Immigrant who refuses to comply reflects on a year in Florida

“Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last,” said Martin Luther King Jr., honored on this day.

A lot of the folks who’ve been saying this lately are former subjects of Governor Andrew Cuomo, Florida Realtor of the Year 2020 and 2021. Let’s check in with one. (see also my own “Relocation to Florida for a family with school-age children“) “It’s been a year since we left New York for Florida. Here’s what we learned” (Karol Markowicz, via the dreaded Fox):

A year ago, my husband and three children got on an airplane, moved to Florida and never looked back. Our move had made the news. I’m a columnist at New York’s storied newspaper, the New York Post, but more than that I had long been New York’s greatest champion.

(When a journalist does something that millions of others have already done, it is news.)

We got a vacation rental in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, an area we hadn’t heard of before, and enrolled our three children in the local public school.

They were our neighbors to the south! Palm Beach Gardens (PBG) is across the main road from our MacArthur Foundation-built development (in Jupiter). PBG has a beautiful county-run park with a dozen soccer fields, clay tennis courts, pickleball courts, a 2-story country club-grade tennis clubhouse, a shaded playground with water, and clean public restrooms (try finding those in NY!). PBG also has a fake downtown/New Urbanism community called Alton that we rejected due to lack of green space, but we were there the other day at Panera, Pet Smart, and Home Depot and found a husky/wolf hybrid:

This animal would be illegal to possess in Maskachusetts, but was legally bred in Ocala, Florida and after some unfortunate incidents with cats, three stays in a shelter, and two previous adoptive homes, now lives with her forever parents in PBG. She was greedy for belly rubs from our 7-year-old.

Our heroic journalist returned to New York, presumably having heard that “COVID is over” and “there were no lockdowns” (one Manhattan-based friend now simply denies that New York was ever subject to any restrictions; schools were not closed, people were not prevented from gathering or working, nobody was ordered to wear a mask, his son loved being home for more than a year (this simultaneous with the son talking about the horrors of his time in lockdown)):

Schools did open for full-time learning in fall of 2021. But masks were required, even outside, even though Dr. Anthony Fauci himself had said that was unnecessary. My kids ate lunch on the ground outdoors, urged to mask between bites, while the elderly Gov. Hochul traipsed the state, maskless, eating as a normal person living a normal life.

Our youngest was falling behind academically. The mask was stunting his verbal skills. He was hard to understand and was having trouble understanding his teacher.

In November of 2021, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten was photographed maskless indoors. In her defense she tweeted “I wear a mask most of the time indoors. We took them off as people were having a hard time hearing us.”

Her departure was cheered by the New York governor:

We made the decision in late November of 2021 and by early January we were on a plane to Florida. We landed in our short-term rental and the kids started school, maskless, for the second half of the school year. We were done. We are free. A few months later Gov. Hochul would urge Republican New Yorkers to “jump on a bus and head down to Florida.” She included the dig that they’re not New Yorkers.

I agree with Governor Hochul. Cultures evolve and a critical part of 21st century New York culture is eager compliance with whatever politicians and public health officials order as well as agreement that the order is compelled by Science and that anyone who disagrees with stupid and irrational.

A question I get asked a lot is if I have any regrets about the move “now that COVID is over.” New York continues to have COVID restrictions aimed specifically at children.

My sons’ Brooklyn public school continues to do all of their school events outdoors. A recent one was held while it was 45 degrees.

Parents who haven’t been vaccinated for COVID-19 are not allowed inside the school buildings.

It’s 2023, we know the vaccine doesn’t control spread, and yet some parents haven’t been inside their kid’s classroom since 2020. It’s madness and it continues.

Not everyone I hear from is fully happy with their move. Some aren’t sure they landed in the right place. But I have yet to hear from anyone who is going back.

The great majority of people who contact me are like us: full of gratitude and happiness that we got to sanity, to safety, to normalcy. We’ll always love New York and wish for it to return to its former glory. But we’ll do that wishing from the Sunshine State that has become our family’s home.

On January 3rd our family will celebrate one year as Floridians. The concept is similar. Pursue freedom and celebrate where you find it.

