New York state’s mask mandate for most indoor
public settings is coming to an end
again, Governor Kathy Hochul said last
week, as COVID-19 cases continue to drop
across the Empire State following that sharp Omicron
variant-fueled spike during the holidays.
The same mandate for schools may also go by the
wayside following the mid-winter recess toward the
end of the month, Hochul noted. That all depends, of
course, on the state of COVID-19 in the Empire State
by that point.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
continues to recommend that all Americans, regardless
of vaccine status, wear masks in indoor settings
for safety’s sake. At this point in the pandemic, now
approaching the start of its third year, it’s wise to ask
whether a mask mandate should ever be reinstated.
The good news, at this point, is that we now have at
our disposal medicine that’s proven effective in combating
COVID-19. The vaccine has done wonders in
battling the different variants of COVID-19 and lessening
infection or preventing it altogether.
The arrival of effective new antiviral COVID-19
medication from Pfizer and Merck also gives doctors
the power to treat someone at the early onset of the
virus and help them avoid suffering serious or even
Mask usage, if you recall, came about in the spring
of 2020 as the nation bore the deadly brunt of COVID
At the time, not even the best medical experts had
an answer for the virus; there was no proven effective
treatment, and no vaccine had yet been developed.
Doctors could treat the symptoms for the most
ill patients, but had no way to actually wipe the virus
out.But now, the miracles of modern medicine and
technology have given us the tools that we need
to stop COVID-19 from incurring the carnage we
experienced two years ago.
The Omicron outbreak proved that; even as the
virus spread like wildfire across New York and sickened
tens of thousands of people, neither hospitals
nor morgues became overcrowded — because the
vaccines and treatments saved lives.
So should New Yorkers continue to mask up? Yes,
as long as the CDC advises it. Yes, if it gives New
Yorkers a sense of comfort.
Hopefully, we’re past the period when masks are
a must. And the more of us who trust the science, get
the vaccine/booster and accept treatment if sick with
COVID, the greater the chances we can put the masks
behind us for good very soon.
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TIMESLEDGER | Q 12 NS.COM | FEB. 18 - FEB. 24, 2022
New York state’s mask mandate for most indoor public settings is coming to an end again, but New Yorkers
should continue to mask up as long as the CDC advises it. Photo via Getty Images
THE NEXT INTERIM LIRR PRESIDENT
SHOULD HAVE COME FROM WITHIN
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Long Island Rail Road President Phil Eng is retiring
effective as of Feb. 26.
“I can retire knowing that I leave the LIRR
well positioned for continued success with a
dedicated management team and a tenacious workforce
who are delivering the best train performance
in LIRR history, while fulfilling our commitments on
a historic capital program,” Eng said about his retirement.
MTA Chairman Janno Lieber announced that he
is appointing Metro North President Catherine Renaldi
to serve as interim LIRR President. Lieber’s justification
for this action is that, “we need somebody who
knows the commuter railroads, we need somebody
who knows the MTA.” He went on to say, “we need
somebody who knows Grand Central, where the LIRR
and Metro North are about to be roommates.”
Serving as either LIRR or Metro North president is
a full time job. It requires a good working knowledge
of the agency organization, staff, operations, facilities
and customers needs.
The portfolio also includes ongoing capital projects
such as the $11.2 billion Eastside Access to Grand Central
Terminal, $2.6 billion Main Line Third Track and
$450 million Jamaica Station Capacity Improvements.
There are also many other projects contained within
the LIRR $5.7 billion share of MTA’s $51-billion, fiveyear
capital plan (2020-2024).
There is little time for on the job training to run the
nation’s largest commuter rail road. Any good organization
develops in-house talent by promoting from
within. Lieber could have appointed either the LIRR
executive vice president, senior vice president for operations,
senior vice president for engineering, or one
of several other experienced LIRR vice presidents as
interim LIRR president.
Lieber’s justification of Renaldi’s appointment was
that she “knows commuter railroads, the MTA and
Grand Central Terminal.”
Why didn’t Lieber acknowledge that any member
of Eng’s current senior leadership already knows the
LIRR. They would be ready to step in on day one with
no need for on the job training.
Why didn’t Lieber have confidence in the ability
of someone from Eng’s management team already in
place to fill this position on a temporary basis? It is an
insult to the hard working current LIRR management
team, employees and loyal commuters to not appoint
someone from within the LIRR.
Renaldi has her hands full just trying to manage
Metro North, the nation’s second largest commuter
railroad. This includes Metro North’s $4.6 billion
share of the MTA’s $51-billion, five-year capital plan.
How many months will go by before the next full
time permanent LIRR president comes on board?
Larry Penner, Great Neck