More than a dozen labor organizations and progressive groups on Thursday urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reconsider the state's current guidance on mask-wearing for fully vaccinated people indoors over concerns it could put vulnerable workers at risk.
The groups in a letter to Cuomo and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker pointed to the possibility of unvaccinated people going maskless indoors and spreading the coronavirus as a result.
"We understand that New Yorkers are eager for things to return to normal," the groups wrote in the letter. "We all are, especially our essential worker members who have suffered the worst traumas of this pandemic. Unfortunately, we have not reached that point yet."
The letter comes a week after New York backed the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that largely ends mask wearing for fully vaccinated people in most settings, save for mass transit or hospitals. At the same time, New York stripped many pandemic-related guidelines for public gatherings and businesses.
The concern for groups that signed onto the letter, including Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, Make the Road New York, Legal Aid Society of New York among them, is vulnerable workers could be exposed to the virus by unvaccinated, unmasked people.
New York has seen a sharp decline in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases as more people become fully vaccinated. Cuomo on Thursday announced 1,055 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the last day, a 0.65% positive rate. There are 1,223 people who have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 in New York.
At the moment, 44.6% of New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.
"In communities of color those numbers are even lower," the groups wrote. "Now is not the time to throw away all that we have learned from this pandemic and put workers' lives at risk. Continuing to wear masks indoors in order to prevent infections and save lives is simply common sense."