NY to adopt CDC guidance for fully vaccinated, but NYC recommends indoor masking

Coronavirus Update for New York

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Wednesday, May 19, 2021
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Jim Dolan has more on the Tri-State reopening as many COVID restrictions lift on Wednesday.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York state will end mask mandates and adopt CDC guidelines for the fully vaccinated beginning Wednesday, but New York City's health commissioner is still recommending masks indoors.

Dr. David Chokshi said he will still wear a mask indoors -- and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

"I do recommend continued mask use in many indoor settings until even more people are vaccinated," he said. "And personally, while I am fully vaccinated, I'll be keeping my mask in indoors in almost all settings. When I put it on, I will be thinking about sense of community and the social norms, particularly around masking and distancing, that helped us get to this very hopeful stage of the pandemic."

He and Mayor Bill de Blasio said more New York City residents still need to be vaccinated, and until that happens, steps to keep people safe should be taken.

"CDC guidance focuses on who has been vaccinated," de Blasio said. "If you are sitting in a combined vaccinated people and unvaccinated people, you've to exercise caution. I think that's what a lot of people are going to do. They are going to keep wearing masks any time it feels appropriate. I think a lot of different institutions will make their own decisions on what make sense, but ultimately, we are going to watch the data."

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Still, they recognized the magnitude of the step.

"I have said for months, we expected folks to be wearing masks and taking precautions through June," de Blasio said. "But the progress has come earlier than predicted, and that's a really good thing."

More than seven and a half million New Yorkers have been vaccinated, millions more and weeks sooner than the mayor's original goal of five million by June.

It means is that the city is hurtling toward a more familiar life, and earlier than many had expected.

"We're at the point where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel," restauranteur Melba Wilson said. "And that's all that we wanted. We can see that we're able to bring people back to work. And what that does is, that creates economic revitalization within our communities."

The MTA held a press conference Tuesday encouraging people to return to mass transit and support local businesses at the same time. Masks will still be required in the transit system, indefinitely.

"Our last survey showed 99% usage on the subways, which is a really great accomplishment," Chief Customer Officer Sarah Meyer said. "So let's keep up that good work and that momentum."

Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement Monday, but said immunocompromised people and unvaccinated people should wear a mask and social distance.

"If you are vaccinated, you are safe, no masks, no social distancing," he said. "We are also going to follow the CDCs guidelines that you will still have to wear a mask on public transportation in the subways, buses, nursing homes, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, schools, health care facilities."

The governor said the state has to reopen smart.

"We have to reopen with a cautious eye, but we have to get back to life," he said. "We have to get back to life and living. We have to do it the way New Yorkers do it, quickly and robustly."

On Tuesday, it was learned that the CDC's mask mandates caught Governor Cuomo off guard. In a private call with the CDC obtained by ABC News, the governor said the surprise announcement was not helpful at a time when convincing people to get the vaccine is crucial.

Additionally Wednesday, theaters and arenas can move to full capacity for vaccinated people but with six feet of distance between non-vaccinated people.

The finale of the Tribeca Film Festival will be held at Radio City Music Hall with a full house, and the NYC Marathon will go on in November with at least 60% capacity.

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