BY DEAN MOSES
Just five days before Christmas, Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed New Yorkers from the pulpit in Jamaica, praising frontline workers and the “miracle” of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Recently, the mayor has spent his Sundays visiting churches throughout the tri-state area. On Dec. 20, de Blasio continued these visitations by making his way to Queens, where he attended Sunday services at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church of Hollis, at 202-03 Hollis Ave., before concluding the morning at United Apostolic Church at 205-24 Hollis Ave.
At Mt. Olivet Baptist Church of Hollis, Rev. Dr. Franco J. Harris lit candles and sang to his parishioners as the mayor arrived out of a snow flurry flanked by his security agents. Upon entering the house of worship, de Blasio’s temperature was measured amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
During the sermon, he applauded voting efforts made by the city this fall and hopes that next year New Yorkers will follow the trend in the race for mayor. These remarks came in addition to spotlighting Harold Miller, the campaign manager at NYC Test and Trace Corps, who has worked beside de Blasio.
“I hope you will get to know him in the coming months. He has a lot he’s done, and he will have a lot he will do ahead,” de Blasio said.
At the pulpit, the mayor also took a moment to reiterate the struggles New Yorkers have endured since the dawn of the coronavirus, reminding the public that just nine month ago we were the epicenter of the virus’s wrath. He credits the steadfast work of frontline workers and residents’ efforts to remain socially distant and their dedication to wearing masks for reducing the spread of the virus.
“I saw, in March and April, that this city somehow overcame the coronavirus. I saw hospitals push to the brink, but they held on because of healthcare heroes, and then the miracle of a comeback. We were the epicenter but by summer we were the safest place in the United States of America,” he said.
Addressing the bigger issue at hand, de Blasio acknowledged that we are now facing a second wave with a second shutdown possibly looming over the holidays — something which Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday that he doesn’t think will happen.
“We are scared. All of us are worried, but we have a faith that comes from experience because we fought back before when it was even harder. We fought back and we overcame. You saw this city come back. They said it was impossible to open our public schools again but guess what our schools are open again for our children. We made it happen, you made it happen,” de Blasio said.
Placing all hope on the vaccine, the mayor believes that there will be light at the end of the tunnel.
“Now we have to take that vaccine and reach the people and end the coronavirus era once and for all,” de Blasio said.
While some may have doubts regarding the vaccine’s safety, de Blasio made an effort to dispel those fears. When he is scheduled to take the vaccine, he claims he will be inoculated for all to see in an attempt to lead by example. De Blasio likewise assured New Yorkers that they, too, will have free access to the vaccine next year.
“We know this has been tested and put through trials, and there has been more scrutiny on this vaccine than any in history. It is safe, it is effective, it is fast and easy to receive,” he said assuring the attendees and those watching through social media.
As to the next steps for New York City, the mayor repeated something that he has preached many times in the past: his belief that this crisis has created an opportunity for transformation.
He admits that there are a lot of disparities that have been exacerbated since the pandemic, many of which were issues that occurred well before the pandemic and need to be addressed, such as the high cost of living, skyrocketing rent prices, exclusion, racism and a need for fair wages.
“A lot of people who did not understand, now understand just how much disparity and unfairness must be addressed. In a crisis there is the opportunity for transformation … If there was ever time to think about redemption, to think about what we can build anew, this is the time, this holiday season,” de Blasio said. “2020 will soon be over and better times are ahead.”
The mayor returned to the gently falling snow where he took selfies, with eager parishioners outside of the church before strolling to United Apostolic Church to hold another sermon.
This story originally appeared on amny.com.