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Hochul announces state mask mandate expansion

Gov. Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul(WWNY)
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 12:31 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The state is expanding its mask mandate to day care centers and other state-regulated congregate settings.

In an announcement Wednesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul said masks will be required in day care and childcare centers, and state-regulated mental health facilities and substance abuse services.

Masks are already required in public transportation settings, nursing homes, homeless shelters, prisons, schools, and health care facilities.

“Starting today, we are going to require masks at childcare and day care centers,” Hochul said, “because if you’re watching the national news, the scariest announcements coming out every single morning are the number of children now contracting COVID.”

She says the mandate covers children 2 and up. A similar state mandate came under fire earlier this year because day care operators complained about how hard it is two keep masks on young children.

That mandate was rolled back within days. At the time, restrictions were beginning to ease elsewhere, and the day care mask mandate seemed to come out of the blue.

As for the other additions to the mandate, “we want to make sure people in our state congregate facilities, our mental health facilities, residential substance abuse facilities are all wearing their masks so we can protect staff and the individuals who enter those facilities.”

The governor also announced that the state will allow basic EMTs to administer COVID-19 vaccines, adding more than 2,000 fully trained vaccinators back into the state’s program. About 50,000 EMTs are eligible for training.

That’s part of the ramp-up to providing booster shots to people with compromised immune systems first, then to everyone else eight months after their second shot.

“So, we’re going to have a real spike,” she said. “We’re going to have a lot of people all of a sudden who are now eligible. I don’t want it to be a problem and I want to address it before it becomes a problem.”

She said the move comes following conversations with local officials who say they want the option for their local fire and rescue departments.

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