New York has done it again. The city has managed to find the most useless, but harmful, policy possible to impose on the safest segment of the population.
On Friday, Mayor Eric Adams and his health commissioner, Ashwin Vasan, announced that children aged 2 to 4 will have to remain masked in day-care and pre-school settings. No other age group is forced to mask similarly.
On Nov. 7, 2021, I tweeted, “It would be something if the last people masked were toddlers. It would be the icing on the whole mismanaged pandemic cake.”
People pass it around as if I were prescient. But the reality is that I had seen bad health-care policy up close in New York, where the thing that made the least amount of sense in fighting COVID was what we did.
Masks for the 3-foot walk from the master stand to the table? That’s us!
Closing (only public) schools on the teachers’ union say-so when the city hit a ridiculous 3% of positive tests, which meant that 97 healthy people tested negative for every 100 instead of the 98 of the previous day? Us again.
A vaccine mandate for a virus that spreads despite vaccination, with a special carve-out for visiting athletes and performers but not those who live here? Building indoor shacks on the sidewalk so restaurants can call it “outdoor dining”? Canceling outdoor events like New Year’s Eve in Times Square? Masking kids at public schools outdoors into winter 2022? That’s so New York.
Announcing the continuation of masking toddlers, something no other Western country did at any point in the pandemic, Vasan said, “We want to keep an eye on this latest uptick to ensure that our youngest New Yorkers remain safe, as we see an increase in cases due to the more infectious BA.2 subvariant. As we know in the past, cases and hospitalizations have risen in this vulnerable age group, in line with wider community spread, usually lagging by a couple of weeks.”
This is, simply, a lie. New York City’s “alert level” is green, “low.” COVID hospitalizations for kids under 18 are 0.5 per 100,000 and have been for months.
Meanwhile, the over-70 set is at 4.7 per 100,000, and they can trap around the city maskless licking lampposts and snogging strangers. If it sounds like it doesn’t make sense, that’s because it doesn’t and never has.
The commissioner absolutely knows it’s a lie. Two days earlier, he tweeted a chart showing kids under 5 with the city’s lowest case rates.
The worst part is that city attorneys responded to a lawsuit challenging the toddler mask mandate by arguing that as of April 4, “the petitioners’ children will no longer be required to wear masks in child-care settings,” so there was no danger of “immediate and irreparable injury, loss or damage.” Liars.
The judge struck down the mandate Friday — and Adams immediately said he planned to appeal.
Michael Chessa, the parents’ attorney, told me, “These mandates are anti-science, anti-child, anti-parent and, according to last week’s court decision, against the law. Each day that goes by where Mayor Adams keeps these mandates in place is a stain on his legacy.”
In life, there are trade-offs. If the argument went, “Kids will mask, and we will risk them having speech and cognitive delays, because they are uniquely at risk from COVID and this is how we protect them,” that might be understandable.
Instead, toddlers will mask, they will risk speech and cognitive delays, and it will offer absolutely no protection from COVID.
Even if masks worked for the older set, which has never been proven by a study with a control group, the under-5s could never wear them correctly. This demographic is also not prioritized for vaccination because they simply don’t need it.
COVID has largely spared children. Vasan’s own data show this. We’ve known this since the early days, and yet kids continue to be targeted with imbecilic policies that have harmed them a lot and protected them not at all.
Vasan added, “This afternoon, we’re asking for a bit more patience and a bit of grace.”
New Yorkers should simply say no. No more patience and certainly no more grace. The commissioner doesn’t deserve it. His policies make no scientific sense, and in a saner time New Yorkers would call for his firing.
Instead of listening to bad advice and masking only the segment of the population that has never needed it, the mayor must man up and take control of his city. He’s only been in office for a few months, but this idiotic policy suggests he’s adrift.
Right the course, Mayor Adams, or we will remember you alongside Mayor William O’Dwyer. Who is that? Exactly.