Good morning. It’s Tuesday. We’ll take a look at why most public school students in New York City probably won’t need Covid-19 vaccines when the school opens next fall. We will also find out why one of the city’s cultural institutions adds ‘New York’ to its name.
Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul have both said they are in favor of making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all public school children. But my colleague Sharon Otterman says it probably won’t be in time for next school year.
In order for the Covid-19 vaccine to join 12 other vaccinations required by state law for school attendance, the New York state legislature would have to change the public health law. Democratic lawmakers in Albany have introduced bills to do just that.
But Senator Brad Hoylman, who introduced the Covid childhood vaccine bill in the state Senate last October, said it was such a hot potato that it wasn’t even assigned a formal account number. “That’s clearly an indication that it’s not ready to be considered,” he said.
The mayor can order a vaccine mandate himself. But Adams, who took office in January, has pushed the city in the opposite direction. He suspended a citywide program that effectively encouraged families to vaccinate their children by requiring vaccination to enter restaurants or indoor entertainment.
Adams has repeatedly said he would support a mandate for schoolchildren once the vaccine for them is fully approved by the FDA. A decision on Pfizer’s vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds could be made in the coming months. The company has not yet applied for full approval for 5- to 11-year-olds. But the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine in children under 12 is disappointing.
Vaccination coverage among primary school children in the city is higher than the national average, but remains quite low. Citywide, 46 percent of children ages 5 to 12 have been fully vaccinated, compared to 80 percent of children ages 13 to 17.
These percentages vary widely by community and by race, indicating the great challenge of enforcing a mandate. For example, according to city statistics, 99 percent of Asian children ages 5 to 12 in New York City are fully vaccinated. But only 37 percent of white city children ages 5 to 12 are. Vaccination rates for white children of that age vary markedly by borough, from 21 percent in Staten Island to 84 percent in Manhattan.
Brad Lander, the New York City comptroller, and Jumaane Williams, the city’s public advocate who is also running for governor, are among several officials who recently called for a mandate. But Lander acknowledged that there seemed to be little political support for it.
“Some of it depends on what happens in the coming months,” he said last month. “If there are no more peaks and variants – as I sincerely wish – then I doubt there will be much pressure.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to recommend vaccination for all children and adolescents ages 5 and older, including those previously infected. But jumping from that to a mandate is a big step. Several experts said it would be better to continue focusing on voluntary vaccination programs for next fall.
Pediatricians are also divided on whether there should be a mandate for schoolchildren, said Dr. Toni Eyssallenne, an internist and pediatrician for Strong Children Wellness, a medical group in Queens.
A mandate would increase vaccination rates, she said. But, she added, “since this is a relatively new vaccine, some parents may be able to pick their children up from school or engage in other activities that can positively influence development, socially and emotionally.”
Enjoy a sunny day near 1970s New York with gusts lasting all night. The evening is usually clear with temperatures dropping to the high 40s.
parking on the other side
Valid until May 26 (Solemnity of Ascension).
A fund for abortion rights
New York state is gearing up for an influx of women seeking abortions as the Supreme Court reforms America’s reproductive rights, as suggested in the draft opinion leaked last week.
Lawmakers in Albany and Letitia James, the state’s attorney general, are pushing for a bill that would establish a state fund to pay abortion providers. The measure would also offset costs for low-income patients and uninsured or underinsured abortion patients.
New York codified Roe v. Wade — the 1973 decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion — as state law in 2019 with the Reproductive Health Act, which removes restrictions on abortion, including banning the procedure after 24 weeks. The proposed proposals are intended to extend and strengthen the safeguards.
It would protect New York-based providers by prohibiting law enforcement officers from participating in investigations in states that criminalize abortion, following legislation recently passed in Connecticut. Another would prohibit New York courts from issuing subpoenas in conjunction with out-of-state abortion procedures.
And an amendment that would enshrine the right to abortion in the state’s constitution is gaining momentum. The sponsor of that bill, Senator Liz Krueger of Manhattan, said such a move was critical to ensuring the right to reproductive care.
“We can no longer afford to play a game of risk,” she said, adding that the expected Supreme Court ruling “opens the door to more cases that go after other cases, including same-sex marriage, fundamental rights to privacy, all these things that are not necessarily correct in our Constitution.”
The latest New York news
Add ‘New York’ to the name of a cultural institution
Facebook became Meta. The high-end retailer of home furnishings Restoration Hardware became RH. And the 92nd Street Y is about to become the 92nd Street Y, New York.
The name change is just a change, said Seth Pinsky, the chief executive officer. “What we’re changing is our logo and with it the nickname people use,” he said. “People have tended to use the nickname 9-2-Y in recent years, and we’re adjusting that with the new logo to be 9-2-NY.”
Adding the New York reference came from the 92nd Street Y’s experience during the pandemic, when it put its programming online and audiences exploded, with viewers in 200 countries and all 50 states. “We went from a New York institution to an international institution,” he said, and “discovered that there are people who know who we are and know our reputation. But there are a lot of people who don’t. We think that makes it clear that we’re a prototypical institution in New York is something that will help define us,” he said.
The new logo, the work of a team from the design firm Pentagram, is introduced as New York’s 92nd Street Y, reorganizes its programs under five “pillars” and promotes an online learning platform called Roundtable that targets “a very specific niche, he said – “higher, very strict courses” in the liberal arts. “These aren’t 101 classes,” he said. “They’re 201, 301, and 401 classes.”
And then there’s the physical home of 92nd Street Y, New York, at 92nd Street and Lexington Avenue. Phase one of a $200 million master plan begins with the renovation of the second largest performance space, construction of a new dance center and gym upgrade.
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I walked into a drugstore on Amsterdam Avenue to buy a seltzer. Somehow I ended up at the register with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food frozen rock solid.
I planned to eat my impulse purchase while sitting on a sidewalk around the corner, so I asked the cashier for a plastic spoon.
“Sorry,” he said. “We don’t have any.”
The guard disagreed.
“We certainly do!” she said, pointing to a jar of spoons. “Take two,” she added, “just in case one breaks.”
— Daniel Simon
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here†
Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — JB
PS Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and game match† Here you will find all our puzzles†
Melissa GuerreroOlivia Parker and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at nytoday..
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