It’s Time for New Yorkers to Mask Up Again, Mayor Adams Says

Mayor Eric Adams put his face mask on again on Tuesday and encouraged New Yorkers to do the same.

Mr. Adams held a news conference at City Hall to urge residents to take precautions in the face of a winter surge of Covid-19 cases and other illnesses.

“With the holiday season in full swing and cases of Covid-19, flu and R.S.V. rising, we are asking New Yorkers to protect themselves and their loved ones once again,” Mr. Adams said.

It was the mayor’s first Covid briefing in months, and he does not typically wear a mask in public. City health officials issued an advisory earlier this month strongly recommending that people wear masks in both public indoor settings and crowded outdoor environments, but many New Yorkers who are weary of pandemic restrictions have not complied.

City health officials again encouraged New Yorkers on Tuesday to get vaccinated and boosted, noting that more than 80 percent of people who are dying from the coronavirus are unvaccinated. They also recommended that people get tested before gathering for the holidays.

Mr. Adams, a Democrat who is nearing the end of his first year in office, received his second booster shot on camera in September. He has been eager to move on from the pandemic and its economic devastation of the city, and has resisted bringing back mask mandates.

Dr. Jay Varma, director of the Cornell Center for Pandemic Prevention and Response, said that it was important for elected officials to model the use of masks.

“Even if you don’t mandate their use, we know that social norms matter,” he said. “The mayor is signaling to you that it is the socially conscious thing to do right now.”

The number of Covid cases has jumped since Thanksgiving and now stands at about 3,600 per day, according to city data. The real caseload is much higher, though, because that number does not include at-home testing, which is now prevalent.

At the same time, flu cases have skyrocketed and are at their highest level in years. Cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or R.S.V., appear to have peaked in mid-November and are on the decline, though levels are still high.

Only about 10 percent of New Yorkers have received a bivalent dose of the coronavirus vaccine — much lower than earlier vaccination rates in the city, according to city data.

New York offers prescriptions for Paxlovid, an anti-viral drug, at dozens of mobile testing vans across the city. Free at-home tests are available at libraries and museums.

Officials said on Tuesday that they would also offer flu and R.S.V. testing and Tamiflu prescriptions at many of the mobile vans. City hospitals will soon offer updated Pfizer vaccines for children ages 6 months to 4 years, officials said.

A group of disability advocates sent a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul last week urging her to bring back a mask mandate on subways and buses and for indoor spaces.

“Not everyone will wear a mask if there is a mandate,” the letter said. “But significantly more people will, making indoor spaces and transit safer for all of us, including the disability community.”

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