Governor Kathy Hochul said New York City’s transit COVID mask mandate remains in effect for the “short term,” but did not specify a timeline on Wednesday as she faced questions after a A federal judge’s decision overturned the nationwide rule earlier this week.
Hochul pointed out that it was a federal judge’s reversal of the proceeding, not a change in perspective from federal health agencies overseeing the pandemic, that ended the nation’s travel mask mandate. The CDC still encourages mask wearing, especially in crowded settings where vaccination status cannot be determined.
In New York, which is dealing with another surge in COVID fueled by what may be the most contagious subvariants yet, as experts have said, face coverings are still the order of the day for public transport as far as Hochul is concerned.
However, she hopes it won’t be for long.
“If we hadn’t seen these two variants, I would suspect we might have said goodbye to masks in all settings,” Hochul said Wednesday, referring to the omicron BA.2.12.1 and BA.2.12 subvariants. . “But you know we’re watching for variants, they’re coming…and now we’re starting to see cases and hospitalizations going up.”
That’s why New Yorkers can expect the state to maintain its current mask plan, which Hochul says should only be in place for the “short term.”
“Let’s just be smart about it,” Hochul said, also acknowledging the psychological impact of longstanding mask mandates. “I think people feel better knowing they’re protected when they’re sitting close together on a bus or train.”
This comes as parts of the state find themselves with the highest COVID risk in America, based on the CDC’s community-based risk assessment, and as New York’s baseline viral rates , including the most serious lagging indicators, increase.
COVID hospitalizations have risen nearly 60% in the past month statewide, although Health Department data shows that more than half of New York City’s COVID patients who have been hospitalized have been admitted for reasons other than the respiratory virus.
Hochul says New York does not expect a slow rise and then another meteoric rise in COVID cases, as was the case with omicron’s initial spike in December and January. But “we don’t know at the moment what this little bump will look like”.
This, says Hochul, deserves some caution.
“We feel very comfortable,” the governor said regarding the state’s position on the pandemic. “Nothing has changed in the way we handle it, but we’re not losing sight of it.”
A number of transit agencies have made their own decisions following the federal mask decision. NJ Transit says face coverings are optional, while NYC taxis and the MTA, which is jointly run by the city and state, are holding their own for now.
Here’s where local transit agencies stand on mask requirements following the federal judge’s announcement that the CDC’s mask mandate was overturned.
A new poll finds a majority of Americans continue to support a mask requirement for people traveling by plane and other shared transportation, even in the wake of Monday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle.
In her 59-page decision released Monday, Mizelle in Tampa, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, said the term extension was beyond the authority of the federal agencies that implemented it. She also said the CDC failed to justify its recommendation to extend the rule and failed to establish appropriate rules in its process.
Mizelle argued that the only recourse was to overturn the rule entirely because it would be impossible to end it for the limited group that opposed the lawsuit.
The CDC originally extended the mandate for the mask, which was due to expire Monday, until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus which is now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the United States. United and New York.
Governor Kathy Hochul said New York City’s transit COVID mask mandate remains in effect for the “short term,” but did not specify a timeline on Wednesday as she faced questions after a A federal judge’s decision overturned the nationwide rule earlier this week. NBC New York’s Erica Byfield reports.
Monday’s judge’s decision rejects that, although local jurisdictions can opt for stricter measures if they wish. A number of agencies released updated plans in the wake of the announcement, and for those that haven’t (or states that are holding back the change), critics say lower numbers should shed some light. decision.
In the meantime, here’s where the tri-state transit agencies stand:
PORT AUTHORITY AIRPORTS AND BUSES
The Port Authority said it will follow local authority guidelines – meaning that from now on, masks are required at JFK, LaGuardia and Stewart airports, but NOT required at Newark Liberty or Teterboro.
Masks also remain mandatory at the Midtown Bus Station, GWB Bus Station, Oculus, and on the PATH.
Following the cancellation of the federal requirement to wear a mask, wearing a mask now depends on your mode of transport. Romney Smith reports.
The MTA, which oversees New York’s subway and bus system, as well as Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road, said mask requirements will continue to be enforced.
“The mask requirement on public transit in New York City remains in effect at this time pursuant to a March 2, 2022 decision of the New York State Department of Health,” said MTA Communications Director , Tim Minton, at News 4 New York.
The agency said earlier that it would continue to follow CDC guidelines.
After initially saying masks would continue to be mandatory on their trains, Amtrak later backtracked and said they would be optional for workers and travelers.
“Although passengers and Amtrak employees are no longer required to wear masks on trains or at stations, masks are welcome and remain an important preventative measure against COVID-19,” Amtrak said in a statement. a statement. “Anyone who needs or chooses to wear one is encouraged to do so.”
NJ Transit told NBC New York on Monday afternoon that they would continue to require masks on board their transportation — but on Tuesday morning Gov. Phil Murphy announced a change in plans.
The NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission, the city agency responsible for licensing and regulating New York’s Medallion (yellow) taxicabs, rental vehicles (community books, black cars, and luxury limos), vans and paratransit vehicles, announced Tuesday that masks are still mandatory in all of their vehicles.
UBER & LYFT (IN NYC)
Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft said on Tuesday that passengers and drivers are no longer required to wear masks.
However, TLC’s mask requirement remains in effect for all taxis and rental vehicles — which Uber and Lyft fall under. With that in mind, the TLC mask mandate (see NYC TAXIS section above) continues to apply to them in New York. Uber and Lyft state in some of their posts that masks may still be required in some jurisdictions, so although they have changed their own policy, they are still subject to state and local laws and regulations.
PATH will require masks, including on trains, in stations, and on platforms, except when those platforms are open air.
A federal judge in Florida has struck down the national mask mandate covering airplanes and other public transportation as exceeding the authority of US health officials in the coronavirus pandemic. Reporting by NBC New York’s Rana Novini.
The bus company said in a statement that it will continue “to follow federal guidelines requiring customers to wear face masks while in transit.”
Masks will not be required on ferries, buses or NY Waterway terminals. However, there is an exception:
- NY Waterway operates 2 Hudson Valley lines under contract with the MTA, which are subject to MTA rules. On these routes (Newburgh-Beacon and Haverstraw-Ossining), masks are still required by the MTA.
Wearing a mask is always mandatory on the NYC Ferry.