MetroFocus: December 6, 2021

FRONTPAGE FORECAST SPECIAL REPORT: NEARLY A DOZEN OMICRON CASES REPORTED ACROSS NY

Nearly a dozen total cases of the Omicron variant have now been detected in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. In response, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that private employers will have to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for their workers, a requirement that is expected to take effect later this month. Joining us tonight with the late-breaking details are Rutgers University political science professor and senior scholar Saladin Ambar, political commentator and former NYC Board of Elections president JC Polanco and The City deputy editor, Alyssa Katz.

TRANSCRIPT

♪ ♪

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G.

PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THIS FRONT PAGE FORECAST SPECIAL REPORT.

I AM JACK FORD.

TONIGHT, THE TRISTATE IS BRACING FOR MORE CASES OF THE OMICRON VARIANT, AFTER NEARLY A DOZEN WERE CONFIRMED IN THE PAST SEVERAL DAYS.

OMICRON HAS NOW BEEN DETECTED IN NEW YORK CITY, LONG ISLAND, NEW JERSEY, AND IN CONNECTICUT.

IN RESPONSE, MAYOR BILL De BLASIO ANNOUNCED TUESDAY THAT ALL CITY EMPLOYERS WILL HAVE TO MANDATE COVID-19 VACCINATIONS FOR ALL OF THEIR WORKERS.

A REQUIREMENT THAT TAKES EFFECT LATER THIS MONTH.

PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS SAY WHILE OMICRON IS RAPIDLY SPREADING, EARLY INDICATIONS SUGGEST THAT IT MAY WELL BE LESS DANGEROUS THAN DELTA, WHICH IS ITSELF DRIVING A SURGE IN HOSPITALIZATIONS.

JUST LAST WEEK, NEW YORK STATE RECORDED OVER 11,000 NEW POSITIVE CASES FOLLOWING THE THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY, THE HIGHEST SINGLE DAY TOTAL SINCE LAST JANUARY.

FOR THE VERY LATEST IN WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW, AS WE ENTER THIS CRUCIAL NEXT PHASE OF THE PANDEMIC, WE ARE DELIGHTED TO BE JOINED BY OUR ROUNDTABLE OF TRISTATE EXPERTS.

AND THAT BRINGS US TO SALADINE AM BAR, A SCIENCE PROFESSOR AND THE EAGLETON CENTER.

FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE NEW YORK CITY BOARD OF ELECTIONS WHO NOW TEACHES THERE.

AND ALYSSA CAPPS, WHO IS DEPUTY EDITOR AT THE CITY COVERING NEW YORK.

SO WELCOME TO ALL OF YOU.

THANK YOU.

ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU JOINING US HERE ON OUR FRONT PAGE REPORT.

AS USUAL, THERE'S A LOT TO TALK ABOUT.

THE NEWS OF THE DAY IS MAYOR BILL De BLASIO, AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, SAYING FROM NOW ON ALL, THAT INCLUDES PRIVATE EMPLOYERS IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK, WILL HAVE TO REQUIRE VACCINATIONS FOR ALL OF THEIR EMPLOYEES.

GIVE US A REPORT OR SENSE HERE HOW THIS ALL CAME ABOUT AND WHAT SORT OF DETAILS ARE WE HEARING ABOUT?

SURE.

ONE QUICK FACT CHECK.

IT'S ALL EMPLOYEES EXCEPT A COUPLE OF GOVERNMENT AGENCIES NOT COVERED.

ONE IS THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK AS WELL AS THE MTA, STATE AGENCIES AND THE LAST EMPLOYERS WHO ARE IN NEW YORK CITY NOT COVERED BY THE MANDATE UNLESS SOMETHING CHANGES BEFORE DECEMBER 27.

TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION, LOOK, WHAT WE HAVE HERE OVER A PERIOD OF TIME IS De BLASIO REALLY MAKING IT A STEADY ATTEMPT TO BE OUT IN FRONT OF THE REST TO HAVE COUNTRY ON ALL KINDS OF INTERVENTIONS TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF COVID.

