LOWER MANHATTAN — COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise in New York, according to official statistics, and the increases are fueled by the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. But as COVID metrics rise, however, so does the intensity of voices of opposition against vaccination requirements.
On Monday, outside of City Hall, a group of protesters expressed their opposition to the city’s vaccination requirement, which is set to go into effect in a week, on Monday, August 16.
With chants like “Just Say No,” and a variety of handmade signs with slogans rejecting the vaccination mandate, the group, whose organizers counted at about 500 in attendance, visibly and vocally showed their opposition.
Diane Hagopian came to the demonstration dressed in a Statue of Liberty costume.
“The idea of a vaccine passport is nonsense, it’s farcical,” she said. “It doesn’t prevent transmission” of the virus, she continued. “It’s just a way to compel people to take [the vaccine].”
Rev. Fernando Colon was also on hand. He said that he resented Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive order.
“No one is a dictator in this country to obligate you to take a vaccine that hasn’t officially been approved,” Colon said. “If we allow this to happen, anything can happen.”
The Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson vaccines have been approved by the FDA for emergency use. Full approval for the Pfizer vaccine is expected within weeks.
The protest — and the vaccination requirement it opposes — come as every COVID indicator is rising in New York City.
Its official record of infection rates, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are all increasing.
Also, in certain neighborhoods of the five boroughs, including the southern half of Staten Island and Douglaston, Queens, the infection rate is above 10%, according to the city’s latest statistics.
Infectious disease specialists say that to keep a virus from spreading widely, its infection rate should be below 1%.
Dr. Waleed Javaid, an epidemiologist and director of infection prevention at Mt. Sinai, said that infection rates as high as the city is seeing are borne out in its emergency rooms.
“Even if you don’t believe in the vaccine,” Dr. Javaid said, “you should come to the hospital and see what’s happening.”
“You should ask people around you, ‘What’s happening in the hospital?'” he continued. “We are seeing people getting ill, the majority unvaccinated.”
And if that continues, so will the consequences, he said.
“If the numbers don’t change,” he said, “we would continue to see the infections [increase].”
The city has maintained that preventing a further increase in infections is what’s fueled the vaccination mandate that is set to go into effect next Monday.
Some protesters said they’d be back at City Hall then, if not sooner, to demonstrate.