Andrew Cuomo says NY not ready to ditch face masks – despite CDC announcement


New York is not following CDC guidelines that say vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most situations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said late Thursday.

He said the state’s mask mandate would remain in place for now. 

‘In New York, we have always relied on the facts and the science to guide us throughout the worst of this pandemic and in our successful reopening,’ Cuomo said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Protection on Thursday announced that they were updating their guidelines, and people who were fully vaccinated no longer needed to wear masks indoors and out, under most circumstances. 

The White House can order face masks be worn on federal property, but elsewhere it is up to state governors to decide. In general, the American Constitution Society said, courts uphold states’ rights to enforce their own face mask mandate or get rid of it, as they see fit. 

It isn’t clear what ‘science’ Cuomo is relying on that would counter the CDC’s own. 

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, seen May 11, is yet to lift the state’s mask mandate

He said that he and the state’s health commissioner, Howard Zucker, were still assessing the new guidance. 

‘We have received the newly revised guidance from the CDC regarding mask wearing and social distancing for those with vaccinations and are reviewing them in consultation with Dr. Zucker and our partners and health experts in surrounding states,’ Cuomo said.

The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, has issued a similar statement.  

Their approach stands in contrast to the celebratory tone from the CDC and the White House. 

New Yorkers should continue to wear face masks, Cuomo has said

New Yorkers should continue to wear face masks, Cuomo has said

New York's guidelines on face masks (pictured) remain in force, the governor said Thursday

New York’s guidelines on face masks (pictured) remain in force, the governor said Thursday

Mask wearing has been largely consistent in New York, which for a while was the epicenter

Mask wearing has been largely consistent in New York, which for a while was the epicenter 

Announcing the news on Thursday afternoon, the CDC’s director, Dr Rochelle Walensky, said it was a moment of joy. 

‘We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy,’ she said. 

‘Based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines and our understanding of how the virus spreads that moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated.’ 

Joe Biden said it was ‘a great day for America.’

He added: ‘If you’ve been vaccinated, you don’t have to wear your mask and you can shake hands.’ 

The average number of new COVID-19 cases nationwide, over a weekly period, has fallen to 36,800 a day – a 23 per cent drop when compared to the previous seven-day period, and a 50 per cent decrease from the peak of the springtime wave recorded a month ago. 

Hospitalizations and COVID-19 deaths are down, with reported fatalities in the last week dropping 12 per cent from the previous weekly period. 

Vaccine supply problems in the U.S. have eased, and it is easier than ever to get a shot, with many sites no longer needing to require appointments for doses.

Additionally, data continue to emerge that bolster increasing confidence among scientists that the vaccines in use work effectively against variants — including those first identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, California, New York and India.

‘All of the real world data we’ve seen that’s been in the published literature — large studies in many different settings — have demonstrated that those vaccines are effective,’ Walensky said. 

Walensky noted that people with compromised immune systems should speak to their doctors before giving up their masks. 

And unvaccinated people who ‘remain at risk of mild or severe illness, of death or of spreading the disease to others’ should still wear masks and get vaccinated right away, she said.

‘If things get worse, there is always a chance we may need to make a change to these recommendations,’ Walensky said. 

‘But we know that the more people are vaccinated, the less cases we will have and the less chance of a new spike or additional variant emerging.’ 

Walensky said the agency also will be updating all of its guidance — including for travel.



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