AND VIRTUALLY ALL OF THEM HAVE HAD VERY STRONG PUBLIC HEALTH SUPPORT, WHETHER IT WAS THE SHUTDOWNS OF NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES, THINGS THAT INCLUDE THE VACCINE MANDATES FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYEES.

THIS MANDATE IS AN INTERESTING ONE, BECAUSE IT FOLLOWS FIRST OF ALL, THE ATTEMPT BY JOE BIDEN TO USE THE OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ADMINISTRATION TO CREATE A SORT OF PARALLEL FEDERAL MANDATE THAT ESSENTIALLY NOT KNOCKED DOWN IN THE COURTS, JUST AS AN OVERREACH OF OSHA'S AUTHORITY.

I TEND TO SEE THIS NEW MANDATE, WHICH WOULD GO INTO EFFECT FORDe BLASIO IS OUT OF OFFICE AND PIVOTING INTO WHAT IS LIKELY A CAMPAIGN FOR GOVERNOR.

HE ANNOUNCED THIS ON MSNBC, IT'S A NATIONAL STORY, POTENTIALLY AN INTERNATIONAL STORY, THAT HE IS MANDATING EMPLOYERS.

SO WITH ALL DUE RESPECT OF THE OMICRON VARIANT OF THE VIRUS, THIS ONE, MORE THAN OTHERS IN THE PAST, STRIKES ME AS MUCH A KIND OF POLITICAL STATEMENT, SAYING I, BILL De BLASIO, AM LEADING NEW YORK CITY ON THIS ISSUE, WHERE WORKING AGE PEOPLE ARE, YOU KNOW, PERSONALLY NOT AS MUCH AT RISK OF DEATH OF THIS VARIANT.

IT'S REALLY AS MUCH AS ANYTHING AN ATTEMPT TO SAY NEW YORK IS LEADING ON THIS ISSUE.

I WANT TO GET TO A NUMBER OF THOSE ISSUES THAT YOU MENTIONED.

I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE OMICRON VERSUS DELTA AND OUR PREPARATION AT THIS POINT, BUT LET ME STAY FOR A MOMENT WITH THE TWO THINGS YOU MENTIONED, THAT IS THE POLITICAL BACKDROP FOR THIS DECISION, AND THEN WHAT WE MIGHT ANTICIPATE IN TERMS OF THE LEGAL CHALLENGES.

LET'S FOCUS ON THE POLITICAL BACKDROP.

PROFESSOR, YOU FIRST.

GIVE ME YOUR SENSE OF HOW YOU SEE THIS AND WHY, IN YOUR OPINION, WE'RE SEEING MAYOR De BLASIO TAKE THIS POSITION NOW.

WELL, I THINK AS MAYOR OF THE LARGEST SCHOOL DISTRICT AND STILL THE, YOU KNOW, CENTER OF WORLD FINANCE AND CAPITAL, AT LEAST ONE OF THE TWO OR THREE TOP CENTERS OF WORLD FINANCE, HE'S MAKING A DECISION TO SET THE MARKETING AT EASE, SET HIS OWN POLITICAL FUTURE AT EASE, AND STAVE OFF, OR AT LEAST BE PART OF THE PROCESS OF STAVING OFF WHAT THE JAPANESE WENT THROUGH WHICH WAS A LOST DECADE ECONOMICTY.

UNRELATED TO A VIRUS, BUT JUST TO AN ECONOMY THAT COULD NEVER QUITE GET GROUNDED.

SO INSTEAD OF THIS BEING A YEAR PHENOMENON, AN 18-MONTH PHENOMENON, I THINK, YOU KNOW, THE FEAR IS THAT IF ACTORS LIKE MAYOR De BLASIO ON THE GROUND IN LARGE CITIES DON'T TAKE PREEMPTIVE ACTION, GOD FORBID WE'RE LOOKING AT COVID BEING A DECADE LONG PHENOMENON IN TERMS OF ANY NUMBER OF VARIANTS.

SO THAT MEANS PEOPLE HAVE TO GET VACCINATED.

THAT MEANS PEOPLE HAVE TO NOT COME TO WORK WHEN THEY'RE SICK.

THEY HAVE TO MASK.

