"COVID-19 is a formidable opponent, and we are in a new phase of our battle against the pandemic with the Omicron variant. It is now clear that we will need to learn how to live with COVID so that we can recover and thrive," Adams said. "Our message to all New Yorkers is clear: we are well-prepared to get through this winter surge to get back to living our lives," said Mayor-elect Adams.
According to Adams' plan, the city's existing mandates regarding vaccines in masks with stay in place without change, while private-sector vaccine mandates will stay in effect with a focus on compliance instead of punishment. A dedicated unit will be created to work with small businesses, stakeholders, and the mayor's corporate engagement committee to help implement the mandate, foregoing fines if employers engage with the city to help get their workers vaccinated.
The city will also study the need for an "up to date" mandate program to require booster shots for all New Yorkers currently covered by vaccine mandates and engage with unions, the business community and other stakeholders.
A deadline of this spring will be set for a decision on whether or not there should be a vaccine mandate in schools for the fall of 2022.
All other current mandates will stay in place, including for masks.
In order to make sure the city's schools can reopen on January 3, the city will implement the "Stay Safe, Stay Open" plan, doubling surveillance testing and adjusting Situation Room and quarantine protocols, along with sending millions of rapid at-home tests to students and educators and strengthening mitigation measures including higher quality masks and better ventilation.
Adams also said the city will surge resources to NYC's Health + Hospitals system to ensure enough capacity to address new hospitalizations from Omicron. This will include continuing to shift ambulatory care to virtual, shoring up our nurse staffing levels, and other measures.
The city will also improve safety in congregate settings (jails, shelters, nursing homes) at high risk by supporting rapid isolation and quarantine and providing ready access to vaccination and testing.
Access to testing will continue to be increased, with more sites and more tests and overall creating mass-access to rapid tests. The city will also provide clear testing protocols for specific settings, including in the private sector.
The city will also surge resources to the Health Department – including over 250 staff – to keep public health infrastructure strong and at adequate capacity.
A major increase in access to monoclonal antibody treatments and oral antivirals will be rolled out to help those who have been infected, with a focus on equity and underserved and high-risk populations.
In order to fight the spread of the virus, the city will distribute an additional 2M higher-grade masks (KN95, KF94, and N95) in January, particularly via community-based organizations and Health Department sites.
Officials say that the city's guidance and rules will be calibrated based upon the science, equity considerations, the advice of health experts and the virus’ threat to public health.
And finally, for public awareness and to manage COVID, the city will release a color-coded system that shows the level of virus threat and communicates clearly what level of safety measures are in place.
Adams will be sworn in as the 110th Mayor of New York City early Saturday morning in Times Square, just after the ball drop on New Year's Eve.