Live updates: Coronavirus pandemic and Omicron variant

Elected Mayor Eric Adams speaks during a statement in Brooklyn Borough Hall, New York on December 28, 2021, in which he said that a new COVID pandemic policy will be announced after he takes office in 2022. Photo by Lev Radin / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images)

Elected Mayor of New York Eric Adams and city officials on Thursday unveiled his plan to fight Covid-19 in the new year, with officials teasing in particular that the private sector vaccine mandate will remain in force and a decision on whether to order vaccines for students, are settled for the spring.

Adams said Covid-19 is a “formidable” opponent worthy of a “formidable plan.”

“We must allow our city to function,” he said, adding that he intends to “follow science,” promote equality of resources, and generally “be smarter, live with Covid, and protect everyday New Yorkers.”

Vaccines and boosters are still the “best weapons in our arsenal,” he said, adding that the overall goal is to “keep our city open.”

The plan focuses on six priorities: vaccination; support hospitals and community settings; testing; treatment; slow the spread; and safer schools.

The current NYC health commissioner, Dr. Dave Chokshi, who will stay on until March, said the private sector employer mandate will remain in force in the new year.

“We will also examine the need for what we call the updated mandate, which would require New Yorkers to have their booster shots under the vaccine mandates currently in place,” Chokshi added.

“Studying it includes both following the new science of the importance of booster doses with omicron as well as understanding the impact of the mandate on the settings it would apply to,” he added.

The city will set a deadline for this spring for a decision on a vaccine mandate in schools that, if decided, will begin later in 2022, Chokshi said.

While the city added 60 more test sites after the advent of Omicron, testing and tracking will continue to stand up for more sites, he added.

The upcoming NYC health commissioner said the city will also focus on increasing access to monoclonal antibodies, including oral drugs with a “focus on justice” and reaching out to underserved high-risk populations.

The city also plans to distribute 2 million high-quality masks through community-based organizations and the city’s health centers, said Dr. Ashwin Vasan, who will take over for Chokshi in March as health commissioner.

Vasan also added that the city plans to come up with a universal, color-coded system that shows the level of threat at any given time by Covid-19 in the city and clearly indicates what level of security measures are in place.

More about the NYC Covid-19 plan: As previously announced by the current mayor and management of NYC, as well as the governor, on January 3, the city will implement the plan “stay safe, stay open,” officials said.

This includes doubling monitoring tests in schools, adjusting the situation space and contact tracking protocols, repatriating millions of rapid home tests, and strengthening remediation, including high-quality masks and ventilation.


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