Hochul: School mask mandates possible, will run for gov in 2022

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)— New York Lt. Gov Kathy Hochul Thursday said she plans to run for governor in 2022, and said she believes a mask mandate for schools could be coming.

Hochul, who will be the state’s first female governor, made the comments on NBC’s "The Today Show." It was part of her first live television interview since it was announced she would take over for Gov.Andrew Cuomo, who will resign in two weeks. She addressed the media in a news conference Wednesday.

When pressed by anchor Savannah Guthrie, Hochul said she believes there will end being a mask mandate for schools, which includes students, teachers, and staff. However, she told Guthrie anything she shares at this time is an opinion, as she does not have the authority to implement a mandate until she officially becomes governor.

Hochul stressed she wants students back in the classroom full time, but is monitoring COVID numbers "like a hawk" and any opinions shared may not have any bearing if cases climb. She said she wants to improve communication with districts and health leaders to make reopening a more "collaborative" approach.

"We need to be talking to the school districts as well, that hasn’t happened in the past in the way I think it should, Hochul said. "We need to find out what their anxieties, why there’s any objection to this. I believe this is that this is going to have to be the way to make it go to make it a safe environment."

The New York State Department of Health decided it was not going to issue any rules or guidance on re-opening schools. But now, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) plans to issue reopening guidance for schools. Already, Penfield and the Rochester City School District have announced plans, each with mask mandates.

As for re-election efforts, Hochul told Guthrie she needs New Yorkers to put their faith in her now, and touched again on her experiences in the past.

"I fully expect to, I’m prepared for this," Hochul said. "I’ve led a life working in every level of government from Congress to local government, I am the most prepared person to assume this responsibility and I am going to ask the voters at some point for their faith in me again."

As previously reported, some donors had been pushing for Hochul to run for the spot.

A number of Republicans are currently running for governor, including 2014 gubernatorial GOP nominee, Rob Astorino, Lewis County Sheriff Mike Carpinelli, Rudy Giuliani’s son, Andrew Giuliani, and Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin.