Mask honor system not working amid NY COVID spike fueled by Delta variant

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The highly contagious Delta variant has fueled a surge of COVID cases around the world, including in New York where the numbers are creeping up.

New York’s positive infection rate for Saturday was 1.51%, continuing its rise from 1.02% a week earlier and 0.63% two weeks earlier, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. New York City had a 1.3% positive infection rate, with 1.88% of COVID tests coming back positive on Staten Island.

Mask guidelines are changing in some popular tourist destinations because of the spike in cases. A mask mandate has been re-issued in Los Angeles, and Las Vegas is recommending masks indoors for the vaccinated and unvaccinated. 

NYC Councilman and Health Committee Chair Mark Levine said the city or state Health Department should follow the lead of other parts of the country.

“It presents a new challenge for us and it probably means all of us even those who are vaccinated need to be a little more cautious, including wearing our mask in crowded indoor venues,” said Levine. “Having an honor system where people wear it if they want to, it’s not working. You see the number of people wearing masks go down.”

Hot spots are resurfacing in states with low vaccination rates. Former FDA commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb, who sits on the board of Pfizer, appeared on Face the Nation Sunday, reminding people a final push in prevention is getting vaccinated.

“This virus is so contagious, this variant is so contagious, that it will infect a majority,” he said. “Most people will either get vaccinated, or have been previously infected or will get this Delta variant, and for those who get this Delta variant it will be the most serious virus they get in their lifetime, in terms of the risk of putting them in the hospital.”

Doctor Gottlieb said there’s an epidemic of the unvaccinated, which means it’s prudent for everyone to take precautions like wearing a high-quality mask, especially if you’re vulnerable.

The city continues to focus on education and outreach. On Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’s not considering a mask mandate, but will continue to watch the data. Health experts say even if you’re vaccinated and want an added layer of protection, wear a mask.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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