Local officials say ‘no capacity’ to enforce indoor mask mandate

Posted 12 December 2021 at 10:38 pm

Genesee, Orleans officials say public health resources focused on vaccinations, testing

Joint statement from Rochelle M. Stein, Chair, Genesee County Legislature; Lynne M. Johnson, Chair, Orleans County Legislature; John C. Welch Jr., Orleans County Chief Administrative Officer, L. Matthew Landers, Genesee County Manager and Paul A. Pettit, Genesee and Orleans Counties Public Health Director

Due to the current Covid-19 surge, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Friday that starting Monday, December 13, through January 15, 2022, that masks will be required in all public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement.

However, Governor Hochul did not clearly state how enforcement of the mask mandate will occur.

“The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) will continue to focus our efforts on offering free vaccination and testing clinics as well as conducting case investigations,” said Paul Pettit, Genesee and Orleans Public Health Director. “We do not have the capacity to enforce mask mandates and enforcing mandates is not the best use of our limited resources at this point of the pandemic response. As we have throughout the pandemic in line with CDC guidance, we continue to advise residents to properly wear masks indoors when social/physical distancing is not possible.”

“As we did during the last surge, Genesee County will take the approach with our community to Educate to Cooperate in regards to the benefits of masking and social distancing,” stated Rochelle Stein, Genesee County Legislature Chair.

“In Orleans County, we will continue to focus our county resources on vaccinations, contact tracing, testing and working to keep children in school,” said Lynne Johnson, Orleans County Legislature Chair.  “We held two clinics this week, one for testing and one for booster shots. We continue to seek more testing resources from the state, because we believe identifying and isolating those who test positive is the greatest need right now to reduce the spread.”

To reduce the spread in our communities, we need to increase vaccination rates and increase testing in order to identify and isolate those who are positive with Covid-19.  However, rural county health departments continue to have issues securing additional testing resources. GO Health and local officials continue to advocate for additional resources and assistance from the state in order to have free testing in our communities.

Genesee and Orleans County Public and Health officials encourage those who have not been vaccinated or have not received their booster shot, to do so as soon as possible. Booster shots have just been approved for 16 and 17-year-olds, six months after their last shot. Visit gohealthny.org/covid-19-vaccine-information or www.vaccine.gov to make an appointment.

If you are experiencing symptoms, please stay home and seek testing. For information on Covid-19 testing, visit gohealthny.org/covid-19-testing-information or coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you.

Covid-19 is not the gift to give this season, please plan to protect your loved ones by getting your vaccine and/or booster.