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State health panel approves keeping school mask mandate in place

State health panel approves keeping school mask mandate in
place 1

Mandatory masks should continue to be used in schools, health care facilities, jails, homeless shelters, buses and other places, a state health panel decided Thursday.

The state Department of Health’s Public Health and Health Planning Council approved readopting the emergency regulation on face coverings for COVID-19 prevention in a morning meeting.

The initial emergency regulation, approved by the same panel in July and authorized by the state Commissioner of Health in August, was set to expire Nov. 24.

The panel on Thursday “unanimously approved masking in health care settings, adult care facilities regulated by the department, school settings, correctional facilities and detention centers, homeless shelters, public transportation conveyances and transportation hubs.”

The council also approved reauthorizing the emergency regulation requiring that personnel of hospitals, nursing homes, diagnostic and treatment centers, hospices, home care service agencies and adult care facilities be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The mandate “has worked and has increased the percentage of health care workers who are vaccinated against COVID-19,” health officials said at the meeting.

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Health officials noted that COVID-19 cases statewide have risen tenfold since late June.

Some parents have objected to the masks, saying they make learning difficult for their children. Others support it, saying the face coverings help keep people safe and prevent spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said another mandate — for city workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 — is working, as the number of employees inoculated continues to rise.

He also called on officials throughout the country to issue a similar mandate, saying it will help to end the pandemic.

A total of 94% of city employees have now received the shots, he said Thursday in a news briefing. Since an Oct. 20 deadline to get vaccinated, the number of NYPD workers inoculated has risen from 70% to 87%, de Blasio said.

The figures also have increased from 58% to 88% in the FDNY, from 61% to 92% among EMS workers, and from 62% to 87% among sanitation workers.

“Mandates work,” de Blasio declared. “They get people vaccinated. They keep everyone healthy.”

He added that he was “calling upon all governors, mayors, CEOs … around the country, please, everyone, get those mandates in place to help us defeat COVID once and for all. It’s the right thing to do and it works. We have proof positive right here.”

DeBlasio faced fierce opposition to the vaccine mandate from some city workers, including police and firefighters. But in the end, the mayor said, the mandates got most of the workers vaccinated.

Check back for more on this developing story.

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