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Return of statewide mask wearing? This coalition is calling for it

New York Essential Workers Coalition
Posted at 5:52 PM, Jun 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-01 21:37:15-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The New York Essential Workers Coalition is calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Department of Labor to strengthen the lifted mask mandate.

In a letter to the Governor's office, the coalition said they feel the mandates must be stronger because "Already our members are telling us that employers are saying they no longer have to provide masks. Workers are forced to interact with maskless customers without knowing what their vaccine status is. Business owners who want to protect their communities by continuing to require masks are now fearful that they will lose business."

ALIGN NY is one of the organizations in the New York Essential Workers Coalition. Executive Director Martiza Silva-Farrell believes that the mask restrictions being lifted is incredibly dangerous.

"It's putting employers at risks, employees at risk and communities at risk," Silva-Farrell said, "it's important to stress that we are not out of the woods yet."

The CDC says fabric masks greatly reduce your risk of contracting COVID and other viruses. In the letter to the state, the New York Essential Workers Coalition asked for the government to "put in place common sense, science-based standards around masking, distancing, and ventilation".

According to Silva-Farrell, no one from the state has responded to the letter as of yet. The DOL and Governor's Office would also not comment on the story.

Jonah Bruno with the Department of Health did respond, saying "Consistent with CDC guidance, fully vaccinated people are not required to wear masks in public. DOH strongly recommends masks in indoor settings where vaccination status is unknown. Business owners may require all employees and/or patrons to wear a face covering, and may deny admittance to any person who fails to comply."

Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health (WNY COSH), another organization listed on the letter to the state, is hoping that the Governor's office will listen. They believe that the government on all levels has not protected workers.

"The government has to understand there has been little done to protect workers on the job," Brian Brown-Cashdollar, Program Director of WNY COSH, said.

The full letter can be found at the link here.