For the first time in months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending masks in Central New York because of an uptick in COVID-19 cases and patients hospitalized with the virus.
As of Thursday, the CDC identified nine counties in New York state that met the criteria, w which is based on new cases per 100,000 population, new hospital admissions per 100,000 population, and a rolling average percentage of hospital beds being used for COVID patients.
According to the agency's community level maps, those nine counties are Albany, Columbia, Fulton, Jefferson, Montgomery, Onondaga, Orange, Oswego, and Rensselaer. Only 13 counties remain at "low" risk, while the majority of the state is holding at "medium."
While COVID levels in the state are still a fraction now of what they were in past "waves," including back in January, they are also definitely on the rise.
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Statewide, New York has seen a 27% increase in cases in the past 14 days. And its neighbor, New Jersey, is close behind with a 17% jump in the same two-week period.
Nationwide trends paint a couple different pictures. More than two dozen states saw a decrease or slight dip in cases in the past two weeks. Beyond New York, which had the fourth highest increase, only four other states jumped more than 25%.
The "high" risk classification comes with the recommendation that people return to regular mask wearing.
Almost one month ago, New York's governor put an end to the MTA mask mandate implemented at the start of the pandemic. The rule also ended in for-hire vehicles, airports, homeless shelters, correctional facilities and detention centers statewide.