By Michael T. Baldwin
An appeals judge restored New York’s mask mandate, a day after a judge in a lower court ruled that Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration lacked the constitutional authority to order people to wear face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a media call Wednesday, NY Congressman Tom Reed this morning encouraged the use of masks but also said he respected the right for people to choose.
“I respect people’s right to choose with regards to their health and the mask mandate is no different. However, I encourage people that wearing a mask will help (in my humble opinion). I think mandates are not generally the most effective tool. I’ll let the courts decide but generally, I do not support these mandates.”
The legal fight comes as the omicron wave that gripped New York state has been easing. The state averaged just under 22,000 new cases of the virus per day in the seven-day period that ended Monday, down from 74,600 per day during the wave’s peak in early January. Hospitalizations are dropping, too, declining 17% statewide in the past seven days.
Retail workers, school employees, and business owners across the state were once again confused by the ever changing New York State posture. As one local grocery store cashier explained, the only thing accomplished by the court rulings is to confuse the public and encourage non-compliance.
As of Monday the state required masks in all indoor settings, on Tuesday a state court announced that wearing masks was illegal and not enforceable, then today a state appellate court declared the mask mandate was legal.
As of this reporting, we can only speculate what the next day will bring.