ALBANY – New York State is reviewing the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mask guidelines released on Tuesday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a statement, said his office is examining the new recommendations closely in consultation with federal and state health experts.
“New Yorkers beat back COVID before, going from the highest positivity rate on the globe to one of the lowest, by staying smart, following the science, and having each other’s backs, and that’s exactly what we’ll keep doing in this next phase of the pandemic,” said Cuomo who did not specifically say if the state will adopt the new policy.
The CDC is now recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant of the coronavirus is fueling infection surges.
Citing new information about the variant’s ability to spread among vaccinated people, the agency also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors at schools nationwide, regardless of vaccination status.
Earlier in the week, Cuomo announced a new push to strengthen the state’s vaccination effort, an effort that appears to have slowed dramatically since earlier this year.
Cuomo allocating 15 million dollars to expand public education and enhance ongoing outreach efforts.
“Those who are vaccinated reduce the risk of hospitalization by 94 percent,” Cuomo said. “So if you’re vaccinated, much less likely to get the COVID virus to begin with. Those are the facts. What we’re looking at is a pandemic of that 25 percent of the population that still refuses to get the vaccine.”
About 75 percent of adults in New York State have received the COVID-19 vaccine, but there are still about 3.5 million unvaccinated people.
He says the state will attempt to target 117 ZIP codes that have both low vaccination rates and high positivity rates. There is just one ZIP code on the list from the Western Southern Tier, the Portville area in Cattaraugus County.
Cuomo says because of the problem of vaccine hesitancy, he wants to try a different approach.
“The approach has to be community-based organizations who can have conversations in the community. With people who know them, who culturally know them, who know their issues and their fears. It has to be someone who says, let’s talk about this. Tell me what you’re worried about. Tell me what your fear is. And then addresses that with facts.”
Meanwhile, in nearby Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said he is not considering a statewide mask mandate as coronavirus cases surge in in the state, and across the country, while his administration said it is not requiring masks in schools.
Wolf, speaking on KDKA-AM in Pittsburgh, said his strategy to fight the spread of COVID-19 has been the vaccine, and will continue to be. The masking mandate was for when there was no vaccine, Wolf said.
“People have the ability, each individual to make the decision to get a vaccine,” Wolf said. “If they do, that’s the protection.”
Wolf’s administration also said it is not considering mandating masks in K-12.
WNY News Now’s Andrew Kane contributed to this report.