THEY HAVE TO DO ALL THE THINGS WE KNOW THEY HAVE TO DO TO AVOID, NOT A TWO OR THREE-YEAR LOSS OF OUR LIVES AS WE HAVE KNOWN THEM, BUT MAYBE A DECADE LOSS OF LIFE AS WE HAVE KNOWN IT.

THAT'S THE UNDERLYING FEAR AND WHY THIS PROBABLY IS MORE CORPORATE SUPPORT FROM CONSERVATIVES PER SE.

I THINK PEOPLE REALIZE THE DEPTHS OF WHERE THIS COULD GO IF PEOPLE DON'T ACT PREETCHTIVELY.

JC, HOW ABOUT THE NOTION OF CORPORATE SUPPORT, AND WHAT SORT OF POLITICAL PUSHBACK WE MIGHT SEE.

I THINK THE PROFESSOR IS CORRECT ABOUT CORPORATE SUPPORT.

YOU KNOW, CORPORATIONS AROUND THE COUNTRY ARE WORKING VERY HARD TO IMPROVE THEIR STANDING WITH THE PUBLIC.

LAUNCHING PUBLIC EDUCATION CAMPAIGN, SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY.

THESE ARE BIG THINGS FOR CORPORATIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

NEW YORK CITY IS NO DIFFERENT.

AS YOU WELL KNOW.

I DO THINK THAT THIS, HOWEVER, IS MAYBE AN OVERREACH.

I'M ALL FOR GETTING VACCINATED, I'M EVEN BOOSTERED UP MYSELF.

BUT THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS, IF JOE BIDEN HAD AN ISSUE WITH THIS IN THE COURTS, I JUST DON'T SEE HOW THE MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY CAN MANDATE ALL PRIVATE EMPLOYERS TO FORCE THEIR EMPLOYEES TO BE VACCINATED, ALTHOUGH I UNDERSTAND ALL THE PUBLIC HEALTH REASONS WHY THEY SHOULD BE VACCINATED.

HOWEVER, I THINK THIS MAY BE A CONSTITUTIONAL OVERREACH.

I'M A CENTRIST, BUT THE FACT IS, WE HAVE TO KEEP AN EYE ON THE CONSTITUTION AND MAKE SURE THAT GOVERNMENT AGENCIES, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS DON'T OVERREACH THEIR BOUNDS OF THE CONFINES OF THE CONSTITUTION.

I THINK THIS MAY BE A FIELD DAY FOR ATTORNEYS IF YOU ASK ME.

HOW ABOUT THAT, ALYSSA, WHAT ARE YOU HEARING IN TERMS OF POSSIBLE LEGAL CHALLENGES FOR THIS?

I THINK WE CAN SURELY ACCEPT THE MANDATE TO BE CHALLENGED.

AND I THINK THAT SPEAKS TO MY POINT ABOUT THE POLITICS OF THIS.

IF THERE IS A COURT CHALLENGE, THAT JUST GIVES De BLASIO MORE EXPOSURE AS SOMEBODY WHO HAS BEEN FIGHTING THIS OUT IN COURT FOR MONTHS WHILE CAMPAIGNING FOR GOVERNOR.

I, TOO, AM FULLY VACCINATED AND BELIEVE EVERYONE SHOULD BE VACCINATED.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME, JUST TO GO ABOUT IT IN THIS MANNER, KNOWING THAT IT'S LIKELY TO BE LEGALLY CHALLENGED.

THAT'S ONE REASON I DO THINK IT DOES HAVE A POLITICAL TENOR TO IT.

AND A KEY ISSUE IS ENFORCEMENT.

YES, YOU'LL HAVE SOME PRIVATE EMPLOYERS WHO SAY IF GOVERNMENT MANDATES IT, IT'S NOT US SAYING THIS.

IT'S INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT TO HAVE THAT POWER AND THAT COULD BE A STRONG JUSTIFICATION FOR THESE ACTIONS.

AT THE SAME TIME, YOU'LL HAVE OTHER EMPLOYERS WHO HAVE NO INTEREST IN ENFORCING THIS, BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT CONFLICT WITH THEIR EMPLOYEES, THEY DON'T HAVE THE ABILITY, EMPLOYEES ARE GOING TO FAKE IT ANY WAY.

