New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday that masks will be required in all indoor public places unless businesses implement vaccine requirements.
Hochul said the decision was based the on state's weekly seven-day case rate and increasing hospitalizations. The state will revaluate the mask mandate that will apply to both patrons and staff and will be in effect from Dec. 13 to Jan. 15.
"As governor, my two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy," Hochul said in a news release. "The temporary measures I am taking today will help accomplish this through the holiday season."
New York has recorded more than 68,000 positive tests for the virus in the seven-day period that ended Dec. 8. According to the Associated Press, the cases count is the most in any seven-day stretch since the start of February.
"I have warned for weeks that additional steps could be necessary, and now we are at that point based upon three metrics: Increasing cases, reduced hospital capacity, and insufficient vaccination rates in certain areas," Hochul said.
A list from the National Academy for State Health Policy shows several states have mask mandates in place as of Nov. 19: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, and Connecticut. The District of Columbia was also listed on the nationwide map.
Hochul declared a disaster emergency on Nov. 26 due to coronavirus concerns over the Omicron variant, warning residents: "It's coming."
Hochul's state of emergency order intends to increase hospital capacity in New York and will last until at least until Jan. 15, when it will be reassessed.
The Democrat governor also took the drastic step of terminating any state health care workers who refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Criticism of the new measure was swift, with New Yorkers taking to Twitter to voice their frustration with a governor that no one elected, who is forcing her will on the population without consulting the people's representatives.
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo was given emergency powers early in the pandemic that were later rescinded by the New York State Legislature in March. When Hochul took over after Cuomo resigned amid multiple scandals in August, her powers were more limited. This order has not gone through the legislative process.
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