"We all want this to be over," New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Wednesday as she announced a mask mandate for child care centers, residential health programs, and other state-run health facilities as well as a vaccination initiative that will enable emergency medical technicians to administer Covid-19 shots.
"Everybody's tired of it. It's been a long, long, long haul, and great news is we have the power to end this," Governor Hochul said.
She said that as many as 50,000 basic E.M.T.s, who are trained to provide advanced life support, control bleeding, stabilize injuries, perform CPR, and provide emergency childbirth assistance, among other skills, will be critical providers in efforts to boost vaccination rates across the state.
"The vaccine works, but only if we take it, and that is why we are using creative incentives for people who still need to get their shot and putting in place the necessary offense to beat back the virus once more," Governor Hochul said.
Children over the age of 2, along with all staff and visitors, who are medically able to tolerate masks will be required to wear them indoors at child care centers that are state-licensed and regulated. The mandate also applies to state-licensed inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities, residential and day programs, substance abuse programs, congregate foster care programs, juvenile detention programs, juvenile residential facilities, and shelters for runaway and homeless youth and domestic violence victims.
The move aligns New York State's policies with the most recent guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control, which recommended in July that everyone ages 2 and up who is not vaccinated should wear masks indoors. It also provides more consistency between child care centers and schools, which often share facilities and which are often attended by children who are part of the same family.
These requirements are "a key part of our broader strategy for slowing the spread of the virus, reopening our economy safely, and protecting vulnerable members of our population," Governor Hochul said. "For children under 12 who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, masks are the best line of defense against Covid-19 infection. This new mask requirement ensures that children in our child care facilities receive the same protection as children in our schools."
As part of another initiative, called #VaxToSchool, youth who get their first vaccine dose at a state-run vaccine site for students will be eligible for one of 125 coveted tickets to the Governor's Ball on Randall's Island between Sept. 24 and 26, which will feature performances by Billie Eilish, Post Malone, and numerous other popular music acts. The only two #VaxToSchool sites, however, are in Queens and the Bronx.