New York City plans to indefinitely continue the city’s vaccine mandate for private-sector employees who work on-site and will continue to enforce an in-school mask mandate for children aged 5 and under.
On Friday, the city’s new health commissioner, Ashwin Vasan, said he did not have any specific benchmark or timeline in mind for when the city would lift the private-sector vaccine requirement, the Epoch Times reported.
He said, “I would love to sit here and say I can give you a date or a data point to say when we would lift those things. Right now, we are in a low-risk environment and we will continue to evaluate that data.”
When asked specifically whether the city had any metrics in mind, Vasan said, “I think it’s indefinite at this point.”
“People who have tried to predict what will happen in the future for this pandemic have repeatedly found egg on their face, as they say,” he added, “And I’m not going to do that here today.”
The city’s private sector vaccine mandate was announced in December 2021 under former Mayor Bill de Blasio and mandated that all private employers require their workers to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
In October 2021, De Blasio announced a vaccine mandate for all public sector workers in the city.
Vasasn indicated that the city’s color-coded risk alert system provides the city government with “very clear benchmarks” about the ongoing state of the COVID-19 pandemic as the system indicates hospitalization rates and rates of hospital bed occupancy.
When asked whether the city had any intention to lift school mask mandates for children under five-years-old, Vasan said, “We’ll keep evaluating whether that mandate should stay in place, and right now we think it should stay in place.”
“We have consistently seen disproportionate hospital rates in the under 5 population compared with other childhood groups, and as a father of a two-and-a-half-year-old and two other old kids, I want to keep them as safe as possible,” Vasan said.
He continued, “I would love nothing more than to send my son to day care without a mask, but as a scientist and as a doctor and an epidemiologist, I want to keep him safe especially because he’s not eligible for a vaccine.”
Vasan’s statements come as New York City confronts a new form of the Omicron variant which, reportedly, is rapidly spreading through New York.
The BA.2 subvariant currently accounts for roughly 40 percent of covid cases in the state of New York.