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New York City is Reopening! Right?

HAYLEY ZHAO, HOST: Mayor De Blasio announced this morning that New York will fully reopen starting July 1. This means restaurants, shops,gyms and more will allow full capacity. The city’s virus rate is falling, More than a half of New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the vaccine and more than a third have been fully vaccinated. But will the city be ready to reopen this summer? Luisa Borrell is a professor of epidemiology at CUNY. She says a big concern is unequal vaccine distribution.

LUISA BORRELL: So for example, the Bronx that has been the boroughs hitted the hardest has only 33 percent of the people with at least one dose. So if we don't reach a certain level for July 1, for example, 75 percent, we may not be ready to open. If we continue with the current rate of vaccination and we reach out to everyone, especially in the boroughs with the highest proportional positivity, we may be ready.

ZHAO: In some communities, they are less likely to get vaccinated, whether it's due to vaccine hesitancy or a lack of access vaccine sites. So how would this reopening directly affect them?

And what could we do to alleviate that?

BORRELL:We are working On the hesitancy issues, especially with minority communities: African-American and Latinos. The issue is right now, accessibility. In some cases, people have to call in the middle of the night to get an appointment. So at some point it will be good if we either Implement a door to door approach, or bringing the vaccine into the community, to the local churches, the local organization in which people feel comfortable.

ZHAO: What would be the most significant difference between a fully reopened city and the current stage we are in now?

BORRELL: The amount of people in the restaurant, and in enclosed places, that's going to be the big difference. Right now we have 25percent capacity. So you get a lot of space between the tables and people for the most part are keeping up with guidelines. If we go fully open, that may not happen.

ZHAO: Even though a lot of people are getting vaccinated, there are still concerns about new variants. What kind of effect do you think the new varriants would have on the city's reopening plan?

BORREL: We know that the vaccine was developed when we had only a single variant. Even in New York City, we have identified other variants vaccines may not be a hundred percent effective against. So that's something to consider as we reopen.

ZHAO: The city's plan is to reopen on July the first and the force of July is just three days away from that. And that's usually a time for big gatherings and celebrations. how can people enjoy this holiday safely?

BORRELL: The city is keeping track every week about the rate of positivity and they have a milestone.So they had to make sure that they are meeting those milestones, at least for them for the three or four weeks before July 1st. And also tell people to keep this social distancing and mask when they are in public or crowd gathering.

ZHAO: Louisa Borrell, professor of epidemiology at CUNY grad school of public health.Thank you for joining us.

BORRELL: Thank you.

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