New YORK STATE Big question over mask enforcement

A big question on enforcement

Friday’s announcement by Gov. Kathy Hochul that a statewide mask mandate was going to begin Monday shouldn’t have surprised anyone.

Cases, and more importantly hospitalizations, are trending in the wrong direction. The health care system is overrun with COVID-19 cases right now, and requiring masks indoors — particularly in areas where people tend to be packed in tightly — makes some sense. It’s also good to see that the requirement comes with a 30-day limit as intended by legislation passed last year by the state Legislature.

We all know, however, that a mask mandate is only as good as the enforcement behind it, which is why we can understand that state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, and others say a mask mandate has questionable benefits.

Increasing vaccination rates in rural areas has unquestioned benefits. Something else Borrello said, in our opinion, would be helpful — an increase in free, pop-up COVID-19 testing sites.

We have already heard that testing availability is strained here, making ideas like testing children so they can stay in school a difficult proposition. Increasing the availability of testing could make just as much a difference in how rural counties handle COVID-19 as a mask mandate does.


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