Andrew Cuomo Caves To GOP’s Demands After Backlash

( New York still hasn’t fully opened its state, making it one of the last in the nation to have COVID-related restrictions on everyday life in place.

On Monday, though, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo said most of the state’s restrictions would be lifted once 70% of people in the state receive a first dose of one of the vaccines. Even when that happens, though, New York will keep its indoor mask mandate for all schools in place.

Cuomo encouraged people to get vaccinated on Monday when he sent a tweet that said New York is only 1.4% away from that goal.

Still, Cuomo’s reluctance to remove the indoor mask mandate for schools goes against what his own health commissioner said just last week.

Dr. Howard Zucker, New York’s health commissioner, sent a letter to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying New York would lift that mask mandate if the CDC didn’t object. The mandate he was referring to applies to both students and adults who are in school or at camp.

In the letter, Zucker reportedly wrote:

“As we continue to work to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and balance reopening with safety, New York State strives for consistency across and between settings with similar risk levels and populations.

“The current CDC guidance for K-12 schools recommends a requirement for ‘consistent and correct use of well-fitting face masks with proper filtration by all students, teachers and staff.’ There is no distinction between mask wearing for indoor versus outdoor activities (except for a vague reference to sports) and it does not address vaccinated individuals.”

Education officials at the state level in New York said they would keep their current policies regarding mask usage in place through at least June 7. But, Cuomo said that would be extended, since the CDC isn’t likely to update its mask guidance for several more weeks yet.

Until that happens, New York would allow schools to lift the mask mandate for outdoor activities, regardless of whether someone was vaccinated or not. Those protocols will also apply throughout the state, Cuomo said.

As Cuomo explained in a tweet:

NEW: NYS schools will no longer be mandated to require that students wear masks outdoors. The individual decisions will be up to local school districts.”

In explaining this decision, Cuomo told reporters:

“The numbers show that the risk of transmission by children is extremely low, especially in this state, which has an extremely low positivity rate. We spoke with the CDC, and since they’re not going to change their guidance for several weeks in New York State, we’re going to modify the CDC guidance and allow schools to choose no mask outside for children. We’ll leave that up to the local school district, and we spoke to the CDC, which has no objection.”

Cuomo also said the decisions he makes are “rational and based on the science and the data.”