By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
American Robin, Audrey Carroll Audubon Sanctuary, Frederick, Maryland, United States. “Dawn song.” This song made me think rain was coming, or had come and gone.
Patient readers, I will soon have the Adams — should really be Addams, but never mind that — material for you very shortly; I got wrapped round the axle trying finding human rights statutes for the city and State of New York. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves. –lambert
New York Mayor Eric Adams has a million-watt smile.Which is easy to spot, because he doesn’t mask. However, even the most chipper grin won’t prevent its bearer from doing something really, really stupid. Which is what Adams did March 6, not once but twice, on two different media. On the radio, 1010 WINS, during morning drive time:
: Let’s start with the latest crime stats from the NYPD. New data released on Friday shows a decrease in almost all major crimes in the month of February compared with 2022, including a 15 percent drop in shootings, which is great news, but it seems the big issue now is shoplifting, including some very brazen, high-end stores getting robbed. What’s the plan to deal with that?
[ADAMS:] A number of things. Number one, . And then once they’re inside, they can continue to wear it if they so desire to do so. But we need to use the technology we have available to identify those shoplifters and those who are committing serious crimes. When you see , oftentimes it’s not about being fearful of the pandemic, it’s fearful of the police catching them for their deeds, and we’re really putting the call out.
And then on televsion, PIX11, on the morning news:
[PIX11]Now you’re telling people to take their masks off when entering a store. How are you going to ensure that that actually happens to capture somebody on a camera? Who is going to be monitoring that? And what if they don’t?
Well, believe it or not, many of our stores, they have camera systems, and we have an extremely elaborate camera system connected to the New York City Police Department with their own camera system. Let’s be clear, , they’re not doing it because they’re afraid of the pandemic, they’re doing it because they’re afraid of the police. We need to stop allowing them to exploit the safety of the pandemic by wearing masks, committing crimes. You saw what happened over the weekend when an innocent store owner was shot and killed. The person had a hazmat suit on and a mask. He wasn’t trying to protect himself from the pandemic.
Wait. Our use case is really a mask and a hazmat suit?! More:
Here’s what happens, if you tell someone that you can’t wear your mask coming in the store and they do it anyway, you know what that does? That allows you to say, let me look at what’s about to happen here. Because if someone is violating the basic rules, they may be there to violate a substantial rule as to commit a crime.
Er, actually, the “basic rule” is human rights law in a public accommodation, which we’ll get to in a moment. First, though, let’s see why Adam’s staff should never have allowed him to make these foolish statements, if indeed they had any influence in the matter.
First, masks do not prevent facial recognition (and presumably your smarter criminal will understand this. If you know any criminals, please pass this information on to them). This is true both for human eyes, i.e. the shop-owner’s (“our brain looks at eyes first to identify a face“), and for algorithmic eyes, i.e. the cameras (“Face masks only hinder facial recognition slightly more than sunglasses“).
Second, raising and lowering a mask even briefly is a “fleeting contact,” and even a fleeting contact can cause infection:
13) Want proof of another outdoor fleeting transmission case? Here it is — an outdoor cafe infection of fleeting contact — confirmed via even genomic sequencing to match the exact virus strain!! This is very strong proof it happened. This is why I worry – multiple bad signals. https://t.co/pNE3aOSEWF
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) July 19, 2021
The dangers of fleeting contact for persons entering the store are that much greater when they encounter a person who has shared air with a lot of other people, and might therefore be infected, perhaps asympomatically: the shop-owner themselves, or the shop’s greeters and security personnel. And then, of course, there are all the other shoppers passing by, whose air Adams would also force you to share.
Adams, then, had some sort of Crimestoppers brainwave, but forcing the masked to unmask, even briefly, is a dumb idea from a policing standpoint, and a potentially lethal one from a medical standpoint. (Then again, one might wonder who Adams — recently elevated to Biden’s “national advisoy board,” pre-2024 — to0 is carrying water for. The store-owners? The cops? Liberals who hate masking? The DNC, picking up suburban Republicans who also hate masking? Who knows….)
What to do? More pragmatically, where to file a complaint, and with whom?
My first thought, since public health policy, including pandemic policy, is, thanks to Federalism, a matter for localities and states, was the New York City Board of Health. My first thought was wrong, since Ashwin Vasan, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, just had a horrid run-in with anti-maskers, and may not be anxious to repeat the experience. In addition, Vasan said this on March 1:
COVID-19 is now a part of our new reality, but one we can manage with these effective tools: masking, testing, treatment and vaccination. Sunlight has broken through, and the clearing ahead looks bright.
