July 27, 2021
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. Another beautiful day in the Bronx. We’re here live at Bronx Borough Hall, and we’ve got a lot to cover today, and let me make really clear what today is about. Today is about recovery. We’re going to talk about some very special events, some very special moments that are going to be thrilling, thrilling for all of us. But why are we having these incredible moments? Because of recovery. Everything’s about recovery now. Everything is about showing people the rebirth of New York City, building upon it, building momentum for it. We will come back and come back strong as a city. The only thing we need is more vaccinations. Vaccination equals recovery. I want everyone get this into your minds. Vaccination equals recovery. The reason that you can go around New York City right now and see so much activity – see stores opening up, restaurants full, people going to the Yankees, the Mets – all of that is because of vaccination. The reason we got this far was because of vaccination. The way forward is more vaccination. So, we’re going to keep recovering. We’re not going to cower. We’re not going to step backwards. We’re sure as hell not going to let ourselves go back to restrictions. So, if you want to avoid the restrictions and you want to move forward, go get vaccinated. If you like recovery and rebirth for New York City, go get vaccinated. That’s what it’s all about.
Now, it is time to celebrate the impact of almost 10 million vaccination doses in New York City – the profound impact it’s had, and because New Yorkers stepped up and because of our amazing health care heroes and vaccinators, we can move forward and to celebrate our rebirth. We’ve been talking about it for weeks. Now, our Homecoming Week is going to be absolutely historic, unforgettable. You do not want to miss this. Things are going to happen during a Homecoming Week that have never happened before and will never happen again in New York City, all in one week, it’s going to be unforgettable, but everyone who wants to participate – do the right thing, get vaccinated so you can fully enjoy this amazing, amazing week. Today we unveil We Love NYC, the Homecoming Concert. We Love New York – this homecoming concert is going to be the signal of our rebirth. It’s an amazing, amazing concert. And everyone who has participated in building it, I want to thank everyone in the city government and all our partners who have done this. It has been a labor of love. It has been exciting to watch folks putting this together with passion. Special thanks, right up front, couldn’t have happened without Clive Davis, couldn’t have happened without Danny Meyer, couldn’t have happened without Live Nation. You’re going to hear from them in a moment, which is a treat. But look at this logo. New York City is back. It says it all. New York City is back. You can see it. You can feel it. It’s time to celebrate on the Great Lawn where so many great things happened before. This is going to go into the history books. Saturday, August 21st at 5:00 pm, it’s going to be a big, long, amazing concert. It will be aired live worldwide by celebrity.land. That’s how important it is. That’s how amazing it is. If you’ve ever heard the word “blockbuster” and “blockbuster lineup” before, you’re going to hear now about an amazing lineup and it’s only happening because of Clive Davis. Clive is a proud son of Brooklyn. He is a New Yorker who loves New York City. He is a music industry legend. If you love music, then you have to say thank you to Clive Davis, because some of the greatest music in the history of this country is because of his work and the artists he brought forward and made possible. We owe so much to Clive Davis already, but this is a crowning achievement on an amazing career, as he leads the way in the comeback of New York City. I want him to tell you about the lineup because he’s the guy who made it all happen. Ladies and gentlemen, New York City’s own Clive Davis.
Mayor: Clive, absolutely stunning. There’s no other word for it. I’m like listening – if you had stopped after the first like six or seven names, it would have been an amazing concert, but I have never heard of a concert with that kind of line-up, and again, some people were saying here last week, the only thing they could possibly compare it to in terms of the sheer star power, the amazing mix of musical styles, maybe you could compare it to Woodstock, but this is unprecedented. And it’s all because of you, Clive. The fact that those folks are coming to support New York City is because you made the call. So I think it’s beautiful that a New Yorker loved his city so much that he used all of his reach and all of his influence and all of his good will to make the concert of a lifetime happen for the good in New York City. Clive, I just can’t thank you enough.
Clive Davis: My pleasure, thank you.
Mayor: All right, now – it’s amazing. You just heard it. I mean, I was getting goosebumps as I heard Clive talk about all those acts. Unbelievable, all together. So, think about it. You want to be there? You think that would be an amazing experience? We want you to be there and we’re going to be telling you about how you can get tickets. And by the way, 80 percent of the tickets will be free. We want this to be a concert for the people, but also want to be clear. It has to be a safe concert and it has to be a concert that helps us keep moving forward, our recovery, it’s all about recovery. That’s why we’re having this concert. And so, if you want to go to this concert, you need to show proof of vaccination. As simple as that, this is a concert for the ages and its part of our recovery. Join in our recovery, get vaccinated. If you’re already vaccinated, you’re good to go. If you’re not yet vaccinated, you’ve got weeks to go and get vaccinated so long as you’ve gotten that first dose and proof of it. You’re good, but here’s another great reason to get vaccinated. So, you can see this concert and the other amazing concerts and events that will be part of Homecoming Week.
