NYC Mayor exempts athletes, performers from vax mandate. Fired workers revolt

NYC Mayor exempts athletes, performers from vax mandate. Fired workers revolt
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

It was only last weekend when New York City Mayor Eric Adams said that he was going to be lifting the vaccine mandate in Gotham, but would only do so on his own schedule. He insisted that he wouldn’t be forced into doing it “too early” by political considerations or the schedules of major league sports teams. That second caveat was a reference to New York Nets player Kyrie Irving, who is unvaccinated and has been getting paid his handsome salary to sit in the stands during home games.

What Adams didn’t tell us at the time was that “his own schedule” wasn’t necessarily going to be imposed equally for everyone. Yesterday, in a move so politically tone-deaf that it was shocking even by New York standards, Adams announced that he was lifting the vaccine mandate, but only for major league sports players and Broadway performers. He clearly thought that he would be scoring some points with New York’s sports fans and performing arts aficionados, and there were probably some hard-core basketball fans who appreciated the gesture. But as for the rest of the city, people sounded as if they were ready to break out the pitchforks and torches. (New York Post)

Mayor Eric Adams exempted the city’s athletes and performers from the Big Apple’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on Thursday following weeks of pressure after it kept Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving from playing in home games — and was expected to block some baseball players from taking the field next month.

Speaking at Citi Field and joined by executives of both the Mets and Yankees, Adams said Thursday that he has signed the order. The exemption was effective immediately.

“Being healthy is not just about being physically healthy, but being economically healthy,” he said.

It’s hard to believe how incredibly stupid this move was. Claiming that the exemptions for millionaire athletes and performing arts stars are needed to keep the city “economically healthy” is an indefensible statement. Even leading members of his own party immediately came out against the order. City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said that the new rule “sends the wrong message that higher-paid workers and celebrities are being valued as more important than our devoted civil servants.”

How was that not obvious to Adams? Does he not have anyone on his staff advising him and steering him away from boneheaded decisions like this? Mandates that don’t apply to everyone equally are simply wrong. Mandates that grant a free pass only to the most wealthy and elite are the hallmark of corrupt autocrats and oligarchs.

It didn’t take long for some of the thousands of “little people” who have already been fired for not being vaccinated to grab a microphone and unload on the Mayor. Elissa Embree is a 33-year-old waitress who worked at Mets Stadium. She was fired last week because she refused to get vaccinated while she and her husband are preparing to welcome another child into the world over fears that she might suffer a miscarriage, which has happened to them before. Her response to learning that the millionaire ballplayers who perform at her former place of employment would not have to follow the same rules that led to her firing was to say that it left her “in tears.”

“I’m not as important as a Met is, because a Met will fill Citi Field, which fills the coffers of New York,” she said.

“They don’t care about little ol’ me, who pays little taxes. They don’t care that I have been out of work and that I have been at my breaking point.”

It’s almost impossible to describe how toxic of a decision this was. “Regular” people were allowed to apply for religious and medical exemptions to the mandate, but only a tiny handful of those requests were granted. But now you can get an exemption just for being a highly paid professional athlete or Broadway performer?

And just as with the mask mandates, the current rules being pushed by Adams make no sense in terms of science or medicine. Does he believe that an unvaccinated waitress is a great danger to society, but an unvaccinated third baseman is somehow magically unable to catch or transmit the novel coronavirus? Is the virus a big sports fan or something?

Adams has stumbled several times coming out of the gate in his new role as mayor, but this is undoubtedly the deepest pile of dog poo that he’s stuck his foot into yet. And it’s an entirely self-inflicted wound. Eric Adams needs to swallow his pride and either rescind this recent exemption for New York’s elite class or, better yet, just lift the entire vax mandate for everyone and get it over with.

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