Coronavirus Update: Officials push vaccines over masks as cases rise again in Tri-State

Coronavirus Update for New York
NEW YORK (WABC) -- After months of decline amid soaring vaccination rates, coronavirus cases are once again on the rise in the Tri-State area.

Connecticut's positivity rate is 1.53%, New York's 1.18%, and New Jersey 2.5%. All three states were below 1% a few weeks ago.

Still, the number of hospitalizations has remained steady, and local leaders don't plan on bringing back face mask requirements.

It is a conversation happening in many cities after some locations, including Los Angeles County, have reinstated mandates amid the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant.

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But in the Tri-State Area, officials say the consensus is that there is no need for a new mask mandate, for now.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says even with COVID cases rising in places like Staten Island and Harlem, where vaccines have not been popular, requiring masks is not the solution.

He said returning to a mask mandate would disincentive vaccinations at a time when the city is struggling to get its most hesitant residents inoculated.

"A lot of people, I fear, are saying, 'Well, if we are going to wear a mask, so we are not going to get vaccinated,'" de Blasio said. "That's crazy. That evades the main point. Somehow we are having a national dialogue that has become insane. We have the solution to the thing that is killing so many people and is now threatening once again our ability for people to make a living. Why is this hard? Just go get vaccinated. This is not difficult."

Officials say he will announce Wednesday that all NYC health workers will either be required to be vaccinated or receive weekly COVID tests.

He says there are now 4.5 million fully vaccinated New Yorkers, and that health officials will continue to watch the data.

Others are focusing on children, who so far are too young to be vaccinated.

"DOE should offer a fall remote option for kids not of vaccination age and have it run by central rather than by individual schools," City Council member and teacher Mark Treyger said in a tweet. "I support 5 days a week in person instruction for all, but we need to follow science and adjust accordingly while providing flexibility for families."

The mayor says kids will return to full time in-person learning this fall, following the CDC's recommendations on masking.

"Our health leadership has been very, very clear," de Blasio said. "Our kids suffer when they're not in school, and we can do it safely because we've proved even without vaccination that we can do it safely."

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In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy said he is relying on the data, which shows that the vaccines work.

"We don't have a pandemic among the vaccinated," he said. "We only have a pandemic among the unvaccinated. These unvaccinated individuals are who are feeding the rapid increase in the rate of transmission."

There is also concern in New Jersey about children, who are not able to get the vaccine just yet.

Murphy said positivity rate for kids 4 and under has increased 29%.

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