State health officials on Friday recommended indoor mask-wearing for New Yorkers in high-risk counties for COVID-19 as case counts have increased over the last several weeks.
There are now 45 counties in the state deemed to be high risk for COVID transmission, an increase from 36 counties a week ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sixteen counties are designated as being at medium risk, according to the CDC.
Mask-wearing indoors is also being recommended for people who are personally at high risk for the virus.
The seven-day average of cases per 100,000 residents stands at 49.26, an increase from 34.5 cases per 100,000 on April 28.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, who tested positive for COVID earlier this week and has been isolating in Albany, spoke with county executives in a phone call updating them on the newest recommendations, along with Health Commissioner Mary Bassett and Operations Director Kathryn Garcia.
“As we closely monitor the numbers and as case levels remain high across the state, now is the time for every New Yorker to get vaccinated and boosted, test following exposure or symptoms and stay home if unwell, even if you initially test negative on an at-home test. If you test positive, consult with your provider about treatments," Bassett said. “In accordance with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we recommend that all New Yorkers in high-risk COVID-19 counties and all New Yorkers at-risk of severe disease wear a mask in public indoor places, regardless of vaccination status. These public health measures, as well as ensuring proper air ventilation when gathering, will help reduce COVID-19 transmission in communities and lower the risk of serious illness and hospitalization for individuals. We will continue to work with local partners and make every tool at our disposal widely available to New Yorkers, as we move forward through the pandemic.”
New York officials earlier this year largely relaxed indoor mask rules put in place amid a surge in COVID cases during the wintertime brought on by the omicron variant of the virus. Indoor mask-wearing for businesses, schools and other public gathering spaces have been dropped, but remain in place for mass transit, jails and health care settings as well as homeless shelters.