We’ve met quite a few lockdown refugees during our 1.5 years in Florida. All have enough money to live in any part of the U.S. As Ms. Markowicz found, none of them have talked about wanting to return to a slave state. In fact, none have talked about leaving South Florida. We did lose a young friend, originally from Pennsylvania, to a town 30 minutes south because it is closer to her job.

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SARS-CoV-2 mindshare in New York

On our way back from Paris, we checked in at JFK and the TWA Hotel to see how COVID-19 was doing in terms of living in the heads of New Yorkers. I was quickly rewarded with the trifecta: outdoors, bearded, masked.

The Lockheed-turned bar is a lot of fun. Note the official encouragement for the drunken business travelers to break out in song during the flight (how may police agencies would be summoned if that happened today?). Also the barf bag reminder about the canine member of the household. Take a look at all of the cylinders that the flight engineer had to monitor.

The pool deck is directly across from a two-level Emirates A380 gate:

Wearing a mask is optional for workers, but quite a few still rely on the non-N95 mask rather than switching to a job that does not entail contact with the infected public:

(The $32 omelet is served without toast; Senior Management’s $20+ eggs came with toast… one piece.)

On the one hand, the folks who run the hotel want to help SARS-CoV-2 thrive by bringing people together in close physical proximity. On the other hand, they also remind visitors to “Stay Safe” by avoiding other humans. In-elevator screen:

What about on the web sites of New York institutions? COVID-19 gets mentioned directly below the menubar on the Whitney’s home page:

It’s the very first thing on the Metropolitan Museum’s home page:

If you don’t click the “x” to acknowledge, the message about masks will be present over every page that you visit.

What if you leave the city? Get your mask in the airport:

New York-based JetBlue reminds folks to “Keep a healthy distance” while deplaning. Note the Fall of Saigon-style conditions that were inevitable once the airline decided to sell 100 percent of the seats. In other words, COVID-19 is serious enough that a lot of warning should be displayed. But COVID-19 is not serious enough to refrain from cramming the airliners to the absolute maximum capacity.

That was the mid-October COVID mindshare situation in New York.

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COVID emergency powers expiring in New York State

“Gov. Hochul will not renew COVID emergency powers” (ABC, today):

It’s been nearly two years since New York has led the fight against the coronavirus, but as the virus evolves so does the battle. On Monday, Governor Hochul announced she will not be extending COVID emergency powers which she’s held onto since former Governor Cuomo left office in August of last year. … Hochul says she feels comfortable relinquishing those powers which will expire by midnight tonight.

(Why is it “nearly two years”? Andrew Cuomo shut down public schools and made it illegal for small business to operate in New York 2.5 years ago, no?)

New Yorkers will no longer be living under a state of emergency then? New laws will have to be passed by the legislature rather than decreed by the executive? No. From Friday, September 9… “Hochul Declares Polio State of Emergency for New York” (nytimes):

Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York declared a state of emergency on Friday over the growing polio outbreak…

Some photos from a June 2021 trip to NYC (I used to go there for business every 2-3 months, but now everything is via Zoom).

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New York City attracts refugees from Florida

In April, Freedom of speech opposite the banner promising freedom of speech shows some of the billboards that New York City had paid to place in Florida, e.g.,

On June 1, the New York Times did a story on two people who moved from Tampa to NYC, just as Eric Adams had hoped. The move was not for the expected reason, however. “New York’s Weed Rush Is Here. They Came to Cash In.”:

For generations, entrepreneurs and dreamers have moved to New York City to strike it big. Now they’re coming to sell a lot of cannabis.

Just as they were getting into a pandemic rhythm of deliveries [of marijuana] and drop-offs, the George Floyd protests took over Tampa’s streets. Every time C. and S. were driving after curfew, they felt as if they might be targeted by police, who were out in greater numbers. During one cannabis delivery, C. noticed a car following him, and he worried it was driven by undercover police officers — either that or counterprotesters; he couldn’t tell. After the unmarked car was joined by five marked police vehicles, he told S., who was in the passenger seat with their delivery of edibles and flower, to throw everything out the window, call their lawyer, call their neighbor. The neighbor told him there were vehicles that looked like unmarked police cars in front of their house.