AND HOW IS GOVERNMENT GOING TO ENSURE THEY'RE COMPLIANT?

SO THERE ARE PRACTICAL QUESTIONS, WHICH SPEAK TO THE POLITICAL MEASURE OF THIS MANDATE.

MAKING A MANDATE WHEN YOU KNOW THE TOOLS FOR ENFORCEMENT ARE LIMITED POTENTIALLY.

IT DOES SEEM LIKE A TALL ORDER.

JACK, ONE THING IS THE MANDATE FOR CHILDREN IS INCREDIBLE.

NOW YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE -- CHILDREN ARE GOING TO HAVE TO BE VACCINATED IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE IN A LOT OF THE ACTIVITIES THAT THE REST OF US PARTICIPATE IN, THAT INCLUDES ENTERTAINMENT, RESTAURANTS, ET CETERA.

NOW WE'RE LOOKING AT -- I THINK A LOT OF INDEPENDENT VOTERS ARE GOING TO SAY NOW YOU'RE TELLING ME WHAT TO DO WITH MY KIDS.

ALTHOUGH I KNOW KIDS ARE REQUIRED TO GET THEIR SHOTS TO GO TO DAY CARE AND SCHOOLS.

I'M INTERESTED IN BOTH OF YOUR THOUGHTS, ON WHAT ALYSSA JUST MENTIONED, WHICH IS IT'S FINE TO SAY THERE'S A MANDATE OUT THERE NOW.

BUT HOW DO YOU ENFORCE IT?

IS IT MERELY A POLITICAL STATEMENT OR IS THIS GOING TO HAVE TO BE SOME KIND OF MECHANISM, SOME KIND OF MECHANISM TO MAKE THIS -- TO CREATE ANY SORT OF EFFICACY WITH THIS?

AND WHAT SORT OF PROBLEMS DOES THAT THEN CREATE FOR US, PROFESSOR?

I THINK THE FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM, WHETHER YOU'RE ON THE LEFT OR ON THE RIGHT, AND HAVE ISSUES WITH THESE MANDATES, IT'S THE DECLINE IN TRUST IN GOVERNMENT OVER THESE PAST DECADES, MAYBE DECADES FRANKLY.

BUT IT'S BEEN PRECIPITOUS AND ONGOING.

AND FOR DIFFERENT REASONS.

PROGRESSIVES, PEOPLE ON THE FAR LEFT, PEOPLE ON THE FAR RIGHT, HAVE LOOKED AT GOVERNMENT AS SOMETHING FOREIGN TO THEM.

SOMETHING THAT HAS, YOU KNOW, PERHAPS SERVED THE VESTED INTEREST OF OTHERS, THE POWERFUL, THE ELITES AND SO FORTH.

BUT NOT FOR THE AVERAGE WORKING MAN AND WOMAN.

AND I THINK THAT DISTANCE THAT'S BEEN CREATED FOSTERED OVER THE DECADES NOW, IS SOMETHING THAT HAS COME BACK TO BITE, YOU KNOW, HONEST BROKERS WHO ARE SINCERELY TRYING TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC IN THIS CASE OF, YOU KNOW, BOY CRYING WOLF, IF YOU WILL.

THAT KIND OF SCENARIO HAS EMERGED.

I THINK THERE'S VERY LITTLE, OTHER THAN TO HAVE THE MANDATES, OF WHAT TO DO.

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO ENFORCE EACH EPISODE OF PEOPLE VIOLATING THESE VARS COD VARIOUS CODES AND MANDATE.

FEAR WILL BE THE ULTIMATE ARBITER OF WHETHER OR NOT PEOPLE DECIDE TO GET VACCINATED.

AND I THINK WE SEE THAT NOW WITH THE OMICRON VARIANT DOING WHAT IT'S DOING.

HOWEVER, NON-LETHAL IT MAY BE, YOU SEE THE UPTICK IN PEOPLE GETTING VACCINATED.

AS PEOPLE HEAR THESE STORIES AROUND THE WORLD, THERE IS A GREATER TENDENCY TO REALIZE MAYBE I COVER MY BASES HERE.

