NEW YORK (WABC) -- Mayor Eric Adams blasted anti-mask activists and reminded people that COVID isn't over. In fact, the number of cases in Manhattan has been tracking north of the yellow threshold this week.
The city's color code is citywide, not borough-based. So the city's color code will not be increasing just yet, but New York City officials have indicated they expect the city to enter the yellow risk category in the coming weeks, citing the increased spread.
Officials are not expressing alarm, but preparing to increase the number of city-run testing sites from the 130 now operating, if necessary, and to distribute some six million free at-home tests.
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine was at the 125th Street subway station at St. Nicholas Avenue handing out free COVID tests and masks.
But that's not all: he says the city should make a new policy for people who have yet to get a booster. He wants the city to just go ahead and schedule them automatically.
"These are not anti-vaxxers. These are people who just didn't get around to getting the booster or feel it's not important, so our plan is to send them a pre-made appointment in their neighborhood at a local site to get their booster shot," Levine said.
The COVID safety bags he handed out were complete with rapid tests, masks, sanitizer, a thermometer, and even a pulse oximeter to measure your oxygen level.
"We started up at Marble Hill, 225 and Broadway. The response has been amazing," he said.
"This is awesome. This is great because I take this home and I share it with my family," said Ignacio Rosa, a Manhattan resident.
But even with cases rising, very few people are going to the hospital.
On this day two years ago, a staggering 815 New Yorkers died of COVID.
Now, the city is averaging about 19 hospital admissions a day and three deaths.
"At what point does this end? At what point do we go back to normal or are we going to be in a constant state of alert?" Eyewitness News Reporter Derick Waller asked.
"Well, cases are rising in New York and what we saw in Europe, which has been ahead of us by a month on this wave and every wave is that eventually hospitalizations did start rising. It could happen here too. We don't know, but we should expect that," Levine said.
As for how much this costs, Levine says the supplies were actually donated to his office and so it's costing taxpayers nothing.
Opponents of the vaccine mandate in New York City rallied outside Madison Square Garden Wednesday night where the Knicks were hosting the Nets.
The group said if Kyrie Irving can play, they should be allowed to work.
Earlier this week, a protest was held against the mask mandate for kids ages 2-4.
On Wednesday, the mayor said he did not know the now-fired city Law Department employee who attended one of those rallies before posing as a reporter at a press conference.
He also said he did not make the decision to fire Daniela Jampel, the Law Department did.
And Adams had this message for people upset about mask-wearing.
"There's a group that's traveling around the city, banging on the doors of my health commissioner, even though his children are inside, yelling and screaming, threatening his life," Adams said. "There's a group that's running around the city who is the numerical minority, but they are loud, so people believe that they are the majority."
Meanwhile, at the state level, more than 100 court employees are set to get fired after failing to submit proof of vaccination on Thursday.
At least one judge on the New York State Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, is facing removal from the bench because she won't get vaccinated.
According to multiple reports, the judge is Jenny Rivera who repeatedly shows up to proceeding via video while everyone else appears in person.
One judge was widely reported to be Jenny Rivera, an associate judge on the New York Court of Appeals, the state's top court. She has been appearing at hearings by video rather than sitting alongside her colleagues in their Albany courtroom.
The courts system employs more than 15,000 staff members and 3,000 judges.
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