ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- Masks are back in New York State starting Monday, December 13th.

Chemung County Executive Chris Moss held a news conference Friday afternoon to talk about the local COVID status, and what community members, as well as business owners, need to know.

"I today am announcing that we are enacting a statewide indoor mask mandate unless a business has a vaccination mandate," Gov. Kathy Hochul stated Friday morning. 

Citing the anticipated winter surge of COVID cases, and increase in hospitalizations, Governor Kathy Hochul ordered masks to be a daily practice indoors once again, beginning Monday. 

Locally in Chemung County, officials are asking for everyone's cooperation.

"For local businesses we just wanted them to know, yep, you have to have a mask mandate -- so basically your patrons your employees should be wearing masks. So when you go to the store you should see everybody wearing masks again and so-forth," said Chemung County Executive Chris Moss. 

"I will tell you, the phone's been ringing off the hook since it came out on both sides of the fence; how can this happen? but again please remember it is a state mandate, it's not a county mandate," Moss continued. 

Chemung County Public Health Director Pete Buzzetti shared critical data surrounding the current hospital situation. Over the past week, out of up to 117 hospital beds, Arnot Ogden has been averaging seven available beds a day. The ICU has a 20 bed capacity and is averaging three available beds per day. 

"That's extremely troubling , especially when we need the hospital capacity to handle things that happen in normal times: car accidents, heart attacks, strokes - things like that, really puts us as disadvantage. I think Arnot's been doing a good job bringing people into the emergency department, holding on to them for a little while til they can get them ups, but there's not a cavalry for this," Buzzetti explained. 

While the mask mandate asks for enforcement to come from local health departments, both Moss and Buzzetti say there's simply not enough resources. 

"The staff is spread thin, so the question back to the state was, how exactly are we going to enforce - who's going to enforce? and of course they kicked back on, why don't we have the state police do it? the state said no, it's the local health department's responsibility," Moss said. 

The state released a Frequently Asked Questions resource page for businesses and the general public, which can be found here: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/node/13521