Now, Clive, amazing effort, but let’s talk about Live Nation. They’ve been there every step of the way they are. The world leader in live music shows. It’s also been a labor of love for them. I have to thank Live Nation. We couldn’t have done it without them. And they threw in everything they had to make this happen. Let me bring forward from Live Nation, someone who has put a lot effort into this, and I thank you on behalf of New York City, the Regional President of Live Nation, Geoff Gordon.
Mayor: Geoff, thank you. And all your colleagues, all the folks who are making this show happen. Listen, you’re right, a lot of people coming back to work now for this, that’s wonderful. We’re happy to see people coming back to work. We’re happy to see everyone is part of putting on the show, everyone in front of the stage and behind the scenes. Thank you to everyone. Geoff, thank you to you and Live Nation. You have really pulled off something amazing here. So, everyone, Geoff gave you the news. You need, how you get the tickets. So set your alarms. He gave you all the details. Of course, all the tickets are going to go fast, the free tickets, especially. And so, if you want to be a part of this jump and remember it’s not just one amazing concert in Central Park, that would be amazing enough, but our recovery, our rebirth is so powerful, it’s five concerts, one in each borough. They’re all amazing. As you see the lineups unveiled, you are going to wonder how it’s possible that so much talent is all in one place at one time in one Homecoming Week. It’s unbelievable. I’m stunned myself, honestly, from when this idea was first put forward by Danny Meyer. Just an idea that now has turned into this extraordinary outpouring of support for New York City and the artists have come forward. Everyone has come forward with absolute commitment to this city – it’s just unbelievable.
So, let’s now turn to the person who really gets credit for the idea. I talked to Danny in the course of this crisis and he has been stalwart in standing up for New York City. And he has been a leader more than once in helping New York City and the neighborhoods in New York City move forward, even through tough times. I said, “Danny, the city needs you.” And he said, “what can I do to help?” Well, I asked him to be the Chair of our Board for the New York City Economic Development Corporation. And he’s doing a fantastic job there. He’s legendary, of course, for his work with the Union Square Hospitality Group. But he’s also someone who loves this city deeply and said, we need to do something that crystallizes our rebirth. And I said, “how about a Homecoming Week?” So, Danny, if you build it, they will come, someone once said. And you had the idea, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. And I want you to talk to the people in New York City about what this means to you and what it’s going to mean for all of us as New York City comes back. Ladies and gentlemen, Danny Meyer.
Thank you so much, Danny. And Danny, you’re right, homecoming – you know, when you first had the idea, it’s such a great phrase because it evokes moments that people cherish, the whole idea of any kind of homecoming. But when we talked about it first, and I want to emphasize this everyone, it’s, of course, for New Yorkers to come out and enjoy our own city like never before, because we’re coming back, because we got vaccinated. It’s for folks in the whole metropolitan area. We’re all in this together. Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, the New York metropolitan area, we’re all connected. It’s for folks to come back, who haven’t been here for a while. It’s for folks from around the country to come into Homecoming Week, to experience a stunning moment in New York City history, and to start bringing back our visitors, our tourists, who we need. And Danny’s right, as people around the globe watch this concert, it is going to be the greatest way of communicating to them not only is New York City back, but you got to get here. And I think it’s going to have a huge multiplier effect. So, Danny, thank you. Great idea, turned into something amazing. And it’s all because of you. Thank you, brother.
All right, now, that’s some big news. Let me also talk to you about the news we’re making every day here in the Bronx, as part of City Hall in your Borough, in the Bronx. I am having an amazingly good time in the Bronx and there are so many treasures in the Bronx. And Bronxites know it, but I want to urge all New Yorkers, get to know the Bronx better because it’s extraordinary. Yesterday, started out here at Borough Hall. Then we did a great ribbon cutting for a new affordable housing complex, 100 percent affordable in Melrose. This is going to be life-changing for hundreds and hundreds of families. I went to City Island, which is absolutely beautiful. Went to Johnny’s Reef. If you want some beautiful, fresh seafood go to Johnny’s Reef, everyone. Amazing Bronx spirit and atmosphere. I went to Van Cortlandt Park, went to the New York Botanical Garden. I mean, there’s so much to see and do in the Bronx. And by the way, speaking of New York Botanical Garden, voucher. Anyone who goes and gets vaccinated as part of the special deal with the New York Botanical Garden, you get a free pass to the legendary Kusama exhibit. People are talking about this exhibit all over the world. If you want to see it, you get vaccinated, you get in for free. I want to thank everyone at the New York Botanical Garden for this amazing promotion you’ve put together so people can see the beauty of that place, the beauty of this exhibit, and make themselves safer in the bargain. So, thank you.
