Nassau County

‘We Are Not in Crisis Here': New Nassau County Exec Won't Enforce COVID Mask Order

Nassau County Executive-elect Bruce Blakeman says the county won't enforce Gov. Kathy Hochul's indoor mask mandate come Jan. 1

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The incoming Nassau County Executive said Tuesday he will direct the county's health department not to enforce Gov. Kathy Hochul's latest indoor masking order, insisting it wasn't necessary there.

"We are not in crisis here in Nassau County," Bruce Blakeman said in a morning news conference, Newsday reported. The Republican former town and county legislator will become county executive on Jan. 1, having won a shock victory last month over the incumbent Laura Curran.

The news conference follows a statement issued Monday in which Blakeman said 97% of the county's adults had at least one dose of the vaccine, hospitals had adequate capacity and there was no need for the "same broad brush" as the rest of the state.

Nassau County's positivity rate stands at 7%, according to the latest state data, with nearly 800 new infections a day.

The Rockland County Executive said that they will not be enforcing the new mask mandate, bu not because they have any objections to masks — it comes down to resources, he says. NBC New York's Jessica Cunnington reports.

Across the state, any business that doesn't have a vaccination policy will need to require all inside wear masks while indoors. Hochul ordered the change after a surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations, bringing New York back to the days when the pandemic was at its peak.

On Tuesday she said new cases in the state were up 70% since Thanksgiving, and defended the mask mandate, saying "we're not doing this to win any popularity contest."

But Blakeman isn't the only county executive pushing back on her mask orders; Rockland County Executive Ed Day this week said his health department doesn't have the manpower to enforce the new rules.

Putnam County also said it won't enforce what it called the governor's "so-called mandate," with County Executive MaryEllen Odell saying the governor's office failed to consult the counties before issuing the order.

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