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Mandate Masks NY condemns New York State’s decision to let the mask mandate expire for healthcare settings
NEW YORK, February 10, 2023—Mandate Masks NY condemns New York State’s decision to let the mask mandate for healthcare settings expire on February 12, 2023. This decision puts all New Yorkers at risk, particularly people who are at higher risk and the most vulnerable. Ending the mask mandate in healthcare settings in the midst of continuing high COVID-19 transmission abandons the state’s responsibility for public health and endangers people’s lives.
Mandate Masks NY urges New York State to prioritize patients, healthcare workers, public health, and equity over politics and reverse its decision and renew the mask mandate for healthcare settings.
Everyone has a right to access medical care safely. This decision will lead to more unsafe medical settings and more people postponing needed medical care, particularly people who are at higher risk such as those who are immunocompromised, disabled, or elderly. It is unacceptable to make medical care inaccessible, especially for the most vulnerable amongst us. We are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are still losing people to COVID-19 every day and many New Yorkers are struggling with Long COVID.
Studies show that masks are a critical tool to reduce COVID-19 transmission, and they are most effective when everyone wears one. The CDC recommends masks for everyone in healthcare settings when COVID-19 Community Transmission is high. New York State still has high COVID-19 Community Transmission in most of the state. New York State should follow CDC guidelines and continue its mask requirements for healthcare settings.
It is unacceptable that the decision to not renew the mask mandate for health care settings was made with only three days' notice to the public, and without any input from community members, patients, and the people most impacted. There was no time for people to rush to get medical care while it was still safer, and no chance to reschedule appointments.
The decision will leave it up to individual hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices to track COVID-19 Community Transmission and CDC guidance to decide for themselves whether to require masks. This responsibility creates an extra burden for already overworked healthcare personnel, which will result in many places not keeping up to date and allowing safety standards to slide. An advisory to follow CDC guidelines is not enough. This risk is exactly why we still need state public health rules like mask mandates in medical settings.
TAKE ACTION: Please send a letter to the Governor, Health Commissioner, and your NYS Senator and Assemblymember using our tool on Action Network here. And please share!