And at the end of the day, had a great gathering with the elected leaders of the Bronx, Speaker Carl Heastie, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., District Attorney Darcel Clark, and so many other leaders from the Bronx who do so much for the Bronx. We went to Caridad restaurant in Kingsbridge, beautiful outdoor dining setup, amazing atmosphere, strongly recommended it. And we had a great, great conversation about how we can all work together for the good of the Bronx. So, we’re doing a lot here during Bronx Week and more to come. To hear about how important it is for the City government to focus on the Bronx, I want you to hear from someone who unquestionably is a rising star, he is a member of the New York State Assembly. He is already making an impact fighting for the most vulnerable Bronxites and making sure the City does right by them. My pleasure to introduce Assembly Member Kenny Burgos.
Thank you so much, Assembly Member, looking forward to seeing you later on and seeing a lot of Bronxites come in and join with us, and we’ll talk about what we can do to help make this an even greater borough. And a lot is happening in the Bronx. And the Bronx is also where we started one of the most important initiatives of the last eight years in terms of making sure people are healthy. Way before we ever heard of the word COVID we knew there was a health care crisis for folks who are uninsured. And years ago, I said we needed to do something very different. New York City did something that no other city or state in the country did. We guaranteed health care for all New Yorkers. We knew hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers didn’t have insurance. Some couldn’t afford even the cheapest plans available. Some were barred from having health insurance because of documentation status. That made no sense. That meant that there were lots and lots of people who were vulnerable, and it made all of us vulnerable. So, we announced guaranteed health care. And specifically, we announced NYC Care. NYC Care has been extraordinary. It means whoever you are, if you can’t afford any other insurance plan or it’s not available to you, you can sign up for NYC Care. You can get a primary physician assigned to you. You can get specialty physicians and services. You could get it for whatever you can afford, and if you can’t afford anything, it’s free. All done through our amazing Health + Hospitals system. We’re now at the two-year anniversary of this initiative. It is working for so many New Yorkers, but we want to make sure it works for more. So, today in the Bronx, outside of BronxWorks, there’ll be a membership drive to keep pushing. We want to get 100,000 people enrolled in NYC Care. We want to make sure it reaches people and their families, and it changes lives. So, between 10 AM and 1 PM today, you can go to BronxWorks, sign up. If you don’t have health insurance and you live in the Bronx, get over there, sign up. Or if you can’t get over there, call 3-1-1 for how you can sign up. Of course, while you’re at it, great opportunity to get vaccinated. We want to make sure people are healthy. We want to make sure people have health care on an ongoing basis. Begins right now by getting vaccinated to protect yourself and your family.
And speaking of vaccinations, today’s vaccination total to date, we’re closing in every day, getting closer to 10 million total vaccinations. As of today, 9,880,931. And that will bring us to our indicators. And as usual, in the last few weeks, you’re going to see some challenges in the indicators, but you’re also going to see the fact that vaccination is the reason that we are able to keep going. And that manifests particularly in the hospitalization rate. So, indicator number one, daily number of people admitted to New York City hospitals for suspected COVID-19, today’s report is 84 patients, confirmed positivity, 19.10 percent. Hospitalization rate per 100,000 people, 0.56. And again, it has gone up some, but it’s still very low. And that is because of vaccination. And the more vaccination, the lower we’ll keep that rate. The area of cases, as we’ve said, this is an area of concern. We see them going up. Number two, new reported cases on a seven-day average, today’s report, 901 cases. And number three, percent of people testing citywide positive for COVID-19, today’s report on a seven-day rolling average, 2.37 percent. Again, we’re going to be moving off this because we don’t think it’s as accurate as it used to be. And we think what’s much more important is to talk about vaccination levels, hospitalization rate, and case numbers. We’ll be talking about that transition to those indicators going forward. Now, finally, let’s have a few words in Spanish and I want to go back to the Homecoming concert which again is going to be once in a lifetime.
[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: Good morning. We will now begin our Q-and-A. As a reminder, we are joined by First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan, Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi, Dr. Mitch Katz, President and CEO of New York City Health + Hospitals; Dan Gross, Executive Director of Citywide Events; and Marielle Kress, Executive Director of NYC Care. Our first question for today goes to James Ford from PIX-11
Question: And good morning, Mr. Mayor, and everyone on the call. Thanks for taking my call.
Mayor: Yes, good morning. We’re just going to get your volume up a little James, so we can hear you better. Try again.
Question: How’s that? Can you hear me now?
Mayor: There you go. There you go.
Question: Hello, hello?
Mayor: Yep. Yep.
Question: Okay. I was just saying, thanks for taking the call. You’ve probably heard that the CDC is going to later today recommend – in fact reverse their earlier recommendation that people not wear masks indoors. In other words, recommend that people no matter what their vaccination status is, wear masks indoors. How will this affect the City’s policy regarding mask wearing, particularly noting that hospitalizations, they are low, but they keep rising. Can we hear from you and the doctors on this issue?
