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Free Pass To NYS Parks For Those Who Get COVID Shot, Updated Mask Guidance For Children

Letchworth State Park in New York
Jim Levulis
Letchworth State Park in New York

New York State is offering a new incentive to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19, free passes to state parks this Memorial Day weekend. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo, appearing at Jones Beach on Long Island Monday, said unvaccinated New Yorkers going to many state parks this weekend will be able to get a shot at a pop-up vaccine clinic. In exchange, they will receive a free two-day pass to all state run parks in New York. 

“Stop, get a vaccine, you get a two-day free pass to come into any state park,” said Cuomo, who said the shots will be available at 16 state parks.

Also anyone who receives their first vaccine between May 24 and May 31 is eligible to receive a free two-day pass to any of the 181 New York State Parks, valid through September 30.

It’s the second time in recent days that the governor has offered incentives to the unvaccinated. Those who get vaccinated at 10 state-run sites through this coming Friday get a lottery ticket to become eligible for a $5 million drawing.  

54.9% of all New Yorkers over 18 have received all of their required doses. But when children are counted, the total number of New Yorkers vaccinated stands at 44.1%. But, the rate of vaccinations has stalled.  

Also on Monday, the state's health department and Office of Children and Family Services updated their guidance on masks for children in child care centers.

"Both agencies understand how difficult it is to require the youngest children to wear masks, and have jointly agreed to revise guidance allowing child care providers to continue the practices and protocols that have been in place since the start of the pandemic by encouraging, not requiring, children aged 2-5 to wear masks, effective immediately," the statement said. 

Republicans and some Democrats in the state legislature had called for the end of a mandate that required all children over the age of two to wear face coverings while at day care centers.

"I want to thank the providers and parents who joined us to voice their opposition to this out-of-touch edict, and all of my Senate Republican colleagues for their advocacy on behalf of our youngest children," Senate Republican Minority Leader Rob Ortt said in a statement after the updated guidance was announced. 

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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