Lisa. 

Question: And do you know what kind of penalties businesses might face if they don't enforce this? Like, it was very difficult for them to enforce masks. Now you're asking them to deny people business, essentially, and is there concern about how this might affect the workforce, like restaurants that are already short-staffed? 

Mayor: So, two important questions. I’m going to talk about the staffing for a second and then turn to Dr. Chokshi on the enforcement. Obviously, the Department of Health already, way before COVID, plays an important role in restaurant inspections. But first on the staffing, look, this is to protect everyone in the restaurant community, entertainment community, the employees, and the customers alike. What I really believe Lisa is that this will inspire people to get vaccinated. This is what we've heard from a lot of businesspeople. They believe that their employees need one more push. And certainly, since a lot of the folks we're talking about are younger, we know for a fact that younger New Yorkers want to live the full life of the city. An incentive to getting vaccinated would be if you can fully participate. Also, a disincentive would be if you're shut out of a lot of things, you want to do a lot of young people, including who work in restaurants and bars want to go to restaurants and bars themselves. So, I think you're going to see an incentive in reality, plus the literal hundred-dollar incentive. We believe, as this kind of approach grows and you're seeing it starting to happen now in the private sector and other areas, it's going to become more and more the norm. We want it to become the norm. I'm taking this action in part to inspire others to follow suit. 

On the question of the inspections. Again, we're going to take some time to get people ready, and we're not going to be issuing any fines before September, but it's pretty straightforward. You check someone's vaccination status at the door. I mean, people check in to go to a restaurant or a bar or anything. You check their vaccination status. If they have it, great. If they don't, turn around. Dr. Chokshi, you want to speak to that? 

Commissioner Chokshi: Thank you, sir. I'll just add briefly. We consider this a matter of safety and health. And so that's what our enforcement paradigm will reflect in the same way that we take precautions ensure food safety and other health and hygiene standards. That's what we will be aiming for with respect to enforcement of the Key To NYC. This will be not just Health Department inspectors, but a multi-agency set of inspectors who will be able to enforce those rules. Thank you, sir. 

Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead. 

Moderator: The next is Juan Manuel from NY1. 

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

Mayor: Good, Juan Manuel, how’ve you been? 

Question: Very good, thank you. So, positivity rate is already over three percent and the Delta variant has taught us that we still don't know a lot of things about the COVID-19 virus. We're still more than a month away from September 13th. So, given that infections are quickly going up every day in New York City. Why not mandating proof of vaccination sooner or also mandate masks indoors immediately, or proof of negative tests at public venues like Congressman Espaillat and Councilman Levine have asked the City to do, and a city like Paris just started doing this week? 

Mayor: Juan Manuel, we're looking at every option. Everything's on the table. As I said, we've been climbing the ladder more and more announcements, more and more new strategies all the time. Everything's on the table. But the most important piece is vaccination. I said, yes, I'm going to say it again: our strategy is vaccine centric. Anything and everything we do is to support vaccination. Anything less than vaccination isn't going to get us where we need to go. So, we're certainly ready to look at any additional options, but right now, what we want to nail is people getting vaccinated and, very bluntly, showing that life is much better when you're vaccinated, you can do so much more when you're vaccinated, you have more freedom when you're vaccinated and you have a lot less, you have fewer choices, fewer opportunities if you're not vaccinated. That's where we're strategically focused now. We can always make additions, but that's where we're focused now. Go ahead, Juan Manuel. 

Question: Most of the speakers today, they said that the time to act is now and that big elephant in the room is public schools. We could be way above 5 percent plus positivity rate by the time they reopen in September. So, are you going to mandate teachers to get the shot? And do you have a plan B for parents who might fear sending their children to school? 

Mayor: Juan Manuel, school will open September 13th, and it's imperative to the health and safety of our kids that they'd be in a place that provides them everything they need. And again, I'm talking about not just COVID as a consideration, but all other physical and mental health considerations. We have talked about this and I'll turn to Dr. Varma and Dr. Chokshi – our health care leaders adamantly believe in bringing back school. Now, Juan Manuel, let's get the facts. We had a gold standard of health and safety measures that worked extraordinarily well, even before we had any vaccinations. So, yes, of course Delta's a new ball game, but let's be clear with no vaccinations at all. We made New York City public schools safe with really intensive health and safety measures, including everyone wearing a mask in the school, which will continue. Well, now we have 10 million vaccination doses since that time and a high level of vaccination among our school employees. We're going to be augmenting that with an intensive drive to get kids 12 years old and up vaccinate in time for school. So, we have the tools to keep schools safe, and we need to get our kids back to school, as to any other measures we may take, stay tuned. We're looking at all options, but I want to put in perspective why, right now, we're in a very strong position, even compared to where we were when we had to start school in the context of COVID with no vaccinations available with that, first Dr. Varma, then Dr. Chokshi if there’s anything you want to add? 

