Medical Technology

New York’s COVID Surge is Back and So Is Its Mask Mandat

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidelines in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Governor. Kathy Hochul announced Friday that all public spaces indoors will require masks unless the places or businesses have a vaccine requirement.

Hochul said the decision to reinstitute the mask mandate was based on the increasing number of hospitalizations and cases, which have been especially pronounced in parts of upstate New York.

New York passed a mask mandate in April 2020 that was in effect for more than a full year. The new mask mandate applies to staff and patrons alike and will be in place from Monday until Jan. 15 at which point the state will review.

Hochul warned that we’re entering an uncertain period. He also warned that our cases could get out-of-control. Hochul made these remarks at a New York City public appearance.

New York joins several states with similar indoor mask requirements including Washington, Oregon, Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada and Hawaii.

The Lake Placid Christmas Company received the news with open arms. It is located on Main Street in the tourist-friendly Adirondack Village.

Manager Scott Delahant stated that all employees wear masks but that we no longer demand that customers wear them as it is too difficult to enforce. “Quite frankly, I got sick of arguing with people.”

He said that a lot of people browse naked despite the fact there is a sign that encourages mask wearing and a basket with disposable masks available for free.

In the seven-day time frame that ended Wednesday, the state registered more than 68,000 positive virus tests. This is the highest number of positive tests for the virus in a seven-day period since February. This is especially evident in upstate New York, where nearly three-fourths (or more) of COVID-19-related deaths confirmed in hospitals have occurred since August. Thirty-two upstate hospitals had to stop performing elective surgery on Thursday because of capacity issues.

Hochul said, “We are moving in the direction that I do not consider sustainable.”

Hochul announced the mask rule at a social service agency in on the west side of Manhattan which is where the majority of people wear masks. New York City requires vaccinations for indoor restaurant dining, entertainment and gyms, which means those that require vaccination venues will be unaffected by the new rules.

Many upstate New York counties recently passed mask mandates, including Erie County which includes Buffalo.

Although mask mandates are welcomed by a lot of people, they have also become a hot topic. Republican elected officials reacting to Hochul’s announcement referred to it as an unnecessary burden for businesses.

“This latest mask mandate is government overreach at its worst,” said Republican Assemblyman Mike Lawler of suburban Rockland County. “Across New York State, we are getting shots and our vaccination rate is one of the highest in the United States,” said Mike Lawler.

Hochul stated that violators could be subject to criminal and civil penalties, with a maximum penalty of up to $1,000. The requirements will be enforced by local health departments.

Villeneuve reported from Albany, New York. Associated Press writer Michael Hill contributed from Albany.

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