Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a series of universal mask requirements she said will help protect New Yorkers against the highly contagious Delta variant and the surge in COVID-19 infections statewide.
Mask mandates for children in New York are being expanded to include children in child care and daycare centers as the number of new infections in kids rises across the country.
During her latest COVID briefing on Wednesday, Sept. 15 in Albany, Hochul announced the new mandates that will impact children still too young to be eligible for the vaccine.
Beginning on Sept. 15, child care, daycare centers, and other congregate day programs such as inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities and substance abuse services will be required to wear facial coverings.
"The scariest thing is the number of children contracting COVID and we don’t have vaccines available for 5 through 11, so we’re working with our parents and pediatricians and schools, but it might be a couple of months (until there is a potential vaccine),” Hochul said.
“We want to make sure that all congregate facilities are wearing masks so we can protect staff and anyone entering those buildings.”
As of Sept. 15, approximately 500,000 COVID-19 first doses have been administered to children in New York between the ages of 12 and 17, representing approximately 63 percent of that age group.
According to Hochul some mandates that were put in place on school-aged children has helped ramp up the number of vaccines being administered in younger New Yorkers. She also has not ruled out potentially mandating all children get vaccinated before returning to class.
“The mandates on kids, many more people did get vaccinated because they were coming back to school,” she said. “We can do better, and we’re keeping all options on the table.
“We’re watching the numbers to see if the number of children with infections kept rising in New York. Not just infections, but hospitalizations.”
Hochul acknowledged that the new mandates may be controversial, but reiterated that it’s what’s best to keep New Yorkers safe.
“It's a great area of sensitivity for parents, and we’re not looking trample on their rights as parents, but if this is what we have to do, that's what we’re going to do,” she said. “You’re exposed in schools, and around other people, and we’re not taking any steps to further that.”
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