COVID-19 cases are increasing across the United States and could get even worse over the coming months, prompting federal health officials to urge those in hard hit areas to consider reissuing calls for indoor masking.
Increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are putting more of the country under guidelines issued by the CDC that call for masking and other infection precautions.
Right now, about a third of the U.S. population lives in areas that are considered at higher risk, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest.
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Some 20 New York City judges are now COVID positive after they attended a retreat in Montauk last weekend, according to published reports.
There were roughly 70 judges whop attended the retreat, and some without symptoms have been able to return to work.
They are masked, as everyone is required to be masked inside state courthouses.
With cases rising, New York City has entered the "high alert" level, but Mayor Eric Adams insists there are no plans to bring back a mask mandate.
"Variants are going to come," he said. "If every variant that comes, we move into shutdown thoughts, we move into panicking, we are not going to function as a city. We are being extremely strategic and we are fighting COVID with not only the tools that we didn't have before, but we're also fighting COVID using the intelligence we need to win in a COVID environment."
Still, he and the New York City Department of Health are now urging people to use masks while inside public places, including schools.
Map: 7-day rolling positivity rates by Zip code:
The Department of Education also sent a letter to families, recommending that all public school students 2 and older wear a mask.
"We recommend that everyone age 2 and older wear a well-fitting mask in all public indoor settings, including at school and early childhood education (ECE) programs, even if not required," the letter read. "Encourage your child to wear a mask while at school or ECE program and when gathering with friends. Your child's school has masks available."
New Yorkers can find an at-home test distribution pick-up location most convenient to them and their hours of operation by visiting the city's COVID-19 testing page. New Yorkers with a disability who need assistance or have questions regarding at-home test kits should call 311. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing and use American Sign Language can call via video phone at 646-396-5830.
New Yorkers who test positive using an at-home test can call 212-COVID19 to be connected to resources like free meal and care package delivery. Care packages contain personal protection equipment (PPE) for a household of three to quarantine, two rapid antigen at-home tests, and other necessities to help New Yorkers safely isolate.
Multiple COVID-19 treatments are available for people ages 12 and older and can be delivered to New Yorkers' homes for free. For more information on COVID-19 treatments, please call 212-COVID19 and press 9 or visit nyc.gov/health/covidtreatments.
Calling 212-COVID19 provides New Yorkers an immediate connection to a clinician who can refer them to monoclonal antibody treatment or prescribe antiviral medications, like Paxlovid, and arrange to have it delivered to their home that same day for free.
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