Adams is set to keep the mask mandate for Pre-K students if the city wins the court appeal

New York City will fight a Staten Island judge’s decision to lift the school mask mandate for preschoolers, Mayor Eric Adams announced Friday.

He added that city attorneys would appeal the injunction and ask for a stay after Richmond County Judge Ralph Porzio overturned the rule Friday afternoon. Health Department officials said they would wait another week to reconsider whether to lift the mask requirement for that age group.

Test + Trace Corps has begun distributing more than 6 million home COVID tests through community groups, schools, places of worship and elected officials’ offices as a measure against BA.2, the highly contagious subvariant of omicron that has driven COVID transmission in the last few weeks. The sub-strain accounts for almost 80% of the cases sequenced in the city, Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan.

The city originally planned to drop the preschool mask mandate on April 4, assuming COVID-19 risk levels remained low. However, according to a rubric prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BA.2 has begun to push the borough of Manhattan past the “low” to “intermediate” risk threshold. As the city’s case numbers rise, despite still being in the “low” threshold and there is no approved vaccine for children under the age of 5, the city’s health officials recommended postponing the decision.

“We believe we have enough evidence to win,” Adams said of the appeals process at a Friday news conference, noting that he will abid by the final verdict. He and his officials said they are not yet ready to reinstate the mask mandate for older students and business customers, which he lifted earlier last month, but would reconsider if cases continue to rise.

“Cases are definitely increasing and that got our attention,” Vasan said. “They will continue to rise over the next few weeks. And it’s likely we’ll be moving to a different overall risk level across the city these weeks.”

The city health department is reporting more than 1,400 new cases a day, more than double the number in mid-March and the most since mid-February. Cases in city schools have also doubled over the same period, according to the Department of Education.

Health officials urged New Yorkers to get vaccinated and boosted, test regularly and dress up indoors, especially when around people whose vaccination status they don’t know. They also called on the federal government to renew much-needed emergency funding for tests, vaccines and treatments. Adams is set to keep the mask mandate for Pre-K students if the city wins the court appeal

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