Hochul should keep the mask on NY public transportation


MTA New York City Transit

Marc A. Hermaan | Flickr

Tatiana Brown

COVID-19’s dwindling relevancy is being reflected in the withdrawal of policies that were enforced to prevent the virus’ spread.

Earlier this month, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced New York State will no longer require riders to wear masks on public transportation.

Masks will now be optional for commuters, though encouraged. But with coronavirus subvariant cases rising, there’s a good chance Hochul is jumping the gun.

Her latest restriction rollback comes a few months after the MTA released statistics that indicated a noticeable dip in mask-wearing passengers. By April 2022, only 64% of passengers were wearing their masks correctly on the subway.

The data provided by the MTA likely compelled Hochul to give in to public pressure and repeal an increasingly ineffective mandate.

Though most commuters anticipated this decision, it could do more harm than good.

New York City has seen a major decline in COVID-19 cases, dropping from a record high of over 40,000 daily cases on Jan. 10 to under 2,000 exactly eight months later.

But the number of cases may rise again, especially with the growing number of variants popping up just before school starts.

Much like New York, Florida has seen a noticeable decline in cases since the pandemic’s start.

Recently, however, many Floridians have tested positive for a new COVID-19 subvariant nicknamed “centaurus.”

The new subvariant is more contagious and impervious to the COVID-19 vaccine, according to News Medical. The absence of a mask mandate in the state is likely contributing to the speed with which the subvariant is spreading.

The events unfolding in Florida should serve as a warning to New Yorkers.

The mask mandate was one of the last preventative measures enforced by the New York State government to keep COVID-19 at bay.

Yet a complete rollback of the mask mandate while the virus is still spreading might make the state lose all the progress it has made.