Editorials

De Blasio’s Parting Shots: More Harm Than Good?

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio looks to be on a mission to issue mandates as his tenure in office comes to a close. While setting aside the efficacy of the vaccines, de Blasio and the city’s Health Department chief, Dr. Dave Chokshi, seem to be finding problems where few actually exist.

Last week, City Hall appeared to issue a mandate to parochial and private schools that their staff members need to be vaccinated by Dec. 20. We say “appeared” because the city did not release any protocols on implementation or enforcement of such a mandate, nor did it consult with any of the interested parties.

The decision caught many religious educators off guard as City Hall did not consult with religious and private schools leaders. Msgr. David Cassato, vicar of schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn, noted the many precautions that have already been taken in Catholic schools to provide protections against COVID.

“We opened our schools as scheduled for the 2020-2021 school year, weeks before the public schools brought their students back. Since then, we have done a tremendous job keeping the coronavirus out of our schools,” he said.

More than 88% of Diocese of Brooklyn school staffers are vaccinated, according to diocesan officials.

The question remains what “emergency” prompted de Blasio’s swift edict?

Why mess with something that has been working. Schools, especially in the diocese, have remained almost entirely free of outbreaks, even while the Delta variant, which still seems to be the most problematic, was surging. These mandates could  result in fewer teachers, which only hurts the students.

Then, on Monday, de Blasio announced that New York City will require all private sector workers to be vaccinated. This too could be viewed as grandstanding on the part of the mayor, since the policy is scheduled to go into effect Dec. 27, just four days before de Blasio’s second and final term in office concludes.

As with the school mandate, no specifics on implementation or enforcement were immediately issued, but the city said an explanation of the requirements is promised on Dec. 15.

The edict comes as the city struggles to bring businesses and staff back into their offices. Will this new private business mandate send the city’s struggling business recovery back to the early COVID-19 ghost town? 

The de Blasio administration is using the Omicron variant of COVID as the trigger for the rush to mandates, despite the fact that, as of Monday, the city had only reported seven total cases.

And — cue the words of an old infomercial — “But Wait! There’s More!”

De Blasio also announced two doses of a vaccine will be required of anyone seeking to enter many indoor businesses in the city — including bars, restaurants, and fitness centers. Additionally, children ages 5 to 11 will be required to receive at least one shot to enter indoor establishments, now that shots are available to them. Both new regulations will take effect on Dec. 27.

On top of all of this, will Adams even keep these new mandates in place? When asked on Monday, a spokesman told The Tablet that “the Mayor-elect will evaluate this mandate and other COVID strategies when he is in office.”

Lots of questions still to be answered.