Concerned about raids and arrests, they decided they had to leave town. … she lobbied hard for New York. They both had relatives there, and a cannabis market was emerging in the city.

In New York, Mayor Eric Adams has proposed that the city invest $4.8 million next year in the local cannabis industry, which is expected to generate nearly $1.3 billion in the first year of legal sales.

This is also an inspiring story about the benefits of immigration:

“My dad’s Ecuadorean,” C. says. “My family’s Ecuadorean. In Miami, there’s not that many Ecuadoreans, so it was nice to be in a neighborhood where things that people talk about or say or the news that might be going on, I can kind of relate to.”

And an inspiring story about hard work:

Once settled, they spent their life savings — thousands of dollars — to buy a package of cannabis from Colorado, hoping that would enable them to establish their New York business. It didn’t. “I’ve been selling marijuana since I was like a teenager in Miami,” C. says. “Every now and then I would do a rookie mistake.” This deal was one of them. They had planned to both sell the cannabis and use some of it for giveaways — which they thought would help them gain a following in Brooklyn — but it was lost in transport. They had to get cannabis on credit in order to have something to sell.

The article informs us that “C” is 32 years old. So he was selling marijuana illegally for at least 10 years (Wikipedia says that Floridians voted to legalize medical marijuana at the end of 2016).

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Will masks for the general public work as well against monkeypox as they did against SARS-CoV-2?

“New Yorkers told to mask up again after local patient tests POSITIVE for same genus virus as monkeypox” (Daily Mail):

An NYC patient has tested positive for the same genus virus as monkeypox sparking calls from the health department for residents to wear masks indoors – just as New Yorkers were finally returning to mask-free normalcy after COVID-19.

The health department is encouraging New Yorkers to wear face masks to protect against the new virus outbreak, as well as COVID-19 and the flu. Monkeypox primarily spreads through physical contact but can also be transmitted through respiratory droplets in the air.

Why isn’t the best advice “Leave New York City, which is one of the world’s most crowded places”? The Science is strong with the NYC health department, but ordinarily a scientific conclusion is supported by evidence. What is the evidence that a monkeypox outbreak can be stopped by ordinary residents of a city wearing masks?

In a world obsessed with avoiding viral infection, I can’t figure out why cities like New York make sense (or why boosting population density in already-crowded cities via low-skill immigration makes sense). I have a lot more confidence that someone living in the suburbs can avoid monkeypox compared to someone living in a Manhattan studio apartment and going out to the stuff that used to make Manhattan attractive.

Combining these topics, a photo from June 2021:

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Inflation in New York City is only 2 percent

“Looming Rent Increase of Up to 9 Percent Tests Adams’s Housing Priorities” (New York Times, May 4, 2022):

The powerful Rent Guidelines Board, which the mayor controls, will take a preliminary vote on Thursday on proposed rent increases of 2.7 to 4.5 percent on one-year leases and 4.3 to 9 percent on two-year leases. A final vote is expected in June.

The annual decision by the Rent Guidelines Board, which affects more than two million residents who live in buildings built before 1974 that have six or more units, always ignites passionate debate and an intense lobbying effort from tenants and landlords.

Note that the headline is kind of a lie, implying that rents might be going up by 9 percent in one year (the standard period to look at).

The good news is that, if you are one of the two million people who live in an apartment whose rent is set by the central planners, your personal inflation rate, at least for housing, could have been as low as 2.7 percent. How does this compare to the official government CPI? The word “inflation” does not appear in the NYT article (see “Team Transitory”).

Just a day later, the horror of 2.7 percent inflation was averted. “Panel Backs Rent Increases for More Than 2 Million New Yorkers” (NYT, May 5, 2022):

The New York City panel charged with regulating rents across nearly one million rent-stabilized homes voted on Thursday to support the largest increases in almost a decade.

The move, which must be formally approved next month, would raise rents on one-year leases by 2 to 4 percent, and on two-year leases by 4 to 6 percent. The increases are another reminder of the affordability crisis the city faces as it emerges from the pandemic.