Mayor: Of course. Here’s how I’ll frame it. Then we’ll turn to the doctors, James. First of all, we’re just seeing this guidance. We need to see the exact wording. We need to understand exactly what the CDC is suggesting. So, I can’t give you a final determination until we see that, but I’ll say this, there are masked mandates right now in certain places. And there’s clear guidance for the unvaccinated. Dr. Chokshi will remind you about that in a moment, but whatever happens with masks, I want to be as clear as I can be, the number one tool, the number one weapon, the number one savior is vaccination. So, we can talk about masks and figure out what makes sense to make – to do about masks. But the thing that will save us is vaccination. The thing that will change the entire environment is vaccination. The one thing I want to make sure is that folks don’t say, oh, you know, because there’s new mask rules, we don’t need to think about vaccination anymore. No, it’s quite the opposite. If we’re not dealing with vaccination, we’re not dealing with the problem. If you want a recovery, we got to get more people vaccinated. So, we will assess, and we’ll determine the next steps. But vaccination is really the whole ball game. With that, Dr. Chokshi first with an open, please, with a reminder of the existing mask mandates and guidance, and then you can respond to the question, then Dr. Katz.
Commissioner Dave Chokshi, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Yes, sir. Thank you very much. To recap what our current guidance says, anyone who is not yet fully vaccinated is recommended not just to mask, but to follow all of the other public health precautions – distancing, testing, washing your hands frequently. As the Mayor said, we also have mask mandates that are currently in place, regardless of vaccination status including in schools, health care facilities, congregate settings, and public transit like subways and buses. This has been particularly important because they are places where people who are unvaccinated and vaccinated are mixing. And so, it’s a way to curb transmission in those settings. As the Mayor said, we will study the new guidance from the CDC carefully. As always, we look not just at the guidance, but the underlying science that may be driving any changes in the guidance. And we’ll take a hard look at that science ourselves. Thus far, what it has indicated is that anytime fully vaccinated people are convening with other fully vaccinated people, that is a safe environment. And so, as the Mayor has said, part of our push that you have heard in recent days is to maximize the number of places and spaces where we have fully vaccinated individuals mixing with one another. Thank you, sir.
Mayor: Thank you, Dr. Katz?
President and CEO Mitchell Katz, Health + Hospitals: Yes. I want to add a couple of points. First hospitalizations are increasing, but it’s – the hospitalizations are among unvaccinated people. It remains exceedingly rare for anybody who is vaccinated to get sick enough to need the hospital. And that’s true in New York. It’s true nationally, there are breakthrough cases in vaccinated persons, but people remain very healthy with minor symptoms in the vast majority of cases emphasizing how important it is to get vaccination. In terms of the CDC guidance, I totally agree with you and Dr. Chokshi that the issue is whether or not we in New York City can create effective systems to be sure who is vaccinated and who is not vaccinated. So, the guidance about everyone wearing masks is based on a frustration about being able to determine who is vaccinated and who is not. But sir, you’ve put us on a road that will help us to figure out who is vaccinated and who is not, which will enable us to be sure that we can create environments that are safe. And then finally, sir, I want to thank you both for mentioning NYC Care and for creating it. Whenever I’m in my clinic, I can see whether or not the person has insurance status. And now on my screen for the last couple of years, it shows up NYC Care. And whenever I see that, and I’m seeing my patient, I think, well, gee, if this program weren’t here, would this patient be here in front of me for me to take care of them? And I’m so grateful whenever I see that label, because I know that they were able to seek our care because you created the program. Thank you, sir.
Mayor: Well, listen as I turned back to James, thank you, Mitch. You were present at the creation and I remember vividly the sense of the possible in the room at Gracie Mansion, when we said there was a way to do this. And thank you for helping to make that happen. Thank you to Marielle Kress, who’s here with us, the Executive Director of NYC Care and her whole team. Health + Hospitals has led the way on this. And it’s historic, but now we got to build it up a lot more and we will do so. James, back to you.
Question: Oh, thanks very much. My second question is about proof of vaccination, particularly for the concert? How will that be done? Especially since paper cards can be easily forged. Will the proof of vaccination be done online beforehand or only through apps at each venue? Just exactly how please?
Mayor: I’ll give you the broad answer and then more details will come forward. But first the most important part, if you want to go to this concert, get vaccinated. If you’re already vaccinated, great. If not, just go get vaccinated and you can get to this concert. It’s the simplest way to guarantee that you have the opportunity. We’re going to be checking vaccinations as people enter. We’ll go into the details on that. I want to emphasize that a vaccine card, a vaccination card is a public document. It cannot be forged. If someone forges it, that’s a violation of law that comes with penalties. So, we’ll be addressing that issue as well. But the smart thing to do, the easy thing to do, just go to one of hundreds of sites and just get vaccinated for free. It only takes a few minutes and then you’re in. Thank you.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Melissa Russo from WNBC.
Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor, and everybody on the call. I have –
Mayor: Hey, Melissa. How are you doing today?
Question: I’m doing great. Thanks so much. Quick on top of question first, which is just confirming that this Homecoming concert because of the vaccination requirement is for ages 12 and over only?