BUT IT WON'T BE NECESSARILY BECAUSE PEOPLE BELIEVE WHAT THE GOVERNMENT IS TELLING THEM.

THAT'S UNDERSTANDABLE, BUT ALSO DEEPLY PROBLEMATIC.

THE OLD PUNCHLINE, THE PERSON THAT KNOCKS ON THE DOOR AND SAYS I'M FROM THE GOVERNMENT, YOU CAN TRUST ME.

FOLKS SAY IS THAT REALLY SO?

THAT'S A SAD COMMENTARY ON WHERE WE ARE.

ALYSSA, THE PROFESSOR MENTIONS THE OMICRON AND ON THE DELTA VARIANT.

GIVE US A SENSE OF WHAT DO WE KNOW?

BECAUSE WE DON'T KNOW A WHOLE LOT, BUT WHAT DO WE KNOW IN TERMS OF THE OMICRON AND WHAT IS HAPPENING BECAUSE IT SEEMS LIKE WE'RE KIND OF FORGETTING ABOUT THE DELTA VARIANT, AND I'M WONDERING WHETHER WE SHOULD BE FORGETTING ABOUT THAT.

YEAH, SO I WILL SAY TO SITUATE MY EXPERTISE HERE, I ATTENDED THE ANIME CONVENTION WITH SIX 15-YEAR-OLDS WHERE OMICRON WAS FIRST DEFECTED IN NEW YORK.

IT WAS ALMOST LIKELY THE PERSON FROM MINNESOTA HAS BEEN REPORTED WITH THIS AGGRESSIVE SEQUENCING.

SO WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR IS REALLY BASED ON IRREGULAR SEQUENCING SAMPLING THAT HAPPENED IN BOTSWANA, IN SOUTH AFRICA, THEN THE NETHERLANDS.

SO IT'S KIND OF THIS GLOBAL KIND OF HUNT, RIGHT?

TO IDENTIFY, YOU KNOW, VIRUS THAT DOES SEEM TO HAVE END CASES THAT MAKE IT ON THE ONE HAND, THIS IS VERY EARLY INFORMATION, EPIDEMIOLOGISTS BELIEVE IT'S LIKELY MORE CONTAGIOUS AND LESS LETHAL.

AGAIN, WE DON'T KNOW, BECAUSE WE LEARNED THAT EACH OF THESE PHASES OF COVID, IT'S A PRODUCT OF BIOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL RISK FACTORS FOR INDIVIDUALS.

WHAT IT'S THEIR ABLE, UNDERLYING HEALTH AND LIVING CONDITIONS THAT FACILITATE CONTAGION AND SO ON.

SO A LOT OF THEM ARE CLOSELY RELATED, UNFORTUNATELY TO WEFLTD AND POVERTY AS WE SAW DURING THE FIRST WAVE IN 2020.

SO I THINK THE TIMETABLE THAT WE HAVE SEEN REPORTED IS THAT IN THE NEXT -- WE'RE TAKING THIS ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 6, THAT THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE COMING WEEK OR TWO THAT WE WILL BE SEEING MORE SEQUENCING, MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT THE ACTUAL HEALTH IMPACTS ARE OF PEOPLE CONFIRMED TO HAVE CONTRACTED THIS PARTICULAR HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS VARIANT.

I SHOULD NOTE ONE FLIP SIDE OF THIS, THIS IS INDEED OMICRON IS MORE CONTAGIOUS AND LESS LETHAL, IT COULD HAVE POTENTIALLY TREMENDOUS BENEFITS.

WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A VACCINE MANDATE.

PEOPLE WILL BENEFIT FROM NATURAL IMMUNITY.

SOME RESEARCH HAS FOUND IT'S OPTIMAL TO HAVE NATURALLY ACHOIR -- ACQUIRED IMMUNITY.

AND IF YOU SEE THAT HAPPEN, IT COULD -- THERE IS HOPE, MAYBE BEYOND HOPE, THAT THIS IS IN FACT, THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF THE REALLY KIND OF FATALITY STAGE OF COVID.

THAT COULD BE A VERY GOOD OUTCOME.

YEAH.

