The lifting of another COVID-19 mandate is set to begin in two weeks.
“If the numbers continue to show a low level of risk, masks will be optional for 2- to 4-year-old students in schools and in day cares,” Mayor Eric Adams said Tuesday.
The way Adams describes it, it’s the newest layer of COVID-19 restrictions being peeled back as his administration calibrates risk.
“We can’t go by the noise. We have to go by the science,” Adams said. “We have to go by the safety of our children.”
But is it a matter of political science, too?
The BA.2 subvariant is pushing COVID-19 case numbers up.
And when Adams announced the rollback of the mask mandate for children 5 and older less than three weeks ago, he was asked why he’s not doing the same for toddlers and preschoolers.
“The science states that that age group cannot be vaccinated and they have, among children, they’re some of the highest hospitalization rates,” Adams said then. “So we have to save our children.”
Additionally, the city’s new health commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, on Friday said, “I would love nothing more than to send my son to day care without a mask, but as a scientist and a doctor and an epidemiologist, I want to keep him safe, especially because he’s not eligible for a vaccine.”
Vasan reiterated Tuesday that BA.2 is not associated with severe illness and hospital admission numbers are low.
So what about the metric Adams cited for New Yorkers 4 and younger?
“Hospitalizations have consistently remained higher in this age group, compared to other age groups, pediatric age groups,” Vasan said. “They still remain higher, but they overall remain extremely low.”
Adams was also asked — considering risk is low — if he’ll stop requiring private businesses to seek proof of vaccination as a condition of employment.
The mandate is prohibiting some professional athletes, including Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving, from playing home games.
“Right now, we’re going to take some complaints, but when this is all said and done, people are going to realize this is a thoughtful administration and we got it right,” Adams said Tuesday. “And so baseball, basketball, businesses, all of those things, they’re going to have to wait until that layer comes.”
NY1 pressed the mayor on whether he’s even considering lifting the private employer vaccine mandate, especially after the health commissioner said last week it may be in place indefinitely.
“It does not mean I am or I am not,” he responded. “It means that they have to wait and find out what we’re going to do.”