New York Mayor Eric Adams has said that the city will mandate that 2- to 4-year-old children must continue wearing masks after a judge issued an order in favor of his administration.
“Every decision we make is with our children’s health and safety in mind. Children between 2 and 4 should continue to wear their masks in school and daycare come Monday,” Adams, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter on April 1.
The announcement comes after State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio struck down the city’s mask order for young children earlier that day. However, an appellate court issued a stay in the lower court’s ruling, allowing the mask mandate to remain intact amid the appeals process.
Porzio said the mandate was “absurd” after it was lifted for children aged 5 and older and characterized it as “arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.” That ruling was handed down in response to a lawsuit from a group of parents who sued Adams and city agencies.
“Universal masking, therefore, presents one of the strongest, if not the strongest defense against COVID-19 for settings with children ages two to four,” New York attorneys stated in court records.
However, numerous studies have shown that young children have exceedingly low COVID-19 death and hospitalization rates compared with other age groups—even compared with older children.
“For these reasons, throughout the pandemic, both the City and New York State had more stringent rules in place for this setting,” the attorneys wrote.
Amid the appeals process, it isn’t clear how much longer New York, which has employed some of the strictest COVID-19 rules in the United States, will keep the mandate intact. Dr. Ashwin Vasan, the city’s health commissioner, said at an April 1 press conference that officials are “recommending to wait a little bit longer before making masks optional for this age group,” referring to young children.
Over the past several months, federal and state data have shown that hospitalizations, cases, and deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, have fallen dramatically. In response, other Democrat-led states and municipalities have dropped mask and vaccine mandates, while some Democrats have even voiced criticism about those rules.
Michael Chessa, an attorney who represents the group of parents suing Adams, said they were pleased when Porzio agreed with their arguments. However, they were disappointed when his ruling didn’t go into effect pending the appeals process, he told Gothamist.
“On Monday morning, when parents send their children to school, they won’t have that choice,” Chessa said, noting that the appellate court hasn’t set a date for arguments.