Remember when you were a child and your parents warned if you wore your rubbers in the house, something awful would happen to you? Conversely, think of the times your parents said you would be healthy and strong if you washed your hands and cleaned your dinner plate.
Life, as your parents tried to teach you, is a trade-off. And we are pleased to see Gov. Kathy Hochul adopt a similar strategy when she announced Thursday the state’s school mask mandate will end after the majority of New York children get vaccinated against COVID-19. We hope parents take encouragement from the governor’s message: Wearing masks is not a permanent situation, and parents must vaccinate their children against the coronavirus as soon as possible to do away with the required face coverings for students and staff.
Hochul answered questions for about an hour Thursday in a webinar hosted by City & State magazine and sponsored by AARP.
The state will eliminate the COVID-19 safety regulation requiring every person over age 2 to wear a mask or facial covering in school buildings after a majority of children are protected against the fatal upper respiratory disease. Vaccinations protect those with whom our children come in contact — parents, elderly grandparents, friends, neighbors and classmates.
Though the state’s average COVID positivity rate has declined to 2.3% as of Thursday with increasing vaccination rates, we remain in the middle of the pandemic. We report new positive cases of the disease in Greene and Columbia counties almost daily. The spikes and the fatalities have not stopped, and continue to pose a threat with the upcoming holiday season.
“I know a lot of parents in the state appreciate the fact their little kids are safer because they’re wearing masks,” Hochul said. “I encourage parents, if you want your kids to see grandma and grandpa or older aunts and uncles over the Thanksgiving and upcoming holidays, get them vaccinated now so your child does not become the reason that the parent you fought so hard to protect all these months actually gets sick.”
About 200 people — the young and the old — have died from the coronavirus in our area. More than 58,000 New Yorkers, including children, have died from COVID or its complications since March 2020. That’s equivalent to the final American death toll for the entire Vietnam War.
Parents who protested the loudest over wearing masks will probably protest even louder over the vaccine strategy. But these people are wrong: The COVID vaccine is safe, effective and free. We hope parents who know their children can’t show up for Kindergarten until they get vaccinated against a whole host of diseases will do the same in the battle against the coronavirus.