NYC Reinstitutes Mask Advisory Amid Fears of New Omicron Variant

Yesterday, Nov. 29, New York City reinstituted its mask advisory, strongly encouraging New Yorkers to wear masks indoors and in all public settings, regardless of vaccination status. This news comes in response to the emergence of the coronavirus omicron variant.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said that the omicron variant has not yet been detected in New York, and they reinforced the notion that vaccinations are still the most important tool in slowing down the spread of COVID-19.

Although New York is encouraging the use of masks in public settings, like at grocery stores or in building lobbies, offices and retail stores, the city has stopped short of mandating them.

“There are no omicron cases here in New York City at this moment. It is very likely there will be, but there are no cases at this moment,” de Blasio said during his media availability. “But nonetheless, we are preparing to take action. Our entire focus once again is going to be on vaccination. Based on everything we know, vaccination is crucial to any strategy for addressing omicron.”

According to recent data, unvaccinated New Yorkers are seven times more likely to get infected than vaccinated residents, Dr. Chokshi explained.

“Higher quality masks like KN95s or KF94s can offer an additional layer of protection,” added Dr. Chokshi. “And masks are still required for everyone in public transit, health care settings, schools and congregate settings.” 

Yesterday, de Blasio also expanded vaccine mandates, giving the over 100,000 New Yorkers who work in childcare and early intervention programs until Dec. 20 to get the vaccine. He also doubled down on encouraging all New Yorkers working in the private sector to get vaccinated as well.

Across New York City, vaccination rates are high, compared to elsewhere in the United States. In total, 88 percent of the city’s population has received at least one dose as of Nov. 30, while so have about 82 percent of those living in Bushwick’s primary area code, 11237.

Still, cases continue to rise in New York City, with the holiday season entering full swing. Over the past two days, roughly 3,500 new cases were detected, according to city data.

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