Coronavirus Update NYC: Super-spreader concern as UN General Assembly meets in person

Coronavirus update for NYC

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Monday, September 20, 2021
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New Yorkers who enjoyed the peace and quiet of the UN virtual General Assembly meeting last year can expect to face some heavy traffic today.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New Yorkers who enjoyed the peace and quiet of the United Nations' virtual General Assembly last year can expect to face some heavy traffic as dozens of world leaders, including President Joe Biden, converge on the city.

The greater concern, though, appears to be preventing the meeting from becoming a COVID super-spreader event.

New York City officials have requested that leaders show proof they are fully vaccinated before entering the U.N. hall for the opening ceremonies.

"We are concerned about the U.N. event being a super-spreader event," U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said. "We need to take all measures to ensure that it does not become a super-spreader event."

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The General Assembly's president supports the vaccination requirement, but there has been opposition from Russia, with that country's U.N. ambassador calling it a discriminatory measure.

The United Nations says it will operate on an "honor system" and trust those who say they are vaccinated.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will open a pop-up testing and vaccination site outside U.N. headquarters.

At least 37 demonstrations are set to take place in the streets outside the U.N., with protesters saying the world's wealthiest nations need to help end the pandemic.

"We know that many high income countries have hoarded vaccine," protester Dr. Oni Blackstop said. "We have about 1.5 billion doses, excess doses, currently in many high income countries. And those doses can go immediately to low income countries that don't currently have that level of access."

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who claims he is not vaccinated, is planning to speak in-person this week, and no one is expected to prevent him.

Mayor de Blasio, however, would like to.

"We need to send a message to all the world leaders, including, most notably, Bolsonaro from Brazil, that if you intend to come here, you need to be vaccinated," he said. "If you don't want to be vaccinated, don't bother coming."

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