De Blasio Says He Won’t Mandate Masks to Fight Delta Variant
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said he would not support additional indoor mask requirements as the Delta variant fuels rising coronavirus cases in the city, and doubled down on vaccinations as the best defense.
Reporter: “Due to the challenge with Delta variant, do you expect or do you support any executive order to enforce mandatory mask-wearing indoors and outdoors in New York City?” “No — simple answer, no. We’ve got, again, 4.8 million New Yorkers who have had at least one vaccine dose. That number grows thousands and thousands of people every day. That’s the ballgame. That’s where we make the impact. The thing that actually stops Covid, not the thing that masks — you know, masks have value, unquestionably, but masks are not going at the root of the problem. Vaccination is, so we do not intend mask mandate. We do intend to double down on vaccination.” “It now makes up about 69 percent of the cases that we’re sequencing. But our concern is primarily for people who remain unvaccinated, which is why the single most important thing that we can do to keep individuals, as well as our communities, our city, safe is to get as many people vaccinated as possible. I do also want to clarify that there are some settings where the mask mandate, particularly indoors, remains in effect. This includes public transit. It includes schools and other high-risk settings like our congregate settings and in health care facilities. And in those places, we do want people to continue wearing their masks regardless of their vaccination status. But as the mayor has said, the key to our getting out of this pandemic is vaccination.”
By Ashley Wong
Though the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday he would not issue an executive order mandating the use of masks indoors, instead doubling down on vaccination as the best line of defense.
During a news conference, Mr. de Blasio announced the average rate of positive tests over the last seven days had risen to 1.69 percent. That figure has been steadily rising in recent weeks as the Delta variant continues to spread throughout the city, but is still well below the 6 percent positivity rate the city recorded in late March, just before the second wave began to recede. Hospitalizations and deaths have remained low.
Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, the city health commissioner, said that the Delta variant appeared to be responsible for the increase and now accounted for 69 percent of cases sequenced by the city.
Over the weekend, Mark Levine, chair of the New York City Council health committee, called for the renewal of a broad indoor mask mandate. The city has dropped the mask rule except on public transportation, in hospitals and schools, and in congregate settings like homeless shelters.
But the mayor flatly rejected the idea on Monday, emphasizing instead the importance of getting all New Yorkers vaccinated. “No. Simple answer is no,” Mr. de Blasio said.
“Masks have value, unquestionably,” he added. “But masks are not going at the root of the problem. Vaccination is.”
Mr. de Blasio said that the city would increase its efforts to reach the unvaccinated and that he anticipated a surge in the number of children over 12 getting inoculated before school resumed in the fall.
Inoculation rates across the city are uneven, and the city’s vaccination campaign has slowed dramatically in recent months. About 42 percent of adults in New York City have yet to be vaccinated, according to the city’s health department.
On Monday, 4.8 million New Yorkers had received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and 4.4 million had been fully vaccinated.
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