New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that it is time to
move homeless residents who have been housed in hotels during the
coronavirus pandemic back to shelters, pending action from the state.
"Everything is ready to go," de Blasio said. "Obviously, the situation is greatly improved. All of our planning is in place. We know exactly what shelters we are going to bring people back to. We are ready to go. What we need is authorization from the state of New York."
When the pandemic started, the city moved more than 12,000 homeless people out of crowded shelters and into more than 60 hotels to keep them safe and socially distanced.
However, concerned neighbors have said that while the city fixed one
problem, it created another -- including huge quality of life issues in
the surrounding neighborhoods.
De Blasio said the city asked for authorization from the state on May 18 but has not yet received it.
"We have not yet gotten that sign off from the state of New York," he said. "Obviously given yesterdays announcement, in particular, it is time to get that clear signoff from the state to move forward."
Taxpayers have been footing the bill of roughly $1 million per night to house the homeless.
The CDC is now calling the Delta variant, which was first detected in India, a "variant of concern."
The new label raises the profile of the variant significantly. Before, the agency marked the variant as one "of interest."
An alarming rise in infections attributed to the strain inside the U.S. is a warning to communities with low vaccination rates, and recent estimates are that 10% of infections in the U.S. are caused by the Delta variant - a more than 60% increase in this month alone.
CDC reserves the label for variants when there is "evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease, significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures."
The good news is that the vaccines have been shown to be effective against the variant, but much of the population remains ineligible for the vaccine and people who are immunocompromised also remain at risk.