During his daily briefing on Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that his daughter Mariah, who was sitting next to him, suggested he hadn't been effectively communicating the importance of wearing a mask. “Mariah suggested it’s the way I am communicating it,” Cuomo said. He later wryly added, “Maybe I haven’t been persuasive enough or effective enough in my communication skills.”

One way Cuomo can communicate the importance of wearing a mask is to wear one himself. At Monday's briefing, he addressed a room full of people without wearing a mask himself, saying: "You could literally kill someone because you didn't want to wear a mask. How cruel and irresponsible." Instead of putting a mask on, however, he announced a PSA contest today, which he says was his daughter's idea.

They've set up a website, wearamask.ny.gov, where New Yorkers can submit videos that show fellow New Yorkers "why it is so important to wear a mask in public."

The terms: the videos should be "less than 30 seconds long and show a mask properly worn over the mouth and nose," and need to be submitted by May 30th. Mariah Cuomo suggested there would be more details in coming days.

A winner will be chosen in June, and that video will be used as the official PSA. If anyone has a direct line to David Lynch, please ask him to submit one (in the 1990s he created a PSA for NYC centered around litter and rats).

Christopher Street Pier, Sunday May 3rd, 2020.

Gretchen Robinette / Gothamist

There has been mixed messaging on masks in the U.S. for months, which has not helped matters. Americans were being told not to wear a mask back in February, because it would be taking a much needed mask away from a healthcare worker on the frontlines. So in those early days, wearing a mask could have been seen as selfish. But then Mayor Bill de Blasio finally recommended that New Yorkers wear masks or, as he put it, "face coverings," which could be something like a bandana. Soon after, on April 15th, Cuomo issued an executive order that all New Yorkers must wear a mask while in public and unable to social distance. This last part has seems to throw a wrench in that executive order — while it may make sense in less populated areas, in New York City it's almost impossible to know whether you'll be within 6-feet of anyone at any given moment, so the caveat should be dropped here (that's my personal opinion, Cuomo).

Scott Lynch / Gothamist

As for why a mask helps, as the Atlantic pointed out recently, while N95 masks "can be worn to protect the wearer from getting infected," other masks (like bandanas) "can be worn prevent transmission to others, and this is their most important use for society. If we lower the likelihood of one person’s infecting another, the impact is exponential, so even a small reduction in those odds results in a huge decrease in deaths. Luckily, blocking transmission outward at the source is much easier. It can be accomplished with something as simple as a cloth mask."

The announcement comes after a warm weekend where the city parks became crowded with New Yorkers, plenty who were not wearing masks, including on Christopher Street Pier, where we witnesses several groups declining the offer of a free mask from the NYPD, who were there handing them out, though were not enforcing social distancing.