It’s no surprise that face mask use is mandated once again when visiting or working in a store or venue in the state of New York. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said earlier this year if the COVID-19 infection rate kept climbing, the mandatory health protocol would be needed again.
Until Jan. 15, 2022, when the state will reassess, unless an establishment has a vaccine requirement, a mask must be worn by everyone 2 years old and up. The governor announced the statewide mandate that began Monday, Dec. 13, during a press conference last Friday. In addition, businesses that do not comply can face fines up
According to a recent article in The New York Times, the state’s infection rate last Saturday reflected a 51% jump over 14 days. With more than a 7% seven-day infection rate in Suffolk County, Hochul’s new mandate seems more than appropriate for our communities.
While some people still have been wearing masks either because they aren’t vaccinated or as an extra precaution, many have not since former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) lifted the initial mask mandate in the state.
The news can be frustrating for those who are vaccinated and even received the booster shot. However, Americans have known since the virus first reached our shores that it would take a while to figure out how to lessen transmission, especially since a virus can mutate. With no practice 100% effective — and some people resisting not only wearing masks but getting the vaccine — the virus has continued infecting people and new variants have developed, such as Delta and Omicron. While medical researchers are still trying to understand the virus, why not take extra precautions? Even if they are not guaranteed to stop transmission, they can lessen the chances of spreading the virus.
While face masks can be uncomfortable at times, the protective gear acts as a barrier to protect the wearer from droplets released in the air when someone coughs or sneezes. It also traps the wearer’s respiratory droplets. If someone is sick and they are wearing a mask, they are less likely to give someone else the virus.
When Cuomo issued mandatory business shutdowns in the early days of the pandemic, New Yorkers debated if this was the right approach. A good percentage of people thought it would be the demise of many businesses. Fortunately, many business owners were able to swim with the tide and come up with innovative solutions such as curbside service and selling merchandise on social media if they didn’t have a website.
Now more than ever, local businesses need our support as many of them cannot make it through another round of shutdowns. So, let’s mask up before stepping inside a favorite store, restaurant or theater so that we can keep these places not only open but give them a chance to thrive.
After all, this is the season of goodwill.