What there is to know
- As of Monday, indoor masks will no longer be required for anyone in New York City schools and camps statewide, regardless of vaccination status pending any objections from the CDC, Governor Andrew said Cuomo.
- State Health Commissioner Dr Howard Zucker sent a letter to the CDC asking if the agency has any objections to the change in approach, which would take effect on Monday, regardless of vaccine status .
- Schools and individual camps would still be able to apply higher standards if they wished; there was no immediate response on Friday from the CDC or the New York City Department of Education
New York plans to eliminate its indoor mask requirement for students and adults in schools and camps across the state starting Monday, unless the CDC objected, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday.
At this point, mask wearing will be strongly encouraged indoors but is not mandatory for students, campers and staff, teachers and counselors of any age, whether fully immunized or not. Exterior masking is already encouraged at this point only for unvaccinated campers and counselors in certain high-risk circumstances, according to updated guidelines for summer camps released by the state in May.
Schools and individual camps will be allowed to implement more stringent standards if they so choose, as was the case when Cuomo adopted CDC guidelines on fitted masks for fully vaccinated people on the day of the grand reopening. from New York last month. This includes New York City Public Schools, which said in a statement they would continue to require masks.
“The health and safety of our students, educators and staff remains our top priority. According to state guidelines, local districts can implement standards that are most meaningful to their communities, as we continue our work. universal mask policy in our schools, ”a spokesman for the city’s education ministry said on Friday.
Fully immunized students and staff of any age have not needed to wear masks in any indoor or outdoor scenario since Cuomo adopted the latest CDC guidelines. The planned change in focus would not affect the state’s current rules regarding masking for unvaccinated people in other places like subways, buses and airports.
There is a new push to unmask the population that still cannot get vaccinated: children under 12. NBC New York’s Pei-Sze Cheng reports.
The changes are pending any objection from the CDC, which New York Health Commissioner Dr Howard Zucker questioned in a letter to director Dr Rochelle Walensky dated Friday.
“As we continue to work to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and balance reopening with security, New York State strives to ensure consistency between and between settings with risk levels and populations. similar, ”the letter began.
“The CDC’s current guidelines for K-12 schools recommend the requirement for” consistent and correct use of properly fitted face masks with proper filtration by all students, teachers and staff, “he said. He continued, “There is no distinction between wearing a mask for indoor versus outdoor activities (except for a vague reference to sports) and it does not apply to vaccinated people.”
The letter points out that the CDC’s current guidelines for youth camps strongly encourage indoor masks for people who are not fully immunized while people outside can ditch face coverings regardless of status. vaccination. It also reiterates the CDC’s latest recommendations for masks for fully vaccinated people.
“As many camps are held on school grounds, both serve school-aged children, and the end of the school year / start of the camp season are both in June, the New York State plans to align our guidelines for school and camp masks, ”Zucker said. written. “If you are aware of any data or scientific data that contradicts pursuing this approach, please let me know as soon as possible. “
The CDC did not immediately respond to the letter early Friday afternoon. But new data released by the agency hours before Cuomo’s announcement could raise eyebrows.
While children may not experience as severe consequences from COVID-19 as their older, more vulnerable cohorts, new data from the CDC shows an alarming trend in adolescent hospitalizations: they increased in March and April after initially declined earlier in the year – a fact the CDC chief says she is “deeply concerned.”
“I am deeply concerned about the number of adolescents hospitalized and saddened to see the number of adolescents who have required treatment in intensive care units or mechanical ventilation,” Walensky said in a statement Friday.
“Much of this suffering is preventable,” Walensky added. “Until fully immunized, adolescents should continue to wear masks and take precautions when around other unvaccinated people to protect themselves, their family, friends and their community. “
The CDC’s abrupt announcement that mask warrants could be lifted for fully vaccinated people took many by surprise and has been criticized for creating unnecessary confusion. Dr Anthony Fauci told NBCLX he agreed the mask’s messaging was “sub-optimal”, but also explained why it was still the right decision.
The developments come as New York State and City shift their focus on vaccine awareness to reach those most recently eligible – children ages 12 to 17 – and a growing number of parents are pushing that even ineligible children lose their masks in schools.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday launched an initial pilot school vaccination program in four schools in the Bronx, targeting these children. It plans to deploy it in other districts in the coming weeks if it proves effective.
He and Cuomo have also launched a growing number of incentives targeting this age group as well as their parents, who must consent to vaccinations.
The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the state’s planned policy change on Friday. This academic year for the unique epicenter of the pandemic ends on June 25, which would leave little time to revise mask rules across the city.
New York City and the state are experiencing record lows in terms of new COVID cases and positivity rates in recent days. The state has the nation’s lowest mobile positivity rate of 0.56%, which is in the midst of a 60-day period of decline, according to Cuomo. Earlier this week, de Blasio said new cases in the city were down 95% since January, while the hospitalization rate was down 86%.
The two elected officials credited the vaccinations with the improvements.
Daily percentage of positive tests by New York region
Governor Andrew Cuomo divides the state into 10 regions for testing and tracks positivity rates to identify potential hot spots. Here is the latest monitoring data by region and for the five boroughs. For the latest county-level results statewide, click here