New York state has long had some of the country’s toughest COVID-19 rules, a tradition that has continued under Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul.
However, one of those rules ran into a legal roadblock this week after a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled on Monday that her mask mandate is illegal. WHEC reported that Judge Thomas Rademaker decided the governor lacked authority to unilaterally impose a mask mandate.
A promise to appeal
Hochul responded by issuing a statement pledging to appeal Rademaker’s decision, saying that her administration will be “pursuing every option” to fight it.
“My responsibility as Governor is to protect New Yorkers throughout this public health crisis, and these measures help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” Hochul insisted.
Meanwhile, WHEC noted that some local education officials have already made clear that the ruling will have no effect on school-based mandates.
They include Monroe County Council of School Superintendents President Bo Wright, who tweeted, “School leaders are aware of a ruling by a state judge on Long Island today that deemed the governor’s mask mandate unconstitutional.”
“This evening, NYSED announced that the mask mandate remains in effect in schools based on the state’s intent to appeal. More information to follow.”
“New Yorkers are fed up”
In contrast, Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt (NY) released a statement of his own which welcomed Rademaker’s ruling, saying, “Nearly two years ago, New York became the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Our state was shut down, our schools were closed, and our economy was decimated,” the Republican lawmaker continued.
“Nearly 700 days later, today’s ruling by a NYS Supreme Court Judge reinforces what my Republican colleagues and I have said from the beginning: it’s past time for Governor Hochul and Democrat One-Party Rule to end the mandates.”
“New Yorkers are fed up — and they are counting on us to return to a system of governance based on collaborative decision making, guidance, checks and balances,” Ortt concluded.
Last August, New York Magazine writer David Zweig pointed to a little-publicized CDC study of schools in Georgia which found that student mask mandates had little impact on COVID-19 transmission rates.