PROFESSOR, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS, AND YOU MENTIONED THIS BEFORE ABOUT FEAR BEING A POSITIVE, DRIVING FACTOR FOR CHANGE SOMETIMES.

WE SEEM TO HAVE PUT THE DELTA VARIANT ON THE BACK BURNER.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT ALYSSA IS SAYING THERE COULD BE A POSITIVE VALUE ASSOCIATED WITH THIS?

LET'S ALL HOPE SO.

THERE'S GOOD REASON SCIENTIFICALLY TO BELIEVE THAT.

ULTIMATELY WE'LL HAVE TO SEE HOW THIS PLAYS OUT.

NOT IN THE COMING DAYS OR WEEKS BUT COMING MONTHS, PERHAPS EVEN YEARS.

BUT THIS, YOU KNOW, WE WERE DEALING WITH DELTA.

AND THEN OMICRON CAME ON THE SCENE.

I THINK WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO IS SKATE TOWARDS THE PUCK, WHERE IT'S GOING TO BE TO USE THAT OLD ANALOGY.

AND FRANKLY, I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE, YOU KNOW, DOWN THE ROAD.

WE'VE GOT A WINTER TO GET THROUGH.

AND HOPEFULLY A SPRING THAT APPEARS TO BE, YOU KNOW, MOVING US INTO A DIFFERENT DIRECTION.

IT SEEMS WE ARE STILL IN THIS EBB AND FLOW OF RISING AND FALLING CASES.

BUT TO ALYSSA'S POINT, THE POSSIBILITY THAT WE MAY LIVE WITH THOSE RISING AND FALLING CASES IS SOMETHING THAT WE ALL, YOU KNOW, CHERISH THAT, AS A MODEL.

AND CAN LIVE WITH THAT, RIGHT?

IF YOU GET SICK EVERY SO OFTEN OR A LITTLE SICK BECAUSE YOU CONTRACT THE VIRUS, GUESS WHAT?

THAT'S PART OF BEING ALIVE.

IT'S HAVING PEOPLE WHO ARE, YOU KNOW, HAVING TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL, LOVED ONES WHO HAVE UNDERLYING CONDITIONS, THE ELDERLY OR THE INFIRMED IN SOME WAY ALREADY.

THAT'S WHAT WE WANT TO AVOID.

SO I HOPE, YOU KNOW, A POLITICAL SCIENTIST, NOT THAT KIND OF DOCTOR, BUT LET'S HOPE THAT THE INFORMATION WE'RE GETTING IS SPOT ON, BECAUSE I THINK THAT WOULD BODE WELL FOR US NOT LOSING A DECADE, BUT RATHER REBOUNDING AND HAVING THE ROARING 20s THAT EVERYBODY IS HOPING WE WOULD HAVE.

JC, HOW ABOUT THE CONFLICT OF THE MESSAGING HERE?

EVERYBODY HAS STRUGGLED WITH THIS FROM THE BEGINNING.

WHAT SHOULD THE MESSAGE BE, WHO SHOULD BE THE MESSENGER?

HOW DO WE GET THE PEOPLE RECEIVING THE MESSAGE TO BE COMFORTABLE WITH IT AND WILLING TO ACCEPT IT?

I'M WONDERING AS WE CONTINUE TO INTRODUCE THESE VARIANTS SHOW UP HERE, AND WE'RE TRYING TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THEM, HOW DO YOU SEE THE MESSAGING PLAYING OUT HERE?

ARE WE GETTING ANY BETTER IS THE QUESTION, ARE WE GETTING ANY BETTER AT GETTING RELIABLE AND TRUSTWORTHY MESSAGES?

ARE WE GETTING BETTER ABOUT GETTING THOSE ACROSS?

I THINK WE HAVE BEEN.

WE HAVE TO REALIZE THAT IT WAS REALLY TRAUMATIC FOR NEW YORKERS TO KNOW ALL OF THE NONSENSE THAT WAS GOING ON PREVIOUSLY REGARDING MESSAGING.

THE MISINFORMATION COMING FROM ALBANY, FROM FORMER GOVERNOR CUOMO, HIDING NUMBERS.

WE REALIZED THAT WE WEREN'T GETTING ACCURATE INFORMATION.

