Mask up (again): De Blasio recommends all New Yorkers wear face coverings indoors despite vaccination status

People wear masks around Times Square, as cases of the infectious coronavirus Delta variant continue to rise in New York City, New York
People wear masks around Times Square, as cases of the infectious coronavirus Delta variant continue to rise in New York City, New York, U.S., July 23, 2021. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City health officials recommended Monday that everyone wear a mask in public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status due to the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. 

This recommendation comes after health officials reviewed the latest evidence showing the Delta variant  is even more contagious than previously thought, and driving up the number of infections across the Five boroughs.

“It is very important to keep in mind the vast majority of transmission is due to people who remain unvaccinated, but the data shows it is possible for vaccinated people to spread the virus,” said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.

The mayor hasn’t yet mandated mask usage because he wants to focus everyone’s attention on getting vaccinated instead. 

“Everything we’re doing is based on data and science, but it’s also based on strategy,” de Blasio said. “The overwhelming strategic thrust is vaccination. We thought the right mix was to heavily focus on vaccination and give a clear message to strongly recommend mask usage regardless of vaccination status.”

Masks are currently mandated for New Yorkers in certain settings like public transportation and hospitals. 

“Even though I am fully vaccinated, I will be wearing a mask in public indoor settings,” Chokshi added. “In part, because I am the parent of a young child who is not yet eligible for vaccination, and I want to take care to protect her.”

Back-to-school vaccinations

De Blasio also encouraged kids who are now eligible to get the vaccine. The mayor is also launching a $1.3 million back-to-school vaccination advertisement campaign starting Monday. Mobile vaccination sites will be at back-to-school stores, summer rising camps, pre-season practices, etc. 

Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter hopes students 12 years of age and older and adults continue the progress made on the vaccination front before schools reopen on Sept. 13.

“We are bringing easily accessible vaccines to our eligible young people,” Porter said. “Speaking as a parent, nothing is more important to me than the health and safety of my children, and I know all New York City parents share this feeling.”

Porter also said every New York City family would be contacted to make sure they know their vaccination options. Vaccines will also be offered at family homes.