Aug. 12 (UPI) — Incoming New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Thursday that she expects a statewide school mask mandate amid rising COVID-19 cases.
“I believe that there will end up being mask mandates,” Hochul, the lieutenant governor who will succeed resigned Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 12 days, told NBC Today Thursday. “I just don’t have the authority at this moment.”
“I believe that this is going to have to be the way we go to make it a safe environment for everyone to feel we get back to school,” she added. “And that is my No. 1 priority, children have to get back in school.”
Hochul also said that she would be meeting with the health commissioner and talking with the school districts, and she would be flexible depending how the COVID-19 variant spreads.
Cuomo, 63, announced his resignation Tuesday in wake of the state attorney general’s sexual harassment report rather than face impeachment trial over the allegations that he sexually harassed at least 11 women, including allegedly groping one woman’s breast. The report noted the investigation concluded Cuomo “engaged in unlawful sexual harassment.” The Albany Police Department was alerted to the groping allegation, but it did not reach a conclusion as to whether the conduct should be subject to criminal prosecution.
Hochul said Wednesday she plans to fire anyone deemed “unethical” in the report.
Hochul added in NBC Today interview Thursday that she would not let the issue of dropping or going forward with possible impeachment hearings against Cuomo distract her.
“I will not be distracted from job one, which is to fight COVID and bring back the economy,” Hochul told NBC Today Thursday.