COVID-19

Governor says New York will adopt latest CDC guidelines easing outdoor mask advice for vaccinated people

Fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear a mask outside, except in certain crowded situations or venues, according to the latest guidance announced Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, speaking at a media briefing in Binghamton, said New York will adopt the CDC guidelines.

“This is liberating, especially now that the weather is getting warmer,” Mr. Cuomo said.

The CDC guidelines say fully vaccinated people can “participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask,” such as walking, running or biking outdoors with members of your household. The guidelines also allow for fully vaccinated people to not wear masks when attending a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated family and friends.

There remain several caveats, such as for immunocompromised people, who should consult their health care provider, even if fully vaccinated. Masks should also still be worn at crowded, outdoor events such as sporting events or a parade.

People who are not vaccinated should still wear a mask if attending a small, outdoor gathering.

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Fully vaccinated people should continue to take precautions in indoor public settings by wearing a mask.

Mr. Cuomo said that while progress continues to be made, the threat from COVID remains, noting that 26 fatalities were recorded across the state in the prior 24 hours.

“There’s a nuance to the message,” he said. “We’re making progress, people are getting vaccinated, positivity is coming down, but COVID is still dangerous.”

Mr. Cuomo announced that starting Thursday, walk-ins will be accepted to receive the vaccine at state-operated mass vaccination sites. Anyone age 16 or older can now go to receive the vaccine without making an appointment as the demand as started to subside along with increases in supply and distribution methods.

“All the obstacles are removed,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Just show up and roll up your sleeve.”

State-run mass vaccination sites are operating at the Stony Brook University campuses in Southampton and Stony Brook and Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood.

The governor noted how there’s now been a reduction in the number of people coming in for vaccines. About 175,000 vaccines were being administered across the state every 24 hours and that number is now around 115,000, he said.

“Remember when we started people were chasing appointments,” he said. “You had to be an expert on the Internet to figure out how to get an appointment.”

About 44% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. Suffolk County is right around the statewide average as the total number of residents with at least one dose stands above 650,000.

Mr. Cuomo also tried to address concerns from those who are vaccine hesitant, addressing people by different categories, such as the “super hero category,” the predominantly young, healthy people who are not concerned about the virus.

“Even if you are a super hero, you can get it and give it to someone and that person can die,” he said.

He also spoke about people who don’t trust that the vaccine works, and said “almost every medical professional, not just in the United States, but worldwide, are taking the vaccines.”

Others are skeptics who don’t trust the government, he said.

“14 million people in New York State have taken a shot, that is a body of proof,” he said.

The statewide positivity rate of 2.6% reported Tuesday was the lowest since Nov. 7, the governor said. In Suffolk County, the seven-day average reported as of Sunday was 2.3%, showing a continue decline after several weeks holding steady above 4%.

On Friday, the CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration lifted a temporary pause on the J&J vaccine following rare cases of a severe blood clot. A review of the data found that the chance of suffering from the blot clot is very low and the potential benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks for anyone 18 or older. Both the FDA and CDC said the vaccine remains effective in preventing COVID-19.

“We are confident that this vaccine continues to meet our standards for safety, effectiveness and quality,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting FDA commissioner in a statement.

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