Mayor: Yeah, we will get more details out. Right now, that’s a fair assumption, but we’ll get more details out on that in the next few days. Go ahead, Melissa.
Question: Okay. Thank you. As you may know, we’ve been reporting on the spike in the number of children in New York City and the metropolitan area who have been getting their hands on cannabis edibles. Dozens of them have been ending up in local hospitals, some of them in pretty serious condition. And I wanted to ask you, and if any of your health officials would like to chime in, aside from the obvious, which is that parents need to be more careful about how they store these edibles. What else do you think can or should be done by the City or the State to prevent this from happening?
Mayor: Yeah. Good. Very good question. And I want to turn to Dr. Chokshi and Dr. Katz in a second, but I’ll say this. First, what you indicated, Hey, parents take responsibility. If these are in your home, you’ve got to secure them. You can’t let them be anywhere near your kids like so many other things that could be dangerous to your kids. So, let’s begin with people actually taking some personal responsibility. But there’s other things that could be done. The labeling of these products needs to make clear that they could be dangerous to children. That safety message should be out there. It should be all over any place selling these products. The packaging should be made to not look like candy or anything that might tempt a child. This is something that the Obama administration worked on when it came to tobacco products, not making them look too tempting to young people, same concept here, even for smaller kids. And then finally the State of New York needs to get in gear here. We had a big, long multi-year discussion over legalizing cannabis. We saw the State Legislature act. Now the State needs to do something about it. They still haven’t. So the State, the Governor’s not named executive director for the Office of Cannabis Management, has not named appointees to the Cannabis Control Board. I mentioned the people they haven’t named to the board related to congestion pricing. It is time for the State to wake up and do its job on this really important issue. With that in terms of the medical angle, Dr. Chokshi, Dr. Katz?
Commissioner Chokshi: Thank you, sir. And thanks Melissa, for highlighting what is an important issue. Which is on the accidental ingestion of edible cannabis products. This is something that you know, that we are seeing in New York City and other places with edible cannabis products, have also seen a recent increase. The Mayor actually covered the highlights with respect to what are the most important prevention measures. I will underline the most important one, which is safe storage. And we have to continue to get the word out because we know that accidental ingestion, not just of cannabis products, but of other unsafe products does contribute to preventable poisoning of children. So, that’s the most important thing. We’re working with our partners at the Administration for Children’s Services to also spread the word about this. But that is the single most important thing that we can do to prevent further accidental ingestion.
Mayor: Thank you, Dr. Katz, you want to add?
President Katz: I would just add that parents should invest in a lock box. They’re inexpensive, it’s a simple way of being sure that edibles are not accessible to children. And that I thank the media for raising this because many people don’t understand that the effect of dose when it comes to your weight, so that a product that could be perfectly safe for a 160-pound man is not at all going to be safe for a 20-pound child. And that’s what the essential problem here is. And that as Dr. Chokshi said safe storage, buy a locked cabinet. Thank you.
Mayor: Thank you. Before we go to the next question, I just got handed a note. And something very telling and something we need to pay attention to. So, one of America’s greatest athletes, Simone Biles has made the decision to leave the Olympic Games. And the reason is such a powerful one that we’ve got to really focus on and show respect for and compassion related to this. She said she is leaving the games for mental health reasons. This is something we’re seeing with more and more athletes who are being put through extraordinary, difficult pressures. They’re recognizing the toll it’s taking on their mental health and they’re doing something about it. So, we’re going to miss her. We’re going to miss her just breathtaking performances, but she’s doing the right thing for herself and for her life ahead and for her family. And I just want to express my respect for Simone Biles being brave enough to come forward and say, I need some help. I need to do something different. And it’s a reminder to all New Yorkers, look, this is someone’s who is one of the most admired people in the United States. And she’s done extraordinary things, but she’s a human being like the rest of us. And mental health challenges are part of being human. Anyone that needs help, you can call 8-8-8-NYC-WELL. Any New Yorker, any hour, any day 24/7, for free, multiple languages. If you feel anxiety, if you feel overwhelmed, if you are dealing with struggles, depression, or other struggles, reach out, help is there for you all the time, 8-8-8- NYC-WELL. With that, we’re going to go to the next question.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Juliet from 1010 WINS.
Question: Hey, good morning, Mr. Mayor, and all on the call. And that really is an impressive lineup for your concert.
Mayor: Impressive is just the beginning of it, Juliet. Have you ever seen anything like that in your whole life?
Question: No. No. It’ll be something. So my, I guess my first question is about that. Would – is there a price for these tickets? I know there was some mention of free tickets. But is there a fee when you get them online? And also, would you be – would people be required to show vaccination when they are getting these tickets?
Mayor: We’ll get all the details out. So crucially Juliet, there will be a substantial number of free tickets. There will also be tickets that can be purchased. The details will be forthcoming again, the big date is Monday August 2nd, this coming Monday 10:00 am. And then there’s batches of tickets made available for the next days after that, to try and maximize the chance to different people have an opportunity. So, we’ll get the prices for the for-sale tickets out soon. Again, the vaccination verification, for sure, when you arrive at the concert venue. We’ll also be looking at whether there’s any kind of verification upfront as well. But those details will be coming up soon. Go ahead, Juliet.
