Despite New York Gov. Kathy Hochul lifting New York’s mask mandate, Ithaca College students and Ithacans will continue wearing masks in businesses and public places both on and off campus.
On Feb. 9, Hochul announced that the state would be lifting its mask mandate the following day. Later that day, the Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) announced that a mask advisory would stay in place for the county.
These announcements follow an enormous decline in reported COVID-19 cases for the state and the county after the Omicron variant caused a surge in infections. On Jan. 9, 2022, New York had a seven-day average of 74,182 new cases, while Tompkins County had a 7-day average of 214 new cases, according to The New York Times. Now, the 7-day average for the state is 4,744 new cases and in Tompkins County, it is 41 new cases. At the college, there are 11 active student cases.
In a Feb. 10 email to the campus community, Samm Swarts, assistant director of Emergency Preparedness and Response, clarified that the college would continue its policy requiring face masks to be worn.
“Here at Ithaca College, it is important for us to remain vigilant in our fight against the pandemic,” Swarts said in the email. “We must be strategic on what policies and procedures we have in place to always prioritize the collective health and well-being of our Ithaca community.”
The TCHD said it would continue advising face masks because Tompkins County has over 100 cases per 100,000 people, which is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as a high–transmission area.