Supervisors won't enforce Gov's masks


By Patsy Nicosia

Schoharie County won’t enforce the state’s mask mandate, nor will masks be required in the County Office Building.
Supervisors voted unanimously Friday not to enforce Governor Kathy Hochul’s December 10 mandate requiring either masks or vaccinations at businesses.
Then, most of them unmasked.
About a quarter of the state’s counties, most of them upstate and Republican-led, have said they won’t enforce the mask rule, but Schoharie County was among the first to take that stand in a resolution.
“This is just another mandate by the state,” said Summit Supervisor Harold Vroman, calling into the meeting after he said he’d tested positive for COVID, despite, he said, having received two vaccinations and a booster.
“They don’t put any money behind it,” Mr. Vroman said.
“It shouldn’t be a mandate. People should be able to make the decision themselves.”
Hearing the complaint about the lack of funding, Tuesday, Governor Hochul said she’s making $5 million available to help with the cost of administering vaccines and enforcing the mask mandate.
(See related story for details and our latest numbers.)
According to the state Health Department, the county’s COVID positivity rate Friday was 8.91 percent with 151 new cases over the past seven days and 27 deaths since March of 2020.
Sunday, the state Health Department reported 40 new COVID cases and two deaths here for a total of 29.
The positivity rate was 10.6 percent and 10 percent over the past seven days.
Other counties that have said they won’t enforce the mandate include: Montgomery, Hamilton, Saratoga, Madison, Rensselaer, Genesee, Orleans, Livingston, Cattaraugus, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Dutchess, and Rockland.
Before the vote, Seward Supervisor Earlin Rosa asked what comes next; Health Department employees are already writing tickets to businesses not enforcing the mandate, he said.
Supervisors’ chair Bill Federice, also calling in sick from home, said he’s already had that discussion with the Health Department.
“I told them they don’t have the time to take on additional responsibility,” Mr. Federice said, and he’d rather see employees focus on things like vaccination clinics and working with schools.
“That conversation’s already taken place. I have confidence there won’t be a problem. That’s not the intent.”
It will be up to businesses to decide whether they want to enforce the Governor’s mandate—or not, Cobleskill Supervisor Leo McAllister said.
“If they take their sign down, you can go in without a mask.”
Both Mr. Federice and Blenheim Supervisor Don Airey echoed Mr. Vroman’s concerns that the mandate is over-reach.
“To constantly float what I consider a false narrative and vaccines are a false narrative,” Mr. Airey said.
“It is a shot. It will help you. It’s not going to stop you from contracting COVID.”
In a second vote, supervisors also said they won’t enforce the mask mandate in county offices; it will be up to individuals whether to mask regardless of their vaccination status.