On Friday Governor Kathy Hochul announced that her administration will be reinstating the state wide mask mandate put in place during the early days of the Covid 19 pandemic. Starting Dec.13 2021, New Yorkers will be required to wear facial coverings in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. The mandate was reinstated in response to a winter surge of Covid cases that has led to statewide increase in hospitalizations, according to the governor’s office. Hochul’s decision is in line with CDC recommendations and deemed necessary by the State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. The new business and venue requirements extend to both patrons and staff and will remain in effect until Jan. 15, 2022, after which the State will re-evaluate based on current conditions. During the announcement, the governor herself laminated the return to stricter public health guidelines while arguing their necessity.
“As Governor, my two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy. The temporary measures I am taking today will help accomplish this through the holiday season. We shouldn’t have reached the point where we are confronted with a winter surge, especially with the vaccine at our disposal, and I share many New Yorkers’ frustration that we are not past this pandemic yet,” Governor Hochul said. “I want to thank the more than 80 percent of New Yorkers who have done the right thing to get fully vaccinated. If others follow suit, these measures will no longer be necessary.I have warned for weeks that additional steps could be necessary, and now we are at that point based upon three metrics: Increasing cases, reduced hospital capacity, and insufficient vaccination rates in certain areas,”
The announcement was met with skepticism by minority members of the state legislature, including Rockland’s own Mike Lawler. State Assemblyman Lawler disagreed with the governor’s assessment, claiming that the county has taken the steps to make public mask mandates redundant.
“This newest mask mandate is government overreach at its worst,” said Lawler. “Across New York State, we are getting shots in arms and our vaccination rate is one of the highest in the nation. We currently have over 90% of our residents vaccinated, which is far above the ‘herd immunity’ threshold we’ve been hearing about for years. Here in Rockland County, 82.3% of our 18+ population is vaccinated, 99% of our senior population is vaccinated, and those numbers continue to climb each and every day,” continued Lawler. “Instituting a mask mandate and issuing yet another ‘state of emergency’ is abusive of our citizens and taxpayers.”