Mayor Bill de Blasio was slammed by Democratic New York City Comptroller candidate Brad Lander and other progressives on Wednesday for attempting to transfer thousands of homeless New Yorkers out of hotels and into congregate-style shelters despite mounting concerns over the city's Covid-19 outbreak.
Lander and several Democratic City Council candidates spoke out outside of one of those hotels, the Indigo in central Brooklyn, criticizing de Blasio's claim that homeless New Yorkers should return to shelters since they can get Covid-19 vaccines and social services there.
De Blasio urges to relocate homeless New Yorkers
Last Monday, De Blasio's proposal to relocate 8,000 homeless individuals from hotels to group shelters, where they have been staying temporarily during the Covid-19 pandemic, hit a snag. The scheme was halted by a federal court who ruled that the city did not sufficiently address the health of homeless persons while putting it in place.
The decision is the outcome of a legal challenge brought by the Legal Aid Society. Despite a 2017 class action settlement requiring the city to do so, the organization said that the city refused to enable homeless persons with disabilities or significant health conditions to apply for reasonable accommodations.
Per WSWS, the Legal Aid Society accused the city of infringing on the rights of the homeless and risking their lives. The judge concluded that failing to comply with the right to reasonable accommodation may result in "irreparable harm" to psychological, physical, and mental health of the homeless.
If homeless New Yorkers are sent to shelters, they will be more likely to develop Covid-19, according to Shekar Krishnan, who won the Democratic primary to represent City Council District 25, which includes portions of Elmhurst and Jackson Heights in Queens. Instead of focusing on emptying hotels, Lander and the other progressives suggested that de Blasio use his emergency rule-making powers to implement Intro 146, a bill passed by the City Council earlier this year that would increase the dollar amount of rent vouchers for the homeless to help them move into permanent housing.
During a press briefing earlier Wednesday, the mayor declined to say if he would be prepared to expedite Intro 146 and reaffirmed his belief that shelters are the best choice for the homeless, NY Daily News via MSN reported. A federal court temporarily halted the city's plan to transfer the nearly 8,000 homeless New Yorkers who have been staying in hotels throughout the pandemic earlier this month, saying that the mayor did not sufficiently consider the health of those affected.
NYC mayor orders weekly Covid-19 tests for unvaccinated workers
Meanwhile, de Blasio has ordered unvaccinated workers of the city's public hospital and health clinic systems to undergo weekly Covid-19 testing. The directive, which will go into effect on August 2, was revealed at a press conference on Wednesday and would affect 30,000 people working in 11 public hospitals.
It comes as the city of New York experiences a spike in new coronavirus infections as the contagious Delta variant spreads. Through July, just over 60% of hospital personnel in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island had gotten the vaccine. According to the state Health Department, over 40% of people have either declined or never got a Covid-19 vaccine.
In New York City, 64 percent of adults have been completely vaccinated; and 70 percent have gotten at least one dose. The figures are marginally better for hospital employees in Queens, where 67 percent of personnel have been vaccinated, compared to 76 percent in Manhattan.
Covid-19 vaccines avoided 8,300 fatalities and 44,000 hospitalizations in New York City during the first six months of 2021, according to Yale University research performed in collaboration with the city's Health Department. According to the study, vaccinations prevented an estimated 250,000 new Covid-19 infections, with just 1.1 percent of new cases coming from fully vaccinated New Yorkers.
In addition, an analysis released Monday indicates vaccinations in New Jersey have been more than 99 percent effective against the virus throughout the state. Only 3,474 of the 4.4 million persons vaccinated in New Jersey as of June 28 tested positive for Covid-19, according to the Health Department's analysis.
Many people feel that indoor mask regulations should be reinstated as the spread of the Delta variant accelerates and as the vaccines lag. De Blasio, on the other hand, has stated that he would not impose a mask mandate anytime soon due to worries that it will hinder New Yorkers from being vaccinated, Daily Mail reported.