— Commissioner Ashwin Vasan, MD, PhD (@NYCHealthCommr) March 1, 2023
(“Sunlit uplands.”) However, given what Adams went on to say on March 6, I’m not sure how much clout Vasan has in this matter. However, there is a better way:
Human rights law. First, I’ll look at the statues for the city and State of New York. Then I will go through the complaints process for each.
New York State. From Chapter 18, Article 15 Human Rights Law, Section 296. A shop is a place of public accommodation:
2. (a) It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person, being the owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent or employee of , resort or amusement, because of the race, creed, color, national origin, citizenship or immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, , marital status, or status as a victim of domestic violence, of any person, directly or indirectly, , including the extension of credit, or, directly or indirectly, to publish, circulate, issue, display, post or mail any written or printed communication, notice or advertisement, to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any such place shall be refused, withheld from or denied to any person on account of race, creed, color, national origin, citizenship or immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability or marital status, or that the patronage or custom thereat of any particular race, creed, color, national origin, citizenship or immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex or marital status, .
So, in New York State, shops can’t discriminate against the disabled. And certainly Adams is suggesting that mask-wearers are “objectionable” (“these characters”); must be, in fact, since there’s no rational basis for his claims. What does “disabled” mean?
21. The term “disability” means (a) a physical, mental or or is demonstrable by medically accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques or (b) a record of such an impairment or (c) a condition regarded by others as such an impairment, provided [material related to employment omitted].
I need not review for readers the many documented neurological and vascular complications not only of long Covid, but for Covid proper, including “mild” or even unhospitalized cases. Nor need I review the dangers of Covid reinfection, even for the vaccinated. Nor need I review that even vaccination comes with complications of its own. Given that “91.5% of adults had SARS-CoV-2 anti-spike antibodies (indicating previous infection or vaccination), and 41.6% had anti-nucleocapsid antibodies (indicating previous infection only),” it’s clear that the vast majority of the population should be considered disabled (“medically impaired”) within the meaning of the act, as one would expect in the aftermath of a pandemic (especially given the qualification “a condition regarded by others as such an impairment”).
New York City. The same logic applies. From § 8-107 Unlawful discriminatory practices:
4. Public accommodations.
a. It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person who is the owner, franchisor, franchisee, lessor, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent or employee of any place or provider of public accommodation:
1. Because of any person’s actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, age, gender, , marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation, uniformed service or immigration or citizenship status, directly or indirectly:
(a) To refuse, withhold from or deny to such person the …
(a) Full and equal enjoyment, on equal terms and conditions, of any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any such place or provider of public accommodation shall be to any person on account of race, creed, color, national origin, age, gender, , marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation, uniformed service or immigration or citizenship status; or
(b) The patronage or custom of any person is because of such person’s actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, age, gender, , marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation, uniformed service or immigration or citizenship status.
And the definition of disabled, from § 8-102 Definitions:
Disability. The term “disability” means any physical, medical, mental or psychological impairment, or a history or record of such impairment. As used in this definition:
1. Physical, medical, mental, or psychological impairment. The term “physical, medical, mental, or psychological impairment” means:
(a) An impairment of any system of the body; including, but not limited to, the neurological system; the musculoskeletal system; the special sense organs and respiratory organs, including, but not limited to, speech organs; the cardiovascular system; the reproductive system; the digestive and genito-urinary systems; the hemic and lymphatic systems; the immunological systems; the skin; and the endocrine system; or
(b) A mental or psychological impairment
The logic again is the same as for the State.
Here (via Yves) is where to start of file a complaint with the State:
Here is how to file a complaint with the City:
(Note that the City of New York wants you to file your complaint only in their jurisdication.)
Now, these processes may seem a little cumbersome. However, I don’t think it will take very many complaints to make an impact on the Adams Administration, whether at City of State level. I am also sure that we at NC would be very interested to see your filings and track your progress! Then, of course, there is the press. You can write letters to the editor, which the public reads. Interestingly, Taylor Lorenz — who may be a bit of a showboat but is sound on both Long Covid and masking — is aware of the story:
1st it was: my mask protects u & urs protects me, mask up!
Then: 1 way masking works (it doesn’t) if ur vulnerable ur responsible for ur own health, always mask and never let it slip or u deserve death.
Now: If u wear a mask ur a criminal & deserve harassment and discrimination
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) March 7, 2023
So you might consider forwarding your complaints to her, as well as NC, and any local venues you have.
Let’s go save some lives!
 Nor does Vasan mask reliably:
He says he’s supportive of NYC Health + Hospitals keeping mask requirements in light of the 2/13 lift, but is not wearing one himself in an indoor space. pic.twitter.com/DoTKsdQZ6e
— 𝘼𝙗𝙤𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙝 𝙥𝙤𝙡𝙞𝙘𝙚 (@GlizzyGuzzlord) February 14, 2023
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