New York City’s new health commissioner sparked outrage after announcing that children aged five and under should wear face masks indefinitely bucking the national trend of ditching masks and despite vast evidence that kids are at little risk from Covid-19.
‘I think it’s indefinite at this point,’ Dr. Ashwin Vasan said Friday during a COVID-19 briefing in Queens. ‘People who have tried to predict what’s going to happen in the future in this pandemic have repeatedly found egg on their face, as they say, and I’m not going to do that here today.’
The woke commissioner, who has a four-year-old son, argued he wanted to mask children because under fives are not vaccinated.
‘I would love nothing more than to send my son to daycare without a mask,’ he said, according to The New York Daily News. ‘But as a scientist… I want to keep him safe because he’s not eligible for a vaccine.’
His comments sparked fear and fury frustrated New York parents who face having to force their young children to keep wearing a mask in the face of mounting evidence that they are at little risk. It also comes as every state, except Hawaii, has lifted or announced plans to lift masking requirements in schools.
NYC’s new health commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, thinks that children ages five and under should continue wearing face masks indefinitely despite by the nationwide trend to lift pandemic-era mandates
The commissioner, who has a four-year-old son, argued that unmasking is not safe for those who are unvaccinated
Vasan is the city’s 44th health commissioner, replacing Dr. Dave Chokshi, who recently stepped down from the role.
Friday’s remarks were made during his first-ever COVID press conference and have been met with mixed response online.
‘Keep the least vulnerable masked while saying it’s A-ok to have the most vulnerable unmasked,’ Ed Rahfield argued.
‘Do you realize that kids 5 & up are not all vaccinated. It should be us as parents choice if we want our children to wear a mask. Worry about the crime rate in NYC & not our children,’ Kimberly Raimondo stated.
‘Really pathetic these corrupt pols (sic) just can’t let it go already proven to not work and actually makes things worse. But it was never about our health anyway. Like they care so much about us. Please,’ wrote Dimitrios Skaliotis.
‘Enough nonsense. Go to court. There is no more emergency. End the insanity,’ argued Linda Fox. ‘Hopefully the Mets and Yankees will play elsewhere this season, making Adams look like a schmuck.’
‘Leading to such ludicrous events as professional basketball players attending games in the audience but not being able to play in them,’ Dave Redmond echoed.
‘New York just can’t let it go………. they are gonna ride this ship to the bottom of the ocean if they have to. Too much pride,’ added Glen Miller.
Many online slammed Vasan as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘nuts,’ alleging he and the others in power are corrupt and ‘torturing children’.
‘Why are we masking the little ones ? That’s child abuse,’ questioned Dawn Doccola.
Vasan’s remarks were met with criticisms online. He was slammed as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘nuts’ and accused of ‘torturing children’. He is pictured on March 4, 2022
Ashwin Vasan uses social media to advocate for COVID vaccines, CRT, BLM and social welfare
New York City’s new health commissioner Ashwin Vasan has been incredibly vocal online with his apparently liberal views.
On his public social media accounts Vasan has advocated for vaccinating young children against COVID and supplying more resources to people suffering from mental illnesses.
He also defended the teaching of controversial critical race theory and is an apparent supporter of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
‘First they came for Critical Race Theory, now they’re coming for mental health and suicide prevention programs when we are literally in the midst of a national children’s mental health emergency? Absurd doesn’t begin to define this logic,’ he penned in November 2021, sharing a news article about parent activists allegedly targeting mental health programs.
The post echoed his October 2021 argument against jailing offenders with mental illnesses and instead advised that officials focus resources on ‘prevention, sustainable recovery and providing people with the resources they need to thrive in their communities.’
He also cautioned people against using the terms ‘addict’ and ‘substance abuse,’ alleging they are ‘stigmatizing to the lived experience’ of people facing those struggles.
New York City’s new health commissioner Ashwin Vasan has been incredibly vocal online with his apparently liberal views
In May 2021, he made a solemn post in remembrance of George Floyd, who died at the hands of Minneapolis one year prior.
‘Today, many of us are also reflecting on the last year as there has been a reinvigorated call for racial justice and police reform across the country, and millions of Americans took to the streets to demand an end to systemic racism and police brutality,’ he wrote.
‘While some progress has been made in the last year, including the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer, it’s not enough. We still have a long way to go to ensure that Black Lives Matter is not just a slogan, but a governing philosophy reinforced by substantive policy reforms at all levels of government.’
Later that year, he called out apparent ‘racist attacks’ that took place in New York City, saying he was ‘absolutely disgusted’ by the actions of the offenders.
‘Absolutely disgusted by the blatant racist attacks that have recently happened at Fountain House’s social enterprise, Fountain House and Body,’ Vasan wrote.
