ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday the pandemic storm isn’t over yet, extending the state’s mask mandate through February 10th, nine additional days past when this was set to expire.
The governor called the order a “critical tool” in fighting the recent surge in omicron-related COVID-19 cases. The mandate is also being challenged in court, as the state appeals a ruling in Nassau County that the mandate is unconstitutional.
Positivity rates in New York are currently on the decline, now at 6.15%, but Gov. Hochul says the last thing she wants to do, is ditch masks and see another trend in positive cases.
“All of us are, I don’t want to keep requirements in place any longer than necessary but I will not do it a day before we can do it safely,” she says.
The recent surge has impacted hospitals hard as bed capacity across the region dwindles. While hospitalizations are dipping down from a high of 12,000 patients, admissions are still on the high side. Matthew Miller with URMC says they are constantly evaluating the situation.
“We at Strong — twice a day — have meetings with the senior leadership to discuss bed capacity, we look at the next day’s (operating room) schedule,” he says.
But some are saying enough already with the masks. “At this point, I think it’s ridiculous that this has been extended,” says Nicholas Nucci of Nucci’s Italian in Webster.
Nucci says it makes no sense for customers to mask up before they sit, then unmask at the table.
“Are they going to catch COVID from the time they walk in — to the time they go sit down? It just doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
Mike Graham who was dining Friday on Park Ave. agrees with Nucci. “In New York data doesn’t show it’s done anything other than keep your face warm in the winter,” he says.
But others out Friday, like Tom Mechler, say if anything — it’s time to keep the masks on. “We’re seeing a surge like we’ve never seen before, and it’s a simple thing to do. You put on a mask for a couple of minutes, you help save other people,” he says.
The governor says this mask mandate policy is due to be reviewed every two weeks.