Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his appearance at a virtual meeting of the Association for a Better New York on July 28, 2021. Courtesy photo: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Office

New York State is not implementing a mask mandate after the CDC issued revised guidance yesterday recommending vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor spaces.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today left the door open for future state action, but he said policy-making responsibility rests with local governments and school districts in areas of substantial virus transmission to decide whether to implement the revised CDC guidance.

“The state’s going to do a full review of the CDC guidance,” the governor said. “I was on the phone with them this morning. We’re talking to federal officials. We’re also talking to international health experts,” he said.

“But the CDC guidance should be carefully reviewed. Local governments in those areas should seriously consider the CDC guidance,” Cuomo said, speaking to a virtual meeting of the Association for a Better New York.

During the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the governor has generally kept tight control over public health policy decisions.

“We are considering all options when it comes to keeping our workforce and the public safe from COVID-19,” Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott said in a statement today. “Our public health officials will continue to monitor the positivity rate and hospitalization data daily moving forward.”

On Monday, Cuomo identified 117 zip codes in the state with new positive COVID cases per capita above the statewide average and the percentage of fully vaccinated residents below the statewide average. Calverton (11933) and Riverhead (11901) were among 21 zip codes on Long Island that fall into that target category.

Cuomo also announced on Monday the award of $15 million to six statewide community-based organizations intended to fund outreach and education initiatives in communities within the targeted zip codes. The organizations slated to receive funding are the Hispanic Federation ($5.5 million) the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies ($5.5 million), the New York Immigration Coalition, the Asian American Federation, the Charles B. Wang Community Center, and the APICHA Community Health Center ($1 million each).

The governor today said the state will mandate vaccination for all public-facing health care workers at state-run hospitals.

Cuomo also called upon private businesses to incentivize vaccination among their employees and customers.

The governor also called on employers to put an end to remote work beginning on Labor Day.

“We need private sector companies to say to their employees, I need you back in the office,” Cuomo said. “Remote working for a short period of time, fine. But that’s not how the entrepreneurial economy works, and that’s not how the entrepreneurial spirit works,” he said. “It’s the synergy, it’s the simulation. It’s having people in a room banging around ideas. It’s the dynamic that is generated, that I don’t care what you say about Zoom, it’s just a different experience,” he said.

“It’s not just about your business. It’s about all the spin-off economic activity that your workers bring to the surrounding community. And that’s what we need,” Cuomo said.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.