Vaccine, mask mandates headline Gov. Kathy Hochul’s first address to New Yorkers

Transition of Power

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — In her first full address to the public, Governor Kathy Hochul gave the initial layout of what leadership under her administration will look like.

Schools, protecting renters and vaccine growth all revolved around Gov. Hochul’s first speech directly to the state of New York. On her first day as the 57th Governor of New York, Kathy Hochul assured school districts will get the guidance they need to reopen with policies handed down from the state level.  

“We need to require vaccinations for all school personnel with an option to test out weekly,” Gov. Hochul said. “At least for now. I’m also immediately directing the department of health to institute universal masking for anyone entering our schools.”

Hochul said she did not have the authority to mandate vaccinations in schools during a Tuesday appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

“I don’t have the executive power to mandate vaccinations in schools, but I’ll be working closely to come to that conclusion by teaming up with our partners in the education community and our school superintendents and school boards,” Hochul said. “This has to happen because this has gone on too long. Our children need to be back in school. They need to be back in the normal learning environment because we’ve lost too much time, particularly for children in Black and brown communities, those who come from impoverished neighborhoods. They already start out with strikes against them and we cannot let this continue. We need them back in school.”

These are some parts of a wider school reopening plan the governor is expected to announce before the end of the week. She then went into pushing for more vaccine availability to come out at more sites for booster shots and expand mandates for shots.   

“Prepare for booster shots and make sure they are available distributed quickly and reliably,” Gov. Hochul said. “When I consult with Dr. Fauci last week we discussed the urgent need to make sure vaccinated individuals receive a booster dose at eight months.” 

Gov. Hochul then touched upon the $2.7 billion the state set aside for rent relief but has not reached the thousands of New Yorkers at risk of eviction. She vows to speed up the process.  

“We are launching a new campaign to reach more New Yorkers on rent relief,” Gov. Hochul said. “We’re forming a real partnership. I am hiring more staff to process applications immediately. If you apply and qualify for this money you will be protected from eviction for a solid year.” 

Recognizing the distrust she inherited, Hochul announced major reform on ethics training for state employees requiring in-person training on sexual harassment prevention.  

By shattering another glass ceiling becoming the state’s first female Governor, Hochul built on that moment after being sworn in by acknowledging Chief Judge Janet Difiore wearing the same robe Judge Judith Kaye, the first female Court of Appeals Judge wore. 

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