Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday he will not reinstate a stricter mask mandate in New York City despite a recent uptick in COVID-19 infections driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.
Hizzoner will instead focus the city’s efforts on vaccinating more people as coronavirus rates have spiked in areas where less people have gotten their shots.
“No. Simple answer, no,” de Blasio said in response to a reporter’s question at his daily press briefing on July 19. “Masks have value unquestionably, but masks are not going at the root of the problem, vaccination is, so we do not intend a mask mandate. We do intend to double down on vaccination.”
Health officials have registered an increase in cases since late June, and the Delta variant now makes up about 69% of cases, according to City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi, who said the strain was “concerning.”
“But our concern is primarily for people who remain unvaccinated, which is why the single most important thing that we can do to keep individuals as well as our communities, our city safe, is to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” Chokshi said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted almost all COVID-19 restrictions on June 15, when 70% of the state’s adult population got at least one shot.
Mask mandates remained in place for some indoor settings, including public transit, healthcare facilities, and schools.