NYC Public Hospitals Reinstate Mask Mandate Amidst Surging COVID-19 Cases

January 4, 2024

NYC’s public hospitals, including 11 public hospitals, community-based clinics, and nursing homes, have reintroduced a mask mandate in response to the escalating COVID-19 cases.

The mandate, effective since just after Christmas, applies to clinical settings such as hospitals, community health centers, and nursing homes, aiming to safeguard patients, staff, and the community, as affirmed by NYC Health & Hospitals spokesperson Chris Miller.

As of December 31, COVID-19 cases in the five boroughs witnessed a substantial increase, with 1,769 positive cases recorded—an alarming 235% surge since October 31 and an 85% rise since November 30, according to state health data. The reported numbers may underestimate the actual figures due to the prevalence of at-home testing replacing in-person testing.

Hospitalizations have also surged from 460 on November 29 to 1,140 on December 29, marking a 148% increase. While the current spike has not resulted in a proportional rise in fatalities, with over 80,000 COVID-19-related deaths in New York State since 2020, the increase highlights the importance of ongoing vigilance.

The surge in cases is not limited to COVID-19, as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) have shown an upward trend since November, according to the Health Department’s mid-December data. The department recorded 8,435 specimens positive for influenza and 3,879 positive for RSV.


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“…Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, have reinstated mask mandates…”

Nationwide, a new variant named JN.1 has contributed to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that JN.1 comprises up to half of the current cases across the country. Several cities, including  Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, have reinstated mask mandates to curb the spread of the virus.

Despite the easing of COVID-era mask mandates in 2022, New Yorkers have largely refrained from wearing masks. However, with the resurgence of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, public health activists continue to advocate for the maintenance of preventive measures.

Photo credit: Wiki.

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