‘What was once a safe space for people living with mental illness has become dangerous because of the hate that resides in our city and in our nation. I’m tired…we’re tired, of this hate. But we’re not giving up the fight. Stand with us in solidarity and in the knowledge that #BlackLivesMatter.’
Additionally, Vasan has spoken out against the homelessness problem that has plagued the nation, alleging the government needs to take steps to provide housing to all Americans.
‘Homelessness is not an individual failing,’ he argued. ‘It is a failure of our government’s responsibility to ensure housing is a human right and to keep our most vulnerable safe.’
Others blasted voters for putting pandemic-focused leaders in power. However, it should be noted that Vasan was appointed to his position by Adams, not elected.
‘Keep voting for these liberal pr*cks,’ Paul Panagiotidis penned.
‘Keep voting for these people,’ said Maria Izzo Schuchmann. ‘You get what you deserve.’
‘Vote Republican governor come November,’ Sal Ferraro said.
Jason Oakley added: ‘That’s why I left New York. Good bye.’
Some people issued support for Vasan, although their comments were the minority.
‘May we all be Blessed with hopeful good news that this is all coming to an end,’ wrote Beverly Behrens. ‘God Bless and keep us all healthy from this awful Covid pandemic we have endured. Thank you for your service.’
‘What an impressive resume Dr. Vasan has,’ said Paola Jordan. ‘Excellent choice to have an epidemiologist at the helm of our DOH; I am confident we are in good hands for the next variant of the pandemic.’
Vasan is a primary care physician, epidemiologist and public health expert. He has been tasked by Mayor Eric Adams to handle pandemic management and recovery. Some social media users have issued support for him, whoever their views appear to be in the minority
The push to rescind mandates comes amid debate over the BA.2 variant of COVID, a sub-variant of the Omicron.
‘Currently there’s no evidence that BA.2 causes more severe illness, increases risks of hospitalization or that our current vaccines offer less protection against it, but we continue to monitor this,’ Vasan said, adding: ‘We are tracking these variants very closely.’
He also reiterated the importance of getting the coronavirus booster shot.
‘We need all eligible New Yorkers to get their booster as soon as it’s their time, and for many of you, that time is now,’ the public health expert said.
‘Boosters are especially important for those at high risk of severe outcomes and those 65 and older — of which only 55 percent of New Yorkers have received their booster or additional dose.’
Vasan also said he doesn’t plan to drop the city’s workplace vaccine mandate anytime soon.
According to Quinn, the variant accounts for about 30 percent of NYC’s recent COVID cases
Children are less susceptible to COVID, studies show
There is heavy debate surrounding COVID precautions for children as several studies have revealed they face extremely low risk from the virus.
Data from from the American Academy of Pediatrics released this month shows that children accounted for about 19 percent of all COVID cases, but less than 0.26 percent of cases resulted in death.
Last month, researchers from the University of Berlin published a study in The Journal of the Royal Society that found, on average, children release less Covid particles into the air, especially when they are breathing, speaking or singing.
Researchers found that when children (orange) breath, speak or sing, the emit less Covid aerosol particles than adults (blue) do. Particle rates were similar when test subjects shouted, though
Experts believe that people who release lower amounts of aerosol particles when speaking have smaller viral loads, which also means they do not spread the virus at the same level.
The actual implications of this study can not be fully determined, but it does seem to indicate that children have smaller viral loads than adults – and hence spread the virus at lower rates.
A study from October of last year also found that around half of pediatric Covid cases are asymptomatic, and that was before the more mild Omicron variant became dominant in the U.S.
Hospitalizations of pediatric COVID patients are also rare.
Additionally, a study released at the end of February, found the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine has done little to protect five- to 11- year-olds from infection from the Omicron variant.
Researchers at the New York State Department Health found that the two-dose Pfizer shot was only 12 percent effective at preventing Omicron infection in the younger age group only one month after receiving the jab.
The main argument in favor of vaccinating children is to prevent them from spreading the virus, though the recent findings imply that the vaccine does little to prevent that anyways.
Dr. Celia Quinn, new Mayor Eric Adams’ deputy commissioner for disease control, argued during Friday’s briefing that cases of the BA.2 sub-variant have increased in recent weeks.
She said the variant accounts for about 30 percent of NYC’s cases.
‘It may be a little bit more transmissible, and that’s why it’s increasing in proportion to the other circulating omicron strains,’ she stated, according to the news outlet.
‘So we’ll be watching the cases, hospitalizations rates and its impact on our health care system.’
Vasan, a primary care physician, epidemiologist and public health expert, has been tasked to address pandemic management and recovery.
He also strives to revitalize the city health department’s work on chronic disease prevention, health equity and strengthen the public health business model, as well as establish innovative population mental health approaches.
He comes to the job with nearly 20 years experience focused on improving mental and physical health, social welfare and public policy for vulnerable populations, according to his Columbia University biography.
