By Duane Cruz, Staff Writer
New York State lifted its indoor mask mandate in public spaces, such as grocery stores and restaurants on Feb. 10. Schools, however, will continue to enforce mask wearing restrictions. The mandate was brought about on Dec. 10, when there had been a great increase in hospitalization numbers due to the omicron variant.
“The Omicron variant spreads more easily than the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the Delta variant. . . [its] generally causes less severe disease than prior variants. Preliminary data suggest that Omicron may cause a more mild disease,” the Center for Disease Control (CDC) included in a public website forum.
Even though the new strain seems to be more infectious than its predecessors, New York has been riding a downslope in COVID-19 hospitalizations. According to the CDC, Covid hospitalizations state-wide are down 31.2 percent in January.
New York hospitalization cases are steadily falling, and Gov. of Nassau county, Kathy Hochul, plans to do everything in her power to keep it that way. Hochul, along with Health Commissioner Bassett, moved to instate a mandate where all businesses without mandatory vaccination policies to require all workers, customers and guests to wear masks in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I’m fine the way [restrictions are] right now, I know a lot of people think we should decrease restrictions,” forensic science freshman Alexa Sparita said. “But maybe if we decrease it, it goes back up so I don’t know. I might still wear it if we loosen restrictions a little bit just because I feel more comfortable with it. In a case like this the [state] is supposed to protect us and make the decisions that we can’t make.”
In wake of the mandate, backlash from the Nassau county Supreme Court has temporarily upended the mandate as the Nov. 24 ruling was thrown out by Court Justice Thomas Rademaker.
“While the intentions of Commissioner Bassett and Gov. Hochul appear to be well aimed squarely at doing what they believe is right to protect the citizens of New York State . . . [the] law that was promulgated and enacted unlawfully by an Executive branch state agency, and therefore void and unenforceable as a matter of law,” a New York Post article said.
As Hochul awaits the appeal hearing, the Appellate Division has ruled the mandate to stay in effect in the days leading up to the trial. Despite the governor’s concerns, many parents have risen up against the governor’s mandate. On Jan. 24, Micheal Demetriou and 13 other parents filed a case against Basset’s mandate that would change requiring mask coverings within certain settings, as opposed to any indoor public establishment.
“These are my children and it is my choice whether I want them masked or vaccinated. It’s not the government’s choice to do that. They didn’t birth them. I did,” parent Tiara Salkind said in an interview with CBS.
On Jan. 25, parents gathered at a board meeting at Bethpage Union Free School District to voice their concerns about their rights as parents, as well as the rights of their children.
“[Parents] want what’s best for their kids but is it best for everyone, because you’re thinking of the teachers too, and there’s other people in the school, it’s not just the kids. . .I think they have to think about the bigger picture,” medical imaging freshman Olivia Nystrom said. “I think [kids] should have an opinion, I mean they’re people.”
Sparita agreed with Nystrom.
“I think the kids should get a voice in certain things,” she said. “They are the ones who have to do it, it’s not necessarily the parents. They should be able to voice their opinions and using that opinion make the best choice. I know some kids didn’t like virtual so last year the kids really spoke up.”
Some parents who are against requiring the vaccine purchased their children fake vaccine cards, as local clinic Wild Child Pediatric Healthcare had been selling fake vaccination cards under the table to children and parents alike.
“Hypothetically, someone can choose whether to go into a space where vaccines are required, and some people can also choose if they are only comfortable going into a space where vaccines are required. So lets say someone who’s vaccinated and wants to go out to eat, so they choose a place that requires vaccinations. If someone there has a fake vaccination card, it’s not fair to them,” said mental health counseling graduate student Lauren Goldsamt. “They can’t actually make that choice.”
In a scheme that made the pediatric doctors an estimate of 1.5 million dollars, Clinic owner Owner Julie DuVuono and employee Marissa Uraro were both charged with felony forgery 2nd Degree, with DeVuono also being charged with offering a false instrument for filing 1st degree.
Active school board meeting attendee Teresa Helfrich stated “We will restore our parental rights. I will die on my hill first before I relinquish my rights to my kid. I don’t think you understand the lengths some of us are willing to go to protect our children, but you’re going to find out.”(News 12 Long Island