Local, federal leaders call on New York to quickly assess CDC’s new guidance

Erie County

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB-TV) – There was new mask update from Governor Andrew Cuomo Friday. That silence comes a day after the CDC updated its guidance for fully vaccinated people, saying fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most circumstances.

However, Cuomo’s Thursday statement suggested he’d look to see what surrounding states would do. Friday, Connecticut announced it would drop mask requirements for fully vaccinated people on Wednesday, May 19. Pennsylvania adopted the CDC guidance immediately. New Jersey went into the weekend taking a “wait and see” approach.

“We should all be optimistic,” Congressman Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) told reporters on Friday. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are typically very cautious. They’re very conservative. And to suggest now that we don’t have to wear a mask, we don’t have to social distance, is just a confirmation of the effectiveness of the vaccines that have been approved.”

But New Yorkers must wait for the state to give the green light. Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday the State Department of Health would be reviewing the CDC guidance. Counties have to enforce the state regulations.

Asked if he should align New York with the CDC, Rep. Higgins said yes, the CDC is what the whole country has looked to for the past 15 months.

“So my hope is that the Governor, today, tomorrow, over the weekend will confirm that we can open up. That we can continue to get back to a sense of normalcy,” Higgins said.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz (D-Erie County) is urging the State Department of Health to act quickly and align guidance with the CDC.

“I’m hopeful it’s very soon so that everybody knows what the ground rules are,” Poloncarz said.

And there’s an urgency there because some people are already confused.

“Our first three customers who walked in yesterday at 4:00 pm came in with no mask on, through the door, ‘Have you head? We don’t have to wear masks anymore!’ No, no. no, no. The CDC said, ‘This is our idea, this is what we think,’” said Tim Herzog, founder of Flying Bison. “And as the county executive said, it’s up to New York State to make the regulation.”

The County Executive, in a message to people not yet vaccinated, said the CDC new guidance means the shots work.

“The reason the CDC issued its rule with regard to vaccinated individuals is because they now have enough evidence to show if you’re vaccinated, you are protected,” Poloncarz said.

Erica Brecher is an anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.

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