Senior Advisor Varma: Great. Thank you very much, Juan Manuel, for the question, and we do understand why family members parents, children themselves, you know, may be concerned. We have talked repeatedly about how this new strain of COVID is something that we should be very worried about and taking action, but we should really emphasize what the Mayor has been talking about today and really for the past several weeks is that vaccination is the key. We know how effective vaccinations are, both at keeping yourself healthy, as well as reducing the likelihood that you will transmit infections to other people. And this particularly applies in the setting of schools. So, we know that the key is really going to be to continue to promote vaccination for everybody who is an adult and everybody who is 12 and above. On top of that, we will continue to use layered prevention measures, and we've talked about this a lot last year about how no one measure is a hundred percent perfect, so you layer them together. So, that includes the continuing use of masks and the extensive improvements in indoor ventilation that the DOE made last year and continues to work on this year. So, when you add all that together and you add in the strength of the Test and Trace Corps on top of that we do feel confident that it's important for kids to get the full benefit of school. And as the Mayor has again emphasized, health is not just about COVID. Schools provide enormous health benefits that need to be considered at all times. 

Mayor: Thank you. Dr. Chokshi, anything to add? 

Commissioner Chokshi: Yes, sir. Thank you. Last week, with you and with the Chancellor, I was at Lehman High School in the Bronx, and the Chancellor and I did a forum with some of the students there, and I was struck by a young man who asked the question, “how is it that we can best support the wellbeing of students as they come back to school?” And I very much appreciated his use of the word “wellbeing” because it reflects what we know about schools and education and their link to health, which is about much more than the absence of disease. It's about not just physical health, but also mental health as well. And bringing our kids back for in-person school is fundamental to the wellbeing of our young people. That's our starting point. And we will do everything that we have to to ensure safety as we accomplish that mission. As Dr. Varma has said, we have a powerful new tool in our arsenal, in the vaccine. We're approaching 250,000 12 to 17-year-olds who have already been vaccinated in New York City. And I want to make sure that parents know that August 9th is the last day that you can get your child vaccinated for them to be fully vaccinated by the time that school starts. So, we're going to be making even more of a push in the coming days and the coming weeks to get students as well as school staff vaccinated. Thank you. 

Mayor: And I'll just add before next question to Dave's point, I'm a parent. If my kids were school age, 12 years old and up, I would be running right now to the nearest vaccination site to get my kids vaccinated. Not a question in my mind. The ideal is get them vaccinated now. First of all, they'll be safe now and they'll be fully vaccinated in time for school. 

But that said, anyone who doesn't act in the next few days, it doesn't mean therefore don't get your kid vaccinated. Remember whenever you act, if it’s the day before school, it’s still going to help. The key is to go and get your child vaccinated at the quickest available opportunity, and the very best time to do it is this week. And you get that hundred-dollar incentive, which is a really, really wonderful thing. With that, go ahead. 

Moderator: The next is James Ford from PIX11.   

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

Mayor: James, you're in the – you're in the coveted cleanup spot today.   

Question: I greatly appreciate it. Just trying to get a little more clarity on the Key to New York Pass. Is this just an overarching term for a program where businesses will check people's vaccination status in any variety of ways, or will the City actually issue some sort of app, some sort of paper documents, some specific pass regarding admission into businesses?   

Mayor: Yeah, James, this is a strategy and the way it comes alive is with – as Congressman Espaillat showed us with the vaccination card or the NYC app or the Excelsior Pass. So, we've got three great ways for people to prove that they are vaccinated. We need people to use one of those things if they want to go to indoor dining or entertainment or fitness facilities. And the idea is this one clear standard, you must be vaccinated to go to as a customer or to work in as an employee, any of those facilities, period. Go ahead, James.   

Question: Thank you. And also, a question for my colleague, Kala Rama. What will police – this is off topic – what will policing in schools look like this year as we start transitioning control to the Education Department for that, please?   

Mayor: Yeah. We're in a transition. But what we know is we got to keep kids safe and employees safe. That's what School Safety does really well. And more and more what we're seeing is School Safety showing a really great combination of the work of our educators and school staff and the work of our safety professionals blended together in one strategy. Unquestionably – I've spent a lot of time with School Safety agents, I want to thank them for all they do for the city. So many of them come from right in the community that the school's in, they know the children in their community, they love the children of their community. They nurture and support them. And they also create an atmosphere of safety that I can tell you as a parent, I say, God bless the School Safety agents. I depended on them as a parent. I think all parents do. So, the transition will happen. The Department of Ed will ultimately be running that work, but the same quality, the same focus on compassionate safety is going to exist this year and beyond.   

