The city’s new health commissioner believes mask mandates for young children should be indefinitely maintained – a position in direct conflict with Mayor Eric Adams, who recently claimed kids wouldn’t have to wear them much longer.
During his first press conference as commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan cautioned on Friday that children under 5 years old should continue wearing masks because they’re not old enough to get vaccinated, according to CBS News. He also cited high hospital rates for young children with COVID-19.
“I think it’s indefinite at this point,” Vasan said. “People who have tried to predict the future in this pandemic have had egg on their face, and I’m not going to do that today.”
“As a father of a 2 1/2-year-old and two other older kids, I want to keep them as safe as possible,” he said. “I would love nothing more than to send my son to daycare without a mask. But as a scientist, and as a doctor, and an epidemiologist, I want to keep him safe.”
Adams, who earlier this month lifted the city’s Key2NYC vaccine mandate for dining and other indoor activities, appeared to have a different take on Thursday.
When confronted by irate parent demanding he reverse the mask mandate for toddlers, he insisted, “I got this. They will be unmasked.”
The renewed debate over masks comes while the new Omicron subvariant BA.2 continues to surge. While it doesn’t seem to cause more severe illness, data shows it’s more transmissible.
“We’re keeping a close eye on the numbers, and we’ll continue to let you know what they tell us. At the same time, we know the increase in cases in other parts of the world can be worrisome,” Vasan said.