It remains too soon to determine if New York's indoor mask rule will be lifted or extended when it expires on Feb. 1, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday said, adding she wants the restrictions put in place due to the pandemic to remain "short term" solutions to the crisis.
"I can't stand here today because I don't have the knowledge what it's going to look like Feb. 1," she said at a briefing on the pandemic. "We're going to keep monitoring the situation to make sure there's not a trend that changes quickly."
The indoor mask rule is set to expire on Feb. 1, and was previously extended by two weeks amid a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations during the rapid spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19. About 42% of the 12,000 COVID hospitalizations in the state currently are due to "incidental" cases of COVID being found after a patient is admitted for other reasons.
New York has seen the rate of new COVID-19 cases slowing in the last week, leading Hochul to say on Friday it's possible the state turned the corner on the latest wave of the virus. But the pandemic has been extraordinarily difficult for public health officials to predict over the last two years.
"We're going to keep monitoring the situation to make sure there's not a trend that changes quickly," Hochul said.
New York Department of Health Commissioner Mary Bassett in a brief interview, meanwhile, recommended New Yorkers wear well-fitting surgical-type masks and ditch masks made out of cloth except as an asthetic choice.
"No one should be wearing a cloth masks anymore except as an accessory," Bassett said. "It's much better to wear a high-grade mask."
"Of course, the most important thing about a mask is you wear it," she added.