Moderator: The next is Elizabeth Kim from Gothamist.    

Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor.   

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

Question: Good. My first question is, how does this new policy apply to children under the age of 12 who cannot be vaccinated yet?   

Mayor: Look, I'll start, and I'll turn to Dr. Chokshi. We're focusing on where we can have an impact and that's among those who can be vaccinated. And by the way, that's the vast majority of our population. We're not going to exclude those under 12. We want them to be safe. We want them to be careful, but really what we're trying to do here is focus on the folks who could be vaccinated. The whole purpose of doing this is to give people the ultimate incentive to get vaccinated if they're eligible. The other thing to say before the doctor is, we do expect in the next few months, kids in the five to 11 range will become eligible. And, you know, I think this is going to be yet another reason why you'll see parents move really quickly to get kids vaccinated once that eligibility occurs. Dr. Chokshi, please add.   

Commissioner Chokshi: Thank you, sir. I think you covered the high points. You know, what I would emphasize is that we do want to make as many of these settings as safe as possible. And that means having them be for people who are only fully vaccinated. That is the thrust of the policy. Many of them are settings where – you know, where there won't be children involved. For those that may involve children, this is something that we have to take into consideration. As with any policy of this type, there will have to be some reasonable accommodations made. And so that will be part of the discussion there. Thank you.   

Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead, Elizabeth.   

Question: So, just to clarify on that, if I were to bring, like, my son or daughter, who's 10 years old into a restaurant, will my child be allowed to come with me? Is that at the discretion of the restaurant?    

Mayor: So, again, Elizabeth, we're going to work out those details. The policy is going to be finalized over the next two weeks in consultation with the business community and our health care leadership. We'll put out the policy and activate it during that week of August 16th. Again, there will not be the inspections and enforcement and penalties until after September 13th, but this is the kind of thing we will work through. Look, the goal, of course, is not to exclude anyone who can't be vaccinated, but we have to figure out how to do things in a safe manner. So, good question. We will get you an answer, but the much more powerful piece to me – respecting the question a hundred percent – is everyone in New York City, 12 and older, the vast majority of New Yorkers, will now have a very, very clear standard to meet. If they want to do any of these wonderful activities indoors, go get vaccinated, at least one dose. If you're not willing to get vaccinated, then you're not going to be participating in either the work or the enjoyment of all these places.   

Moderator: The next is Amanda Eisenberg from Politico.   

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

Mayor: I'm doing good, Amanda. But hearing your name, I’m having volleyball flashbacks and you are a keen competitor, Amanda.   

Question: We want a rematch. We think it was rigged. So, you know, we're willing to play you again. [Inaudible] one-on-one –   

Mayor: Definitely not rigged. And I'll take that rematch any day.    

Question: Okay, great. Thank you. I wanted to talk a little bit about funding these businesses who might need to be paying for additional labor to do this carding system. Representative Espaillat yesterday had suggested that there might be a funding model available to kind of give businesses, you know, some extra help financially to be able to deal with this. Is this something that's on the table or something you're considering?   

Mayor: We’re going to look at a variety of ways that we can help the businesses, Amanda. We want this to be a success. We want it to go smoothly. Look, I don't think, when you think about the fact that everything we're talking about essentially has some kind of way that people check in. When you go to a restaurant, you go to a, you know, gym or fitness club, you know, just think about the different venues we're talking about, a movie theater, there is always a place where someone takes the ticket, whatever it might be. So, adding a simple check to make sure that someone has valid vaccination, I don't think that's going to be overly cumbersome in the final analysis. But we do want to make sure it works and works well. So, we're going to look at a variety of options to support businesses in that. Go ahead, Amanda.   

Question: Great. Thank you so much. And then my second question is off topic. Attorney General Tish James had released a report today saying that Governor Cuomo had sexually harassed several women and created a hostile work environment. I wanted to know what your thoughts are. I understand that this report was emailed during this press conference and you might not have been briefed, but I'm hoping to just get your, you know, initial reaction.   

Mayor: Look, Amanda, obviously, I want to see the report. I definitely have faith in the Attorney General that she and her team have conducted a thorough objective investigation. And from what you're telling me, those are very troubling findings, but I need to see the report to be able to give you a deeper answer on this.   

Moderator: We'll have time for two more for today. The next is Lynda Baquero from NBC.    

Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. Thank you for your time.    

Mayor: How are you doing, Lynda?   

Question: I'm well, thank you. How are you doing?    

Mayor: All right.    

Question: Excellent. One of the events coming up where people will have to show proof of vaccination is the Homecoming Concert that you've been talking about in New York City. And this morning we checked Ticketmaster and the VIP tickets for the Central Park show are going for just under $5,000. Wanted to get your reaction to that first. And also, what advice would you have to people who are hoping to still get free tickets?   

