Exclusive: As Covid-19 vaccination rates soar, the mask wars continue.
Rep. Andrew Garbarino, R-N.Y., penned a letter along with seven state legislators to Gov. Andrew Cuomo calling for a “swift resolution” to “counter-intuitive” mask guidance for New York kids in child care and at summer camp.In line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), New York State now strongly encourages but does not mandate that summer camps and childcare facilities require masks for children over 5 who have not been vaccinated. Children 2 to 5 do not need to wear a mask when on daycare or day camp property. Children over 2 will still be required by the state to wear a mask during transit. Children 12 and over are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine.
Kids are allowed to remove their mask when they are outside and find it difficult to breathe due to physical activity.
“Countless studies have shown that children experience lower infection and transmission rates than adults,” the letter reads. “If sound scientific data illustrating low transmission rates by children is not enough, numerous studies have shown that the transmission of COVID-19 in an outdoor setting is extremely low.”
In May, on the same day the state lifted its mask requirement for vaccinated people, the Health Department caught many parents and day care operators by surprise in announcing that children over the age of two must wear masks while at child care. Previous rules had allowed children younger than kindergarten age to go maskless.
But days later, the state reversed course and said children ages 2-5 would not be required to wear masks in child care. The state will now “encourage” but not require all children over 2 to wear a mask in child care and summer camp.
Still, the state requires capacity limits for children and campers to allow social distancing, and requires facilities and programs to collect Covid-19 vaccination status and documentation for all staff and children as well as implement mandatory daily health screenings for staff and visitors.
And despite the loosening of the rules for young children, the lawmakers argue that mask guidance has not changed since summer of 2020 even though the risk coronavirus poses has dropped significantly.
“Instead of implementing policies based on the science and data made available by our nation’s health experts, your office has decided to take up ill-conceived positions that do little to improve the wellness and safety of our state’s children. Knowing that the risk of outdoor infection is extremely low, it is counter-intuitive to put in place these outdated mask mandates. For these reasons, we urge you to reconsider these punitive measures,” the letter concludes.