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McMahon pleased NYS will adopt new CDC mask wearing guidelines

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media (file photo)

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon is pleased Gov. Andrew Cuomo has adopted the latest COVID-19 guidelines from the CDC, that allow fully vaccinated individuals to go without masks or social distancing in most settings.

When the new guidelines go into effect Wednesday, walking to his office in the Civic Center in Syracuse will be a different experience for McMahon, who is fully vaccinated.

“Wednesday, when I get on the elevator, I will no longer wear this nice looking mask,” said McMahon. “Whether I change my mind if I go into a different type of setting, I reserve the right to pivot, and put a mask on if I feel uncomfortable."

McMahon said because the pandemic has been such an anxious time for the community, he wants everyone to know they still have that option to keep a mask on hand.

"The reality is many of these things were not enforceable to begin with. So we need to find a balance,” he said. “If you’re uncomfortable going into certain venues, wear your mask. But if you’ve been vaccinated, you have a great tool in this fight."

Things get trickier in areas like businesses or any entity that can set their own rules. Some retail chains are dropping mask requirements, and others are keeping them in place. McMahon isn’t sure what would happen if a business requires proof of a vaccination and doesn’t get it.

"I would assume you would call 911, a dispatch would go to the police department,” he said. “We have to work through what that all means. It’s been hard to enforce anyway, so we have to work through some of these things."

While this is good news, it’s likely too late for some events and festivals that have already been canceled.

“It takes planning, and for those who have thrown in the towel, I think it’s probably not going to happen for those events,” McMahon said. “But there are different groups who haven’t thrown in the towel at this point, so they’re going to figure out how to say yes now, and realize by the time their event happens, the rules will loosen up more.”

Masks will still be required in some areas, including schools, health care facilities and on public transportation.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.