Additionally, Hochul said masks will continue to be required for health care facilities, nursing homes, correctional facilities and public transportation.
Additionally, local governments and businesses are allowed to require masks or proof of vaccinations, a standard Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he intends to follow for now.
Hochul had put the indoor mask mandate into effect two months ago in anticipation of a winter surge, similar to what happened in the first winter of the pandemic.
The surge this winter ended up being even more pronounced.
Two variants of Covid – Delta and Omicron – were to blame as it became clear that vaccines could not stop their spread, although they did help prevent hospitalizations and deaths.
The Omicron variant spread particularly quickly through New York. The first case of the variant was confirmed on December 1. On January 7, 2022, at what would be the peak of the Omicron wave, over 90,000 people in New York State tested positive for Covid that day. By comparison, at the height of the previous winter, just under 20,000 people tested positive in one day.
But Omicron proved less lethal and put fewer people in hospital. It also seems to fade quickly; on February 9, the state recorded just over 6,000 new positive cases.