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New York in “high” alert level, Indoor masking recommended again across North east

Newsman:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommending again Indoor masking in many counties across Northeast region of the United States.

Across the New England and greater New York and New Jersey regions, infection rates are nearing their highest levels in three months. COVID-19 related hospitalizations are increasing too — with daily admissions levels more than doubling in the last month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its community risk levels, pushing many counties across the Northeast, particularly in New York and Massachusetts, to the “high” alert level. The “high” community level suggests there is a “high potential for healthcare system strain” and a “high level of severe disease”, and thus, the CDC recommends that people wear a mask in public indoor settings, including schools.

The increases are driven by a confluence of factors, including the easing of masking requirements and other COVID-19 restrictions, as well as highly contagious omicron sub- variants, most notably, BA.1.12.1 according to Health experts. The sub-variant is projected to account for about 36.5% of cases nationwide and 62% of infections in the New York-New Jersey region. BA.1.12.1 is estimated to be between 30% and 80% more transmissible than the original omicron strain.

New York City Mayor Adams said Friday that officials are closely monitoring the increases, reiterating that the city will be ready to “pivot and shift” should reinstating mitigation measures be deemed necessary.

“We can’t control what this virus is doing. But we can control our response and we’re doing that,” Adams said Friday during an on-camera press conference. “Yes, we are concerned [about the numbers]. Yes, we are. But preparation, not panic, preparation, not panic. We are prepared as the city and we’re not going to panic.”

When asked whether the city would consider reinstating its mask mandate for K-12 schools and proof of vaccination requirement, Adams insisted that the city is “not there yet.”

“We’re going to pivot and shift like COVID pivots and shifts. Every morning we meet, and based on that outcome of our meetings, we’ll making an announcement where we’re going to go, if this stays at this level, we may pivot and shift and still do mandates, and we see an increase in hospitalization and deaths, that is alarming, we may shift. COVID pivots and shifts, I’m going to pivot and shift,” Adams reiterated. “No matter what happens, we’re going to make a determination after we have our morning meetings.”

Earlier this week, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan told CNBC that if infections and hospitalizations continue to rise, masking and vaccination requirements certainly could return.

“It’s clear that if we moved into a high risk and high alert environment, we’d be seriously considering bringing those mandates back,” Vasan said on Tuesday.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams lauded the city’s high vaccination and booster rates, as well as access to at-home tests, which he said is helping to prevent a significant surge in hospitalizations and deaths.

Much of upstate New York is also now colored in orange for “high” risk ,although Manhattan and the rest of New York City are still considered “medium” risk, transmission rates have increased by nearly 33% in the last 10 days. Suffolk County, home to the city of Boston, as well as six other surrounding counties in Massachusetts are also now considered communities at “high” risk. Across the greater Boston area, wastewater levels are at their highest point since early February, with 20 to 29 year-old residents reporting the highest numbers of infections.

In many areas of Vermont and Maine, community levels have also reached the high or medium risk threshold, data shows. And across the region, six Northeast states — Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey — have the highest number of new cases, per capita, over the last week, of all 50 states.

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