NY COVID numbers falling, but mask mandate still in place for schools
syracuse.com February 24, 2022
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VALHALLA, N.Y. — Two weeks after New York ended its indoor mask mandate for businesses, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have continued to fall.
“We’ve seen a continuous downward trend,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said today during a press conference in Valhalla in Westchester County. “We are emerging from this.”
New cases are now dipping under 3,000 a day after peaking at an all-time high of over 90,000 at one point in early January. Similarly low numbers of new cases have not been seen since the fall.
A total of 2,274 people are in hospitals with COVID. That’s the lowest total since November and a drop from more than 12,000 at times in January.
New deaths are also falling. At least 31 people in New York died due to COVID yesterday, down from almost 200 at one point in January.
Deaths and hospitalizations have never returned to the heights seen during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, largely due to improved treatments and the COVID vaccines.
It’s also likely cases would have spiked even higher during the most recent surge without the shots.
“We’re going to continue promoting vaccinations,” Hochul said. “This has always been our key to come out of this pandemic.”
Hochul noted that the state’s COVID numbers have not spiked since she announced the end of the indoor mask mandate for businesses two weeks ago. The state began requiring masks for businesses in December, just as the more contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus began to take hold in New York.
Businesses could forgo the mask rule if they obtained proof of vaccination from all customers and employees.
The numbers have improved enough that all hospitals in New York can now restart elective surgeries, Hochul said. Elective surgeries, which include procedures like knee and hip replacements and many others, had been paused at certain hospitals to free up bed space.
All three of Syracuse’s major hospitals were allowed to restart elective surgeries earlier this month.
Although she lifted the business mask mandate, Hochul kept the state’s mask rule in place for schools. She said at the time she planned to review the school mask mandate in early March after assessing the effects of winter break travel and activities.
Most schools in New York are closed for break this week.
Hochul said today her timeline remains the same. She said she expects to have announcements after the break.
A poll earlier this week from the Siena College Research Institute found most New Yorkers, including a majority in Upstate New York agree with her approach to the school mask rule.
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