  • “‘They’ll have to carry me out in a box’: inside the apartments of the luckiest renters” (Guardian, February 2022): Growing up on the Upper West Side, Hattie Kolp, like any kid, didn’t think much about the apartment she and her family moved into in 2002, but the roughly 1,500-square-foot two-bedroom has become the center of the 30-year-old’s life as an influencer. She shares photos of the apartment’s details that hint at the building’s 1890 construction – like an original butler’s pantry and ornate fireplaces – with her 90,000 TikTok followers and 52,000 followers on Instagram. … “My parents knew this was not their forever home, so they didn’t really care to do any projects,” says Kolp, who assumed the lease from her parents in 2018. … For New Yorkers who are acutely aware of how much a place like this should cost, Kolp’s rent – $1,300 per month – is jaw-dropping. Plus, it’s rent-stabilized – meaning it can only increase in rent modestly once a year. There are only 1m such units in New York City.
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Freedom of speech opposite the banner promising freedom of speech

A New York Post story:

[Daniela Jampel, who served as an assistant corporation counsel for the City] had publicly challenged the mayor at an unrelated event on LGBTQ issues — as [Mayor Eric] Adams stood in front of a podium banner that read, “Come to the city where you can say whatever you want.’’

“Three weeks ago, you told parents to trust you that you would unmask our toddlers,” Jampel told the mayor.

“You stood right here, and you said that the masks would come off April 4. That has not happened.”

In other words, she said whatever she wanted opposite a banner that said she could say whatever she wanted. Example signs from NBC:

What happened next?

Sources close to the matter said Jampel – a leading local critic of the toddler mask mandate and pandemic school closures – was informed by e-mail shortly after the presser that she was fired.

(Note that Jampel need only move to Florida to live in a society that conforms to her preferences. It is against state law for a public school system to shut down schools, order children to wear masks, etc. She could leave New York City to the folks who like it the way that it is is and come to a place where most people would agree with her regarding the best ways to protect 4-year-olds from a disease that kills 84-year-olds. (see Relocation to Florida for a family with school-age children for how Americans could be a lot happier if people were more mobile))


Note that if we combine the last two points we find that New York City is spending its taxpayers’ money to recruit additional lower-than-average income residents who will thus be eligible for a full range of means-tested welfare programs after arrival in NYC. And, if a transition is just beginning, for every valuable 2SLBGTQQIA+ community member who is persuaded to move, NY taxpayers will be forking out $100,000 to gender reassignment surgeons and therapists, via Medicaid, that would otherwise have been shouldered by working taxpayers in Florida. Nonetheless, NYC may find itself outbid by Palm Springs, California, which is offering guaranteed cash to members of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community. See Guaranteed Income Pilot – DAP Health and California city to give universal income to transgender, nonbinary residents regardless of earnings | Fox News:

Transgender residents in Palm Springs, California are eligible to receive a UBI of up to $900 per month solely for identifying as transgender or nonbinary — no strings attached.

The new pilot program will have $200,000 set aside for allocation after a unanimous vote by the Palm Springs City Council last week.

Twenty transgender and nonbinary Palm Springs residents will receive the free money funded by the taxpayers for 18 months, with advocacy-based health center DAP Health and LGBT advocacy group Queer Works managing the program.

Not everyone in the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community is aligned on this one:

Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton, who is transgender, pointed to the transcript from the city council’s March 24 meeting where she “expressed strong reservations in general to guaranteed income programs.”

Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, a Republican who served as the first openly gay member of the city council, called the program “outrageous and discriminatory.”

“We’re completely opposed to guaranteed or universal basic income programs, because they ultimately cause inflation and raise the cost of living on everyone — they don’t work,” DeMaio said in a statement.

“But at least some of them have minimum income requirements to qualify, whereas this one is no-strings-attached ‘woke’ virtue signaling to the LGBT community in a way that is not only offensive but discriminatory,” he continued.

