NYC Mayor de Blasio says no mask mandate as COVID-19 cases rise

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NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday he does not plan to reinstate a citywide mask mandate even as COVID-19 cases increase, opting instead to focus on vaccinating more residents.

There have been calls for New York City to follow the lead of Los Angeles County, which announced last week that it will require masks be worn indoors amid a sharp increase in virus cases.

But De Blasio insisted vaccinations are a better strategy for the nation’s most populous city.

“Masks have value, unquestionably, but masks are not going at the root of the problem. Vaccination is,” the mayor said during an livestreamed press briefing. “So we do not intend a mask mandate. We do intend to double down on vaccination.”

There are 4.8 million city residents with at least one vaccine dose, the mayor said.

The number of virus cases has been rising around the country, many of them the highly transmissible delta variant. City health officials say the variant makes up about seven in 10 cases they sequence.

The daily number of COVID-19 cases in the city has increased recently, though the caseloads are nowhere near the pandemic’s peak this past winter. The seven-day average of confirmed and probable cases Friday was 537, compared to 229 on July 1, according to the city’s data.

On Monday, the statewide COVID-19 seven-day average positivity rate was 1.26% and there were three COVID-19 recorded across New York on Sunday, according to information from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

In Oneida County, there were three new cases of COVID-19 recorded on July 18 and there have been no virus related deaths since June 18.

“After over a year of containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now being told that COVID is now mainly a pandemic among the unvaccinated,” Cuomo said in a daily statement. “If you haven’t already, I encourage you to get your shot to best protect yourself and your loved ones against the variants spreading through the nation.”

COVID-19 information links

In Oneida County, vaccine appointments and walk-ins are available at county-operated sites. To book an appointment, visit www.ocgov.net.

Scheduling a vaccine appointment can also be completed at: vaccines.gov.

COVID-19 case numbers and vaccination rates are available on Oneida County’s online Dashboard at: https://bit.ly/3A85tLp

The New York State Department of Health offers statewide information on COVID-19 at: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov

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