Mandated mask wearing is upon us again. New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced that masks are required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. The new business and venue requirements extend to both patrons and staff.
The mandate is effective Dec. 13 until Jan. 15, 2022, after which the state will re-evaluate based on current conditions. Mandate violations are subject to a maximum fine of up to $1,000. Local health departments are being asked to enforce these requirements.
Hochul said her top two priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy and said that these temporary measures will help accomplish it all 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,” Hochul said.
“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 action will address the winter surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise statewide and aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC’s) recommendations for areas with substantial and high transmission.
Increasing hospitalizations due to COVID-19 outbreaks and the state’s weekly seven-day case rate is the determination.
Hochul said she thanks the more than 80 percent of adult New Yorkers who have been fully vaccinated. “If others will follow suit, these measures will no longer be necessary,” she said.
“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 CDC continues to urge eligible New Yorkers of all ages to get fully vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible.
Since the end of November the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by 43% and hospitalizations have increased by 29%. While the percentage of New Yorkers fully vaccinated continues to increase, the uptick is not fast enough to completely curb the spread of the virus, particularly among communities with low vaccination coverage. Hochul said there has been a 2% rise in cases since Thanksgiving.
“Community spread requires a community-minded solution, as the Omicron variant emerges and the overwhelmingly dominant Delta variant continues to circulate,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We have the tools we need to protect against the virus – and now we must ensure we use them. There are tools each individual can use, and there are actions we can take as government. Getting vaccinated protects you, and wearing a mask is how we will better protect each other.
Bassett said both vaccination and mask-wearing are needed to slow this COVID-19 winter surge.
The City of Rochester will work, as always, with the local business community to comply with State’s direction, said Communications Director Justin Roj regarding Governor Hochul’s mask mandate.
“We will await additional guidance from Monroe County regarding resources to further assist Rochester’s businesses. We are grateful that County leadership has pledged to provide it,” he said. “It is critical that our community continues to protect itself by getting vaccinated or boosted, wearing masks when indoors in public spaces and testing before attending gatherings.”
More information on test kit availability and other COVID-related resources is available at www.cityofrochester.gov/coronavirus.
COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses are free and widely available statewide. New Yorker residents can text their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 or visit vaccines.gov to find nearby locations.
To schedule an appointment at a state-run mass vaccination site, visit https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ or contact your health care provider, county health departments, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), rural health centers, or pharmacies.
New Yorkers can get their Excelsior Pass or Excelsior Pass Plus at https://epass.ny.gov/home. Businesses and venues can download the free Excelsior Pass Scanner app, it is nationwide and available in more than ten languages.