Thank you, Mayor Adams, for not subjecting us to daily COVID briefings

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Mayor Eric Adams does not hold daily press briefings regarding COVID-19 like his predecessor Bill de Blasio did. Paul Martinka

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While Mayor Eric Adams undergoes deserved scrutiny over his every act and pronouncement, he deserves only praise for something he actually doesn’t do — namely, he holds none of his predecessor’s tedious, morale-sapping and fear-stoking daily COVID briefings before TV cameras.

This is an unheralded, momentous stroke. Even when Mayor Bill de Blasio was forced by the facts to share upbeat news, the mere act of making coronavirus the No. 1 item on the daily news agenda conferred on the data an urgency out of all proportion to need or reality.

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There’s plenty to criticize in Adams’ continued imposition of the private-employer vaccine mandate while dropping it for athletes and entertainers. But his big-picture strategy to demote COVID to just one challenge among many comes in the nick of time.

What a relief not to be lectured every morning by our mayor, flanked by health officials and bearing scary charts, warning, “It’s not over yet,” long after most enlightened citizens had gotten on with their lives despite being aware of (ever-declining) risk. Adams lets us wake up to a city once again full of promise rather than cursed by biological fate.

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If de Blasio still controlled the mic, we’d hear only of the Omicron subvariant and its (dubious) potential to fill emergency rooms and deplete our supply of ventilators.

When I was a kid growing up in the 1950s, polio — then the most-feared viral disease in the United States and particularly dangerous to children — paralyzed tens of thousands of kids every year in a nation with less than half today’s population.

The introduction of a vaccine in 1955 reduced the toll to zero within 25 years. Families continued to be cautious about their children’s exposure. But at no time did society, or even schools, grind to a halt.

bill de blasio, Coronavirus, Coronavirus in NY, COVID vaccine, eric adams

Former Mayor Bill de Blasio held daily televised briefings on coronavirus during his last two years in office.

youtube/mayors office

Can you imagine how different it might have been had elected officials held daily radio or TV briefings, replete with warnings about “not letting down our guard?”

For all his cheerleading prowess, Adams has yet to make much of a dent in soaring crime or restoring a commitment to excellence in schools. He might prove to be more talk than substance, although it’s much too early to tell.

But while pulling off those feats might take time, he’s moved swiftly to shake the citizenry out of a doom-and-gloom slumber. Manhattan office occupancy climbed from barely 20% in December 2021 to nearly 38% last week — well below where it needs to be, but continuing to move in the right direction.

Some of it had to do with the dramatic decline in infection rates. But this lifelong New Yorker can see and smell the mood swing brought about by Adams’ aversion to overplaying COVID.

The simple fact is that for nearly all vaccinated individuals, COVID is usually much less enervating than a common winter flu. The “mild” flu my wife and I somehow contracted on a recent Florida vacation was more debilitating and longer-lasting than recent COVID cases among our friends.

bill de blasio, Coronavirus, Coronavirus in NY, COVID vaccine, eric adams

Two years after the pandemic began, and more than one year after vaccines were introduced, COVID-19 rates in NYC are declining.

AP/Matt Rourke

De Blasio was hardly alone, of course, in scaring the daylights out of everybody. The New York Times’ relentless emphasis on viral spread kept lots of easily impressionable Big Apple scaredy-cats in their apartments long after the danger had largely passed. (Some have yet to emerge, subsisting on junk food and admonitions that “1,000 Americans die of COVID every day,” which is two-thirds fewer than die of cancer daily.)

In New York City, the daily seven-day average of confirmed and probable COVID deaths as of March 21 was five, according to the Department of Health. Five in a city of 8.3 million. Nearly all the victims were unvaccinated, elderly and suffering from comorbidities.

The last three virus “waves” in the Big Apple combined killed many fewer city residents than did the single, first nightmarish 2020 onslaught that took 22,000 lives, when images of overwhelmed Elmhurst Hospital helped turn the world’s most vibrant city into a ghost town.

bill de blasio, Coronavirus, Coronavirus in NY, COVID vaccine, eric adams

Elmhurst Hospital in Queens was the epicenter of the pandemic in early 2020, sending the usually bustling neighborhood into a quiet stupor.

James Messerschmidt

But Adams gets it even if other elected officials don’t. In particular, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s daily updates on the state’s “progress” against COVID give lovers of big-government strong-arm tactics hope of future lockdowns.

Adams’ daily silence on upticks, downticks and subvariants tells a different story: New York City is bigger than a plague that’s clearly passing, no matter how much doomsayers wish it weren’t so.

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