Gov. Hochul Optimistic, but not yet Ready to Remove Statewide Mask Mandate

Gov. Hochul Optimistic, but not yet Ready to Remove Statewide Mask Mandate

By Yehudit Garmaise

Although the COVID positivity rate appears to be starting to decline, the governor reported today said today that it remains too early to determine whether she can lift the rule to wear masks indoors after Feb. 1.

"We are appearing to turn the corner on the winter surge," Gov. Hochul said today. "This is no time to ‘spike the football’ [in celebration]. We still need to remain vigilant.

When Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a statewide mask mandate that took effect on Dec. 13, 2021, in light of rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, she had originally said that she would reassess it on Jan. 15.

“So let's continue to use the tools we know will help stop the spread and keep ourselves safe: get the vaccine, get the booster, wear a mask, and stay home if you're feeling sick. Let's continue to do the right thing, and we will get through this together."

While on Jan. 7, which is thought to be the day on which the surge peaked, 90,132 New Yorkers tested positive for COVID, yesterday, that number was down to 49,027.

In December, Gov. Hochul issued the new mask mandate in response to the recommendation of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said that all communities that show substantial and high transmission rates, should require masks to be worn in all indoor public places, unless businesses or venues implement vaccine requirements.

Gov. Hochul has said that local health departments would enforce her mask mandate that could have resulted in maximum civil penalties of up to $1,000, although businesses do not appear to have been inspected or charged fines for non-compliance.

At Mayor Eric Adams press conference this morning at the Steinway piano factory in Queens, Anne Williams-Isom, NYC's deputy mayor for Health and Human Services, was cautiously optimistic that the city may have seen Omicron’s peak.

"We see the horizon and we see the other side," said Williams-Isom.

"The numbers in our hospitals are stabilizing,” Mayor Eric Adams said. “We appear to be moving in the right direction."

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