As of Wednesday, March 2, New York State has lifted the indoor mask mandate for schools. This decision was based on an assessment conducted by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, including public health data of 100,000 people, hospital admission rates, vaccination rates, and more. Masks will still be required in healthcare settings and on public transportation. COVID cases have continued to decline since the winter surge peak in January.
“Given the decline in our rates, our hospitalizations, strong vaccination rates and the CDC guidance…the day has come,” Hochul said. “Today we are going to be announcing that we’ll be lifting the statewide mask requirement in schools, and that’ll be effective this Wednesday, March 2,” says Hochul.
COVID cases per 100,000 people have decreased by 50% since mid-January. Before break, over five million at-home tests were distributed to students to help limit breakouts upon their return to school. Hochul suggested that parents continue COVID testing of students.
In a tweet made by Hochul, she states, “Our top priority has always been keeping kids in school and making sure our classrooms are safe. Now, with COVID cases declining by 98% since the Omicron peak and updated CDC guidance in place, we will lift the statewide school mask requirement this coming Wednesday.”
In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams states that the city is preparing to lift the mask mandate on March 7 if COVID cases remain low.
A poll conducted by Siena College from February 14-17 found that 58% of New Yorkers wanted Hochul to wait until early March before deciding whether to lift the mandate. The other 42% believed that the masks should have been gone already.
“We will not stand for any bullying or ostracization or harassment of an individual or a business or anyone who chooses to wear a mask,” Hochul comments. “We’re going to continue distributing masks, we’re going to continue distributing test kits. We’re going to continue our aggressive vaccination strategies.”