Mayor Adams ignores science and extends school mask mandates

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Mayor Adams and his new health commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, have decided to extend the city’s school mask mandate for children under 5. This makes no scientific sense and perpetuates the harms of masking preschoolers.

Dr. Vasan continues to recommend masks “for most of us” and thinks they’re necessary for children under 5, because this age group is not eligible for vaccination.

Yet Adams hasn’t reinstated the suspended mask requirements for schoolkids 5 and older, despite the fact only 28% of kids 5-11 and 58% of kids 12-17 are vaccinated.

The 0-4 age group is at minimal risk. It is 6% of the nation’s population but just 0.05% of COVID deaths. New York City’s cases and hospitalizations per 100,000 population for ages 0-4 have been among the lowest for any age group and at vanishingly low levels for weeks.
Keeping the mandate is inconsistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new metrics to guide COVID prevention measures. They measure COVID hospitalizations, the share of hospital beds occupied by patients admitted for the disease, and COVID cases to determine low, medium and high “community levels” of disease. Indoor masks are not recommended, even in schools, in low and medium counties.

Mask mandate protest
Protestors demonstrating against mask mandates for toddlers gather near City Hall on Monday, April 4, 2022 in New York, N.Y.
James Keivom
Eric Adams
Mayor Eric Adams hasn’t reinstated the suspended mask requirements for children five and older.
Pacific Press/Shutterstock/Lev Radin
Ashwin_Vasan
Dr. Ashwin Vasan says masks are necessary for children under 5.
Gabriella Bass

New York City is not close to a high level. COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths have declined precipitously since peaking in January and have been flat for weeks. A quarter of the city’s hospital and ICU beds are empty. Only 248 COVID patients are hospitalized, of which 51 are in an ICU.

Even if community risk was rising, there is little evidence that masking students works. Sweden, which kept schools open without mask mandates, found that teachers had no increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection compared to other occupations. Staff-to-staff transmission between adults is far more common than transmission from students.
Mayor Adams has shown courage in ending many pandemic restrictions. He would be well advised to follow the science, not his overcautious health commissioner, and end all school mask mandates.

Dr. Joel Zinberg, MD, is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and director of public health and wellness at the Paragon Health Institute.



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