NYC Schools Mask Mandate Won’t Return Despite High COVID Alert Level – NBC New York (47)

NEW YORK – Mask mandates will not return to New York City public schools despite transition from city to high COVID alert status a day ago and the notice most recent indoor masking for allMayor Eric Adams said Wednesday.

Under the new tiered COVID alert plan that Adams and his team released earlier this year, which is based on the CDC system, a high alert status means New Yorkers must “wear a mask at all times.” indoor public places and crowded outdoor spaces,” among other precautions.

The Health Commissioner issued an updated mask-wearing advisory even before the alert level changed, urging all New Yorkers to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, as cases of the subvariants rise. of highly contagious Omicron.

Mayor Adams recommended the same to the public on Monday, when his administration first warned that the move to high alert could happen within days. It took less than 24 hours.

Still, Mayor Adams insisted that rising infection rates in New York City did not justify a return to such restrictions. The mayor added that the most recent numbers related to COVID figures are one more reason to stay prepared and take precautions, but they are not a reason to panic.

“I’m proud of what we’re doing. We’re not going to let COVID get the best of us,” said Mayor Adams, adding that hospitalization numbers in the city are stable at the moment and COVID testing widespread in the school district. largest public in the country is working.

Dr. Torian Easterling, first deputy commissioner and director of equity for the city’s Health Department, defended the decision, saying mask mandates aren’t necessary right now because enough people are heeding the recommendation to flag the difference.

Easterling also said that he expects the current wave of COVID, at least the fifth, of this pandemic, to be over in a matter of weeks.

Schools have long been a bright spot in terms of the spread of COVID during the pandemic, and infection rates in individual buildings tend to trend below the community average.

As of Wednesday, the city’s Department of Education (DOE) is tracking 2,083 current COVID cases throughout its school system, 74% of them among students.

According to the DOE website, there are currently no classrooms or school buildings closed in the five boroughs due to an outbreak. But a look at the map shows that few areas have been impervious to the COVID subvariants fueling citywide case rates.

The blanket mask mandate in New York City public schools ended in early March as case and hospitalization rates plummeted across all five boroughs following unprecedented spikes on those fronts in January due to the Omicron strain. original.

The mask-wearing mandate for young children, the one that affects children in daycare centers and public 3K programs across the city, who do not yet qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine, was set to expire in early April, but it spread again as cases increased. It remains in force, with no set end date, after surviving a legal challenge. Mayor Adams did not share any updates that Wednesday.

New York City had been in a “medium” COVID alert status since May 2 after passing a critical infection rate threshold: 200 new daily cases per 100,000 residents over a rolling seven-day period. The upgrade to “high” alert status means the COVID hospitalization rate has also hit a key benchmark: 10 new admissions per 100,000 residents on an ongoing basis. Both are based on current community guidelines from the CDC.

At the time health officials announced the switch to medium alert, the rolling rate of hospitalizations was 6.8 per 100,000 population, while the rolling rate of new cases was 218.22. Both rates have been steadily increasing.

In particular, a good portion of hospital admissions labeled COVID-19 involve people who weren’t admitted for that reason in the first place, meaning their diagnoses may never have been detected had they not sought treatment for another reason. not related.

More than half of people hospitalized with COVID statewide (52.4%) did not have the diagnosis listed as a reason for admission, according to state data. In New York City, the proportion is even higher (58.1%). That means COVID infections in more than half of New York City’s hospitalized patients may have gone undetected if nothing else had warranted medical attention. And that, experts say, is good news in terms of the severity of COVID.

That’s why Mayor Adams and others say it’s time to go back to tried and tested protocol.

“Now is the time to double down on protecting ourselves and others by making choices that can keep our friends, neighbors, family members and co-workers from getting sick,” the New York City Health Commissioner said Tuesday. , Dr. Ashwin Vasan, announcing the transition from high alert status.

“As a city, we have the tools to mitigate the impact of this wave, including distributing tests, masks and promoting treatments,” he added. “Getting back to low risk depends on everyone doing their part, and if we follow the guidance, our forecasts anticipate that the peak of this wave won’t last long. What we do now can make a difference.”

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