Andrew Yang on plans to “speed up” NYC’s post-COVID comeback

New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang on Friday detailed his plans to “speed up” the city’s comeback, saying technology can play a role in keeping residents safe as the city recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. Yang, a technology entrepreneur who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, is one of dozens of candidates vying to replace lame-duck Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

“I think I can speed up our comeback from the coronavirus. I think I can help make New York City the post-COVID comeback city that it’s going to need to be in order for so many New Yorkers to reclaim our lives,” Yang told CBSN anchor Lana Zak on Friday. 

Yang said just vaccinating residents will not be enough for the city to recover, as many may not feel comfortable dining in restaurants and bars or attending Broadway shows if those around them have not been vaccinated. 

“One way we can accelerate that process is by having a vaccine passport that you can have on your smartphone,” Yang said. “You can just very quickly demonstrate that you’ve been vaccinated and you can go into that restaurant or venue and then take your mask off and literally breathe easier knowing that everyone there has been vaccinated.” 

Yang has also suggested using ice cream trucks as mobile vaccination sites to speed up vaccination. “We need to be trying to get vaccines to people in their neighborhoods. The reality is that many New Yorkers aren’t that mobile, they may be old and infirm, they might not easily be able to hop on a subway or a bus,” Yang said. “So if we can get a vaccine to them in their parking lot, close to their building, either via a vehicle or by having a site that’s right on their block, that’s what we have to do.” 

Yang has never been elected to public office but launched his political career during the 2020 presidential campaign, in which he outperformed de Blasio. He became known for his universal basic income plan, which promised adult Americans $1,000 a month. He wants to offer a modified plan to New Yorkers, giving $2,000 a year to residents in extreme poverty. 

When announcing his campaign, Yang pledged to improve access to high-speed internet, “take back control” of the subway system and “reopen intelligently.” 

Yang has faced criticism for leaving the city with his wife and their two children during the pandemic. He has said that his family moved to the Hudson Valley during the crisis in part to help his autistic son adapt, and noted Friday that during that time, he was campaigning for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as Democratic candidates in Georgia.  

But he has also come under fire for saying that it was hard having two children attending virtual school in a two-bedroom apartment while also trying to work at home, a situation faced by others who did not leave. 

“I think people understand that families are struggling in ways big and small right now. I think very deeply and constantly about what families are going through,” he said of critiques that he was out of touch. “Folks understand that if you see a quote in print, out of context, that doesn’t indicate that I don’t think every day about what people are going through.” 

Democratic voters in New York City will cast their ballots in a June primary. The winner of that race is expected to win the November general election. 

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