NYC Mayor Announces Plans to End Mask Mandate for Young Children

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
March 22, 2022 Updated: March 22, 2022

Children under 5 in New York City will not have to wear masks in schools and daycares starting on April 4, Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday.

“We want to see our babies’ faces,” Adams told reporters at City Hall in the borough of Manhattan.

The Democrat had kept the mandate in place for young children even as he recently rolled back masking requirements for other kids.

Children under 5 are the only population in America who cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine but are also among the least likely to contract symptomatic cases or severe cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. Additionally, vaccines have proven increasingly ineffective at preventing contraction or transmission of the virus.

Further, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have plunged across the United States in recent weeks after a peak in January driven by the Omicron virus variant.

The seven-day average of confirmed and probable cases hit 43,772 in the city on Jan. 4. It was at just 735 on March 18. The same average for hospitalizations was at 14, down from a peak of 1,020 in January.

The trajectory is positive but there is a chance the mask mandate will remain in place, Adams told reporters.

“If the numbers continue to show a low level of risk, masks will be optional, for 2 to 4 years old students in schools and in daycare,” he said. “If we have to pivot and shift and come back here in a week and say we’re going to do something different, we’re going to do that.”

The revised policy is slated to take effect on April 4, Adams said.

Health officials said they’re keeping tabs on an Omicron subvariant called BA.2, which emerging data indicate is more transmissible than Omicron but does not cause more severe disease.

“Right now, overall risk remains low, overall cases in children remain low, hospitalizations in children remain low, which is giving us comfort to make this decision at this point,” Dr. Ashwin Vasan, the new New York City health commissioner, said.

Some parents have become increasingly frustrated with the continued imposition of forced masking on children, asserting a lack of data to support masks as a mitigation measure during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially after New York state officials rolled back masking requirements for children on March 2.

On the other hand, some experts say the data on masks are sufficient to require them to help prevent COVID-19 cases.

Adams inherited mandates from his predecessor, Bill de Blasio, and has slowly rolled back most of them.

However, he’s keeping in place vaccine mandates for private sector and city workers.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.