New York Governor Kathy Hochul will announce the end of the state’s mask mandate for most indoor public spaces on Wednesday, The New York Times reported, as the latest US Covid surge eases face-covering rules with many states joining the fold.
The newspaper, citing three individuals on the move, reported that the Democratic governor intended to give the mask mandate, which has been challenged in court, to expire rather than renew it.
It is unclear whether Hochul’s administration will renew or drop a separate mandatory masking rule in New York public schools that is due to lapse in two weeks.
Representatives for the governor did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Hochul called the general mask mandate temporary when it implemented it on December 31 because the Omicron version threatened to overwhelm health systems.
Officials in many other democratically led states – new Jersey, california, Connecticut, Delaware And Oregon – announced on Monday that they are lifting the mask mandate for schools and other public settings in the coming weeks.
In all those instances, officials cited a declining Omicron wave of Covid infections, hospitalizations and deaths that began sweeping the United States at the end of the 2021 holiday season.
But, he U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director, Dr. Rochelle Valenskytold Reuters on Tuesday that with cases still high across the country, “now is not the time” to drop mask mandates in schools and other public places.
The easing of masking rules signals a move by politicians to move pandemic-weary residents away from an emergency level and toward treating the virus as part of everyday life.
A New York state judge struck down Hochul’s mask mandate last month, ruling that it had overstepped his authority.
But an appeals court judge stayed that decision the next day, while the case remained under judicial review.