Lawsuit filed in Albany County challenges state mask mandate in schools

Health experts warn against unmasking kids
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Posted at 9:10 PM, Sep 17, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — “There’s no justification for putting masks on their face, going down to two-year-olds,” Attorney Corey Hogan said.

A lawsuit filed in Albany County challenges the state's mask mandate in schools.

“Anybody else who wants to wear a face mask, okay go for it, but these kids should not be mandated to wear a mask,” Hogan said.

According to the Erie County Department of Health, last week there were 118 COVID-19 cases in children ages zero to nine and 185 cases in ten to nineteen.

“Vaccination is our best means to protect our children, but many have not been vaccinated, mask use is the next most important mitigation method,” Dr. Thomas Russo said.

While this isn’t the first lawsuit of its type, health officials are still warning against unmasking kids before they can get vaccinated.

“If we then remove that mask mandate, there’s no question that transmission will increase,” Dr. Russo said.

“It’s a parental decision, it’s not a school decision,” Hogan said.

Dr. Russo said unmasking children goes beyond students infecting one another.

“They’re going to interact with their parents and grandparents who obviously are more vulnerable,” Dr. Russo said.

But the lawsuit argues masks harm kids and can hinder their ability to learn. Dr. Russo said that’s not necessarily true.

“Our children are home with the parents most of the day as well, without masks,” Dr. Russo said. “That gives them ample opportunity to learn speech.”

Those filing the suit said they think they have a very poor chance of winning, but they said it’s a risk worth taking.

“There are constitutional objections requiring anyone to wear a face mask without good reason,” Hogan said.

“I’m disappointed, we’re in the midst of a delta surge here, we have a high community burden of disease,” Dr. Russo said. “A virus that’s transmitted through respiratory secretions will be blocked when people wear masks.

7 Eyewitness News did reach out to the state for a statement, but have not heard back at this time.