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Steuben County officials: Mask mandate would be impossible to enforce in a meaningful way

Officials in Steuben County have joined the growing list of those who say enforcing the state’s new ‘mask mandate’ will not be possible.

Public health officials and government leaders there released the following statement, noting that their staff has already been pushed to the brink by the COVID-19 pandemic:

“We have received many inquiries regarding the new mask mandate in effect now through at least January 15. Since the issuance of the mask mandate by New York State via a NYSDOH Commissioner’s Determination, announced last Friday and effective today, Steuben County has had multiple conversations with state representatives and our regional partners. The NYSDOH Commissioner’s Determination is a state requirement, and as such we strongly encourage all of our valued businesses in Steuben County to comply. COVID is still surging in our communities and our hospitals are still under immense pressure, and the use of masks in indoor settings is a valuable tool to help reduce spread. Coupled with other prevention strategies, such as getting vaccinated, receiving your booster, and staying home and getting tested when sick, we can reduce spread in Steuben County. In consultation with Chairman Scott VanEtten, we have communicated to state officials that this mandate would be impossible to enforce in a meaningful way without state agencies taking the lead. We have our entire Public Health department, employees from other county departments, and dozens of volunteers focused upon contact tracing and vaccination. Throughout this Delta variant surge, they have been and remain overwhelmed by these tasks and cannot absorb additional duties of mask enforcement. As such, any complaint received by Steuben County will be forwarded to NYSDOH. It is vital that we all double-down on these layered prevention strategies, especially during the holiday season when we are gathering with friends and family.”