News Release

“Dangerous and Unethical”: New York Removes Mask Mandate for Health Care Settings


New York State lifted its blanket mask mandate for health facilities last week. 

The People’s CDC––a coalition to reduce the harmful impacts of Covid-19––called the change “dangerous and unethical” and began a #KeepMasksinHealthcare awareness campaign. (Last December, The New Yorker ran an article on the People’s CDC which was largely decried as a hit piece by public health experts and pandemic mitigation policy advocates.) 

    Safo is an HIV primary care physician and assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

    Feldman is a social epidemiologist and a principal research scientist at the Center for Policing Equity. 

Feldman said: “Covid is still here; it’s a leading cause of death [in this country], and thousands of people are still dying per week. Masking is an issue of access for medically vulnerable and older people––they need masks to access spaces more safely.” A doctor’s office, for instance, should be the most accessible. “Masking is a key component of infection control. Of all the lessons we could have learned and the policies we could have institutionalized,” masks in health care settings would have been the most important. 

At this point, Feldman noted, lobbyists have pushed against Covid workplace protections, arguing workplaces should follow CDC guidance. But CDC guidance has gotten “weaker and weaker over time.”

Safo told the Institute for Public Accuracy: Hospitals are full of “babies, people with cancer, people who are sick themselves. We have enough understanding after three years that masks reduce disease.” But policy change is “driven by the desire to negate the fact that Covid exists and is dangerous.” Advocates are now “going after health care spaces too.” 

The People’s CDC argues that removing masks in health care settings “puts both patients and health care workers at risk, which could place even more strain on the health care system amidst severe staffing shortages.” They asked constituents to sign a letter to their respective governors to keep masking in health care settings.