Mask Mandates Return to Ulster County After Cases Spike

Ulster County re-imposes mask mandates for all people regardless of vaccination status in all County owned buildings.

On Aug. 31, County Executive Pat Ryan signed an Executive Order requiring that all Ulster County employees, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors. Additionally, all members of the public will also be required to wear a mask when entering any county-owned building or facility.

On top of the order, Ulster County Commissioner of Health Dr. Carol Smith issued updated guidance that strongly recommends all members of the public wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. 

“As we continue to see COVID surge across Ulster County, we must bolster our safety protocols to ensure public health. For the safety of our residents and our staff, we are now requiring that everyone wear masks inside all County buildings,” County Executive Pat Ryan said. “As the science has consistently shown, masks help stop the spread of COVID-19 and ultimately save lives. Given the increased risk to all Ulster County residents, I support our Commissioner of Health in recommending that all members of the public wear masks indoors to slow COVID transmission. And I am once again asking all residents who have not yet been vaccinated to do so immediately.”  

This comes a week after New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new comprehensive plan to ensure a safe return to schools in the fall. Governor Hochul has directed the New York State Department of Health to institute a universal mask requirement in all schools, public and private, as determined necessary at the discretion of the Commissioner. The Department of Health will issue the requirement through regulatory action established by the Public Health and Health Planning Council.

Due to the rapid spread of the Delta variant, Ryan announced the reopening of the Best Buy 

POD site at the Hudson Valley Mall to administer booster shots. The county is also partnering with SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Ulster to offer vaccines to unvaccinated students on campus.

A new vaccination site is being opened at the Kingston Plaza between Savonna’s Pizza and Scanlon Cleaners, at 304 Plaza Road #25, Kingston, NY. The site will be open every Friday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Appointments can be made at VaccinateUlster.com but walk-ins are welcomed. 

“Our ability to offer vaccines safely and quickly was an essential part of why Ulster County became a leader in vaccination rates,” County Executive Pat Ryan said. “As we enter the next phase of vaccinations, I am confident that we will again be able to replicate our previous success. With the FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, there is no reason why residents should hesitate to get vaccinated. In the coming days and weeks, we will continue to monitor the numbers and follow the science and make needed adjustments as necessary.” 

On Sept 9. 1,239 Ulster County residents were  tested, 1,180 were negative and 59 positive, leaving the county with 595 active cases and a daily positivity rate of 4.8%.

Hudson Valley One  reported that Delta-Variant cases are climbing across the area. Ulster County reported 404 active cases on Aug. 16, up from 274 the previous week and the first time cases have topped 400 since May 1.

Mask mandates are being re-instated in places besides Ulster County too. Los Angeles County, was prompted by health officials following the rise of cases brought by the Delta variant to reimpose a mask mandate. This was then followed by Bay Area health officials recommending that the residents of seven counties as well as the city of Berkeley to resume wearing masks indoors.

Implementing mask mandates are also being discussed in states such as Arkansas and Missouri.

About Zoe Woolrich 25 Articles
Zoe Woolrich is a second-year media management major. This is her second semester with The Oracle. She previously served as News Copy Editor, this is her first semester as News Editor.