Question: Okay. Thank you. Earlier today, Police Commissioner Shea was on NY1 and he was asked about the number of officers vaccinated. He attributes the 43 percent to the vaccines given through the department. So, I was wondering do you have totals for City agencies, you know for instance, who’s getting vaccinated at agency locations and who’s getting them on their own?
Mayor: That is a great question. And honestly, here’s an area where we got to get more information. Our employees have not been required to provide the information proactively if they’ve been vaccinated somewhere else. But obviously that’s about to change because for a number of employees in the coming days, it’s going to be a requirement to either be vaccinated or be tested weekly. And that’s going to keep growing to the whole workforce over the next few weeks. So, I think that’s going to help us solve some of this problem. We do need to get more information. We obviously know when we’ve vaccinated, when the City itself has vaccinated our own employees, but there are certainly a number of employees who went and got vaccinated on their own, including outside the five boroughs. So, that’s an area where we definitely need more information.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Dana Rubinstein from the New York Times.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. I have a question regarding the vaccine requirement for the concert. I’m curious why require vaccines for this outdoor concert, but allow City workers this sort of testing loophole? Especially since many of the City workers work indoors?
Mayor: Look, we’re doing a couple of very different things here. A concert is an opportunity to do something amazing. It’s not the same as a workplace, obviously. We want to be really clear that folks who want this extraordinary experience, need to do something to make sure they’re keeping everyone else safe and that’s get vaccinated. In terms of workplace, Dana as I keep saying we’re climbing the ladder. We’re taking steps in an intentional way to keep creating more positive pressure for vaccination. I think it’s smart to do this in some steps. It gives time for people to get acclimated. It gives time for us to work out some of the issues. And I think it’s going to work. I think it’s going to be the thing that causes a lot of people to get vaccinated. And then we’re going to look at where we are and if we have to do even more beyond that. But it is purposefully moving steps aggressively one after another. Go ahead, Dana.
Question: Thank you. And then on the same topic, the statements from union leaders yesterday, aside from the UFT, suggested significant resistance to the vaccine requirement. Do you expect that resistance to take any additional forms beyond angry statements? And can you talk about like, what internal union politics might be driving that resistance?
Mayor: You are wise in the ways of the world, Dana. Look, first, you saw some unions come out yesterday, including one of our biggest, the UFT, and embrace the approach – that’s pretty striking. Others have talked about some procedural issues, but we’re quite clear that we’re procedurally in a strong place. We have the right as an employer to guarantee the health and safety of our employees and everyone they serve. So, you’ll hear complaints or concerns, but I think, overwhelmingly, the labor movement will recognize this as something appropriate and we’ll all move forward. And there might be productive conversations, obviously, on how to do it best, but I strongly believe this will simply keep moving forward any way you slice it. Sometimes, I think, various leaders, union or otherwise, think they need to respond to some of the loudest voices. I would urge everyone, whether you’re an elected official, a union official, anybody, to recognize that more and more people have gotten vaccinated. So, you know, right now in this city, 71 percent of adults have gotten at least one dose – that’s a super majority. If you – if you’re worried about which way the wind is blowing, guess what? In this city, people have chosen – they’ve voted with their feet, they’re getting vaccinated more every single day. And as Delta is becoming more of an issue, people are really looking at it and saying, now it’s time. We’re seeing that all over the country, vaccination rates are starting to go up again. So, I don’t think it is politically connected to where most people are to be in any way anti-vaccination. I think, more and more – Americans, more and more – New Yorkers are recognizing the only thing that’s going to save us is vaccination. And I think leaders should get with that message right away.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Mike Gartland from the Daily News.
Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor: Good morning, Michael. How are you?
Question: I’m good. I wanted to ask you again about the transfer of homeless folks from hotels. Can you tell us if more transfers are taking place today? How many sites are involved? What sites?
Mayor: Yeah. Michael, I’m not going to – I don’t have the list in front of me. We talked about this over the last couple of weeks. The transfers are continuing to shelters where homeless individuals can get the maximum physical health, mental health support, support to moving on to permanent affordable housing. That’s what the shelters are for. That’s where we can serve people best and that continues. Go ahead.
Question: And we’re hearing that City officials are talking to advocates and legal aid attorneys about this today, and, you know, which kind of raises the possibility that this could go back to court. You know, if that were to happen, what’s, kind of, the City’s plan, moving forward, to deal with that?
Mayor: That’s like, a double hypothetical, with all due respect, Michael. I have not heard what you’ve heard. Maybe there’s discussions going on, but they certainly haven’t reached my level. The bottom line is, we’re moving forward. If at any point something changes and causes us to have to do a different approach, we’ll talk about that then. But, right now, we went to court, we proved that this was a sound approach, lots of health and safety measures being taken, accommodations being provided, vaccine being provided widely. We’re moving forward.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Marla Diamond from WCBS 880.