POLITICIANS AROUND THE COUNTRY TRYING TO GET IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA, ACTING AS IF THEY'RE MEDICAL DOCTORS, CONFUSING THE PUBLIC.

OFTEN, UNFORTUNATELY, THESE SAME POLITICIANS USE ISSUES LIKE THIS FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES, WHETHER TO LAUNCH A CAMPAIGN OR TO SHOW THEY'RE IN CHARGE.

AND THIS IS ALL UNFORTUNATE.

I HAVE TO SAY THE MESSAGING HAS GOTTEN BETTER, WHEN YOU GO FROM ZERO TO ONE, THAT'S 100% INCREASE.

BUT YOU'RE LOOKING AT MORE DOCTORS ON TV TALKING TO US, THE PUBLIC EDUCATION CAMPAIGN, I THINK THAT WAS IMPORTANT.

THE MORE WE SEE DOCTORS, THE LESS WE SEE POLITICIANS, THE BETTER WE WILL ALL FEEL.

YOU MENTIONED POLITICIANS.

I GUESS THE NEXT QUESTION, ALYSSA, LET ME COME TO YOU WITH THIS.

WE KNOW BACK IN THE EARLY DAYS OF THIS, THERE WERE, IN SOME WAYS, DUELLING PRESS CONFERENCES.

JC MENTIONED THIS.

CLEARLY, THERE WAS NOT MUCH COORDINATION BETWEEN THE GOVERNOR AND MAYOR'S OFFICE, AND WE KNOW WHAT De BLASIO AND CUOMO'S HISTORY HAS BEEN.

HOW DO YOU SEE IT NOW?

WE HAVE MAYOR De BLASIO IS STILL THERE, BUT COMING TO THE END OF HIS TERM.

WE HAVE GOVERNOR HOCHUL UP IN ALBANY.

HOW DO YOU SEE IN COORDINATION, AND WE HAVE INCOMING MAYOR ERIC ADAMS IN THE CALCULUS HERE.

HOW DO YOU SEE THE COORDINATION PLAYING OUT NOW?

WE HAVE ONE TOUCHSTONE WITH THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THIS FIRST CASE OF THE VARIANT DETECTED WITH SOMEONE WHO HAD BEEN AT THE JAVA CENTER, THAT MAYOR De BLASIO AND GOVERNOR HOCHUL HAD A PRESS CONFERENCE TOGETHER IN PERSON.

THAT WAS AT CITY HALL.

AND THAT WAS CLEARLY A GESTURE, WE ARE WORKING ON THIS TOGETHER.

WE'RE COORDINATING.

THEY SAID THAT REPEATEDLY.

YOU KNOW, PARADOXICALLY, THAT COORDINATION MAY BE HAPPENING AT A TIME WHERE THE LIFE AND DEATH URGENCY OF THE COORDINATION MAY BE FAR LESS THAN IT WAS IN MARCH OF 2020.

WHEN WE SAW JUST TERRIBLE COMBAT AND DEADLOCKING GOING ON BETWEEN THE MAYOR AND GOVERNOR.

WE SHOULD NOTE THAT THE TRANSCRIPTS RELEASED LAST WEEK ON INTERVIEWS ON MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNOR'S STAFF, THE FORMER GOVERNOR CUOMO'S STAFF IN CONNECTION WITH THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S INVESTIGATION, IN SEXUAL MISCONDUCT ALLEGATIONS BUT ALSO ALLEGATIONS ABOUT HOW THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OPERATED, I BELIEVE IT WAS IN CONNECTION WITH THAT, THAT WE LEARNED ABOUT INTERVENTION WHERE -- I MAY HAVE TO CORRECT MYSELF ON THIS.

IT MAY HAVE RELATED TO THE STATE ASSEMBLY'S INVESTIGATION OF CUOMO'S ALLEGED MISCONDUCT.

BUT IN ANY CASE, WE LEARNED RECENTLY ABOUT EFFORTS BY THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE TO INTERVENE IN RELEASING INFORMATION AND SPECIFICALLY IN COOPERATION WITH THE CITY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH.

