STATEN ISLAND, NY – Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan has said that New York City could once again institute mask mandates and vaccine checks if we go to high alert on COVID-19.
Good luck. Fewer and fewer New Yorkers are likely to comply. Major Eric Adams should know as much and tell Vasan to stand down.
The COVID-19 infection numbers have been climbing recently, leading the city to raise its alert level from low to medium. Whatever that means in real terms.
But despite the increasing numbers, hospitalizations and deaths have not followed suit. Those are the key metrics.
Channel 4 News reported that New York State COVID hospitalizations topped 2,000 the other day, tripling in a month.
Cause for concern? Maybe.
But it’s a fraction of what we saw during the omicron peak. And just 47 percent of those patients were admitted for COVID itself. The rest tested positive after being hospitalized for other reasons.
Even with the numbers mounting for a while now, little has changed in the daily lives of New Yorkers.
Students are back in schools. Employees have returned to workplaces. Concerts, ballgames, weddings, proms, graduations and other events are in full swing.
Many people no longer have to figure pandemic procedures into their daily lives. And they like it.
Even Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, has finally acknowledged that keeping students home to learn remotely for two years was detrimental to kids.
And the top divisive issue in the country today isn’t COVID-19 but the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade. Protestors on the left and the right don’t seem concerned about being maskless in crowds.
Americans are past the pandemic. At least they’re past the panic.
Many still continue to take precautions. They mask up in public. They get vaccinated and boosted. They take a COVID test if they feel ill. They isolate at home if they get sick.
In other words, we know how to handle the threat.
The health commissioner should be glad. It shows that science and medicine did their job. People understand COVID now. We know how to respond to it.
And the fundamental things are as true today as they were at the start of the pandemic: The elderly and those who have underlying conditions have the most to fear from the virus.
Our hospitals bent but did not break during the first, deadliest wave of COVID-19. Subsequent waves did not crush the health care system either. And it’s not happening now.
But New York City continues to act as if all of us are under equal threat from the virus. The city has demanded that all workers be vaccinated. They demand that all children be vaccinated even though children are at very low risk from COVID-19.
And now Vasan and Adams would drag us back into the pandemic dark days. They would let businesses crumble again. They would let society be disrupted again.
They would divide us according to vaccine status even though the vaccine won’t keep you from catching the virus. And even though COVID deaths are no longer overwhelmingly among the unvaccinated, as reported by the Washington Post.
Remember too that New York City is virtually alone when it comes to these draconian anti-virus measures. Other cities, states and countries have managed the virus just as well or better without these restrictions.
Sweden was lambasted for largely eschewing lockdowns during the height of the first wave. Now it turns out that Sweden emerged with a lower COVID death rate than other European countries that had strict lockdowns.
Adams and Vasan can try to push us back indoors. But New Yorkers have been enjoying the good life again after two years of lockdown misery. They’re not going to go back. And right now, they have no reason to.