The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now calling for masks in 54 of New York’s 62 counties due to high Covid-19 levels.
The CDC updated its Covid Community Levels map on Thursday showing areas where Covid is at a “high” (orange), “medium” (yellow) or “low” (green) risk. More than 75% of the U.S. is still in the green but 297 counties nationwide are at a high risk, more than double from last week; masks are urged in areas with high Covid levels.
Forty-five New York state counties were considered high-risk last week, but Cayuga, Cortland, Hamilton, Madison and Sullivan counties were downgraded to medium Covid levels this week and Orange County moved down to low-risk, becoming the only county in the Empire State in the green. Another 15 counties, however, moved up to high Covid levels.
Currently just seven NYS counties are at medium risk including Cayuga County, Cortland County, Hamilton County, Madison County, Rockland County, St. Lawrence County and Sullivan County. It’s the first time since early April that Cayuga County has been below high Covid levels.
Only three counties in New York were considered high risk six weeks ago: Onondaga, Oswego and Cayuga counties. The list quickly grew as cases spread from Central New York; areas with high Covid levels now include counties in nearby states Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
But cases and hospitalizations have started declining in the Syracuse area. Onondaga County has a case rate of 232.6 per 100,000 population, down from 287.9 last week, and 6.7% of hospital beds are being used by Covid patients, down from 8.5% seven days ago. However, Covid levels still remain high enough that the CDC recommends face coverings indoors in most of CNY.
Masks are recommended, not mandated, indoors in areas with high Covid community levels under new CDC guidelines released in February. Masking recommendations are now based on three factors — Covid hospitalizations, hospital capacity and new Covid cases — focusing more on preventing hospitals from getting overwhelmed and less on positive tests, which spiked during the omicron wave in December and January.
Masks are not recommended indoors, including in schools, in areas with medium or low community levels, though immunocompromised people and others at high risk for severe illness may still want to wear face coverings indoors and avoid large crowds.
Covid community levels were low enough at the beginning of March that masks weren’t recommended in any New York state county, but cases and hospitalizations increased in Syracuse and the surrounding area due to the rise of highly contagious BA.2 variants, the end of widespread mask-wearing, and the waning of vaccines. The state health department said CNY was the first in the U.S. to see “significant community spread” of more contagious omicron strains BA.2.12 and the related BA.2.12.1, which have spread rapidly.
Masks are still required in New York state for health care facilities, nursing homes, courts, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, public transportation, and taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. Kids also have to wear them in schools in some instances, such as after being exposed to someone with Covid for 10 days.
The CDC also says anyone with Covid-19 symptoms or who test positive should wear masks, regardless of vaccination status or the risk level where they live.
Source: Syracuse.com Click here for the full story CDC calls for masks in 54 New York counties with high Covid levels: See list – syracuse.com