ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The New York State Department of Health will allow a mask mandate for healthcare facilities to expire this weekend.

Acting Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald made the announcement Thursday during a meeting of the state’s Public Health & Health Planning Council. “I want to underscore the pandemic is not over — we are in a period of transition, however,” Dr. McDonald told the panel.

While the requirement was extended as recently as late 2022, Dr. McDonald noted a steady drop in COVID cases and deaths in recent months “allows us to shift from blanket mandates to an approach in which we provide people with the information and tools they need to protect themselves and their families and their organizations.”

After the state mandate ends on February 12, the acting commissioner said the NYSDOH will be asking healthcare facilities to follow the CDC guidelines and come up with their own plan for when masking may be required for staff or patients.

Dr. McDonald pulled his mask out of his pocket and told the panel his mask isn’t going anywhere while emphasizing the importance of ongoing vaccination and booster efforts.

President Biden recently declared the federal public health emergency would come to an end on May 11.

18 News is reaching out to local health facilities to get their reaction to the announcement. We’ll have much more on and 18 News throughout the day.