New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday that the state will not be renewing the mask mandate set to expire Feb. 10, and will allow businesses to implement the mask or vaccine requirement as they see fit. The mask mandate still applies to children in schools and other select venues.
Hochul said the mandates were a “temporary measure put in place…but at this time we say it is the right decision to lift this mandate for indoor businesses and let counties, cities, and businesses, to make their own decisions on what they want to do with respect to mask or the vaccination requirement.” (RELATED: CNN Medical Analyst: “I Would Wait Until We Find Vaccines Are Safe and Effective”)
Hochul noted the declining cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 supporting this decision. The mandate will remain in effect in select locations such as “nursing homes, adult care facilities, correctional facilities, detention centers, homeless shelters, and domestic violence shelters, public transit and transportation hubs, as well as trains, planes and airports in accordance with federal regulations,” according to Hochul.
The mask requirement in schools will be reassessed in early March based on “public health data, including key metrics like cases per 100,000 residents, hospital admission rates, vaccination rates, global trends and pediatric hospitalizations.” Plans are already underway to distribute tests to children in grades K-12.
Former Democratic Councilman Rev Ruben Diaz, Sr. criticized Hochul’s decision to leave the mask mandate in place for children.
New York is reportedly preparing to make vaccines accessible for children under five years old. Children 0-13 years old have the lowest confirmed cases, according to the CDC. “Among persons aged 0–24 years, weekly incidence was higher in each successively increasing age group; weekly incidence among adults aged 25–64 years and ≥65 years exceeded that among children and adolescents aged 0–13 years throughout the review period.”