Mayor Adams wants the Big Apple’s financial powerhouses to get back to business — period.
The newly-minted mayor took aim at major investment firms in the city on Monday for ordering their employees to work from home for the time being as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continue to swell in New York.
Adams, who was sworn in Saturday, said the resumption of remote work policies at big banks like JPMorgan Chase ripples through the economy and hurts low-wage workers.
“We must get open, and let me tell you why: That accountant from a bank that sits in an office — it’s not only him, it feeds our financial eco system. He goes to the cleaners and get his suits clean, he goes out to the restaurants, he brings in a business traveler, which is 70% of our hotel occupancy,” he said in an appearance on Bloomberg TV.
“You can’t run New York City from home. We must have everyone participate in our financial ecosystem to allow the low-skill, unskilled, and people who are doing hourly employees to actually be part of our eco-system. They can’t remotely do their job.”
Adams’ adamant push for office work came on the heels of Goldman Sachs becoming the latest major financial firm to tell its city-based employees to work from home for the first couple of weeks of January to try to blunt the recent surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the extremely contagious omicron variant.
JPMorgan Chase, CitiBank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley have already instituted similar policies.
The remote work precautions come as New York continues to see its COVID-19 curve trend in the wrong direction.
According to data from the state Health Department, 23.17% of all tests conducted across New York in the 24-hour period ending Monday morning came back positive, with 29,246 infections recorded in the city alone. Hospitalizations are ticking up at an alarming rate as well, and 103 New Yorkers died from COVID-19 statewide in the same reporting window, the highest daily death toll in months, the data showed.
Despite the pandemic resurgence, Adams said the city can’t return to business shutdowns, arguing that widespread of availability of coronavirus vaccines should allow New Yorkers to “live with COVID.”
“I need my companies back open and operating,” he said. “You can’t run a city like New York on 30% occupancy in buildings. We need to get back to business and open our city.”
On the topic of vaccines, Adams said he’s considering mandating booster shots — which have proven highly effective in protecting people against severe COVID-19 symptoms — for the municipal workforce. He said he’ll have an announcement on the matter “around April.”
“But that does not take away from my clear message to New Yorkers: Get your booster shots, get vaccinated,” he said. “You may get COVID with the vaccine, but one thing is for sure: You’re less likely to die and get hospitalized.”
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