New York drops mask requirement on public transportation

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Gov. Kathy Hochul gets a COVID-19 booster shot. (Don Pollard / Office Of Gov. Kathy Hochul)

(WXXI) – New York state is dropping its mask requirement on public transportation, thanks in part to the availability of new booster shots targeting the most common strain of COVID-19.

That announcement was made Wednesday by Gov. Kathy Hochul during a news conference in New York City, when she also got her booster shot.

Hochul said that masks will be encouraged but not required on buses and trains. The governor emphasized people should still mask up on public transportation if they are more comfortable doing that.

“Let’s respect each other’s choices,” Hochul said. “What that means is, you choose not to have a mask, that is your personal decision. You’ll do your own personal risk assessment of who you’re exposed to, your own vulnerabilities where you work. You make your own determination. But do not judge your fellow passengers on what their choices are.”

Hochul also said that the state continues to make progress in terms of the COVID infection rate.

“We’ve been watching the numbers,” Hochul said. “You know, I’ve been talking about this for months now and saying we would get to this point when the numbers have stabilized. But also the advent of having this booster available, I think everyone should get this booster immediately; it starts taking effect and have that higher level of protection. So it’s based on a stabilizing of the numbers. We haven’t seen any spikes. And also people are getting back to work and they’re getting back to school.”

State Health Commissioner Doctor Mary Bassett said she is confident that heading into the winter, the state will be able to contain COVID.

Bassett said she realizes some people may be confused about the number of boosters and shots you are supposed to get.

“If you’re 12 and over and you’ve gotten your full primary course of vaccines, that’s the first and the second shot, you should get a booster; doesn’t matter how many boosters you’ve had before,” Bassett said. “If it’s been two months since your last shot, you should look into getting another booster.”

Bassett also noted that New York state continues to require masks in hospital and health care settings including nursing homes.

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