Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday said he would support fining people who fail to wear face masks in public, saying they could “literally kill someone.”
“You don’t wear a mask for you. You wear a mask to protect me,” the New York Democrat said at a daily coronavirus briefing in Albany. “I wear a mask to protect you. We owe each other a certain amount of reasonableness and respect in society. … If I am sick, I should wear a mask.”
He added, “Local governments have the ability to enforce and penalize. That’s up to local governments. But do I think local government should be enforcing it? And should there be sanctions? Yes, because it is a public health emergency. It is not just, ‘Do me a favor.’ It is a public health emergency. And it is a statewide order I put in place that I’m proud of.”
As of Monday, the state of New York had reported more than 316,000 residents infected by the coronavirus, accounting for about 27 percent of all cases in the United States. Of those, around 175,000 were in New York City.
New York has required residents to wear face coverings in public spaces since April 17, but enforcement has varied. A New York City police officer was suspended for punching and dragging a 33-year-old man for an alleged social distancing violation over the weekend. On Twitter, Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the incident was “simply not acceptable.”
The masks serve primarily to block large-particle droplets. Until early April, the Centers for Disease Control advised Americans against wearing face masks, and in March, New York even prohibited some state employees from wearing them. “The masks are not allowed unless medically necessary for the job and area they work in and then will be provided to them,” the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said in a March 24 statement.
Cuomo said on Monday that local governments should consider imposing fines for failing to wear masks that would be appropriate for their residents. “Local governments have the responsibility to enforce it, and part of their right, their legal right is they can have a penalty or a sanction they impose. So Rochester can have one penalty, it can be appropriate to the community. New York City is in a different situation. But yeah, I think local government should enforce it, and there could be a penalty.”
Watch above via CNN.
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