NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Reopening milestones continue in the Tri-State area, with New York City senior centers welcoming visitors for indoor activities for the first time in more than 15 months.
The further loosening of restrictions comes as the city reports its lowest-ever COVID infection rate, 0.59%.
The Lenox Hill Senior Center on the Upper East Side is one of nearly 250 senior centers reopening in the city.
"I think senior centers should have opened earlier," said Democratic mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia as she visited the site Monday morning. "Seniors have been incredibly isolated. There's a way to have done it safely, particularly as we got vaccines into arms and they need to be together. They need to see their friends. They need to get a hot meal."
State Senator Liz Kreuger agreed the centers should have opened sooner.
"Isolation can actually be the thing that kills you when you're older," she said. "Loneliness is an enormous stresser on every part of you."
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the reopening earlier this month.
When asked this morning why he didn't order them opened sooner, de Blasio said the decision was based on safety concerns for a vulnerable population which bore the brunt of coronavirus infections early on.
"Our health department was adamant that before we brought people back into small spaces with each other, it had to be very, very safe," de Blasio said. "We had to get it right. This was a 'safety first' decision for sure."
Since the centers will not be checking attendees' vaccine status, employees are still going to enforce social distancing rules.
But the reopening of these community centers is a major step.
We are anticipating a possible major announcement from Governor Cuomo as the state reached the vaccination threshold to remove almost all restrictions Monday evening, according to the CDC's COVID tracker.
The governor said he would lift virtually all COVID restrictions once 70% of adults get their first vaccine dose.
Sixty-one percent of New York State residents are fully vaccinated.
MORE CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 COVERAGE
Submit a News Tip or Question