New York is dropping its strict indoor mask mandate as the surge in COVID-19 cases as cases and hospitalizations continue to fall in all regions, Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul said Wednesday.
Hochul doesn’t plan to renew the masking health measure which will expire on Thursday.
“Positivity rates down and hospitalizations are down, cases per 100,000 (people) are down and new admissions are down,” Hochul said at a press conference Wednesday. “So New Yorkers, this is what we’ve waited for, tremendous progress after two long years.
“We’re not done. But this is trending in a very, very good direction, and that is why we are now approaching a new phase in this pandemic,” she said.
Hochul said state officials also have not yet decided on whether to lift the mask mandate in K-12 schools.
In Virginia, Democrats also changed their tune on mandatory masking just days after shaming Gov. Glenn Youngkin for not wearing a mask in a grocery store and supporting Northern Virginia’s fight to keep universal school masking in place.
Ten of the 21 Democrats in Virginia’s state Senate voted for an amendment to an education bill that would end school mask mandates, according to The Washington Post.
The move comes amid a national shift in Democrats’ stance on mandatory masking. The amendment passed 29-9 in the Democrat-controlled state Senate on Tuesday.
Virginia’s state Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw was among those who voted to end school mask mandates.
Days earlier, Saslaw cheered Northern Virginia school districts’ universal masking requirement which defied an executive order banning mask mandates. Saslaw cited an incident in which a woman yelled at Youngkin for not wearing a mask in a grocery store in Alexandria, where there is no mask mandate in place, calling the heckler “brave.”
“A win for common sense and science. As the brave checkout clerk said yesterday in Alexandria…read the room, @GovernorVA!” Saslaw tweeted on Feb. 4.
Democratic state Sen. Chap Petersen proposed the amendment to allow parents to choose whether their children should wear masks after vocally opposing Youngkin’s executive order banning school mask mandates a month earlier, the Post reported. “We needed to solve this ourselves,” he reportedly said. “I don’t like executive orders.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said earlier this week that students and school employees would no longer need to wear face coverings.