In his final State of the City address, Mayor Bill de Blasio offered a sprawling vision of New York City’s recovery from a pandemic that has taken tens of thousands of lives and destroyed the city’s economy.
The mayor committed to accelerating the city’s vaccination efforts and set a goal of inoculating five million New Yorkers by June.
“We’re going for an aggressive goal,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference on Friday morning, adding that “I am absolutely certain we can do it, so long as we have the vaccine.”
On Friday, Mr. de Blasio said that, given an adequate supply of the vaccine, the city could vaccinate half a million people per week, and that he planned to reopen vaccination sites that had closed as more vaccine became available.
Johnson & Johnson announced on Friday that their vaccine was very effective at preventing the virus, but that its efficacy dropped steeply against a more contagious variant in South Africa. White House officials have been counting on Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, to ease the shortfall of vaccine supply. Unlike the federally authorized vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is effective after only one dose. But the company may only have about seven million doses ready when the F.D.A. decides whether to authorize it, according to federal health officials familiar with its production, and about 30 million doses by early April.
Mr. de Blasio also noted on Friday that the citywide seven-day average rate of positive test results was 8.63 percent, and city data show that in more than 30 city ZIP codes the rate is above 10 percent.
During the State of the City address, the mayor also said he would begin in May to bring back to offices the thousands of city employees who have been working remotely, and would safely reopen schools for all students in September.
“New York City’s vaccination effort is the foundation of a recovery for all of us,” the mayor’s 18-page recovery plan says. “With every vaccine shot, New York City moves closer and closer to fully reopening our economy, restoring the jobs we lost and ensuring equality in our comeback.”
If the federal government provides enough stimulus dollars to the city, Mr. de Blasio said, he will create a City Cleanup Corps of 10,000 temporary workers to focus on beautifying the city — an idea he compared to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression.
Mr. de Blasio also proposed two plans to help small businesses: a $50 million “recovery tax credit” program for businesses that have faced hardships from the pandemic, and a $100 million “recovery loan” program to help shops stay open. The city will provide low-interest loans of up to $100,000 to roughly 2,000 small businesses, according to the mayor’s plan.
But Mr. de Blasio has also warned that the city is facing major budget cuts and layoffs. He recently announced that the city’s property tax revenues are projected to decline by $2.5 billion next year, driven by a drop in the value of office buildings and hotel properties that have emptied out during the pandemic.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Friday that restaurants in New York City, major drivers of its economy that have struggled under pandemic restrictions, could reopen for indoor dining at 25 percent capacity starting on Feb. 14. Mr. Cuomo closed them last month as virus numbers ticked up.
Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Cuomo have expressed optimism that President Biden, along with a Democratic-led Congress, will bring substantial assistance to the city. Mr. de Blasio also called for higher taxes on wealthy New Yorkers in his speech — a policy he has pushed for years, but that Mr. Cuomo has opposed.
Mr. de Blasio noted that more than 100 billionaires in the state increased their net worth by billions of dollars during the pandemic and called again for a redistribution of wealth.
“There is clearly enough money in New York to invest in a fair and fast recovery — it’s just in the wrong hands,” he said.
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