A KN95 mask.

A KN95 mask. Credit: TNS/Chris Urso

The state’s top doctor urged employers on Tuesday to make employees feel comfortable in wearing masks on the job.

Dr. Mary T. Bassett, the state health commissioner, said she is concerned about workers feeling pressured by co-workers and managers not to wear a mask for protection from the coronavirus.

Bassett, citing guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said wearing masks in public indoor areas is recommended on Long Island and other regions of New York State with increased numbers of COVID-19 cases.

She also noted the use of face coverings is mandated only for health care facilities and mass transit.

“We want every individual to assess their need for masking,” Bassett told a meeting of the Long Island Association’s health, education and nonprofit committee. "We don’t want masking to be stigmatized. … We want people to feel free to wear a mask,” she said.

Bassett expressed worry about servers and other restaurant workers, saying she doesn’t see many with face coverings on.

“I’m concerned that greeters in restaurants and other places may be under pressure to be unmasked because they are the first person [that the customer] encounters, and everybody wants to get back” to normal, Bassett said. “I’m appealing to employers to make it real — that anyone who chooses to wear a mask should be able to do so.”

Bassett also encouraged parents to have their children vaccinated against COVID-19. She said the shots and boosters prevent serious illness and death.

"We are all exhausted by the impact of the pandemic but the virus doesn't get tired," Bassett said. 

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