Counties “must follow state law” on masks


Governor Kathy Hochul firmly maintained her Covid-19 mask tenure on Friday, adding that counties did not have the power to override state law, a day after Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, established his own decrees defying mask requirements.

Specifically, Blakeman signed an order stating that school boards could decide whether or not their district requires the mask to be worn. The ordinance violates New York State’s Public Health Act 206, which requires counties to enforce masking regulations in schools and other places.

“Those who underestimate me do so at their peril, including the Nassau County executive,” Hochul replied to a question from reporters during his Covid-19 briefing on Friday. “I have New York State law behind me, and I will always exercise my authority and obligation to protect the health of the people of this state … Municipalities, like counties, are creatures of the state. . They must obey state law.

Hochul added that schools are regulated by the state’s Department of Education, whose commissioner, Betty A. Rosa, released a statement on Thursday strongly supporting the mandate of the mask in schools and declaring that counties must enforce this law.

The governor also noted that the state’s education department has “extra leverage in that it funds all school districts. Therefore, I am convinced that our demands will be maintained ”.

“Teachers are on our side, parents on our side and those who choose to challenge this will understand that there are consequences, fines and funding stoppages,” Hochul said.

Nassau County state lawmakers have also voiced opposition to Blakeman’s mask order. In a joint statement, State Senators Todd Kaminsky, Anna Kaplan, Kevin Thomas, Jim Gaughran and John Brooks, and Assembly Members Michaelle Solages, Chuck Lavine, Judy Griffin, Taylor Darling and Gina Sillitti expressed their gratitude for the mask mandate to help keep schools a safe place for students.

“In the past two years, 3,435 of our friends, neighbors and relatives in Nassau County have died from Covid-19,” the statement said. “At this point in the pandemic, as pediatric hospitalizations rise to dangerous levels, it would be the height of irresponsibility to ignore Governor Hochul’s vital efforts to protect public health.

“We are confident that the Nassau County school districts will continue to act responsibly in the coming days, as they have had no contribution to the actions of the county executive,” the statement continued. “For the sake of our children, teachers and school staff, the Blakeman County executive must immediately reverse its irresponsible and clearly illegal decree.

During the Covid briefing, New York State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett revealed that 339 pediatric patients had been admitted to New York hospitals for Covid-19 between December 26 and January 1, and most of them were not vaccinated.

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