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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

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An ad outside a subway station in New York City calls for people to get vaccinated against Covid-19

New York (AFP) - New York City will require all municipal workers to get vaccinated against coronavirus or take a weekly test, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday as the Delta variant fuels an uptick in cases in the metropolis.

The order will go into effect from September 13 and will apply to more than 300,000 city personnel, including police officers, fire fighters and teachers.

"This is about our recovery. This is about keeping people safe," de Blasio told a press conference.

The move comes after the mayor announced last week that the city's 30,000 public hospital workers would need to get vaccinated or face weekly testing from August 2.

The measure announced Monday is the most stringent measure taken so far in the US megacity to boost vaccination rates following a campaign based on voluntary participation and incentives.

In New York, 59 percent of the entire population has received at least one dose of a vaccine against Covid-19 but the speed of injections has slowed.

Controversy is building in the United States over what steps should be taken to increase vaccination rates against the Delta variant, which accounts for more than 89 percent of US infections, according to estimates.

Many health officials are pushing to make vaccination mandatory, at least for certain segments of the population.

On Monday, 57 medical groups representing millions of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health workers called for mandatory vaccinations for all health staff.

"The health and safety of US workers, families, communities, and the nation depends on it," said the statement, whose signatories included the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association.

Several Republican-led states have instead passed laws banning coercive measures, though, particularly in schools.

The September 13 date will coincide with the return of one million students to New York's public schools for the new academic year.

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Many of us watching the inferno at Notre Dame de Paris felt that 9/11 dread. This week, as nearly 18 years ago, the news channels kept looping the same horrific video of towers collapsing. At the end, the medieval cathedral remained mostly standing while the twin towers at New York’s World Trade Center vanished into a pile of smoking rubble. The outcomes may have been different, but both calamities showed that what we think most permanent may not be.

In human terms, the calamity on Sept. 11, 2001, was of an entirely different scale. Thousands died. The conflagration in Paris miraculously cost no lives.

As an architectural disaster, however, there’s no comparison. Notre Dame is a Gothic masterpiece embodying the spiritual. The twin towers, bland buildings famous mainly for being tall, were dedicated to commerce.

The late historian Lewis Mumford denounced the World Trade Center as an “example of the purposeless giantism and technological exhibitionism that are now eviscerating the living tissue of every great city.”

That terrorists had unleashed the massacre at the twin towers made the tragedy especially gruesome. Parisians are relieved that the fire at Notre Dame appears to have accidentally started — but the 2015 terror attack was often mentioned during the fire as a related reason for insecurity. The scars from terrorism and devastation of an iconic structure make Paris and New York sisters in pain.

Medieval cathedrals are no strangers to destruction. Over the centuries, fire and humans have caused enormous damage at cathedrals throughout Europe, and they have been rebuilt. French President Emmanuel Macron said Notre Dame will be brought back as well — though his five-year timetable sounds optimistic.

It took almost 200 years to build the original Notre Dame. Reconstruction on a work dating back to the 12th century would be quite a challenge.

Where the twin towers stood, a 104-story replacement skyscraper has risen. The Freedom Tower took only eight years to build.

Movies and TV offer insight into how a world-famous structure characterizes its city. Notre Dame represents the enduring soul of France. A very good French TV series called “Chef” flashes scenes of Notre Dame, seemingly in every episode. The chef is a Parisian perfectionist trying to defend traditional French cooking against waves of culinary fads.

The catastrophic loss of life at the World Trade Center transformed pictures of the towers into sacred imagery. Before 9/11, movies such as “Wall Street” and “The Bonfire of the Vanities” portrayed the twin towers as cauldrons of corporate greed. After 9/11, “The Simpsons” and other shows deleted episodes showing them out of respect for the fallen.

The post-9/11 TV series “Blue Bloods” frequently uses New York’s ornate century-old bridges as backdrops for the Reagans. They seem fit for a multigenerational Irish American family largely employed in law enforcement.

Older structures, be they homely or majestic, also serve as warming reminders of place. About 14 years ago, wealthy residents of Santa Monica Canyon stopped the demolition of a beaten-up gas station dating back to 1924. A tiny business with three vintage pumps, the Canyon Service Station was no cathedral, but the millionaires who passed it every day loved it for always being there.

“On a cold, rainy night, when you’re driving up the canyon and you see the glow of the gas pumps,” one neighbor said poetically, “it literally welcomes you home with open arms. It’s like a lighthouse.”

That is exactly what lighthouses do for sailors coming into harbor. Now imagine the trauma of losing a cathedral that has anchored your town for almost 700 years. Parisians were spared the worst this week, but like New Yorkers, they’ve seen that the unthinkable is possible.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.