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Should New Yorkers start wearing masks indoors again?

CDC signs point to keeping your face covered

Written by
Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner

You may want to say goodbye to the lower half of your acquaintances' faces for the foreseeable future, it was nice seeing their mouths and chins while it lasted.

New guidance from the CDC on Tuesday, July 27 suggests that "fully vaccinated persons wear masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission." Unfortunately for New Yorkers, all five boroughs fit into that category. 

While many local businesses have allowed unmasked individuals indoors, on the honor system that they are fully vaccinated, those rules may change with this new guidance from the CDC. To date, Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx and Queens have substantial rates of transmission, with 2 percent of COVID-19 tests coming back positive, while Staten Island has high levels of community transmission, with 3 percent of tests yielding positive results. Staten Island has been known as a hotspot, and has a low vaccination rate compared to the other boroughs.

So far, the city has not made any official mandates about indoor ask wearing. "Our health team is reviewing and we'll have more to say on it in the next few days," Mayor de Blasio said in a news conference. Masks are still required on public transit, as they have been since last year. 

Keep in mind that many people with COVID-19 will not display symptoms or get tested, meaning that the actual rate of COVID-19 in these boroughs could be higher, and only increase, without indoor mask wearing. For up-to-date tracking on your borough's transmission rate, check the CDC's Covid Data tracker

With the more transmissible delta variant circulating across the country, the pandemic is still very much a threat to New Yorkers. The good news is that over 68 percent of adults in New York City are fully vaccinated, and over 62 percent of New Yorkers have at least one dose. Vaccines are now easy to receive across the city without an appointment. Starting this Friday, July 30, New Yorkers getting their first dose at a city-run vaccine site will be awarded $100 on a prepaid debit card.

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