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Transcript: New York Mayor Eric Adams on "Face the Nation," January 9, 2022

New York mayor stresses need to keep schools open
New York Mayor Eric Adams stresses need to keep schools open as Omicron spreads 06:29

The following is a transcript of an interview with New York City Mayor Eric Adams that aired Sunday, January 9, 2022, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION, we turn now to the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams. Good morning to you, Mr. Mayor.

NEW YORK CITY MAYOR ERIC ADAMS: Good morning. Good to be on with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you. You have said that somewhere around 70% of hospital beds in your city are currently occupied. Are the hospitals close to being overwhelmed?

MAYOR ADAMS: No, not at all, my daily briefings with my health care professionals, I had one earlier today, they stated that we are stable and they're doing an amazing job and those heroes and sheroes who are the nurses and doctors and hospital employees, we just need to really commend them for the job. And we're watching this closely and we're going to make sure we respond and pivot as COVID continues to do so.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we wish you luck with that. You- you have the largest school district in the country in your city, of course, and you have been very clear you are keeping schools open. To do that, you've given out and N95 masks, required staff be vaccinated, everyone's got to be masked. You've got air purifiers, you've routine screening, but you're not requiring a negative test before students return to the classroom. That's something they're doing here in the District of Columbia. Are you confident you can keep the level of transmission low?

MAYOR ADAMS: You know, and it's so important that you laid out the things that we put in place because COVID is a formidable and moving target and we have to pivot, and shift based on that. And our policies have been rooted in, I need my children in school. And if my medical professionals tell me, Eric, we have to do a mandated vaccine, we're going to do that. But right now, we have brought over 1.5 million tests in our schools, as you indicated, N95 masks as well as other resources and tools. And we have been doing an amazing job because of one thing: coordination and communication with our UFT and other agencies involved, and I believe we're doing the right thing for our children, having them in the safest place and that is in a school building.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That- you're talking about the union there. You're talking about the union there, but you've kept schools open. But the plain fact of the matter is people are still going to get sick. And I know you have had some staff shortages as a result of that. Attendance in school this past week was about 70%, so about 300,000 out of a million students missed class. Are you going to have to elongate the school year to make up for all this?

MAYOR ADAMS: You know, I'm so glad you said that, because I think many people are missing it. There was an amazing article in the New York Times that stated this is the first time we spent more time and energy around protecting adults than the future of our children. I'm troubled that we almost had a two-year loss for our children. They are behind in math, behind in English. We're going to sit down with my new chancellor and say, how do we start doing the catch up? Because remote options are not really being used and can't be used correctly for those children who don't have access to high speed broadband, need the meals that they need. I know we have to look at a different way of living with COVID each time a new variant comes out and one area is education.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you do have these staffing shortages, as- as many schools are seeing around the country. The federal government says they're giving out plenty of money for you to hire people to come in. But how do you get someone to take a job as a teacher right now in the middle of a pandemic at a low wage?

MAYOR ADAMS: Well, we need them in, and our teachers are paid accordingly to a great union contract, and they get the support that they deserve. And we need to attract people to do what I like to say: teaching is a calling. We're not just trying to make sure we fill a job applicant. No, we want the best in front of our children. And what we have done successfully here in this city is pivot and shift based on the needs and how COVID is changing. We must learn to live with COVID, and we have to do it in a safe way.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we may have to live with it, but for the infection rate, when I look at the New York State Department of Health report, which I just did, it said potential increased severity of the Omicron variant may also play a role in increased rate of hospitalizations for children under age 11. What makes you confident that Omicron isn't causing bad outcomes in kids when the state makes this point?

MAYOR ADAMS: Well, let's look at something else the state and city is stating, a child is four times more likely to be hospitalized if they're not vaccinated. So, I am saying to my parents and the people of New York, get vaccinated and get booster shots. We don't have to feel helpless like the beginning of this virus in 2020, science and global communities came together. We now have the tools that we need. So, let's empower ourselves with the vaccination and booster shots. If we do that, we will bring down those hospital rates, and that is what I'm encouraging parents to do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But some parents are just not vaccinating their five to 11 year old's at that younger demographic. But what about kids who are four and under? They don't have an option to take a vaccine, and that is where you're seeing the fastest growing infection rate, according to the New York State Department of Health. Are you going to keep daycare facilities open or are you going to keep preschools open when those kids can't be vaccinated?

MAYOR ADAMS: Yes, we are. We're going to continue to do what we're doing, coordinating with our health care professionals. When you start to disrupt the stability of childcare, of daycare and education, it has a rippling impact throughout our entire city. Parents not allowed- can't keep their children home, they have to work. The economy is also part of this crisis that we are facing. And with the proper balance of creating a safe environment inside our daycares, our schools, in other locations, our parents can go and do the jobs they need to do, and that is what I must face in the city. We have to ensure the financial ecosystem is healthy as well as our children and our families are healthy at the same time.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Mayor, we'll be watching. Thank you for your time this morning.

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