"I can't wait to get it done" New York City...

"I can't wait to get it done" New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Wednesday of the proof-of-vaccination mandate in New York City. He is shown in early January. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Mayor Eric Adams said Wednesday that he supports lifting a proof-of-vaccination requirement for indoor venues like restaurants, bars and concert halls but stopped short of giving a date or benchmarks.

Other big cities, such as cities Boston, Philadelphia and Washington D.C., have gotten rid of the mandates or are doing so amid falling infection rates.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 seven-day positivity level on Long Island appears to be stabilizing this week at about 2%, higher than some experts hoped for, as Gov. Kathy Hochul prepares to make a decision on lifting a mask mandate for schools.

Long Island’s positivity average, which has been dropping for weeks after breaking records in January amid the omicron surge, went up in the latest test results from Tuesday.

It rose to 2.12%, up from 2.09% the previous day, state data showed.

The number of new daily confirmed cases also went up, rising to 323 on Tuesday on the Island, compared to 197 on Monday.

Medical experts, including Dr. David Battinelli, physician-in-chief at Northwell Health, said that ideally the positivity average should be 1% or lower for Hochul to lift the mask mandate in schools — a subject of hot debate among parents, school boards, and teachers.

Hochul announced earlier this month that she was extending the school mask mandate and would look at data the week of Feb. 28 when students return results from at-home COVID-19 test kits.

The governor said she hoped the students would return results the first day back from winter break on Monday, and then do it again three days later. She may announce her decision on March 4.

Across the state, 38 people, including three in Suffolk and one in Nassau, died on Tuesday of causes linked to COVID-19.

Adams said Wednesday he wanted to phase out the proof-of-vaccination mandates in New York City.

But he gave no specific date for when the mandates would begin to be lifted.

Speaking during an unrelated event at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Adams said he planned "a real transformation" over the next few weeks in starting to roll back certain pandemic mandates, including indoor mask rules.

As recently as Feb. 10, Adams said that the proof-of-vaccination rules would not change.

But on Wednesday, Adams said "yes" to a question asking whether he would start to rescind the vaccine mandate, which requires vaccination in order to be employed, dine indoors, patronize a concert, or attend a game. The rules, imposed during the previous mayoral administration, have been in place since last year.

"I can't wait to get it done," he said, adding: "I always say that I'm going to follow the science. I'm not going to get ahead of the science, because I'm ready to get ahead of all of this and get back to a level of normalcy, but they're giving us clear instructions, they gave us benchmarks, we're going to follow those benchmarks," he said. "But I look forward to the next few weeks of going to a real transformation that I don't have to wonder what you look like. I will know what you look like again."

Dr. Jay Varma, the top adviser on the coronavirus pandemic for much of the Bill de Blasio mayoralty, tweeted in response to what Adams said that keeping the mandates was "the safest approach."

Asked under what circumstances he would support the rollback of the mandates, Varma said it would be when "we have enough data to conclude COVID will not evolve to be more infectious, lethal, or immune evading. This is a matter of time, unfortunately, since we don’t have ability to predict what virus will do. Alternatively, a pan-coronavirus vaccine becomes available."

So, how long would each of those take?

"Best guess would be years … I and many others have been wrong before predicting what might happen with the virus. We didn’t predict delta or omicron would arrive so soon. What makes us think we know what will happen now?"

New York City's proof-of-vaccination rule for indoor sports obliges venues to check the vaccination status of the public, either on paper or via an app. Vaccination is also required to be employed in the public or private sector.

Certain other jurisdictions have said similar mandates would be rescinded based on preset benchmarks.

For example, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said earlier this month that the mandate would end once the occupancy rate of beds in local intensive care units fell below 95%, there were fewer than 200 COVID-19 hospitalizations per day, and the positivity rate was below 5%, The Boston Globe reported.

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