The public health expert spent nearly a decade expanding HIV treatment access in developing nations and assisting with in-country training, clinical programs and other efforts to improve primary care delivery using World Health Organization Integrated Management guidelines.
Most recently he served as President and CEO of Fountain House, one the largest community-based mental health and public health charities in the world.
During his tenure with the organization, he launched a $75million fundraising campaign that helped create a national mental health policy office in Washington DC and implement a mental health plan across the eight U.S. markets.
He also served on staff at the Columbia University Mailman College of Public Health since 2014, focusing on the implementation of science and global health.
Additionally, he worked at the College of Physicians and Surgeons providing care for low-income, Medicaid/Medicare or uninsured patients from Washington Heights, Harlem, and the South Bronx.
The newly minted health commissioner’s comments comes just one day after Mayor Eric Adams told a group of angry parents the mandate will be lifted.
‘I got this. They’ll be unmasked,’ Adams said Thursday, however he did not indicate when the unmasking would occur.
Adams also chastised a dad who took him to task over ongoing face mask rules.
‘Don’t yell, you’ll send the wrong message to your kids,’ he said, scolding the unnamed dad outside the Pig n’ Whistle pub in Midtown Manhattan. ‘Talk to me, don’t yell. You send the wrong message to your daughter.’
The dad then responded politely to Adams thanking him for answering.
Eric Adams is filmed telling a NYC dad to stop yelling in front of his daughter after being confronted about when under-5s would be unmasked in the city
Maria Kubak, 36, is pictured confronting Adams about her son, who suffers from a speech phobia. He replied by telling the mom that he too is a father – even though his son is now 26 and unaffected by the face-covering mandate
Adams’ visit to the pub was marred by multiple parents demanding to know when their young children would be allowed to remove the face coverings they must still wear at school.
They must continue to wear the face coverings because COVID vaccines haven’t been approved for under-five’s, even though youngsters have been shown to be at extremely low risk from serious COVID infections.
Maria Kubak, 36, a financial professional, and another mom waited inside the Pig & Whistle bar where Adams enjoyed an early morning pint of Guinness before the St. Patrick’s Day parade to put the mayor on the spot about lifting the restriction for tykes and toddlers.
‘You want to be the mayor or you want me to be the mayor,’ he asked the concerned mothers.
‘I would love to hear from you,’ one says back to him.
‘I’m a dad too,’ he said.
Kubak, who has a three-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son, said she wanted to remind him that his 26-year-old son doesn’t have to wear a mask.
But he walked away before she had a chance.
‘I find that’s very condescending because, as a mother of toddlers, I’m asking a very valid question,’ she said.
Meanwhile, daily Covid cases have been falling for weeks in the U.S., but health officials warn that this could soon change based on wastewater data and the situation overseas, and as the Omicron ‘stealth’ variant now makes up 23 percent of all cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned on Tuesday that one third of wastewater sample sites showed a jump in cases during the first 10 days in March.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that global Covid cases are starting to reverse course after weeks of falling, as well.
These rises are being attributed to the ‘stealth’ variant, or the BA.2 lineage of the Omicron strain, as it is officially known.
The CDC reported Tuesday that the lineage now makes up around 23 percent of sequenced Covid cases in the U.S., up from 11 percent last week and six percent two weeks ago.
The BA.2 Omicron ‘stealth’ variant (pink) now makes up around 23% of U.S. COVID-19 cases, up from 11% last week and 6% the week before. The Omicron variant makes up every single sequence case in America
The stealth variant (pink) is most prevalent in the northeast and New York regions, making up around 40% of cases in each. The lineage is not dominant in any area of the U.S.
The CDC reported Tuesday that the BA.2 lineage of the Omicron strain now makes up around 23 percent of sequenced Covid cases in the U.S., up from 11 percent last week and six percent two weeks ago
It is most prevalent in New Jersey and New York, and Northeastern regions of the U.S., accounting for around 40 percent of cases in both designated areas.
Stealth is not yet the dominant Covid strain anywhere in America, while it has taken over in many parts of Europe.
BA.2 is believed to be around 30 percent more infectious than BA.1, the original strain of Omicron that caused massive surges across the world during the winter months. Experts have found that infection from the lineage is not any more severe than BA.1 infection.
All lineages of the variant combined make up 100 percent of every single sequenced case in the U.S., with the vaccine-resistant strain totally snuffing out the Delta variant over the past few months.
Official case figures are still decreasing despite the rise of the stealth variant. The nation is recording 31,108 cases per day, a 21 percent drop in cases over the past week and a 96 percent drop from the mid-January peak of the Omicron variant-fueled surge.
The CDC is warning that the weeks-long run of dropping cases could soon end, though. The agency launched an enhanced wastewater tracking program last month, and the tracking is showing that cases could rise in some parts of the U.S. soon.