As vaccines began being put into arms in New York City and indoor dining was shut down again Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that additional restrictions could be coming — potentially including a return to a full shutdown.
“There’s the potential of having to do a full pause, a full shutdown, in the coming weeks, because we can’t let this kind of momentum go,” de Blasio said on CNN when asked about comments made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week, in which the state’s top executive said a fuller shutdown could be in the offing this winter.
“We’re seeing the kind of level of infection with the coronavirus we haven’t seen since May and we have got to stop that momentum — or else, our hospital system will be threatened,” de Blasio said.
Cuomo again echoed the sentiment in his briefing at the Capitol in Albany on Monday, telling reporters that if current trends hold, New York City and other regions across the Empire State may face lockdown restrictions again by January.
“If you don’t change the trajectory, we’re going to shut down and then your business is going to close, and that my friends, is a real problem,” the governor told reporters.
“Worry about that because that is a real worry. Deaths are a worry and shutdowns of the economy are the real worries and they are viable worries,” he continued. “This is not an overanxious personality. This is not far fetched. This is something to really worry about.”
Both men spoke as the front-line employees at public and private hospitals in Gotham received the first jabs of the newly approved COVID-19 vaccines.
Officials have said that doctors and nurses and the staff and residents of nursing homes will have priority for the first shots because those two groups are at the highest risk for contracting the frightening disease.
Officials believe a massive inoculation effort can finally put an end to the pandemic that’s claimed more than 24,000 lives — but have warned that it will take months to manufacture and distribute enough vaccine to stop the coronavirus’s spread.
However, any decision on a full shutdown is ultimately Cuomo’s to make under the emergency public health orders the governor issued in the spring, during a slew of disagreements with Hizzoner over the initial imposition of coronavirus restrictions.
Local governments — including City Hall — are tasked with enforcing the governor’s rules, which has proven to be another frequent flash point between Cuomo and de Blasio.