A rise in COVID-19 infections in the United States has sent more cities into new high-risk categories that are supposed to trigger the wearing of indoor masks, but much of the country is halting before restrictions are brought back amid deep pandemic fatigue.
For weeks, much of upstate New York has been in the orange high alert zone, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designation that reflects severe community spread.
The CDC is urging people to mask up in indoor public places, including schools, regardless of their vaccination status. But few, if any, local jurisdictions in the region have brought back a mask requirement despite rising case numbers.
In New York, cases are rising again and crossed the city’s ‘medium risk’ threshold this week, indicating the widening spread of the subvariant known as BA.2 that has swept north of State.
But Mayor Eric Adams appears to have little appetite for an about-face just months after allowing residents to discard masks and put away vaccination cards that were once required to enter restaurants and concert halls. . Adams said the city could pivot and reimpose mandates, but stressed he wanted to keep the city open.
“I don’t foresee many places, if any, going back to mask mandates unless we see overwhelmed hospitals – that’s what would lead to mask mandates,” said expert Professor David Larsen. in public health at Syracuse University in upstate New York, whose own county is currently an orange zone.
“People are still dying, but not in the same numbers,” he said.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Health + Hospitals have opened three COVID-19 Centers of Excellence located in the communities hardest hit by the pandemic. NBC New York’s Linda Gaudino sits down with Dr. Ted Long about services available for long-distance patients.
Nationally, hospitalizations are up slightly, but still as low as at any time during the pandemic. Deaths have steadily declined over the past three months to record lows.
The muted response reflects the country’s exhaustion after two years of restrictions and the new challenges facing health officials at this phase of the pandemic.
An abundance of home virus testing kits has led to a significant undercount of COVID-19 cases that were once an important benchmark. Researchers estimate that more than 60% of the country was infected with the virus during omicron’s surge, providing high levels of protection in addition to tens of millions of vaccinations. Hospitalizations increased but only slightly.
“If a mask mandate were reinstated right now, I don’t think it would be very successful,” said Jim Kearns, a videographer at the State University of New York in Oswego, another northern community. New York State in the CDC Orange Zone. .
“I think a lot of people are just done,” he said. “If I saw death rates and hospitalizations rising insane numbers, and if I felt there was danger to me and my family, I would put it down in a heartbeat. But it’s been two long years.