Cuomo: No New Mask Mandate Yet, But Locals Should Follow Latest CDC Guidance

Despite the recent uptick in COVID cases across the state, as well as breakthrough cases among the fully vaccinated, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to remain mum on whether there will be a new statewide mask mandate.

In his Monday morning press conference, Cuomo did, however, suggest that local businesses should only admit vaccinated individuals. “If you say to people, if you don’t have a vaccine, you can’t get into [this establishment], then you’ll see a real incentive to get vaccinated,” said Cuomo. He suggested that businesses should do so by having would-be customers present their New York State Excelsior Pass as proof of vaccination. (It’s worth noting that, this previous Friday, August 30, Saratoga Springs music venue Caffè Lena did just that, requiring all audience members to prove their vaccination status before attending a pair of shows, and still one of the band members performing there that night later tested positive for COVID.)

Cuomo also went on to suggest that locals should follow the new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance, which says that even fully vaccinated people should wear masks while indoors. Per the CDC, this applies to anyone in Saratoga County, as the county has been deemed a “substantial” threat for community transmission with its 4.5 percent positivity rate, based on a seven-day rolling average. Of course, without a statewide mandate, it’s up to each individual to make the decision whether to wear a mask indoors, or the local governments to enforce a potential municipal-level mandate. “We’re not there [yet],” said Cuomo, referring to the whether the State would step in and sign a mask mandate law. “I don’t believe a mask policy is going to be enough. I think we’re going to have to talk about a vaccination policy.”

Cuomo did say that if local governments dragged their feet, the State would have to step in but didn’t give a timetable for when that might happen.

To that end, Cuomo referred to the fact that federal and state workers now have to be fully vaccinated or be subjected to weekly testing. Beginning Labor Day, too, MTA and Port Authority employees in New York City will be among those included in that directive. Cuomo also suggested that school districts enact the same policy “today.”

Additionally, Cuomo suggested that frontline workers in non-state-run hospitals should have a mandatory vaccination policy (one is already in place for healthcare workers at state-run hospitals); and that if COVID rates don’t come down, mandatory vaccination policies should be put in place for all hospitals, nursing homes, schools and other public-facing institutions, regardless of whether they’re state-run or not.

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