By Sumaiya Nasir and Alexis Johns | February 10, 2022
Photo credit: Creative Commons
The University at Albany announced that the mask mandate will remain in effect in a notice sent to students on Wednesday.
“While all the COVID-19 trends on and off campus are headed in the right direction, our semester is still less than three weeks old,” said Kevin Wilcox, the Campus COVID-19 Safety Officer. “As such, we need at least another couple of weeks’ worth of COVID-19 data from our own community before deciding the future of UAlbany’s campus mask policy.”
The number of positive students and faculty tested on campus within the last fourteen days is at 158, a drastic decrease from Jan. 14, which was at 737. Albany County’s overall seven-day average infection rate is at 9%, a troubling number for health officials, while New York State’s is at 4.6%.
The ASP attempted to reach out to the university press office for comment, but were unable to get in touch.
In early December, New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul implemented a mask mandate in response to a surge of COVID-19 cases from the Omicron variant. The policy she put into place was meant to last until Jan. 15, but was extended until Feb. 1.
On Jan. 25, the New York State Supreme Court in Nassau County deemed that the statewide mask mandate Hochul had put into effect was unconstitutional and unenforceable.
State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Rademaker determined that the mandate had been improperly issued by invoking Public Health Law Statutes. Justice Rademaker made it clear that his ruling had not questioned the effectiveness of masks and the safety of NYS, but instead put into question whether the rules were properly enacted and if they could be enforced.
On Jan. 25 a Decision and Order was signed by State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Rademaker, deeming the ruling unconstitutional.
Upon expiration of the New York State Mask Mandate, businesses, retail shops, restaurants, malls, and workplaces are no longer required to enforce the wearing of a mask or proof of vaccination, the only exception being if businesses are still required to under local rules. An entirely separate mask mandate for schools still remains in effect until Feb. 21, which is when it expires. State health officials said they will renew this regulation, keeping the mask mandate for schools in effect.