New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's announcement that he intends, by mayoral ukase, to make it illegal for someone without a city-approved proof of vaccination to work at or be customers of the city's gyms, entertainment venues, and indoor restaurants is a grotesquely unconstitutional tyranny, annihilating human liberty of movement, commerce, and association with a dangerously tenuous justification.
Even with de Blasio's dataless references to saving lives as the justification for this move, and the admission that it won't (yet) be extended to public transit, it is clearly a blatant attempt to harass and punish Americans who have not yet gone along with months of state and media pressure to get vaccinated, for whatever reason. That we know the vaccinated also can transmit the virus makes the purely punitive nature of his power grab all the more clear.
New York currently has 72 percent of its adult population vaccinated with at least one dose and, looking at the current rate of vaccination over the past month, is adding around 130,000 to that vaccinated number weekly—another 2 percent of the city's adult population per week. This means that by the time de Blasio begins enforcing this regulation about five weeks from now, the city would likely even absent this threat be at around 82 percent adults vaccinated.
Infectious diseases have always existed and for good reason have never, at COVID-19's demonstrated level of serious harm, been seen as a legitimate excuse to treat masses of other human beings as pure harms that must be barred from large parts of the society and market.
Right now, a bit over 3 percent of New Yorkers who get tested are testing positive for COVID. (Given what makes people decide to get tested, this number likely represents the percentage of those who actually feel ill or otherwise have testing demands made on them, not necessarily proof that even that percentage of New Yorkers overall are positive right now.) Over the past week, dozens of—but never more than 50—COVID-positive New Yorkers have been admitted daily to hospitals, out of roughly 700 daily new confirmed cases.
The daily average death numbers inspiring de Blasio's tyranny in New York have been four a day over the past week. For what it's worth, the percentage of black adult New Yorkers who will be barred from all these businesses at the current vaccination rates under de Blasio's unique approach to public accommodation law is 58 percent; of white adults, 43 percent.
De Blasio did not even give the public the respect of explaining and defending the data and risk calculations behind his vague handwaving about "lives saved" and science. He made no attempt to explain what we know (or don't know) about the risk an unvaccinated person presents of causing serious harm to a vaccinated person, or the risk that anyone will encounter someone transmitting COVID, nor did he detail the above current numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID, such that it justifies this punitive assault on the liberty of the unvaccinated.
It has never been possible to run a risk-free human society, and our current political class's attempts to pretend to do so (while failing) get darker and more insane by the week. Public policy has made flailing attempts to eradicate a virus in the past year. It cannot do so, and it definitely hurts to try.
The vaccine exists. People can mask as they will. The statistics about those who are most likely to suffer serious harm are out there. Whatever tenuous excuses any public official might have for treating the unvaccinated as a unique menace who must be driven from society get more absurd by the day. The percentage of infected in New York is small, as are the numbers hospitalized or dying. Harmful diseases are a fact of human existence that cannot reasonably, certainly not at COVID's current level of harm, be used to justify creating a second-class citizenry and normalizing the idea of having to take actions one does not want to take (as invasive as injected medical treatment without a long history or our culture's standard safety approval) and prove them via documents to exist equally in society.
Western culture has always had a justifiably bad attitude about the mark without which one can neither buy nor sell, and people with the power to stop you from going places demanding your papers. De Blasio cannot, alas, be recalled, so New Yorkers' best option is a combination of lawsuits against this power grab, mass civil disobedience of the laws, and mass protests to show de Blasio—and the government officials across the country he wants to inspire to follow along—that he has crossed a line Americans won't tolerate.