face masks

New NYC Mask Guidance Coming, as Mayor Hints at More Vaccinated-Only Rules

Multiple cities and states have issued new vaccine-or-test mandates or reinstated mask rules amid the delta variant-driven case surge

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What to Know

  • The CDC released new indoor mask guidance for fully vaccinated people Tuesday as the delta variant fuels a surge in COVID cases across the U.S., especially in spots with low vaccinated rates
  • Multiple cities and states have issued new vaccine-or-test mandates or reinstated mask rules amid the delta variant-driven case surge
  • NYC has implemented a new vaccine-or-test mandate for all city workers, while the governor says his administration is reviewing the latest CDC recommendations with federal and state experts

New York City will have new guidance on indoor masking early next week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday, and he hinted at a further tightening of restrictions that would exclude the unvaccinated from spaces and events.

"We're gonna provide further guidance at the beginning of next week," De Blasio said of indoor masking, adding that the city didn't want to confuse its messaging and wanted to maintain its primary focus on vaccines.

"Our focus is vaccination. We want to make sure everything we do in guiding the people of this city conforms with vaccination," the mayor said.

De Blasio also acknowledged a future where there would be more restrictions on where people could go and what they could do if they were not vaccinated, particularly if vaccination rates don't start rising.

"If people still hesitate, we're going to be climbing that ladder faster and more. I think you're going to see in short order more and more activities be only for vaccinated folks," he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that cities should "seriously consider" adopting the CDC's newest guidance that everyone -- even the vaccinated -- wear masks indoors in many cases.

Connecticut health officials said they "strongly recommend" that anyone living, working or visiting in "substantial transmission" areas follow the CDC guidelines of wearing masks in public indoor areas, regardless if they are vaccinated or not. As of Thursday, Hartford, New Haven and New London counties were considered "substantial transmission" areas.

New York, like other states, has seen a rising number of coronavirus cases linked to the delta variant: New infections have climbed 150% and hospitalizations have jumped 69% over the past two weeks. On Thursday the state reported more than 2,500 new positive cases, the highest total for a single day in nearly three months.

(This CDC map shows county-by-county transmission rates nationwide; the red and orange counties are the affected areas. As of 3:30 p.m. July 27, that included most of coastal New Jersey, New York and Long Island.)

A snapshot of the CDC's county-level transmission map as of 3:30 p.m. on July 27.

“What we’re seeing is a pandemic among those unvaccinated people, but it affects everyone,” Cuomo said in a Zoom presentation to a business group.

New York City will require all municipal workers to get coronavirus vaccines by mid-September or face weekly COVID-19 testing. NBC New York's Anjali Hemphill reports.

While overall rates of infection in New York remain much lower than they were over the winter, the voluntary vaccination campaign here has stalled, as it has in much of the United States.

About 56.7% of 20 million residents are fully vaccinated.

De Blasio announced Wednesday that New York City will sweeten the pot by offering $100 to any city resident who gets a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine at a city-run site.

New York City and the state have already offered vaccination incentives including lottery tickets, scholarships, free subway rides and complimentary tickets to museums, sports games and other attractions.

Other locales, including the state of New Mexico and the city of Gadsden, Alabama, also have offered $100 cash payments. Others have offered a more limited version — Ohio is offering $100 gift cards to Medicaid members who get inoculated, and West Virginia is providing $100 savings bonds to 16-to-35-year-olds who do so.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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