"We do have a challenge now," Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged this morning talking about the relentless climb in COVID-19 infection rates across the city, pushing for more people to get vaccinated.
As of today, just 4.5 million or 53.5% of the city's residents have been vaccinated, according to city data. An average of 516 people a day tested positive over the last seven days, or 1.69% of those who got tested, though much of Brooklyn is already well above 2% infection rates.
Infection rates are rising fast in southern and eastern Brooklyn, where vaccination efforts lag.
Brooklyn-wide just 40% of residents are fully vaccinated, as we have many children that are yet to be eligible. However, vaccination rates among adults are also lagging other boroughs.
The highly contagious Delta variant makes up about 69% of the new COVID-19 infections, explained Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi, and almost all new cases are among unvaccinated individuals who remain at highest risk.
Asked about plans to reinstitute mandatory mask wearing across the city, Mayor said - there are none, adding that they "intend to double down on vaccination."
"It remains our strong advice for anyone who is unvaccinated to continue wearing masks, to continue physical distancing and to get tested regularly," Choksi said. "It is actually a more dangerous time right now to be un-vaccinated given how contagious that Delta variant is."
New York Post reported that 40% of staff across city hospitals remain unvaccinated, and just one Hospital group - NYPresbyterian - has mandated vaccination.
Is it time for a vaccine mandate at the very least for hospital workers?
Not according to the Mayor.
"We're continuing in dialogue with hospital workers and their representatives. We're talking about the best way to get things done," De Blasio said. "I understand that some of the people – Dr. Katz has spoken to this – some of the folks who have been closest to the challenge feel, for a variety of reasons, you know, they made it through, they don't need vaccination. I think it's obviously objectively true that people do need vaccination, even if they did make it through. We've got to find a way to get that done."