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Parents demonstrate against NYC mask mandates for children under 4

More than 100 parents and their children packed City Hall Park on Sunday to demonstrate against Mayor Eric Adams’ mask bid for children ages 4 and under — urging the city to “expose our toddlers.”

The protest was the latest example of vehement opposition from Big Apple parents who want City Hall to scrap regulations for youngsters amid declining rates of COVID-19 locally and high vaccination rates among the much more vulnerable elderly.

“[The mandate] doesn’t follow science. This is a mockery of science. It fools us,” said rally-goer Daniela Jampel, a 38-year-old mother of three, including a 4-year-old in public outside the K, of Washington Heights.

“New York State recognizes the science. Anywhere in upstate New York — 10 miles away in Nassau County, 10 miles away in Westchester County — toddlers are allowed to remove their masks along with their older brothers and sisters,” she said.

But “our mayor and our new health commissioner are telling us it’s not safe for young children to take their masks off,” Jampel told The Post at the rally.

Parents and children protest New York City's mask requirement for children under the age of 4 at City Hall on March 20, 2022.
Parents and children protest New York City’s mask requirement for children under the age of 4 at City Hall on March 20, 2022.
Kevin C. Downs for the New York Pot
Washington Heights' mother Daniela Jampel said the city's health officials are not "follow the science" on the subject of masking for toddlers.
Washington Heights mother Daniela Jampel said the city’s health officials are not “following the science” when it comes to masking young children.
Kevin C. Downs for the New York Post

Earlier this month, Gov. Kathy Hochul lifted the mask mandates for everyone, although she left it up to the state’s counties to continue enforcing the requirement if they chose to.

New York City lifted its school mask mandate a week later, but not for its youngest population, even though the death rate for the group is the lowest of any age group.

Children under the age of five are not entitled to vaccinations.

Children with signs demanding the lifting of the mask mandate for infants.
Children with signs demanding the lifting of the mask mandate for infants.
Kevin C. Downs for the New York Post
A child with a sign asking to debunk toddlers.
A child with a sign asking to debunk toddlers.
Kevin C. Downs for the New York Post

Adams and his new health czar, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, only recently added fuel to the fire when they seemed at odds over how long the city’s child face covering mandate would last.

Sunday’s enraged parents held up signs reading “My child, my choice” and “Follow the science” during the protest.

Adams has already lifted the city’s Key2NYC vaccine mandate for restaurants and other indoor venues — a move critics say is inconsistent with the toddler mask mandate.

Mayor Eric Adams has defended the mandate as children under the age of 5 are not eligible for the vaccine.
Mayor Eric Adams has defended the mandate as children under the age of 5 are not eligible for the vaccine.
Kevin C. Downs for the New York Post

According to statistics from the American Academy of Pediatrics, only between 0.1 percent and 1.5 percent of children infected with COVID-19 require hospitalization — and 0.01 percent or fewer die from contracting the global pandemic.

“Why do the children who bear the least burden and bear the least amount of hospitalization in this country, in New York City, need to be masked when the mayor is just passing the order for vaccinations in public restaurants, movie theaters, for the elderly, unvaccinated dropped? , morbidly obese cancer patients who will put a tremendous strain on the healthcare system if they get COVID?” argued Dr. Dyan Hes, a pediatrician and medical director at Gramercy Pediatrics, at Sunday’s protest.

“But these little kids, who are the least burden on the healthcare system and at the least risk, are still forced to dress up?”

Eric Olson, 45, of Park Slope, Brooklyn, who has a 3-year-old son James, urged Adams to provide a timeline for when little ones can go without masks.

“How long will it take? We want a timeline from the mayor as to when this will end and he hasn’t given us any information that we know of,” Olson said.

The debate over the mask mandate comes as a new Omicron subvariant called BA.2 is on the rise — a less severe strain of the virus that’s still more easily transmissible, medical experts claim.

A mother holding a sign with her baby at the rally.
A mother holding a sign with her baby at the rally.
Kevin C. Downs for the New York Post

Faced with an angry parent earlier this month, Adams reassured the toddler mandate would not last long, telling the concerned father the children would be “exposed”.

“I can do it. I’ll take care of it,” said the mayor. “You will be exposed.”

The comment appeared to contradict statements made by Vasan, who said last week that the mask requirement for children should remain in place “indefinitely”.

“I think it’s undetermined at this point,” Vasan said on Friday. “People trying to predict the future of this pandemic have had an egg in their face, and I’m not going to do that today.”

Citing his own toddler, the commissioner said he wants to keep Big Apple youth “as safe as possible.”

“I would love nothing more than to send my son to kindergarten without a mask,” Vasan said. “But as a scientist and as a doctor and epidemiologist, I want to protect him.”

After Adams testified to the contrary, a City Hall representative attempted to “settle” the apparent disagreement between the two.

“There is no difference in their positions on masks or vaccination mandates,” spokeswoman Kate Smart said Saturday.

“The Commissioner explained why children should remain masked at this time, but both look forward to lifting mask requirements when it is safe to do so,” Smart said, “and we expect to provide an update very soon.”

https://nypost.com/2022/03/20/parents-rally-against-nyc-mask-mandates-for-kids-under-4/ Parents demonstrate against NYC mask mandates for children under 4

JACLYN DIAZ

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