Cuomo: NY reviewing CDC’s suggestion for vaccinated people to mask again ‘closely’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC/AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo Tuesday said the state is reviewing new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) masking guidelines which recommend that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. with high COVID-19 infection rates "closely".

The CDC made the recommendations Tuesday citing new information about the delta variant’s ability to spread among vaccinated people.

The guidance on masks in indoor public places applies in parts of the country with at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week. That includes 60 percent of U.S. counties, officials said.

As of Tuesday, Monroe County reported 53 new cases in one day. Monroe County’s estimated population as of 2019 was 741,770 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The 7-day average positivity rate for Monroe County based on combined PCR and antigen test results was 2.2% and the 7-day average of new cases was 37 as of Tuesday.

Gov. Cuomo released the following statement Tuesday evening after the CDC released the new guidance:

"New Yorkers beat back COVID before — going from the highest positivity rate on the globe to one of the lowest — by staying smart, following the science, and having each other’s backs, and that’s exactly what we’ll keep doing in this next phase of the pandemic. We are reviewing the CDC’s new recommendations closely in consultation with federal and state health experts."

The new mask guidance follows recent decisions in Los Angeles and St. Louis to revert to indoor mask mandates amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations that have been especially bad in the South. The country is averaging more than 57,000 cases a day and 24,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors at schools nationwide, regardless of vaccination status.

News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean asked Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza how the recommendations may affect students in Monroe County.

Brean: "If you had the power to make that rule, what would you suggest happen in schools with masking this year?"

Mendoza: "Well the reality is we’re not even close to the school year yet when it comes to looking at the timeline of these variants. The hope is the delta variant that we’re seeing in other parts of the world and other parts of the country will be shortly lived than previous surges."

Brean: "Based on your experience in the last 20 months do you believe the state health department is going to give the decision-making power to individual school districts or are they going to have a blanket policy across the state?"

Mendoza: "My hope is that they’ll give additional authority to the lower health departments because we work more closely with the individual school districts than the state certainly does."

The Monroe County Council of School Superintendents recently sent the state a letter saying they want guidance now and control during the school year.

The state has not made any decisions yet.