A statewide mask mandate begins today for most indoor activity.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced Friday that the new mandate will require anyone over the age of two to wear a mask covering their face and nose at all times while in an indoor public space. Businesses and venues that choose to impose a vaccine mandate would not be required to also mandate masks.
Hochul said the determination is based on the State’s weekly seven-day case rate as well as increasing hospitalizations. This measure is effective today until January 15, 2022. She said the State will then re-evaluate based on current conditions.
Hochul said, “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.”
The new mask mandate is being implemented through the state Department of Health and has the support of Acting Health Commissioner Mary Bassett.
Bassett said in a statement, “Getting vaccinated protects you, and wearing a mask is how we will better protect each other, Both vaccination and mask-wearing are needed to slow this COVID-19 winter surge.”
County Executive PJ Wendel and Public Health Director Christine Schuyler, reacted to the new mask mandate in a joint statement, saying “Chautauqua County has continually recommended that people wear masks indoors, especially when social distancing is not possible, as part of a multi-layered COVID-19 mitigation strategy. We have felt that a mandate was not the best approach to engage our residents nor is the enforcement of such a mandate the best use of our resources. In addition to vaccination, we strongly recommend masking, frequent hand washing, social distancing, and staying home when ill.”
State Senator George Borrello said in a statement that a mask mandate isn’t the solution, “As before, this mandate will end up being a burden to businesses who will have to police mask-wearing in their establishments, creating the potentially volatile conflicts between patrons and workers that became fodder for news reports and internet videos over the past two years.”
The Chautauqua County Health Department will be conducting free Rapid COVID-19 testing at the South County Office Building at 110 East Fourth Street today from 4pm to 8pm; 10am to 8pm Tuesday, and 10am to 8pm Wednesday. This is in addition to the rapid testing already being done daily in partnership with BOCES for school staff and students.
To pre-register, go to https://chqgov.com/public-health/covid-19-testing-sites.
The Health Department is also holding a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic from 10am to 2pm today at Jamestown Community College. Pre-registration is required and can also be done at https://chqgov.com/public-health/covid-19-vaccination-clinics.