Mayor: Lynda, this is a people's concert as are the ones in the other four boroughs. The vast majority of tickets are free. And that was something we were very, very adamant about. The VIP tickets are to pay for much of the cost. And for those who have the resources, you know, by buying those tickets, they're helping make it possible that everyone else can go for free. But there's more opportunities. We'll get the exact timing. I think it's today and tomorrow when tickets are going to be made available. So, urge New Yorkers, get ready for those moments and, you know, jump online and grab tickets because they're going to be absolutely amazing concerts. Go ahead, Lynda.  

Question: Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor.    

Mayor: You're good? Okay.   

Moderator: Last question for today, it goes to Nolan Hicks from the New York Post.   

Mayor: Nolan –    

Question: Good morning, everybody. Is this on?   

Mayor: Yeah, Nolan. How are you doing today?   

Question: I'm doing well, Mr. Mayor, how are you doing?   

Mayor: Good, I was about to say you need more coffee, but I doubt that's the case.    

Question: I always try to avoid that unfortunate outcome. On the policy announcement today regarding the vaccine mandates, how will this apply to other indoor activities like shopping malls, grocery stores, pharmacies, things that are more, I guess, potentially presenting lower profile risk.   

Mayor: It's a great question, Nolan. Look, we very purposely focused, to begin, on important parts of life in this city, but where people went for enjoyment that were not, you know, the most essential services and where we think there's a particular need because folks are in close proximity, eating, drinking, exercising, whatever it may be. This is a very, very important place to make this change. Just think about what it will mean for people's lives. Once upon a time, to use an analogy, very different reality, but I think it makes it vivid – once upon a time, you know, smoking was typical in restaurants and bars. A lot of us – I happen to have asthma, a lot of other people had respiratory problems, really suffered because of that. You never felt comfortable. You were always worried was someone going to light up a cigarette? Well, this is a much, much bigger problem. You know, a deadly disease that lurks in our city that has taken so many lives. To be able to go into a restaurant, a bar, a gym, a movie theater, and know the entire environment is folks who are vaccinated, which means much less chance of transmission. It also means even if God forbid someone contracted the disease, they are protected against the worst outcomes, that's really night and day. So, that's what we're achieving with this mandate, but we will now look at other areas as well, other types of businesses and absolutely consider whether it makes sense to do something similar, but this was the right place to begin, and a place where I think we're going to have a particularly profound impact. Go ahead, Nolan.   

Question: And to follow up on Amanda's question about the Attorney General's investigation. I want you to react to the findings as outlined in the executive summary, which are specifically, and to quote, “We find that the Governor sexually harassed a number of current and former New York State employees by among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women. Additionally, our investigation revealed the Governor, sexual harassing was not limited to members of his own staff, but also extended to other State employees, including a State trooper on his protective detail and members of the public.” It goes on to outline nearly a dozen instances where they say they can confirm that the Governor either sexually harassed staff or engaged in retaliatory actions against people who brought allegations of sexual harassment, including describing his female staff assistants as the, “mingle mamas,” and grabbing the breast of one staffer. What should the Governor do in response to these findings? Should –    

Mayor: Yeah. Nolan, you're still there.    

Question: Yeah. I'm still here. Yeah.   

Mayor: Yeah, no, I thought you were mid-sentence there.    

Question: No, no, I cut off. I think that's – I think “mingle mamas” is enough.    

Mayor: Yeah. I – look, having said very clearly, I've not read the report, I will be reading it, and I'll comment further when I do. I'll state the obvious, the summary you just gave represents behavior that’s unacceptable, unacceptable on anyone, let alone a public servant. I've been very clear about the fact that what we've seen is disqualifying. I'll look at this report and have more to say, but it's very, very troubling and painful to hear that accounting of a powerful person treating people that way.    

With that, going back, everyone, to why we gathered here today, the fight against COVID. Look, this mandate is going to help us save lives. This mandate is going to help us bring our city back fully. And the bottom line is it's time for everyone to get vaccinated. And we're making it really clear, if you want the Key to NYC, if you want everything good about this city, all it takes is go out and get vaccinated. Just get that first dose and you're in the game. Of course, follow through, get the second dose too at the right time. But all you got to do is walk down the street, walk in, for free, get vaccinated. It takes a few minutes and you're in the game. You get to enjoy all the life in New York City. And if you don't get vaccinated, you're going to be left out of a lot of things. And I don't say that with any joy, but I think it’s what people need to hear to motivate a lot of people to take that next step, for their own protection. We are doing this for your protection, your family, your community. So, once again, the right thing to do, go get vaccinated. Thank you, everyone.   

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