New York City recommends vaccinated people start wearing masks indoors again

August 2, 2021

Photo by Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Following the CDC’s new guidance last week on indoor mask-wearing, Mayor de Blasio and Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi are recommending that even vaccinated New Yorkers start to once again wear masks in public indoor settings. The CDC made their recommendations based on a national rise in cases tied to the Delta variant and findings that vaccinated people can spread the variant. In New York City, the number of new cases has risen by nearly 20 percent in the last month.

The CDC says even those fully vaccinated should “wear a mask indoors in public” in areas “of substantial or high transmission.” Staten Island falls in the high-transmission category and all other NYC counties (Queens, Kings, Bronx, New York) are substantial.

Prior to the CDC findings, New York City already had a mask mandate in place, regardless of vaccination status, for the following locations:

  • Buses, subways, and mass transit
  • Hospitals and health care settings
  • Schools
  • Congregate settings

Unvaccinated New Yorkers have been required to wear masks in all indoor public settings and in all outdoor public settings.

Previously, Mayor de Blasio said he would not reinstate an indoor mask mandate for vaccinated people, as he believed it would actually deter unvaccinated New Yorkers from getting inoculated. Though today’s announcement was not a mandate, it is a reversal based on the CDC’s guidance and cases rising in New York City. As of July 29, NYC’s seven-day average for confirmed and probable Covid cases was 1,218. Just one month earlier on June 29, it was only 217, according to city data.

In his own press conference today, Governor Cuomo noted that the state cannot mandate indoor mask-wearing, as it is not a law (the governor’s emergency powers expired in March), but that local governments can make their own recommendations.

“Today, I’m making a strong recommendation that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask in public indoor settings. This is based on our review of the latest scientific evidence showing that the Delta variant of the coronavirus can spread even more easily than was previously thought,” said Dr. Chokshi.

But both Dr. Chockshi and Mayor de Blasio maintain that the biggest way to defeat Covid and the Delta variant is to get as many New Yorkers vaccinated as possible. As of this morning, 72 percent of New York City adults ages 18+ have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 66 percent are fully vaccinated. However, 1,880,035 New Yorkers remain completely unvaccinated, according to the city’s vaccine tracker.

Both city and state governments are also taking steps to mandate vaccines. Last week, it was announced that all state employees and all municipal city employees will be required to get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Today, Governor Cuomo said that the MTA and Port Authority will implement the same requirements. Private entities, such as Broadway theaters and some restaurants, are also instating these mandates. Broadway has already said that all audience members, regardless of vaccination status, will have to wear masks indoors. Any city employee who is not vaccinated will have to wear their mask indoors.


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