I personally disagree with Mx. DeMaio. If there is an income threshold necessary to qualify for free taxpayer cash then you’re pretty much guaranteeing that the recipient will limit his/her/zir/their working efforts so as to stay under this threshold. (See Fast-food economics in Massachusetts: Higher minimum wage leads to a shorter work week, not fewer people on welfare for how low-wage workers are smart enough to avoid working themselves out of means-tested entitlements.) If people are going to be paid for identifying as transgender or non-binary the money shouldn’t be conditional on them also refraining from serious work efforts.

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New York Science: masks for 2-year-olds, but not in the strip clubs

Following Science, Mayor Eric Adams of New York City orders 2-year-olds to continue wearing masks while unvaccinated adults are free to party in strip clubs, on Tinder dates, at raves, etc.

(The mayor had a bit of trouble with the courts, but an appeals court ruled in favor of continuing to burden 2-year-olds.)

Florida Realtor of 2022 for Eric Adams? At least for New Yorkers with children under 5, a move to the Sunshine State could be compelling!

And what about the flight to freedom? Can escaping families throw away their masks at JFK or will they have to wait until they’re on the curb at PBI? “Florida is challenging federal mask requirements for travelers” (government-funded WFSU, 3/30/2022):

In Florida’s latest salvo against the Biden administration over COVID-19 restrictions, Attorney General Ashley Moody on Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging requirements that people wear masks in airports and on planes, trains and buses.

Moody, joined by attorneys general from 20 other states, filed the lawsuit in federal court in Tampa. In part, it contends that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has overstepped its legal authority in requiring masks for travelers.

“Faced with a government that displays outright disdain for the limits on its power — especially when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic — plaintiffs seek vacatur of that mask mandate and a permanent injunction against its enforcement,” the lawsuit said.


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Do the unvaccinated collect unemployment after being placed on “unpaid leave”?

“Thousands of Unvaccinated New York City School Employees Placed on Unpaid Leave” (Wall Street Journal, 10/4/2021) describes those who #Resist, but not in a good way:

Thousands of New York City school staff were barred from returning to work Monday for failing to comply with a vaccination mandate that took effect Friday afternoon.

Under the terms of the mandate, all school employees needed to show proof by Friday afternoon that they received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to avoid being placed on unpaid leave.

(It’s a “mandate,” not an “order”)

These employees aren’t fired, but are only on “unpaid leave.” Does that mean they’re unable to collect unemployment insurance? Is this a brilliant Catch-22 strategy by the city government? People can’t collect unemployment unless they’re fired. The infidels #Resisting the Church of Shutdown haven’t been fired. But on the other hand, there is no way for them to get a paycheck unless they accept Saint Fauci as their personal savior.

Have we created a society where a lifetime of government assistance (means-tested public housing, Medicaid, SNAP/EBT, and Obamaphone) is available to folks who say “I need to spend 24/7 drinking, smoking dope, and consuming opioids” but nothing is available to those who say “I’m a healthy 25-year-old, already had COVID-19, and don’t think the risk-reward of a COVID-19 vaccine makes sense for me”?

Separately, given that NYC, if it were its own country, would be right near the top of countries ranked by COVID-19 death rate, shouldn’t we expect that most of the unvaccinated have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and therefore have at least as good immunity as the vaccinated? (Nearly all of my friends in NYC eventually got either a positive COVID test result, some symptoms, or both.)


  • “Won’t Get The Covid Vaccine? If You’re Fired, You May Not Get Unemployment Benefits” (Forbes): … there’s one big, new exception that could block your eligibility to get unemployment benefits: You get fired because you’re not vaccinated for Covid-19. … In short, probably not. If an employer terminates you because you don’t follow its policies, it has “cause” to fire you. And if you’re fired “for cause,” you may be ineligible to claim unemployment benefits. … Some states have made it clear that people terminated for not adhering to vaccination policies are likely precluded from receiving benefits. Oregon is one example of a state that has mandated health care, education, and government workers to get vaccinated. The head of the state Employment Department has said eligibility will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but those terminated by public or private employers for refusing to get vaccinated probably won’t be eligible.
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Will Kathy Hochul be Florida health care worker Recruiter of the Year?

