In a Sunday evening conversation with Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, he told me that Dutchess County will not follow the state's mask mandate, and here's why.

Governor Hochul announced on Friday that the state would be implementing a mask mandate for all counties starting on Monday. That mandate would require all businesses to enforce mask wearing at "all times" if they could not make sure employees and customers were all fully vaccinated.

Over the weekend, Molinaro said he had been on several conference calls with the governor's office before reaching his decision. The key problem with the mandate, according to Molinaro, is that Governor Hochul does not have the same extraordinary power granted to Governor Cuomo during the worst days of the pandemic. The mandate wouldn't be enforceable by police. Instead, it would be up to the health department to handle violations, which the county executive says is completely impractical.

However, many rules Dutchess County businesses are already encouraged to follow, like making sure customers wear shoes and shirts, are also very difficult to enforce. When asked why he wouldn't just support the mandate in spirit, hoping that many local businesses would do the right thing, the county executive admitted that he's not convinced that a mask mandate is actually a good idea.

Molinaro said that there is no data to back up the fact that one state's actions have resulted in a better or worse result than any other's. Molinaro also pointed to the fact that we now have vaccines, widespread testing, and better treatments for COVID which puts hospitals in a better situation to treat the disease than a year ago when he did support the mask mandate. "I encourage people to learn how best to protect themselves and their families and follow practices that are best for you."

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When asked if he still encouraged mask use for unvaccinated individuals, he directed me back to his previous quote.

I wanted to know if Molinaro would reconsider supporting a mandate if cases rose to higher levels. The county executive said he didn't believe he would support the requirement for masks at any time in the future, directing me to his official statement below.

As we educate and inform residents to take the necessary mitigation steps to protect themselves and those they love, we will not escalate tension or conflict or further burden our local small businesses by allocating resources we do not have to this impractical and unenforceable measure.

In a previous address, Molinaro discussed an important threshold of reaching 50 hospitalizations in Dutchess County. Over the weekend, data shows that the county has surpassed that number, with 55 people now hospitalized for COVID. When asked what passing that threshold meant, the county executive said that he is now looking at other data and the county still remains in an "observation" mode.

Finally, I asked the county executive if he will continue to encourage residents to get vaccinated. He answered with a resounding "yes." Molinaro said that the best way for families to protect themselves and their children continues to be making sure everyone is vaccinated. He pointed with pride to the fact that 81% of adult Dutchess County residents have chosen to be vaccinated.

Although they will now no longer receive the official support of Dutchess County, local businesses can still opt to follow the state mandate and enforce mask wearing at their business. Some have already pledged to do so. Stewart's Shops, Price Chopper, and many other local businesses have already informed employees and customers that they will be enforcing the mask mandate starting on Monday. Molinaro urged the public to follow whatever rules a business has decided to put in place. "No one should get confrontational over whether business requires you to wear masks or not."

Below is each region's updated 7-day average percentage of positive test results:

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