Will New York’s new vaccine and mask mandates get challenged in court?

Will New York’s new vaccine and mask mandates get challenged in court?


A flurry of COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates in New York recently has ignited a heated legal debate, and at least one lawsuit, challenging the government’s authority to impose rules to protect public health.

The latest move involved a state Department of Health council on Friday issuing an emergency regulation granting Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker broad powers to require people ages 2 and above to wear masks in select settings.

Zucker promptly issued an indoor mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status, for public and private schools, as well as nursing homes, health-care settings and public transit, state records show.

Masks are also now required indoors under many circumstances at adult care homes, correctional facilities, detention centers and homeless shelters, according to the new order issued Friday.

John Lanave, Clarkstown Schools Assistant Supervisor of Business, asks unmasked attendees to leave during a Clarkstown School Board meeting at Clarkstown South in West Nyack Aug. 12, 2021.

Amid the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant surge, Zucker cited a tenfold increase in cases in New York since July as the primary reason for resuming select mask mandates, which were previously dropped when the pandemic-related state of emergency in New York was declared over in late June, state records show.

“Multiple real-world studies” have also shown masks can reduce the virus’s spread during outbreaks, Zucker added, citing U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports on the roughly 70% reductions in cases when mask wearing was deployed in a U.S. Navy ship and various settings in Thailand and China.  


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Sasha Terry