New York City expected to rise to ‘high’ coronavirus warning level in coming days, indoor masks urged

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — New York City is expected to hit its high COVID-19 warning level in the coming days, and health officials strongly recommend wearing masks in indoor public settings.

The city is currently in the middle alert level, but that is expected to change as the number of cases increases.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued an advisory Monday urging all residents to use high-quality masks — such as KN95 and KF94 masks and N95 respirators — both indoors and in public settings, including at grocery stores, lobbies, offices, shops, and other common or shared spaces where individuals may interact, such as restrooms, hallways, elevators, and conference rooms.

The advisory notes that it is especially important for people at high risk of serious illness and death, namely those who are over 65 or who have not been vaccinated.

Map: 7-day positivity rates by zip code:

The health department advises people at high risk of serious illness due to an underlying medical condition, older adults, and people who have not been vaccinated, including children under the age of five who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, to avoid crowded environments and non-essential gatherings, especially indoors.

In addition, the advisory notes that the impact of COVID-19 transmission is greater in environments with a high number of unvaccinated people.

Despite the steady rise in COVID-19 infections across the state, New York City Mayor Eric Adams insisted on Monday that the city is not yet ready to reinstate its mandate for indoor masks.

“We’re not at that point yet,” he said. “We’re not about to do anything but encourage New Yorkers while you’re indoors in a big social setting. We’re not going to panic. We’re going to continue to be prepared.”

The number of infections in the city has been steadily rising for more than two months, and this week New York City reported the highest average number of new infections since late January.

Adams stressed that, even with increases, the city is in a different place than it was at the start of the pandemic, with important tools people now have at their disposal to mitigate the impact of the virus.

“We now have the antivirals that we didn’t have before,” he said. “We have more tools, so we don’t have to fight the war we had before. This is a new war. And we’re going to use all those tools to do that.”

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At the state level, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said on Monday that she continues to work with federal and state officials to ensure the state is prepared for any kind of wave that could occur in the coming months.

“Today I spoke with White House COVID-19 Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha discussed the state of the pandemic and the government’s preparedness plans to ensure states have the resources, supplies and distribution networks needed to handle potential spikes across the country this summer and fall,” Hochul said in a press release. .

Adams recently took action to bolster the city’s COVID-19 preparedness and prepare New Yorkers for future waves, announcing the distribution of an additional 16.5 million COVID-19 at-home tests and 1 million high-quality masks in the coming month to 1,600 public schools and more than 1,000 community organizations, libraries, cultural institutions, places of worship and elected offices participating in the city’s At-Home Test Distribution Program.

The distribution effort is in line with other measures to mitigate the worst effects of the current wave, including the distribution of 35,000 courses of COVID-19 treatment to date.

The city has also distributed 20 million home tests to schools and participating community organizations to date, meaning this additional wave of tests will bring the total number of home tests distributed to more than 36 million. In addition, eligible New Yorkers are encouraged to take advantage of free home delivery of COVID-19 treatments.

“It’s never been easier for New Yorkers to get a free home test or a high-quality mask or access COVID-19 treatments in New York City,” Adams said. “Home tests and masks provide New Yorkers with reliable and convenient ways to confidently and safely protect themselves and others and enable them to enjoy our city. I encourage all New Yorkers to pass a free home test ASAP to be prepared. masking themselves in indoor public environments and taking advantage of the life-saving treatments we now have readily available to fight this virus.These combined tools are not only a blessing we have not had access to before but also allow us to fight disease in the future, rather than in the past.”

Through community partnerships, Test & Trace has distributed 2.3 million tests and currently has a stock of tens of millions of tests that can be quickly distributed if needed.

Home test distribution through Test & Trace’s network of 192 prominent cultural venues and library affiliates brings critical self-test resources to areas of need in well-known locations in all five boroughs. Test & Trace delivers weekly home tests to participating cultural sites and libraries, where they are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

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In addition, more than 850 community and faith organizations — including 243 places of worship — have signed up to distribute regular home tests. Any New York City-based community organization that wants to participate as a home test distribution partner is encouraged to apply online.

New Yorkers can find a home test distribution pick-up location most convenient for them and their hours of operation by visiting the city’s COVID-19 testing page. New Yorkers with disabilities who need help or have questions about home testing kits should call 311. Deaf or hard of hearing people using American Sign Language can call via a video phone at 646-396-5830.

New Yorkers who test positive using a home test can call 212-COVID19 to connect to resources such as free meal and care package deliveries. Care kits include personal protective equipment (PPE) for a household of three to quarantine, two rapid home tests of antigen and other supplies to safely isolate New Yorkers.

Multiple COVID-19 treatments are available for people ages 12 and older and can be delivered to New Yorkers’ homes for free. For more information on COVID-19 treatments, call 212-COVID19 and press 9 or visit

By calling 212-COVID19, New Yorkers can immediately connect with a doctor who can refer them to monoclonal antibody treatment or prescribe antiviral drugs, such as Paxlovid, and arrange for it to be delivered to their home for free that same day.

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