Letitia James Backs NYC Vaccine Mandate — and Wants a Statewide Mask Requirement

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

New York Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Letitia James (D) endorsed New York City Bill de Blasio’s plan to impose a coronavirus vaccine mandate for all employees of private companies, while seemingly lamenting what she characterized as the lack of further action by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) to combat the pandemic.

“I support a vaccine mandate with a testing option, but why are we still doing this piecemeal? A mandate alone won’t get us out of the crisis particularly when it’s implemented without input from employees and employers,” James said in a Monday statement through her campaign. “Science tells us we need everyone to wear a mask in public settings; accessible at-home testing’ and real public health outreach to our communities. This cannot be done municipality by municipality. New York state must finally lead.”

Earlier Monday, De Blasio announced the first-in-the-nation vaccine mandate for private companies, calling the measure a “bold” step in curbing coronavirus infections as the cases of the Omicron variant rise across the United States.

“We in New York City have decided to use a preemptive strike to really do something bold to stop a further growth of COVID and the dangers it’s causing to all of us,” De Blasio stated in an interview with MSNBC.

“Vaccines work, and vaccine mandates work, particularly when joined with efforts to build vaccine confidence, provide incentives, and improve access, as we have in New York City,” New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said in separate remarks. “We’ve seen this with our health care workers, school staff and public employees. Now it’s time for the private sector to step up and follow suit.”

De Blasio said city officials will outline the mandate’s rules on December 15th and will go into effect December 27th.

Staten Island Councilman Joe Borelli (R) raised concerns about the announcement, tweeting: “In the Bronx, with 15% unemployment, 28% of residents will no longer be able to work on Dec.27, including 44% of black young adults, as a result of de Blasio’s vaccine mandate for the private sector.”

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