RENSSELAER COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin said that the county will not be enforcing the state’s mask or vaccination proof mandate. Governor Kathy Hochul announced the requirement last week. The mandate started on Monday, December 13.

County Exec. McLaughlin’s original response:

“This is the wrong direction for the state to be taking, especially given the innumerable orders, policy changes and directives already made during the past two years. This is an over-reach and it comes at a time when residents and businesses are already struggling,” said McLaughlin. “Residents are already taking common-sense precautions and businesses, organizations and other establishments have been going above and beyond to keep the public and customers safe. Over 80% of state residents have already been fully vaccinated. The county Health Department has been providing a seven-day-a-week, round-the-clock response to the pandemic for nearly two years. They are working on contact tracing, immunization clinics and many other duties and do not have the time or resources to deal with yet another state mandate. Rensselaer County will not utilize resources to enforce this new state mandate. If the state wants to enforce the mandate, the state will need to utilize state resources for those actions.”

Public Health Director Mary Fran Wachunas statement:

“We are impressed that many residents have already gotten fully vaccinated and are taking reasonable and common-sense steps to deal with the pandemic. Businesses and organizations are also working to keep the public safe and we appreciate the patience and cooperation of the public as we are dealing with the expected and seasonal increase in cases. Our Health Department is already dealing with an increase in contact tracing of cases, conducting three vaccination clinics each week and also handling the many other duties and responsibilities for our department. We simply do not have the staff to deal with the latest mandate by the state or enforcement of the mandate. We will remain focused on our current duties.”

Hochul said this week, counties that do not want to enforce the rule do not have to. McLaughlin sent another statement that addressed the new guidance from the governor.

“The Governor has recognized the mask mandate would be a mistake and a step backward and is right to not require counties to enforce the mandate. Residents have been patient and working to beat the pandemic with common sense and compassion for nearly two years. The state should partner with counties to focus on testing, vaccinations and other ways to improve immune systems and overall health to defeat COVID-19. There also needs to be a review on how to restore services at hospitals, health care facilities and nursing homes and help these facilities deal with the staffing crisis for the good of patients and families. The state should avoid the heavy-handed tactics of the previous administration and instead try to work together cooperatively, help residents stay healthy and help businesses finish strong in what has been a tough year,” said McLaughlin.