Hochul Promises Mask Mandate for New York State Schools
(Bloomberg) -- New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Tuesday she would institute a mask mandate for students at schools in the state and require staff to be vaccinated against Covid or tested weekly.
Hochul, in her first address after being sworn in at midnight, said she would make her first priority the safety of New Yorkers, especially children.
“None of us want a rerun of last year’s horrors with Covid-19, therefore we will take proactive steps to prevent that from happening,” she said.
Hochul said she plans to require vaccinations for all school personnel with the option to test out weekly, as well as universal mask-wearing for anyone who enters a school. She said that later this week she will release “concise and consistent” policies for schools.
The 62-year-old Democrat also said she would issue updated guidelines for expedite rental aid to New Yorkers, and work to reform ethics in Albany -- a frequent pledge of governors over the years.
Hochul rose to the position after serving as lieutenant governor to Andrew Cuomo for six years, before accusations of sexual harassment ended his term. Cuomo announced he would be resigning Aug. 11, effective two weeks from that day, after a damning report by Attorney General Letitia James pushed the state Assembly, which continues a probe into Cuomo’s conduct, to threaten impeachment. Hochul will serve out the remainder of his term through December 2022 and has already said she plans to run for re-election.
Hochul has promised to be a collaborative leader, a departure from her predecessor, and has already had some high profile calls. She said she discussed the prospect of booster shots last week with Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor. After her swearing-in, she spoke to President Joe Biden. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday said the president would like her to come visit the White House to discuss infrastructure.
But Hochul’s first job, she said Tuesday, is to ensure New Yorkers are protected against the pandemic.
“With the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine yesterday, New Yorkers can expect new vaccine requirements, and more on that soon,” she said, adding the state will prepare for the distribution of Covid-19 booster shots “quickly and reliably.”
“I’m prepared to do whatever’s necessary -- including reopening mass vaccination sites -- so a booster is available for all New Yorkers who meet that timetable.”
Hochul met with New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie after her swearing-in Tuesday morning and the three discussed Covid-19 mandates as well as how to quickly distribute aid to New Yorkers who might be evicted when the federal moratorium ends.
“I am not at all satisfied with the pace of this Covid relief getting out the door,” Hochul said. “I want the money out now. I want it out with no more excuses and delays.”
Hochul said she Stewart-Cousins and Heastie will soon launch a new target campaign to reach more New Yorkers in need of rent relief. More staff is being hired to process applications and Hochul said she will soon appoint a team to “identify any barriers that remain.”
“New Yorkers should know, if you apply and qualify for this money, you will be protected from eviction for a solid year,” Hochul said before re-emphasizing the point.
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