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Queens residents urged to get vaccinated to safely return to beaches and public pools this summer

With Rockaway Beach reopening to the public for the summer swimming season in time for Memorial Day weekend, officials are urging Queens residents to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. (Bill Parry/QNS)

Queens residents are heading back to the beaches this Memorial Day weekend following the long COVID-19 winter as the city is set to reopen all 14 miles of public surf. The public pools will follow beginning after the last day of school on Saturday, June 26.

“Summer is right around the corner, and we’re gearing up for an on-time pool and beach season,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “These beautiful spaces mean so much to New Yorkers, especially after the year we’ve all had. We’ll continue to follow health guidance to ensure the safety of everyone. Stay cool, stay safe and have fun.”

Councilman Peter Koo, the chairman of the Committee on Parks and Recreation, hailed the reopening.

“Our pools and public beaches are hallmarks of the summer in the city,” Koo said. “Reopening these cherished spaces will give New Yorkers a long-awaited opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors and public facilities of our city.”

In order for Queens residents to enjoy the beaches, pools and other community events, there is a push for them to be fully vaccinated. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer stood with some of the city’s most savvy and trusted health content and tech creators on Sunday, May 23, to help combat myths and rumors that have played a role in a recent reduction in vaccinations across the five boroughs.

“Right now, both data and social media influencers are sounding the alarm to say: Misinformation is spreading across the various social media platforms and it’s keeping too many young people from getting the very, very effective and safe COVID vaccine,” Schumer said. “We see these myths on postings, news feeds, and then it manifests to spur vaccine hesitation. That is why we are here to urge the feds to hatch a plan to use trusted social media and tech influencers, to help bust the most vexing myths standing between young people and their vaccine.”

Schumer was joined by Astoria resident Huge Ma, who created Turbo Vax Twitter bot, and other influencers to form a new kind of social media collaboration, one that goes beyond mainstream media to reach the platforms of YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and more, which they said is what’s needed to overcome misinformation about the vaccines and the science behind them.

“Look, a public health challenge like none other requires social media collaborations with more trusted influencers,” Schumer said. “The feds are doing some of this, but they need to do much more. Misinformation and these vaccine myths can spread as fast as COVID itself, and the medicine to beat them are facts being pumped into the social media bloodstream.”

Once fully vaccinated, Queens residents can gather more safely, particularly outdoors on city beaches and at public pools, without masks or physical distancing, according to the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

In neighborhoods that were most impacted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of a day on the beach or relaxing by the pool will be a fine remedy for those who were pent up in their apartments during the winter.

“After an unprecedented 2020 summer in New York City, we have a bright season ahead for families to come together safely with loved ones,” Councilman Francisco Moya said. “Access to Fisher Pool in East Elmhurst and other outdoor pools and public beaches starting Memorial Day weekend will support families in adjusting to a new normal while staying active and cool on hot summer days.”

Starting Memorial Day weekend lifeguards on Rockaway Beach will be on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Swimming is unsafe and strictly prohibited at all other times.

“Get ready to make a splash this summer, New York! After last summer’s unprecedented challenges, we are so excited to announce that our outdoor pools and beaches will be opening on time this season,” NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said. “We want all New Yorkers to stay cool while keeping safety first. Remember to only enter the water in designated areas during lifeguard hours and continue to follow health and safety guidelines.”

For information regarding the COVID-19 vaccines and to find appointments near you, visit the city’s website at vaccinefinder.nyc.gov and the state’s website at covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov.

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