Question: Good morning, Mayor. And thank you for taking my call. On the Central Park Concert, how many people can the Great Lawn hold? How many tickets will be available? And do you intend to keep concert goers socially distant?
Mayor: So, I’ll turn to Dan Gross, who’s Executive Director for our Citywide Events Office for the City. I want to thank Dan upfront for an amazing job he and his team have been doing, putting this concert of a lifetime, and all the other concerts – all five boroughs – together, and a lot of other events too. Really exceptional effort by Dan and his team. Dan, in terms of the numbers and in terms of the ground rules, why don’t you update us on that which you know now, and anything else that we don’t yet have an answer on, we will be providing publicly shortly. Go ahead, Dan.
Executive Director Dan Gross, Citywide Events Coordination and Management: Certainly. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. There are a total of 60,000 people that can fit on the Great Lawn –
Mayor: Dan, say that again louder. I couldn’t hear that myself.
Executive Director Gross: I’m sorry, sir. There are 60,000 people that can fit on the Great Lawn, of which there will be 80 percent of those tickets will be free and available to the general public. The remaining 20 percent will be available for [inaudible] purchase. As it relates to the mechanisms, if you are vaccinated, there are no social distancing restrictions. But for further details, we’ll get back to you.
Mayor: Okay. Go ahead. Thanks, Dan. Go ahead, Marla.
Question: Okay. And about schools and getting the 12-to-17 contingent vaccinated, I know that you’re doing the push in the summer school program, but what else will you be doing outside of those programs? Is there any plan to get the vaccine to pediatricians or urgent cares in the community? And I just wanted to know, there was a rally on Staten Island yesterday with parents who want you to reverse your decision to have everyone wear masks in school. So, this is part vaccination, part masking. Will you make a bigger effort in the communities to get kids ages 12 to 17 vaccinated before the start of school?
Mayor: Absolutely. So, let me say with absolute respect for anyone who’s expressing their opinion. I always want to hear what people feel and what they are concerned about, but I’m listening to our health care leaders, and we’re following the data and the science, and we’re keeping masks on our kids in schools and our adults. That’s the plan. That could change if the data tells us there’s an opportunity to change it, but, right now, that’s the plan. In terms of vaccination effort, I’ll start, I’ll turn to Dr. Chokshi in terms of what we’re doing. Pediatricians, that’s a big piece of it. He’ll talk about that. But we’re going to be announcing in the coming days, Marla, a major vaccination drive focused on kids in that 12-to-17 age group as we get ready to go back to school. And I think a lot of parents are going to embrace this. I’m speaking as a parent. My kids are a little older now, but if it was – if they were in that age range, I would be running to the nearest vaccination site to make sure they were fully vaccinated ahead of school. I think a lot of parents are going to feel that. We already have good numbers in that 12- to 17-year-old group, 251,000 kids have already been vaccinated. And that – for the youngest kids, it’s only been available for something like 10 weeks. So, it’s really been moving. But we will have a major drive and details on that coming up soon. Dr. Chokshi, in terms of the work with pediatricians –
Commissioner Chokshi: Yes, sir. Thank you so much. And we have made good strides over the summer with respect to getting kids vaccinated, as the Mayor has said. But we are planning to redouble our efforts in the weeks leading up to school, so you’re going to see a major push. And a plank of that plan is working with pediatricians. Pediatricians are the offices where parents are used to going not just for COVID vaccines, but for all of their routine immunizations, as well as their back-to-school physicals, you know, whether they’re needed for sports or otherwise. And so, we have been working with close – in close partnership with pediatricians over the last several weeks to get them prepared along a number of different dimensions. First, if they don’t already have COVID-19 vaccines in their office, we’re working to maximize the number of practices that can actually offer it physically on site. Second, if they have continued questions about the vaccine or they need some assistance with respect to having the conversation with parents and children, we’re working with them often in a very intensive practice by practice basis, spending a few hours to make sure that they’re comfortable and have all of the information that they need. And then, third, we’re making sure that all of these pieces are connected – the work that we’re doing with the Department of Education through Summer Rising, as well as with pediatricians and parents, all of this has to be connected so that the bottom line is that vaccination is the easy choice ahead of school.
Mayor: Thank you very much. Go ahead.
Moderator: We have time for two more questions today. Our next question goes to Julia Marsh from the celebrity.land.
Question: Hey, Mr. Mayor. Back to the concert, can you tell us a little bit more about why you decided to sell 20 percent of the tickets and where that revenue will go to?
