Gov. Hochul to Update on Wednesday her Statewide Mask Mandate that Expires Thursday
By Yehudit Garmaise
Gov. Kathy Hochul plans to update New Yorkers on her proof-of-vaccination or mask rule for businesses on Wednesday, said the governor about her controversial mandate that is set to expire on Thursday, while she added the that COVID forecast looks “much better.”
Today’s number of COVID-19 cases has decreased 40% in just the past week, said the governor said, who added that as 3,795 New Yorkers tested positive for COVID yesterday statewide, the positivity rate finally returned to the lowest it has been since Nov. 8, before the Omicron wave hit the city.
Also in the past week, hospitalizations are down almost 30% statewide, sadly, 90 New Yorkers died of COVID statewide yesterday.
"The decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are cause for celebration and hope, but not complacency," Gov. Hochul said. "There is still plenty of progress that can be made to ensure we stop the spread and keep our businesses and schools open.
“We know the tools that work: please get vaccinated if you haven't yet, and get boosted once you're eligible."
Gov. Hochul said today that she put her mask mandate in place to “help employers, employees, and customers against Omicron, which was wildly contagious.”
Although the governors of Pennsylvania and New Jersey have spoken of suspending their statewide mask requirements in the coming weeks, Gov. Hochul said today not to expect any changes for mask requirements in schools, although her mandate for businesses is set to expire on Thursday.
New York City schools, which had a mask mandate that predated Gov. Hochul’s, are not affected by whether the state’s mask mandate ends.
After New York Supreme Court Judge Thomas Rademaker in Long Island said that the governor did not have the legal authority to issue a statewide mask mandate, while only the state legislature could do so, Attorney General Letitia James successfully argued for a stay on the mandate, while the Hochul administration pursued an appeal.
The Hochul administration, however, as well as state Attorney General Letitia James' office, have argued the DOH has broad authority to protect the public’s health: a responsibility that includes the indoor mask mandate.
“As governor, my top priority is protecting the people of this state,” said Gov. Hochul, who commended James on Jan. 25 for her “defense of the health and safety of New Yorkers.” “[Masks] are critical tools to prevent the spread of COVID-19, make schools and businesses safe, and save lives.”
Gov. Hochul also applauded the Appellate Division and the Second Department for “siding with common sense and granting an interim stay to keep the state’s important masking regulations in place.
Lee Zeldin, a Republican candidate for governor in next year’s election, continues to call for an end to the statewide mask mandate for both businesses and schools.
"Not only should Hochul be fired as governor, but she shouldn't even be elected to serve on a school board," he said in a statement Monday. "We need power hungry fools like her as far removed from any positions of power as possible."
"We are going to be assessing our situation here in New York," said Gov. Hochul, who has repeatedly urged parents to vaccinate their children who are ages 5-to-11 years old: 34% of whom are vaccinated in statewide.
"I know we can do better than that," Hochul said. "Let's get those younger kids vaccinated."