Federal judge in Rochester refuses to bring temporary halt to NY COVID mandates

·2 min read

A Rochester-based federal judge Thursday refused the request of a Geneseo man to temporarily bring a halt to the state's coronavirus-related mandates.

No distinctions should be drawn between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, Michael Corrin Strong, a retired lawyer from Geneseo, argued in a federal lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge David Larimer ruled that Strong had not shown evidence of "irreparable harm," which Larimer decided was necessary for a temporary restraining order Strong sought.

Larimer said that Strong had only shown proof of "some minor inconveniences" — the fact that Strong is required to wear a mask at his gym, that he could not attend a concert without proof of a vaccination or a negative COVID test, and that he has to wear a mask to sell produce at a farmer's market.

"While (Strong) has presented evidence that he claims demonstrates the folly of the state’s actions concerning masking requirements, vaccinations, etc., (state attorneys) have also come forward with substantial evidence of the medical and scientific bases for the measures they have taken," Larimer wrote.

"Courts are loath and ill-equipped to substitute their judgment for those of the health authorities charged with the responsibility for protecting public health, and the materials submitted by (Strong) here provide little reason to think that this case will prove to be an exception to that general rule."

In a telephone interview, Strong said he has twice had COVID and thinks he has a natural immunity and is not in need of a vaccine. He said at age 71 he would have difficulty with masks when exercising.

Vaccine mandates, he said, are leading to "a severe segregation and it's growing."

Larimer wrote that Strong gave no evidence of medical difficulties that would be proof of the harmful effects of mask-wearing.

Strong's lawsuit will continue. The state is expected to respond to his challenge to the mandates in coming weeks. He will then also respond, before a final ruling.

The courts in New York have been hit with many challenges to coronavirus mandates, a fact that Larimer noted in his ruling. Almost uniformly, Larimer wrote, courts have ruled against the same challenges to the mandates made by Strong.

"Obviously the last word has not been written on this matter in the New York state courts; proceedings will continue for at least the near future," Larimer wrote.

Contact Gary Craig at gcraig@gannett.com or at 585-258-2479. Follow him on Twitter at gcraig1.

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Judge in Rochester NY refuses to temporarily halt COVID mandates

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