Nassau health commissioner criticized for flip-flopping on masks

Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Larry Eisenstein is now in the spotlight for what the minority legislators are calling a flip-flop when it comes to backing the new county executive's anti-mask regime.

In a letter to Eisenstein, the Democratic legislators say he is in direct violation of his duty as a licensed physician by refusing to enforce the mask requirements issued by the state.

Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton said Eisenstein did a "complete 180" from what he had stated multiple times at public events as health commissioner back when Democrat Laura Curran was the county executive.

"This is health, this is people's lives. We can't take a chance on feeling political pressure to save his job," DeRiggi-Whitton said. "The science hasn't changed. It's still your best bet in defense of the virus. What has changed is the administration."

Eisenstein, who was unavailable for an on-camera interview, said in a statement his position on public health has remained consistent but has adapted as the science reveals itself. He said the county is in a different position than it was last year as more people are now vaccinated against COVID-19.

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County Executive Bruce Blakeman called the back and forth nothing but politics.

"It's inconsistent. I'm going to do what I think is right," Blakeman said, "and if they're going to come after me, so be it."

DeRiggi-Whitton said she hopes Eisenstein and Blakeman can come to some sort of agreement so that the commissioner can support the mask mandate without fearing for his job.

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