'New Yorkers, This Is What We Have Been Waiting For'

State is lifting mask mandate for more indoor public spaces
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2022 12:10 PM CST
NY Gov. Lifts Mask Mandate for Businesses but Not Schools
Students wearing masks leave the New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math (NEST m) school in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, Dec. 21, 2021.   (AP Photo/Brittainy Newman, File)

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul says the state is lifting its mask mandate for most indoor public spaces—but it will remain in place for now in schools as well as healthcare facilities and a few other settings. The governor cited declining COVID infection rates and hospitalizations, the Albany Times Union reports. "New Yorkers, this is what we have been waiting for," she said. "Tremendous progress after two long years." She added: "This fight is not over, we’re not surrendering. This is not disarmament, but again the trends are very, very positive."

Hochul said counties and businesses can still set their own rules after the state mandate, which requires either masks or proof of full vaccination in public spaces, expires Thursday. The governor, who met with school administrators and teachers' unions late Tuesday, said the question of masks in schools would be revisited after winter breaks later this month, when millions of COVID tests will be distributed to schools, the AP reports. "After the break, after we have kids tested, we’re going to make an assessment in the first week of March," Hochul said.

In Massachusetts, where case numbers are also falling sharply, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday that the state mask mandate for schools will end Feb. 28. New Jersey and Delaware have also lifted their school mask mandates. The CDC, which still recommends masking in schools, is coming under growing pressure to update its guidance, the New York Times reports. "We are working on that guidance; we are working on following the trends for the moment," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters Wednesday. "Our hospitalizations are still high, our death rates are still high. So as we work toward that and as we are encouraged by the current trends, we are not there yet," she added. (More mask mandates stories.)

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