New Yorkers are being encouraged by federal health officials to start masking back up amid the latest surge of new COVID-19 cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has 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.
With the state reaching a seven-day average COVID-19 infection rate above 7 percent, and new cases on the rise across New York, most of the state has been advised to take precautions to help curtail the spread of the virus.
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 orange designates places where the CDC suggests masking should be universal, regardless of vaccination status.
As of Friday, May 13, only the Bronx fell under the “green” category.
These counties in New York were designated in the “yellow" zone:
- Kings (Brooklyn);
- St. Lawrence;
All others in New York were in the “orange” zone.
“The good news is we have tools to address this,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett stated. “I urge all New Yorkers to remain vigilant and take steps to protect themselves and their families.”
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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