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COVID-19: CDC Now Recommends Wearing Masks Indoors In These 40-Plus NY Counties

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

Most New Yorkers are being advised by federal health officials to start masking up due to the most recent surge of fresh COVID-19 infections that have been plaguing all 10 of the state's regions.

With the positivity rate in New York topping 10 percent, according to the most recent update from the Department of Health, and with cases on the rise, most counties in the state have been advised to return to masking up while in indoor settings under guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Earlier this year, the CDC updated its guidance on mask-wearing to concentrate on COVID hospitalizations, hospital capacity, and newly reported infections, permitting most of the state to drop the mandate.

The agency now offers a color-coded map - with counties designated as orange, yellow, or green — to help guide local officials and residents in regard to certain mandates, including masks.

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

As of Tuesday, May 17, only the Bronx fell under the “green” category for the second straight week.

These counties in New York were designated in the “yellow" zone:

  • Kings (Brooklyn);
  • Queens;
  • Rockland;
  • Delaware;
  • Otsego;
  • Schohaire;
  • Fulton;
  • Montgomery;
  • Chenango;
  • Seneca;
  • St. Lawrence;
  • Allegany;
  • Cattaraugus;
  • Chautauqua.

All others in New York were in the “orange” zone where masking is being reccomended..

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

“Anybody is certainly welcome to wear a mask at any time if they feel safer wearing a mask,” she said during an earlier news briefing to announce the changes.

“We want to make sure our hospitals are OK and people are not coming in with severe disease,” she continued. “Anyone can go to the CDC website, find out the volume of disease in their community and make that decision.” 

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