Folks in the South Florida real estate industry dubbed Andrew Cuomo the “Florida Realtor of the Year” in gratitude for all of the money that they made selling houses to people fleeing New York’s lockdowns, school closures, and mask orders. (This was before Mr. Cuomo became famous for his efforts in other areas.)

I wonder if Kathy Hochul, the current governor of New York, will be remembered for solving every Florida health care enterprise’s HR problems. The nursing shortage in FL could be over by the end of next week, according to the NYT:

Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York is considering calling in the National Guard and recruiting medical professionals from other states to cover looming staff shortages at hospitals and other facilities as the likelihood grows that tens of thousands of health care workers will not meet the state’s deadlines for mandated vaccinations.

New York State is one of the first major testing grounds for stronger vaccination edicts rolling in across the country in the health care sector. California and Maine have also set deadlines for health care workers to be vaccinated. President Biden has said his administration will issue a national vaccination mandate expected to ultimately affect some 17 million health care workers at hospitals and other institutions that accept Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

Hospital and nursing home employees in New York are required to receive a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by 11:59 p.m. on Monday night, while workers working in home care, hospices and other adult care facilities must do so by Oct. 7, according to state regulations and a mandate issued on Aug. 16 by former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

For health care workers seeking freedom, Florida may not be a complete solution (since President Biden and, if necessary, the U.S. military could step in to deprive Floridians of the freedoms that Governor DeSantis has tried to arrange), but moving to Florida certainly will ensure as much freedom as is possible to obtain as an employed American (folks on welfare, of course, are completely free from requirements to wear masks, get vaccines, etc., since they are not going to work).

It doesn’t usually take a huge nudge to move someone from New York to Florida. A high percentage of the above-mentioned workers probably had planned to move to Florida after retirement. For those doctors and nurses who don’t want their pharmaceutical intake to be determined by two lawyers (Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul), could this be the final nudge that sends them down I-95?

Separately, how much do we love it when people with no technical or scientific training say that MDs and RNs are rejecting science and have fallen prey to “misinformation” about the vaccines whose long-term disease-prevention capabilities and side effects are apparently best-known to politicians and journalists? (from state-sponsored NPR: “In The Fight Against COVID, Health Workers Aren’t Immune To Vaccine Misinformation”)

Also, as a vaccinated person I do appreciate the “blame-the-unvaccinated-for-all-of-our-woes” strategy being pursued by our leaders. But I wonder how long we can keep it going. If someone is a front-line health care worker and feeling young/healthy enough to be out and about without a vaccine shot, isn’t it likely that he/she/ze/they has already had a SARS-CoV-2 infection and therefore has at least as good immunity as someone who is vaccinated?

Last night, from the Juno Beach Pier:


  • “These Health Care Workers Would Rather Get Fired Than Get Vaccinated” (NYT, 9/26): a selection of those who might be easily recruited
  • “Mount Sinai hospital leaders holed up in Florida vacation homes during coronavirus crisis” (New York Post, March 28, 2020): While heroic staffers beg for protective equipment and don garbage bags to treat coronavirus patients at a Mount Sinai hospital, two of the system’s top executives are waiting out the public health catastrophe in the comfort of their Florida vacation homes, The Post has learned. Dr. Kenneth Davis, 72, the CEO of the Mount Sinai Health System who pulled down nearly $6 million in compensation in 2018, is ensconced in his waterfront mansion near Palm Beach. Davis has been in the Sunshine State for weeks and is joined by Dr. Arthur Klein, 72, president of the Mount Sinai Health Network, who owns an oceanfront condo in Palm Beach.
  • No exceptions for “people who are pregnant, lactating, or planning to become pregnant” from the New York Department of Health: … all pregnant individuals be vaccinated … Vaccination of pregnant people against COVID-19 also serves to build antibodies which may protect their baby from COVID-19 infection. … pregnant people with COVID-19 might be at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, compared with pregnant women without COVID-19… If pregnant people have questions about getting vaccinated… If someone is pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, healthcare providers should discuss the risk to the pregnant person … Vaccinations for Lactating People … A lactating person may choose to be vaccinated… . Pregnancy alone is not a valid “health condition” upon which to base a medical exemption.
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