New York City pol calls for renewal of indoor mask mandate as cases climb

July 19, 2021

Photo by Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit on Flickr

As New York City sees an uptick in coronavirus cases for the first time in months, an elected official is calling for the renewal of an indoor mask mandate. Council Member Mark Levine, who also chairs the Council’s Committee on Health, plans on asking the state Health Department to reinstate the face-covering rule, even for those fully vaccinated, as the New York Post first reported.

“Cases are rising in NYC (up 2X+ in past 2 weeks, driven by delta,” Levine wrote in a tweet on Saturday, as local news site I Love the Upper West Side first spotted. “Indoor mask use in NYC is falling–in delis, stores, subways, movie theaters etc. We need to reverse this trend.”

He added: “It’s time to renew the indoor mask mandate, including for those who are vax’d.”

The percentage of New York City residents who have tested positive for the virus has grown over the last few weeks. As of Monday, the seven-day average rate of positivity increased to 1.69 percent, with 516 new cases reported.

City officials blame the Delta variant for the city’s recent uptick in new virus cases, most of which have been reported in residents who remain unvaccinated. The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene last week released data showing the Delta variant making up 69 percent of the cases sequenced by the department, now the dominant variant.

Since May 19, fully vaccinated New Yorkers are not required to wear masks or maintain six feet of distance from others indoors. Last week, citing an uptick in cases, Los Angeles County reinstated an indoor mask mandate for all residents, the first major county in the country to renew the mandate.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he has no plan to do the same in New York City. “Masks have value, unquestionably,” the mayor said during a press briefing on Monday. “But masks are not going at the roof of the problem, vaccination is.”

De Blasio added: “We do not intend a mask mandate. We do intend to double down on vaccination.”

According to the city, roughly 4.8 million New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with thousands more getting their vaccine every day.

“The single most important thing we can do to keep individuals. as well as our communities and our cities, safe, is to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” Dr. Dave Chokshi, the Department of Health Commissioner, said on Monday.

A study released last week by epidemiologists at Yale University found that New York City’s vaccination campaign has so far saved more than 8,300 lives and averted roughly 250,000 cases and 44,000 hospitalizations.

De Blasio has said the city will continue to watch the number of new hospitalizations, which have remained stable so far, and make adjustments to policies as needed. Masks are still required to be worn on public transit and in New York City schools.


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