This week, Gov. Kathy Hochul ended the mask requirement on public transit as the state moves to a new phase of combatting COVID-19.
But even as Hochul is winding down COVID-19 restrictions in New York, some Republican lawmakers want her to completely relinquish her power to oversee the pandemic.
"Let's get back to normal. God forbid something happens again," said state Sen. Sue Serino. "We could also talk about it as a Legislature, but right now people want to get back to normal."
Republican lawmakers have called for Hochul to give up her broad powers to respond to the pandemic. State Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh said the authority's usefulness has long since ended.
"Emergency powers should be just for that — emergencies," Walsh said. "I think it should be reserved for something that's immediate and unexpected and beyond the norm."
In recent weeks, Republicans have raised concerns with the procurement of pandemic-related supplies like test kits that can be conducted with reduced oversight. Hochul's office has maintained proper procedures are being followed and the orders are necessary to combat a fast rise in cases during a surge of the highly contagious omicron variant.
At the same time, Hochul in recent weeks has moved to scale back COVID-19 guidelines. Schools are reopening under less stinrgent testing and quarantining rules. Democrats like Sen. Michelle Hinchey called that move important.
"We know in-person learning is the best type of learning for students with the socialization and the engagement with teachers," Hinchey said.
State Assemblywoman Pat Fahy also praised the relaxed guidelines, pointing to the effects of remote learning on disadvantaged kids.
"We know from all the early studies now we have lost serious ground, especially for children who do not have full support at home," Fahy said.
But scaling back Hochul's powers now may be a mistake ahead of a potential spike in COVID-19 cases in the cold-weather months, she said.
"We're going to see a jump," Fahy said. "I'm OK with her retaining some of those powers now just to get through this next jump as we expect to see some of the COVID rates rise, then we will re-examine them as we come back into session."