Quantcast

Mayor gives COVID-19, schools updates to launch Queens edition of City Hall in Your Borough

Mayor Bill de Blasio during a press conference on Sept. 7. (Photo credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

Just ahead of his final 100 days in office, Mayor Bill de Blasio kicked off the Queens edition of City Hall in Your Borough with a Monday morning press conference.

Joining the mayor at Queens Borough Hall was Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who welcomed de Blasio to a week of “culture and delicacies” in addition to discussing COVID-19 recovery for the borough and student safety in the midst of the pandemic.

“This week, we’ll be talking about all the next steps in our recovery, new announcements that are crucial to the future of Queens and you’ll see the spirit and the energy of the people at Queens that are helping the city move forward,” de Blasio said.

Vaccines

According to statistics from the city, Queens has 1,555,305 full vaccinated people, making it the most vaccinated borough in New York City. The data also showed that over 1.7 million Queens residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

“We’ve seen really good numbers on vaccination in recent days, high numbers, clearly connected to both the incentives and the mandates,” de Blasio said. “As of today, 11,243,542 doses in New York City have been administered. The big-picture reality – amazing. We’re now almost to 81 percent of adults in New York City who have had a first dose. We’re almost to 62 percent of New York City residents fully vaccinated.”

But according to Richards, residents who live in the Far Rockaway ZIP code of 11691 continue to have lower than average vaccination rates, with approximately 46.89 percent of those residents being fully vaccinated. While the numbers increased from 39 percent, the borough president said that there is a push for continued vaccinations in Far Rockaway, while other Rockaway ZIP codes have reached a 50 percent vaccination rate.

The mayor added that booster vaccines would be coming following the FDA committee vote that recommended them to people over 65 years old as well as to immunocompromised individuals. He said that there are over 1,900 sites across the city ready to administer booster vaccines when the time comes.

“We have a detailed plan to reach seniors in particular, let them know as soon as we know the details,” de Blasio said. “This is a big deal. I think it’s going to help us move forward in a big way. Once we know, we’re going to hit the ground running.”

De Blasio also called on the FDA to speed up its process in vaccine approval for children ages 5 to 11 following data from Pfizer surrounding that age group.

“We need these by the end of October. Let’s give a wonderful Halloween gift, a treat for all kids. Let’s do something wonderful, get the vaccine for 5- to 11- year-olds authorized by Halloween, so we can start providing the vaccine to kids who need it. This has happening in real-time and it’s going to make a huge difference for our families,” the mayor said.

Schools

The mayor congratulated Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter on “an amazing success” during the first week of school and described the “unbelievable joy” on the children’s faces after learning at home for a year and a half. He added that the focus for this new school year was the health and safety of the children and school community, and maximizing the number of children in school each day to avoid further disruption.

Beginning on Sept. 27, all elementary, middle and high schools will undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and change the quarantine approach, per the CDC guidelines.

“When there is a positive test [in a classroom,] the unvaccinated students in that classroom will not have to quarantine if they are masked and three feet distant. That will allow more kids to safely remain in the classroom,” the mayor said.

Porter shared that when she visited schools in Queens she saw that students were wearing their masks and following social distancing protocols.

“As an educator, there’s nothing more powerful than seeing your students take their, and other students’, wellbeing seriously. And as a parent myself, it was reassuring to see the health and safety protocols being followed,” said Porter, adding that changes would be made “along the way as needed.”

She encouraged all those who have not gotten a vaccine to do so, and reminded parents to submit testing consent for their children either online on the NYCSA website or by submitting a hard copy to the school.

The mayor also announced that 1,081 city-funded afterschool programs — with over 200 programs in Queens — would reopen at schools and community centers.

“The goal is to reach 150,000 kids this school year with those extended hours,” de Blasio said. “Our afterschool programs are amazing because they involve academic enrichment in addition to arts, culture, recreation, you name it.”

More from Around New York