New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Feb. 10 defended the firing of city employees who refused to comply with the now-sunsetting COVID-19 vaccine mandate, arguing that it "just wasn't right" for them to decline to get the jab.
Appearing on Caribbean Power Jam Radio's "The Reset Show," Adams was asked about the fate of the nearly 2,000 public employees who lost their jobs because of the vaccine requirement. The mayor responded that they will have to reapply for those jobs "just like everyone else."
"They can reapply for their jobs," Adams told host J.R. Giddings, noting that most city employees ended up taking the vaccine despite initial unwillingness.
More than 96 percent of city workers and more than 80 percent of residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to city hall, which cited the high vaccination rates as the reason for the jabs not being optional.
"If we didn't have that vaccine and we didn't have those mandates, we would have lost so many more lives," Adams said. "And so New York has stepped up. They said, 'We don't want to do it. I don't want to get injected. I don't want to do this. This is new.' But they stepped up anyway."
New Yorkers are known to resent being ordered to do things, Adams noted, but their culture in the face of the pandemic has shifted away from the mindset of resisting control to one of accepting government mandates.
"No New Yorker wants anyone telling them anything," he said. "That's just who we are. We don't want to be mandated. We don't want anyone to tell us to put on a mask. That's just who we are. So that was a cultural shift in our mindset to say, 'We're fighting this dangerous virus.'"
As for New Yorkers who rejected the cultural shift and remained unvaccinated all this time, Adams said what they have been doing "just wasn't right."
"And so, those who made the determination that 'No, I still want to come into a work environment and I'm not going to be vaccinated'; 'No, I want to still ride the trains'; 'I want to do whatever I want.' That just wasn't right," the mayor said. "They made a decision and the law was on our side that said we could mandate, and so they were removed."
Adams indicated that the city might at some point have to once again roll out public health mandates and fire employees who fail to comply.
"Now that we're seeing a normalization of COVID, there may be another time that we're going to have to do mandates again because these viruses are not going away," he told the radio show host.
The mayor's comments come while fired unvaccinated city workers continue to fight in court against what they see as unfair dismissal.
"We shouldn't be penalizing the people who showed up to work, at great risk to themselves and their families, while we were locked down," Staten Island Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio wrote, ruling that the city's public health department overstepped its authority when issuing the mandate.
"In true Orwellian fashion, the Respondents acknowledge then-current COVID-19 shots do not prevent transmission," New York Supreme Court Judge Gerard Neri wrote in the court opinion.