Within his first days of being sworn in as New York City Mayor, Eric Adams went on a “we are staying open” tour-de-force right to welcome us into the new year. This included stops at MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and ABC’s “This Week.” The message was clear–despite NY hospitalizations topping 2021 levels, New York is open for business no matter what. And we’ll do it with swag. Yes, swagger is going to bring the virus to its knees.
Adams went on to explain how New York City had lost its swagger in a “coach, pep talk” like fashion in a public press conference on Monday:
“When a mayor has swagger, his city has swagger. We’ve allowed people to beat us down so much that all we did was wallow in COVID. That’s all we did and we no longer believed. This is a city of swagger. This is a city of resiliency. And all of these messages out there of what is going to happen… what is going to happen: we’re going to survive,”
I don’t feel that the nurses and doctors currently undergoing another COVID surge and who are thinking about leaving the profession care about swagger. Neither do the parents who are worried about sending their children back to school amidst a crazy surge.
We’ve seen the stories of portable morgues around New York City in 2020 while the city was withstanding thousands of cases a day. Fast forward to now, where people are waiting up to two hours to get a COVID test. The people of New York weren’t “wallowing” in COVID; they were doing their best in a deadly pandemic.
“Another variant comes out, what are we going to do? Are we going to shut down our city?” Adams asked during the interview. “We spent $11 trillion on COVID. We don’t have another $11 trillion.
It’s not that one person or entity has a choice. New York is currently ranked second in the nation, where COVID is spreading per person. There are significant staffing shortages in the NYPD, FDNY, and MTA because of employees getting sick. You can’t throw on your best peacoat with the intention to out-swag an airborne virus.
Adams has made an insistence on keeping schools open during the surge. “We’re going to pivot. We’re going to shift. We’re going to adjust. We’re going to get it done,” said Adams. “That’s the bottom line. We’re going to keep schools open. However, eight schools are currently closed as noted by Newsweek. It’s a catch-22, right? Hospitalizations amongst children are up, but it’s a consensus that it’s better for everyone if schools are open. If Mayor Adams is serious about the need to pivot, then a brief retreat to remote learning would have been nice to be on the table.
According to CNN, Mayor Adams has rejected a request from the United Federation of Teachers to switch to remote learning. President Michael Mulgrew had this to say:
“We advised the new mayor that it would be safest to allow our school system to go remote temporarily until we could get a handle on the staffing challenges that each school is about to face as we return,” he wrote. “However, he feels strongly that schools need to remain open.”
One day, COVID-19 will become endemic as we obtain more tools like anti-virals and vaccinations to fight it. But, that day is not today. Not with testing lines looking like a new Jordan sneaker release.