De Blasio Urges Masking Again, but Stops Short of a Mandate

Weather: Some early sun, but clouds move in as the day goes on. High around 80.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Aug. 15 (Feast of the Assumption).

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday urged vaccinated New Yorkers to return to wearing masks indoors as the city faces a rise in coronavirus cases — but he stopped short of reinstating a mask mandate as other cities have done.

The mayor said he wanted to focus on increasing vaccination rates, and worried that requiring everyone to wear masks would remove an incentive for those who are considering getting vaccinated now.

“Everything we do is vaccine-centric,” Mr. de Blasio said.

New York City’s vaccination rate has slowed, and the number of coronavirus cases recorded per day has risen to more than 1,200. That’s roughly six times the number in June, my colleagues Emma G. Fitzsimmons and Dana Rubenstein reported.

[Read more about the mayor’s guidance on mask wearing.]

Mr. de Blasio said a broad mask mandate could be difficult to enforce, and has said he is considering France-style measures to require vaccination or a negative test to visit restaurants or movie theaters.

On Monday, the mayor said the city had hit an important milestone — 10 million vaccine doses administered — and announced a new policy: a vaccine mandate for new city employees.

“Every single new person hired by the City of New York — before they report to work, they must provide proof of vaccination,” he said.

Also Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers would be required to be vaccinated or face weekly testing, beginning on Labor Day.

With the recent rise in virus cases, New York City now falls under new C.D.C. guidelines recommending masks in areas of high transmission.

The mayor said that he agreed with the C.D.C.’s guidance, but pointed out that he was aligned with leaders in New Jersey and Connecticut who similarly encouraged mask use but did not require it.

Some elected officials called on Mr. de Blasio to move more aggressively and institute a mask mandate now to curtail a third wave.

“The one lesson of the last year and a half is you have to act fast, or you’re left with much more difficult choices down the road,” said Mark Levine, a city councilman from Manhattan who chairs the health committee. “I think it’s a huge mistake to delay this any further.”

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The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.

The rapper Biz Markie, who died two weeks ago at the age of 57, was laid to rest in his Long Island hometown, Patchogue. [ABC 7 New York]

The upscale gym chain Equinox will start requiring proof of vaccination to enter its New York City facilities starting in September. [NBC New York]

A New York City Council report showed that male city workers’ median salary was $21,600 more than that of female employees in 2018, among other racial and gender pay disparities. [Gothamist]

The Times’s Alex Vadukul writes:

In the 1980s, a street photographer named George Forss was selling his black-and-white pictures of the Empire State Building and Central Park to tourists for $5 a pop. Like so many of New York’s sidewalk peddlers, he was just trying to make a buck. But his images stood apart from the typical fare.

In framing the Brooklyn Bridge’s grandeur, he captured the masses who trudge across it daily. As fog crept over New York Harbor, he photographed the Statue of Liberty seemingly trying to peer through the mist, awaiting another ship of immigrants. And in what became his best-known picture, he snapped the Queen Elizabeth 2 gliding past the twin towers of the World Trade Center beneath a dark, ominous-looking sky.

Mr. Forss died at 80 on July 17 at his home in Cambridge, N.Y., in the foothills of the Adirondacks. His representative, Phyllis Wrynn, director of the Park Slope Gallery in Brooklyn, said the cause was heart failure.

In 1980, the renowned photojournalist David Douglas Duncan encountered him near Grand Central Terminal and was riveted by his work. A former staff photographer for Life magazine, Mr. Duncan decided to use his influence to promote Mr. Forss.

Mr. Duncan published a photography book, “New York/New York: Masterworks of a Street Peddler,” through McGraw-Hill in 1984, and it made Mr. Forss a sensation.

He appeared on the “Today” show and was the subject of a BBC documentary. An exhibition of his pictures was held at the Brooklyn Museum, and the International Center of Photography in Manhattan acquired his work. Mr. Forss started charging $20 for his photos, and he gradually stopped hustling on sidewalks entirely.

After his career took off, things sometimes got weird in interviews when he spoke of his belief in an ancient race of extraterrestrials who, as he told it, had telepathically communicated with him when he lived in the Bronx. He believed they had given him his creative talents and helped lift him out of hard times.

“This is a whole new life for me,” he told The Times in 1985. “I was deteriorating on the streets.”

It’s Tuesday — capture the moment.

Dear Diary:

When I was attending Barnard College, my best friend and I would often walk downtown from the campus on weekend mornings. Full speed ahead and singing excerpts from musicals at the top of our lungs, we owned the world.

One day, a taxi driver cut us off at a crosswalk.

Indignantly, we banged on the trunk of his cab and reprimanded him.

The window rolled down to reveal the curmudgeon behind the wheel.

“Aw, get over it,” he said. “Worse things have happened to better people.”

My friend and I looked at each other incredulously and said the same thing aloud at the same time: “Better people?”

— Catherine Puranananda

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Read more Metropolitan Diary here.

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