Rose Nochella and Kathy Catania are headed to the 9/11 Museum and Memorial unmasked. Rose is vaccinated. Kathy is not.
“I’m not vaccinated. I had COVID, and I still have antibodies," Catania said.
“I feel great not wearing a mask. I try to keep my distance," Nochella said.
That’s not always possible on mass transit like the Staten Island Ferry. Everyone here is supposed to wear a mask, but NY1 didn’t see anyone enforcing the mask mandate, which remains in effect for certain indoor areas like public transportation and hospitals.
“If I feel unsafe near people who don’t have one on, I carry one in my bag at all times, and if I feel I need to put it on, I put it on," Nochella said.
COVID-19 cases in the city have doubled in the last two weeks and three ZIP codes on Staten Island are among the highest rates in the city.
"Pretty scared. People should be getting vaccinated, and they’re not," said commuter Michele Becker.
That’s where the mayor’s focus remained Monday, rejecting calls for the reimposition of an indoor mask mandate everywhere in the city.
“Masks have value, unquestionably, but masks are not going at the root of the problem. Vaccination is," de Blasio said. "So we do not intend a mask mandate. We do intend to double down on vaccination."
So, too, does Staten Island University Hospital, planning public education outreach in some of the Island’s hardest hit areas.
“Yes, the answer is we’re getting to where the people are," said Dr. Theodore Strange, the chair of medicine at Staten Island University Hospital. "We’re going to a church on the south shore and ask to go into their local Sunday service and sit outside as people are walking out to just answer questions. We’re not asking them to come to us. We're going to go to them. We got to hit everyone one on one. We have to answer questions one on one. We have to dispel false rumors."
The city says the delta variant makes up about 41% of new cases. The main concern is for those that don’t have the shot.
"To each his own," Nochella said. "I mean, I don't judge anyone for their choices they make. I'm glad im vaccinated. I wish everyone would get vaccinated. But it's their choice."
According to the city, Staten Island is about 50% fully vaccinated, only slightly below the city as a whole.