NEW YORK - BREAKING UPDATE: NY Gov. Kathy Hochul has extended the state's mask mandate through Feb. 10. It was set to expire on Feb. 1.
The mandate is still being challenged legally after a State Supreme Court judge in Nassau County struck down the mandate saying it needed to come from the Legislature.
The mandate is still in effect after an appeals court judge played a stay on lifting it while the appeal continues.
This is an update. Prior coverage is below.
Emotions are once again high on both sides of the debate over the future of face masking policies all across New York.
Currently, Governor Kathy Hochul’s mask mandate remains in effect, but it is under appeal.
"I just think that it’s safer," said one woman who supports the measures. "It’s safer for the little kids."
While some believe masks should stay on for now, others gathered at a rally on Wednesday to voice their opposition. Some attendees said they’d keep their kids at home until they don’t have to wear masks.
"As parents, we know what’s best for our kids as we’re the best people to protect them and their interests," said Nicole Mingrone, a parent who opposes mask mandates.
The heightened controversy stems from a Nassau County state Supreme Court decision that came down on Monday. A judge ruled the Governor and the Department of Health didn’t have the authority to enact a mandate without approval from the state legislature. The state attorney general filed an appeal.
After a day of confusion Tuesday on whether masks needed to be worn, a state appellate court judge decided the mandate would stay in place until an appeals court hearing on Friday.
"It will take an awful lot to upset the status quo in a way to undo the mandate at this point prior to its expiration," said James Sample, a professor of constitutional law at Hofstra Law School.
Governor Hochul is asking for patience and believes it’s only a matter of time until masks are behind us altogether.
"I don’t want to keep any requirements for safety in place a day longer than necessary, but I will not do it a day before we can do it safely," Hochul said.
Doctors stress the importance of following the science.
"Even with the increase of patients getting sick, hospitalized or coming to ICUs, we’re still seeing a huge amount of patients who didn’t get omicron- so the fact is masks do work," said Dr. Sharon Nachman, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.
Law experts explain timing is everything. If opponents of the mandate go to the New York State Court of Appeals, it’s unlikely there’d be a resolution before the mask mandate expires on its own next month.