I THINK THAT IS NOT SURPRISING TO LEARN THAT NOW, BUT WAS INCREDIBLY PROBLEMATIC WITH CUOMO'S EFFORTS TO DISGUISE THE TRUE TOTAL OF NURSING HOME DEATHS AT THE TIME HE WAS ATTEMPTING TO SELL A BOOK AS WE HAVE LEARNED.

SO I THINK THAT IT'S PROMISING GOING FORWARD.

I DON'T THINK IT'S THAT HARD TO COOPERATE, UNLESS YOU HAVE ANDREW COMBO DOING WHAT HE ATTEMPTED TO DO LAST YEAR.

BUT LET'S JUST HOPE THAT IT WILL, IN FACT, REPAIR IMMINENCE -- WE LEARNED ABOUT THE PERSON IN CHARGE OF THE RESPONSE AND COULDN'T DOLE WITH THE POLITICALIZATION OF THE RESPONSE AND HAS RESIGNED.

THE FORMER CITY COMMISSIONER, WHO IS NOW IN CHARGE AT THE STATE DEPTH OF HEALTH, AND WE CAN HOPE THAT WILL BODE VERY WELL FOR COORDINATION GOING FORWARD.

LET ME GET REACTION FROM BOTH YOU, JC AND PROFESSOR.

WE HAVE ABOUT 2 1/2 MINUTES LEFT IN THE CONVERSATION.

I'M CURE USE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT WHAT ALYSSA HAS EXPLAINED TO US AND THE CHANGE IN COOPERATION.

IS THAT MERELY OPTICS, OR CAN THERE BE A REAL SUBSTANTIVE VALUE TO LET'S CALL THEM THE CITIZENS, WHO ARE WATCHING AND LISTENING AND TRYING TO MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS ABOUT IN.

WHAT DO YOU THINK, PROFESSOR?

WELL, THIS IS A CASE WHERE THE PERSONAL IS POLITICAL.

THAT'S OFTEN THE CASE, FRANKLY.

THE FACT THAT THE FORMER GOVERNOR CUOMO COULD NOT HAVE, FOR THE SAKE OF, YOU KNOW, THE VOTERS OF NEW YORK, A GETTER RELATIONSHIP WITH MAYOR De BLASIO AND VICE VERSA IS ABSOLUTELY INEXCUSABLE.

AT SOME POINT, YOU KNOW, I THINK THE PUBLIC UNDERSTANDS THAT YOU MAY NOT LIKE ONE ANOTHER.

YOU KNOW, IN POLITIC TERMS, THERE ARE ALL KINDS OF EXPRESSIONS FOR WHAT WAS GOING ON BEHIND CLOSED DOORS BETWEEN THE TWO.

BUT WHEN THE PUBLIC SAFETY AND HEALTH OF NEW YORKERS ARE AT STAKE, YOU KNOW, YOU LOCK ARMS AND FIGURE IT OUT AND PUT ON A SMILE AND DO WHAT'S BEST FOR THE PEOPLE OF NEW YORK, FULL STOP.

WE DIDN'T SEE THAT.

I DO THINK THAT THERE'S SOME REASSURANCE IN SEEING GOVERNOR HOCHUL AND THE MAYOR WORKING TOGETHER.

YOU KNOW, GOD FORBID YOU'RE IN THE SAME PARTY, MAYBE THAT MAKES IT WORSE AT TIMES, BECAUSE YOU'RE VYING FOR THE SMALL SPACE OF POWER IN NEW YORK.

BUT I THINK IT BRINGS SOME REASSURANCE.

AT LEAST THERE'S SOME ADULTHOOD GOING ON.

RIGHT, RIGHT.

I'M GOING TO LET THAT BE THE LAST WORD.

ONCE AGAIN WITH OUR THANKS TO ALL OF YOU.

YOU ALWAYS BRING THIS GREAT LEVEL OF AWARENESS AND CONCERN AND EDUCATION.

SO THANKS TO ALL OF YOU.

WE'LL SEE YOU AGAIN SOON.

TAKE CARE NOW.

THANK YOU.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G.

PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA

©2022 WNET. All Rights Reserved. 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019

WNET is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax ID: 26-2810489