When will mask guidance change in New York? CDC announcement creates more questions than answers


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(WETM) – Vaccinated Americans are now allowed to take off their masks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but that has left states scrambling to rethink their policies.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing.” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.

In New York, the mask mandate remains in effect and the CDC’s announcement serves as “guidance” not an official rule for states to adopt. Now, the New York Department of Health is reviewing the data. Pennsylvania will follow the CDC guidelines and is lifting other restrictions at the end of the month.

“In New York, we have always relied on the facts and the science to guide us throughout the worst of this pandemic and in our successful reopening. We have received the newly revised guidance from the CDC regarding mask-wearing and social distancing for those with vaccinations and are reviewing them in consultation with Dr. Zucker and our partners and health experts in surrounding states.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D)

“We want to show them [citizens] the progress that can be made by getting vaccinated along with the health benefits for yourself and the community,” Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler added.

Many feel confused and frustrated locally becuase of the everchanging language from health organizations.

“I think if people want to wear it, wear it. If they don’t, they don’t,” Chanda Logan of Elmira said.

“I have absolutely no problem at all,” Robert Butcher of West Elmira continued.

Local governments do not have the authority to implement the new rules. After the Federal agencies decide the protocol, it goes to the state governments and then to the local municipalities. How soon will these changes be implemented in the Southern Tier? Officials are not sure.

“We have no authority to do so, as much as we would like to [implement the guidance]. We have not authority to do it,” Wheeler added.

Wheeler shared that New York State took more than a month to consider the new school guidelines, as other states began to move forward.

The enforcement of the new rules will be challenging. Leaders do not know the right way to check vaccination. New York has launched the NY Excelsior Pass, which serves as a virtual vaccination card.

“I think a lot of it comes down to personal responsibility and doing the right thing for protecting yourself and the community. I don’t envision small businesses being capable of asking everyone who walks through the door to show a vaccination card,” Wheeler said.

“First of all, we have to be socially responsible. We have to teach people how to probably one of you is also responsible,” Butcher continued.

The community remains divided though. Some believe masks should be worn, while others do not. Some even say it should be up to the individual.

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