New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told Bill de Blasio and other local leaders to adopt the CDC’s new mask guidance on Monday but stopped short of initiating a law himself after being stripped of his emergency COVID powers in March this year.
The CDC issued new guidance last week saying vaccinated people should wear masks indoors to stop the spread of the Indian ‘Delta’ variant. It was based off a spike in cases in Provincetown, Massachusetts, over one of the busiest weekends of the year – July 4.
Vaccinated people are far less likely to become ill with or die from COVID-19 than unvaccinated people are, but half of the country remains unvaccinated and the variant is three times as contagious as previous strains.
There is now a debate over whether or not local governments should adopt it the mask advice because it would force vaccinated people to adopt restrictions for the benefit of those who choose not to get the shot.
Republican governors are standing against it and Democratic leaders rushing to enforce it.
Cuomo, a Democrat who issued some of the strictest COVID rules last year, on Monday pawned the issue off to de Blasio and other local leaders.
In order for him to create a mask mandate, he’d have to make it a law and he can’t do that now without the approval of the state legislature, which stripped him of his powers in March because of his handling of nursing home COVID deaths.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo will both give updated advice on masks for vaccinated people on Monday
‘Local governments should follow CDC mask guidance… the state has strongly recommended that local governments do it. It’s up to the local governments,’ Cuomo said, later saying that the state would act if the situation became worse.
‘If they don’t act, we’ll be where we were last year and the state is going to have to act.’
On Friday, de Blasio said during an interview with CNN that he was more focused on vaccines than on masks.
‘What I announced last week, public employees, we need mandates. Private sector, public sector. We need mandates.
‘The whole ball game is vaccination. That is part of what is crucial to me as we announce the approach to masks- not to lose the forest for the trees.
‘The main event is vaccination. Masks can be helpful and we’re going to delineate to New Yorkers the best way to use masks, but that doesn’t change the basic reality. Vaccination does.
‘We want to make sure everything we do doesn’t distract from vaccination,’ de Blasio said on Friday during an appearance on CNN’s Newsroom.
Cuomo has previously encouraged private businesses to require proof of vaccine status before allowing people indoors.
Right now, masks are not required indoors in New York City unless the business enforces it as a rule. People are pictured dining at a restaurant on the Upper West Side recently
This CDC map shows how Delta is spreading across the country. Southern states and states on the West Coast are seeing the highest number of cases
This map shows how hospitals are faring across the country. Dark blue shaded areas have the lowest number of available beds and those being hospitalized are mostly unvaccinated
The trend is the same in New York City. Cases are on the rise thanks to Delta but deaths and hospitalizations are low
It comes amid research that shows while vaccinated people are far less likely to become gravely ill with COVID-19, they still can contract and transmit it.
With half of the country still unvaccinated, it is causing a spike in hospitalizations and deaths in some parts of the country where vaccination rates are low.
In Austin, Texas, there are now just 7 ICU beds left across the city because others have been filled by unvaccinated COVID patients.
New York City has not, however, seen an uptick in hospitalizations or deaths, despite cases being on the rise in Delta variant cases.
New York state and city workers have until Labor Day to get vaccinated or they face rigorous testing requirements.
The same rule has been adopted by other states.
In New York City, de Blasio is also offering $100 to people who get their first shot at a city-run site.
Florida has broken its record for COVID hospitalizations with more than 10,200 hospitalized with the virus.