NEW YORK — New York City residents — even people who have been vaccinated — should double up on masks at least through June, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.
The guidance, according to the mayor, is out of concern over the presence of COVID-19 variants in the city and state.
“We’re very concerned about the variants, for example, that’s a big X-factor,” de Blasio said during a coronavirus briefing. “But I think a good way for New Yorkers to think about it now is for the first half of this year, from now through June, keep doing exactly what you’re doing: not just wear a mask, wear two, social distancing, you know, all the precautions – get tested monthly.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report in early February that said wearing two masks and ensuring a tight fit against the face could reduce COVID-19 exposure by up to 96%.
June is when de Blasio and city health officials expect to reach their goal of fully vaccinating 5 million New Yorkers. To date, the city has administered 1,578,362 first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The mayor said June would be the earliest he would consider changing guidance regarding masks.
“It may be that we continue that guidance for quite a while, depending on what’s going on,” de Blasio said. “When we get closer to June, we’ll update the guidance depending on what we’re seeing, but I think it’s really important for people not to let their guard down.”
And that includes people who have been vaccinated, the mayor added.
“You have to have concern for everyone around you. So, I would say anyone vaccinated, keep wearing that mask,” he said.
The vaccines are highly effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, especially severe illness and death — but no one yet knows how well they block the transmission of the coronavirus.
The CDC also hasn’t changed its guidelines: For now, vaccinated people should follow the same rules as everybody else about wearing a mask, keeping a 6-foot distance and avoiding crowds — even after they’ve gotten their second dose.
This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.