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COVID-19 cases continue to decline across Conn., N.Y. But will students still need to wear masks?

Children Wear Masks
Seth Wenig

COVID-19 cases among Connecticut students decreased over the last week for the first time in a month. State data show 9,700 students, which is a third of the previous week’s positive cases, and 1,500 school staff, which is half of the week before, tested positive. Most of the student cases are unvaccinated.

Some local Connecticut schools plan to require students to continue wearing masks until the end of the academic year, regardless of what happens to Governor Ned Lamont’s emergency pandemic powers. He mandated mask wearing using those powers, but state lawmakers might not renew them when the legislative session convenes February 9.

New York’s mask mandate overruled

A New York state judge has ruled that the state's mask mandate can’t be enforced. The mandate was reinstituted by Hochul over concerns about a winter surge of coronavirus cases.

The mandate would have been in effect until February 1.

The judge said the state health department didn’t have the legal authority to implement the mandate without a state of emergency in effect.

In a statement, Hochul said her administration disagrees with the ruling and is “pursuing every option to reverse this immediately." The state Attorney General’s office is appealing. However, Hochul has not committed to continuing the mandate.

More than 60% of New York City and Long Island residents polled this month support mask mandates, according to a new Mount Sinai South Nassau survey. However, several schools on Long Island have already told students and staff that masks are now optional.

Hospitalizations drop, but facilities are still full

Over 1,400 Connecticut residents are in the hospital with COVID-19. This is a decline of over 200 hospitalizations since Friday. Two more Connecticut inmates have died this month after testing positive for COVID-19. This now makes 27 deaths in state prisons since the pandemic began.

Clare is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.