Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday defended not wearing a mask at an indoor news conference, saying he and his staff were appropriately spaced six feet apart to avoid spread of the coronavirus. 

“The rule is six feet social distancing,” Cuomo said when asked about wearing a mask. “Do you want to change the rule?”

Cuomo has been working closely with the aides in the room during the pandemic, including his top advisor Melissa DeRosa and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker. Cuomo and his staff are also tested for the virus regularly, he said. 

“We have sat in these seats six feet apart socially distanced without masks since COVID started,” Cuomo said. “The rule is six feet apart. And that’s what we do.”

The governor has also been a staunch supporter of mask wearing and enforcement of the guideline during the pandemic. The state has backed a public service campaign to promote mask wearing, and Cuomo is urging local officials to better enforce rules.

But Cuomo's defense of going maskless indoors when socially distanced came as the Centers for Disease Control on Monday announced it is possible to spread the virus in close indoor quarters where ventilation is poor. Droplets of the virus can hang in the air for up to hours at a time, the CDC found.

Cuomo, asked about the growing evidence the virus can spread through the air said, "If there’s new data, then we should come up with a new law."

Signs posted in the state Capitol in Albany require people to wear masks in hallways and common areas. Typically, reporters who attend news conferences are asked to space themselves six feet apart.