Slowly but surely, the various COVID mandates are being relaxed or removed around the country. That’s even true in some blue states, where elected officials have come to realize that people are done with the pandemic and the restrictions being imposed on them in response to it. But not everyone is ready to abandon ship entirely. New York State still has a face mask mandate in place in the schools, though the Governor is ready to “review” it again this week to decide if the time has come to lift it. Similarly, in New York City, there is a vaccination mandate in place for all municipal workers and people are still losing their jobs every week if they refuse to comply, despite the fact that an increasing body of evidence suggests that these mandates do little if anything to further combat the pandemic. The new Mayor of Gotham said this week that he’s aware of the ineffective nature of the vax mandate and he has some “regrets.” But he’s not going to change course because to do so might cause “confusion.” (NY Post)
Mayor Eric Adams admitted Wednesday that vaccine mandates don’t work — yet he’s still going ahead with firing city workers who refuse to show proof they got their shots.
“The rule was put in place; to start changing it now would send mixed messages,” he said while lamenting the fact that un-jabbed Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving can’t play at his home arena even though unvaxxed out-of-towners can.
Mixed messages? We’ve heard time and again that vax mandates are a life-and-death question of public health, fending off some new COVID surge. That’s plainly no longer true, if it ever was.
Adams finds it “unfair” that members of visiting NBA teams can come to New York City with unvaccinated players and still be allowed to play, but one of the New York Knicks star players will have to remain on the bench because of refusing to comply. Whether he finds that situation to be “unfair” to Kyrie Irving or to the fans (or himself) isn’t exactly clear.
Instead of complaining about the unfairness of it all, perhaps Adams could step up to the plate and talk about the stupidity of these policies. He has now openly admitted that the accumulated data comparing locations with vaccine mandates and those without show little to no difference in outcomes. (Florida restricted vaccine mandates while New York embraced them, yet Florida’s average daily case rates and death rates wound up being lower than New York’s according to the Mayo Clinic.)
Adams’ only defense in keeping the mandates and continuing to fire those not in compliance is that lifting them now would create uncertainty and political confusion. As the Post editorial board goes on to note, the Mayor has, “finally, albeit inadvertently, come clean about mandates: They’ve become pure hygiene theater.”
The mayor is no longer “following the science” or battling a health crisis. He’s fighting a political crisis. Kyrie Irving still earns thousands of times more (even if he misses some home games) than the vast majority of people in the country. That’s not true for the cops, firefighters, teachers, and sanitation workers that Admans has fired over the past month simply for making the same choice that Irving made. (And Irving wasn’t fired, by the way. He’s just missing some games.)
But if he lifts the now obviously pointless mandate and allows the remaining unvaccinated municipal employees to remain, what will he say to all of those who were already given pink slips? That’s the conundrum he finds himself facing. It’s a case of what the Post describes as “pure power politics.” The city did something dumb that was disruptive and frequently destructive to the lives of many of its workers. But now they are forced to continue doing something that they know is pointless and cruel to avoid looking even more pointlessly cruel and dumb.
There is another way around this dilemma, though I doubt the Democrats in New York have enough political spine between them to do it. They could announce a general amnesty and offer all of those terminated workers their jobs back with retroactive payments for the paychecks they missed. That wouldn’t “unvaccinate” the workers who took the shots against their will to avoid the ax, but it would at least bring their professional lives back to order and probably earn Adams some additional loyalty and support from the city’s workers.
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