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COVID-19: CDC Now Recommends Wearing Masks Indoors In These 16 NY Counties

The CDC's COVID-19 risk map in New York
The CDC's COVID-19 risk map in New York Photo Credit: CDC

Mask mandates in New York are being eased by federal health officials following the surge of new infections in early spring.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance on mask-wearing to concentrate on COVID-19 hospitalizations, hospital capacity, and newly reported infections, leaving most of the state being encouraged to return to wearing facial coverings indoors.

With the state's seven-day average COVID-19 positivity rate at 6.73 percent as of Thursday, June 2, according to Gov. Kathy Hochul, and hospitalizations on the decline, many counties in New York are being permitted to lift indoor mandates.

The CDC offers a color-coded map - with counties designated as orange, yellow, or green — to help guide local officials and residents.

In green counties, local officials can drop any indoor masking rules. Yellow means people at high risk for severe disease should be cautious and consider masking up based on personal risk, and orange designates places where the CDC suggests masking should be universal indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

As of Friday, June 3, in New York, 16 counties were in the "orange zone," with the rest in the "green" or "yellow zones." 

These counties are currently being advised to wear masks indoors in New York: 

  • Suffolk;
  • Nassau;
  • Westchester;
  • Putnam;
  • Orange;
  • Sullivan;
  • Albany;
  • Rensselaer;
  • Washington;
  • Schenectady
  • Montgomery;
  • Washington;
  • Saratoga;
  • Warren
  • Essex;
  • Clinton.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky previously cited protection from immunity rising both from vaccination and infection as reasons for altering the guidance on masks.

"Over 55 percent of the U.S. population is in an area with a medium or high community level," Walensky said. "New areas have shifted to medium and high COVID-19 community levels.

"Know your community level and precautions needed.," she added. "It is important to know what prevention steps you should take based on your COVID-19 community level." 

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