Mayor: Yeah. Julia, I’ll turn to Dan Gross again for that. Obviously, we are producing something that we think is going to have an extraordinary impact for New York City, for the folks who get to go in-person and for everyone who enjoys it watching on TV. But also, we think it’s going to have a big, big impact in telling people New York City is open for business, come here and be a part of it, help us come back strong, bring back our economy. We think this is a smart move all along, but we have to obviously make sure it’s paid for properly. So, with that, Dan Gross, you want to talk about that game plan?
Executive Director Gross: Certainly. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. So, dating back roughly seven or eight years with any concert that’s on the Great Lawn, it’s required that 80 percent of the tickets are available to the general public for free. And the 20 percent is typically used just to offset costs for the production of the Great Lawn. So that’s – this is standard. It’s been the case for pretty much every concert that’s happened on the Great Lawn, especially within the last seven-and-a-half years.
Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead, Julia.
Question: Thank you both for that. A different question, different topic – Mr. Mayor, you said yesterday that, you know, you didn’t agree with this nightlife advisory board that would allow regulated, you know, drinking in public spaces. However, you know, there’s kind of de-facto drinking in public spaces and parks, most notably recently in Washington Square Park. Not to mention marijuana smoking, even though it’s not allowed. So, can you talk about why you disagree with it, if it actually goes on unchecked?
Mayor: Julia, first of all, that board is simply an advisory board – outside experts offering opinions, that does not make it the policy of New York City. I want to be real clear. I value people’s input advice. It’s a whole different ball game whether we do what they advise, and we’re not making that change. There’s more to do in making sure that we set the right parameters. But, right now, our focus has been bringing this city back, addressing the most serious concerns, and then, more and more, we’re starting to be able to focus on the quality-of-life concerns as well. So, what we’re seeing in recent weeks – more and more ability to both bring down some of the biggest challenges like gun violence and start to turn more and more attention to quality of life as our recovery deepens. All of these pieces go together, the more we recover, the more we’ll be able to address things. So, some of the issues you raised, we’re going to keep addressing, that’s the bottom line.
Moderator: Our last question for today goes to Erin Durkin from Politico.
Question: Mr. Mayor, I wanted to ask about – we have a story today about some of the ways that Eric Adams is reaching out to some wealthy New Yorkers, business leaders, you know, members of the one percent – Jamie Dimon, and others. And he, sort of, drawing a contrast with your approach, which is a little more hostile to those groups of people. And he’s saying, you know, he wants people to come back to the city and he wants to, you know, kind of, boost their fortunes a bit. Just wondering, do you think this is a smart approach or do you have any concerns, you know, that he may be focusing more on these folks at the expense of a working class or poor New Yorkers?
Mayor: Yeah. It’s a fair question, Erin, but I want to first say, my sense of Eric Adams – I’ve known him for years and years – he ran a campaign that was all about working class values and his own experience as someone who came from humble origins. There’s no question in my mind, he’s going to be focused on working people. He and I had a very interesting parallel in 2013. My campaign was focused on working people in the outer boroughs. In 2021, his campaign was focused on working people in the outer boroughs, and that’s really a tremendous shared value that we have. Of course, you got to work with business leaders too and we want the business community to thrive. I’ve talked to Jamie Dimon any number of times, and it’s been a very constructive relationship. So, I think you can do both. But I think it’s important – and this is what I’ve tried to do – to say, hey, when business leaders are helping New York City to move forward, we want to embrace that, we want to support it, we want to listen to their needs and concerns, but we also want to demand the best for working people. For example, that’s why I’ve believed in higher taxes on the wealthy. I think you can strike that balance and I certainly believe that Eric Adams will as well. Go ahead, Erin.
Question: And then, just a clarifying question on the vaccine requirement – is that for all five, the ones in the boroughs as well? And then also, I think you said it’s one dose required – is that because you want to encourage people to get it now versus, you know, having the full vaccination required?
Mayor: Yeah. Look, one dose immediately provides some protection, and the vast, vast majority of people who get one dose come back and get the second. So, we want it to be very clear since we’re announcing today for the first time that this – you know, these are truly once-in-a-lifetime concerts. But all five boroughs – when you hear the lineups in the other boroughs, it’s going to truly blow you away – amazing acts. But it’s for folks who are vaccinated. So, if someone says, oh my God, I really want to be there, but I’m not yet vaccinated, I’ve got a solution for you – go get vaccinated. Just going in and getting that first dose will qualify you. That’s fair. And it’ll give you protection, and then we know that the vast majority of people come back, and we want everyone to come back and get that second dose. So, you know, we want to give people that chance. There are still several weeks before the concerts. So, anyone who’s hoping to get one of those tickets, do the smart thing, go out today. If you’re not yet vaccinated, go get vaccinated, because there’s no way you’re getting in without it. And if you get vaccinated, it’s a good thing to do no matter what.
And we’ll conclude today on that point – for any part of your life, vaccination is the right thing to do. For your family, or your friends, your loved ones, people you work with, whatever it is, whatever you care about, vaccination is the smart thing to do and it’s the thing that’s going to make our recovery possible. So, you know what to do everyone. Thank you very much.
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