Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday morning called on Gov. Kathy Hochul to impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on MTA employees, as he has done for city workers across the five boroughs.
“Gov. Hochul, here's an opportunity to do something that will really help New York City, put a mandate in place for MTA employees,” de Blasio said. “We need them to be vaccinated for the safety of each other and their families, their communities, for the safety of the passengers. It's worked with the New York City workforce. It can work with the MTA as well.”
De Blasio, who often touts himself as an early adopter and fierce advocate of vaccine mandates, cited high compliance rates among city workers as proof they are effective. According to the mayor, 94% of all city workers are now vaccinated against COVID-19, including 87% of the NYPD, 93% of the FDNY EMS, 89% of FDNY and 88% of the sanitation department.
In response to the mayor pressing Hochul to enforce a mandate, Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano issued a statement bashing the mayor.
"The MTA's unionized workforce, and millions of transit riders, are grateful this Thanksgiving that Mayor de Blasio does not run the subway and bus system — and is finally heading out the door,” the statement reads. “The current system in which transit workers have a choice to be vaccinated or be tested regularly is working while we continue to educate and urge members to get the shot."
MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber also threw cold water on the idea, citing low COVID-19 positivity rates among the MTA workforce and hundreds of testing sites across the subway system.
“What we’re doing with respect to vax and tests, which is what we’re doing, is working. We’ve got four out of five MTA employees vaxxed and when we do testing, and we do a lot of it, we have a low positivity rate by the city, by a lot. We’re at .6% positivity rate,” Lieber told Lane Bajardi of 1010 WINS.
“We’ve added vax sites and actually testing at 600 different locations around the system, so incredible safety,” Lieber later added.
Hochul echoed Lieber's sentiment, praising MTA workers and touting the transit agency's low infection rate.
"They wear their masks, they socially distance, and they’re doing what’s right," the governor said during a tour of the Second Avenue Subway tunnel. "So I appreciate the advice that’s coming our way — that’s fine, we have a relationship — but if we had a problem, I’d address it, but we’re doing an outstanding job."
De Blasio is considering running against Hochul in next year’s Democratic primary for governor.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misspelled MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber's last name as Leiber.
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