Mayor Bill de Blasio recommends everyone spending any time indoors with anyone else wear a mask regardless of their vaccination status, but stopped short Monday of making such a measure a requirement in New York City.
de Blasio's decision runs counter to new recommendations coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which calls for everyone to wear masks in areas where there is high transmission rate of the coronavirus — especially the more contagious delta variant. Studies have showed even vaccinated people can contribute to spreading this variant, and the CDC believes returning to mask usage indoors for everyone could help prevent the spread of the virus.
"So what was true before the CDC guidance was the separation between what vaccinated people and unvaccinated people could do was clear, and the way that unvaccinated people had additional requirements in terms of wears masks was clear," de Blasio told reporters Monday, according to a transcript. "What we'll be saying today ... is we want to strongly recommend that people wear masks in indoor settings, even if you're vaccinated."
If everyone around you is vaccinated, there should be no problems, the mayor said. But if you are among unvaccinated people — or you're not sure of the vaccination status of those around you — the recommendation de Blasio can give is to wear a mask.
"Even though I have been fully vaccinated, I will be wearing a mask in public indoor settings, in part because I'm a parent of a young child who is not yet eligible for vaccination, and I want to take care to protect her," said the city's health and mental hygiene department commissioner Dave Chokshi. "Most vital, as the mayor said, is for people who are not yet fully vaccinated to wear face coverings any time they're outside of their own home, and masks offer an important layer of protection for those who are immunocompromised or otherwise at higher risk — even if fully vaccinated."
The decision comes on the heels of Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordering that all Metropolitan Transportation Authority employees as well as those working on the New York side of the port authority be vaccinated by Labor Day, or face daily COVID-19 testing.
More than 700 people were hospitalized for the coronavirus across the state as of yesterday, according to Cuomo, with a positivity rate of nearly 2.7 percent from 93,800 tests.
Although New York continues to inch closer to the 70 percent threshold of fully vaccinated adults, de Blasio says it's more important now than ever to get this protection against the coronavirus.
"Vaccines are the No. 1 most powerful weapon against COVID by far," the mayor said, "but we also clearly believe there's a place for masks. Everything we do is vaccine-centric. The entire strategy is around vaccines, but of course, we want to make sure people are using masks in all the right ways."