As New York City public school students have gotten acclimated to shedding the COVID masks, there has been some disappointing news in a neighboring Bronx county. The county of Westchester is experiencing a surge in COVID omicron subvariant cases.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced last week he doesn’t plan to reinstate a mask mandate for public schools even in light of the Westchester County surge.
However, the city health department encouraged people to wear high-quality masks in all public, indoor settings and crowded outdoor spaces, regardless of whether vaccination status is known.
Adams said in a news conference last week if the city declares a state of emergency in response to every variant that comes, we won’t function as a city.
In March the mayor introduced a new color-coded alert system to let people know what to do in high-risk situations. On May 20 the Bronx entered the orange level, or “high” risk. This color comes with recommendations to “require face masks in all public indoor settings,” according to the mayor’s website.
Instead he wants to distribute home tests and anti-viral medicine. Dr. Ashwin Vasan, New York City health commissioner encouraged New York to consider using the tools to blunt the impact of the wave.
“Now it is time to double down on protecting ourselves and each other by making choices that can keep our friends, neighbors, relatives, and coworkers from getting sick,” Vasan said.
The seven-day average of cases per 100,000 in Westchester is on a Covid-19 surge of 30 percent.
As of May 22, the state health department reported there were 925 new cases in Westchester.
In New York state, 6,460 residents tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 5,353,269.
P.S. 81 Robert J. Christen School parent coordinator Nina Velazquez is unsure how all parents will react to a new mask mandate. Generally, most parents in public schools were against the mandate. Especially, for the youngest of the bunch.
Masks are not required in the classroom besides for the youngest group of children 3-K through Pre-K because of their ineligibility to receive the vaccination.
“The best way to prevent serious illness and hospitalization from Covid-19 is by getting fully vaccinated and staying up to date on your booster doses,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a recent press release.
Adams chose not to reinforce mask mandates because 76 percent of the city is fully vaccinated while 90 percent have at least one.
In addition, hospitalization and death rates remain low despite previous waves. About 44 percent of positive New York City COVID cases were admitted to a hospital and one death was recorded in the Bronx.
More than two years ago, SAR Academy was at the epicenter of the COVID outbreak as it and its sister high school were closed on March 3, 2020, after a student’s father from New Rochelle tested positive for the coronavirus. That was among the first cases in the Northeast.
“It is our understanding that, currently, the overwhelming majority of known positive cases in our community are due to specific contacts related to events in New Rochelle and subsequent contacts with people who became positive from these events,” the school said then in documents that were made available to parents two years ago reported by The Riverdale Press.