NY COVID positivity rate hits single digits, school mask mandate stays

New York has hit a milestone in the state's battle against COVID-19 and the omicron variant. The statewide positivity rate dropped down to just 9.75 percent, the first time it's been in the single digits since December.

However, while the numbers are promising, Governor Kathy Hochul says that the state's mask mandate in schools is here to stay, for now.

The state's mask mandate expires on February 21, and in some parts of the state, local school boards are already ready to allow students to choose to unmask. In Nassau County, the Massapequa School Board voted unanimously to adopt a mask optional policy when the mandate expires.

"Our goal is to regain local control of our district and allow parents and individuals to make personal health decisions," The Massapequa Board of Education President said in a statement. 

"As a parent, I find it phenomenally disappointing that people are willing to play politics with children's lives," Hochul said during a press briefing on Friday. 

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Hochul has said she is not willing to commit to lifting the mask mandate on the expiration date, and says that data will ultimately drive her decision.

"I am going to use the element of time and at the right time, assess where we are," Hochul said. 

Hochul also announced that medically trained National Guard members will be sent to help relieve overworked healthcare workers at nursing homes across the state.