On the same day that COVID vaccine mandates were lifted in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams didn’t rule out the need to reinstate them in the future, because the virus is “not going away.”
His statement comes as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hosts a call Monday to discuss the transition road map for when the federal Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 expires on May 11.
Mayor Adams called into Caribbean Power Jam’s “The Reset Show” on Friday, and was asked about the 2,000 people who were fired because they chose not to be vaccinated. Host J.R. Giddings asked what those fired employees need to know about their jobs.
“Well, they can reapply for their jobs,” Adams said. He stressed that when the vaccine mandate was enacted 96% of employees took the vaccine.
Adams said that when COVID was at its worst, after seeing “trailers of bodies,” many more people would have died if the mandates weren’t in place. But things have improved, at least for now.
“Now that we’re seeing a normalization of COVID, there may be another time that we are going to have to do mandates again because these viruses are not going away,” Adams said.
Meanwhile, the HHS said that while the Public Health Emergency is ending in a few months, addressing COVID-19 remains a “significant public health priority.” But given “we are in a better place” with respect to COVID, the HHS said it would transition its policies into improving standards of care for patients, and would continue to commit to ensuring vaccines and treatments are “widely accessible” to those who need them.
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According to the latest data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 229.82 million people in the U.S., or 69.2% of the total population, have completed the primary series of the original COVID vaccines, but only 52.50 million people, or 15.8% of the population, have received an updated booster shot.
By the numbers
The seven-day average of new daily COVID cases was 39,549 on Sunday, according to a New York Times tracker. That’s down 14% from two weeks ago, and the fewest since Nov. 14.
Despite the sharp declines, 23 states were still seeing cases rise, including 15 states seeing double-digit percentage increases in the past two weeks. The states seeing the biggest increases were Wyoming at 209%, South Dakota at 73% and Montana at 49%, the New York Times data show. The states seeing the biggest declines were Vermont at 37% and New York at 33%.
COVID-related hospitalizations fell 12% to 29,138, while COVID patients in intensive care units dropped 13% to 3,624.
The daily average for deaths was at 442 on Sunday. While the number was 15% below where it was two weeks ago, and down sharply from its January peak of 580 deaths a day, it has held above the 400 mark for six weeks. On Nov. 14, the daily average for deaths was 297.
In total, there have been 672.93 million cases worldwide since the pandemic began, and 6,854,200 deaths, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. In the U.S., there have been 102.85 million cases and a total of 1,114,393 deaths.