New York, NY – Christmas Day has come and gone. We are at the end of the year, but what have we learned and what about the year to come? New data shows an increase in the number of Covid infections due to the Omicron variant. Closures are already happening. The city is facing restrictions once again. Testing sites around town are being overwhelmed with people wanting to be tested.
“Some of the lines are around the block,” Midtown worker Jose T recently told me. “I can’t believe we’re going to have to go through this again.”
The uptick of infections has caused some workers to return to remote status. Sadly, schools are reporting outbreaks, too. Which means we’re not out of the woods yet. Reports show that the Omicron variant is responsible for at least 73% of U.S. cases. However, some researchers say although the variant could impact hospitalization rates and lead to more deaths, Omicron could also hasten the pandemic and lead to “natural immunity.”
Either way, mandates are returning and safety protocols are being put in place. But will New Yorkers stand for another shutdown? Will people who saw a slight return to normalcy agree and go back to their remote lives?
As one of his last directives before leaving office, Mayor Bill de Blsaio is calling for vaccination mandates. However, there are some complaints about the workplace requirements. There are those who still oppose the vaccine. Nevertheless, the Health Department says, “Beginning December 27, workers in New York City who perform in person work or interact with the public in the course of business must show proof they have received at least once dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Workers will then have 45 days to show proof of their second dose (for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines). Businesses may not allow any unvaccinated workers to come to their workplace. A workplace is considered any location — including a vehicle where you work in the presence of at least one other person.”
The question now, becomes will incoming Mayor Eric Adams enforce these mandates? Adams vowed to “get stuff done.” But both vaccinated and unvaccinated workers, as well as the rest of the city, will have to wait and see what Adams will do.
We will all have to wait and see what the new year will bring. In light of the recent passing of Desmond Tutu, I will refer to him for further guidance. “Do not raise your voice. Improve your argument.”
We are at a time when our unity cannot afford to falter. Although opinions on government and the vaccines vary, shouting and arguing has not been helpful. Instead, we can be mindful and respect health protocols. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay organized. And as always, remain united and stay UNION STRONG! #TimeToPutTheVirusBehindUs
Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on thewrittenaddiction.com, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Well-being and DEI Content Provider, Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate. Ben can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org