New York experts react to mask guidance: ‘There is still a risk’


(WETM) — After months of being masked, New Yorkers are taking another step toward returning to normal. Gov. Cuomo announced Monday the state will align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, allowing vaccinated people to be in most indoor and outdoor settings without a mask.

“If you are vaccinated you are safe. No masks. No social distancing,” Gov. Cuomo said.

Officials say there is still a risk for COVID. Although the community is making progress, the virus is still spreading and remains a major public health threat. Health professionals encourage everyone to consider vaccination and to stay safe. They stress that the new rules only apply to vaccinated New Yorkers and that unvaccinated people must still wear masks and socially distance.

“It’s always very concerning when we start to lower our mask-wearing and our social distancing,” said Angela Murray, BSN RN and senior director of quality management at Arnot Health. “There is still risk. One out of 10 people may still contract the virus. Hopefully, it is not as severe if you get vaccinated, but it could still happen,” Murray concluded.

They say in large venues or in groups with vulnerable people, everyone should wear masks. This includes health care settings, correctional facilities, and public transportation. “We’re going to watch things. The number of positive cases will be watched,” Murray continued. “We will continue to push our efforts with vaccinations and that’s key.”

Health officials are seeing a slow down in the race to vaccinate. They encourage the community to consider getting the vaccine to help stop the spread of the virus. “We do want to see our vaccination rates increase,” said Pete Buzzetti, Chemung County public health director.

Even though the guidance changed, Buzzetti says you can still wear a mask. Murray agreed, urging people to be cautious if they are in a populated area. Monitoring and enforcing the guidance will be challenging.

A vaccine honor system is expected to take shape, as no enforcement guidance has been released by the state. “This puts a lot of the onus on being honest and being honest in our community to protect those who have not been vaccinated,” Buzzetti said.

There will be an adjustment for everyone, as people un-mask and businesses begin to return to normal. New York is increasing venue capacities on Wednesday.

“There will certainly be a little awkwardness going forward, but I think people will work through it and businesses will work through it. They are happy to be getting opened and getting opened fully,” Sen. Tom O’Mara, NY District 58 (R), said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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