Opinion
editorial

New York’s COVIDiocy hangover holds us all back

It turns out the MTA isn’t even tracking compliance with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s mask mandate, which it’s long been obvious no one’s trying to enforce. Similarly, Mayor Eric Adams reportedly isn’t looking to enforce the city private-sector vaccine mandate he inherited. But that’s not good enough. 

It’s now clear how much over-the-top COVID policies hurt New York. Leaving any of them in place, even as dead letters, still hurts.

Look at Florida, which never went down the restrictionist path. It saw more than twice as many new businesses as New York open last year, per federal numbers. 

And Florida beat its own 2020 new-biz numbers by 27%, too — proving that this data isn’t just a blip. 

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pandemic commitment to shuttering businesses, closing schools and imposing senseless mask and vaccine mandates tanked the New York economy. And without offsetting health benefits: New York fared about the same as Florida on key measures of overall COVID outcomes. 

And New York’s population loss was among the country’s steepest, while Florida’s gain was second-highest nationwide. Our state unemployment rate lingers at 4.4%, the city’s remains in the dumps at 6.2%. New York won’t get back all its pre-pandemic jobs until 2026, estimates the governor’s budget office.

Governor Kathy Hochul’s mask mandate is still in place, but the MTA has decided to stop tracking it.
Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Yes, Hochul made encouraging noises this week about “not anticipating” a need for masks in schools this fall — but undercut them immediately by saying there might be if COVID surges. Leaving the absurd MTA mask mandate in place sends another bad signal, as does Adams’ failure to officially nix the vax mandate. 

Dead-letter laws breed contempt for all laws, and these toothless orders feed fear. New York needs a full-scale repeal of COVID rules and a full-throated rejection of alarmism, not least to truly turn its economy around.