New York City Health Department issues mask advisory

New York City health officials are "strongly" recommending people wear a mask in public indoor settings.  The advisory comes as COVID-19 and flu cases rise and flu hospitalizations have reached their highest levels for this time of year in more than a decade.

There are concerns that cases could skyrocket during the holiday season.

The New York City Health Commissioner urges New York City residents to use high-quality masks when indoors and in crowded outdoor settings.

He says this is especially important for people who are – or are meeting – those who are at increased risk for complications from COVID-19, RSV, or the flu, such as those age 65 and older and people who are immunocompromised.

"The holiday season is about togetherness and there is a way to gather safely – even as respiratory viruses in our city are unusually high," said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. "It starts with protecting yourself."

The advisory is not a mask mandate but a suggestion.  It also urges people to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and flu, even if they have been vaccinated previously.

The city says it will continue to make vaccination and masking resources available to New Yorkers.

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Vaccination pop-ups and other efforts to promote vaccine access and equity will also continue.

In an appearance on Good Day New York on Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said health officials are battling indifference in the population.

"We have an updated booster vaccine that's available that can really go a long way to protecting you, certainly from severe disease, if not from infection at all. And unfortunately, there's not a very vigorous uptake of that vaccine," Fauci said.  "That may be understandable because people want to be done with COVID. We've all been exhausted over the last three years. But there still is a lot to do to protect yourself and your family and ultimately your community."

With respiratory illnesses on the rise, the NYC Health Department is closely monitoring the COVID-19, influenza, RSV, hospital, and syndromic surveillance data.

The Health Department has noted high levels of cases and hospitalizations for COVID, flu, and RSV. The combined impact of these respiratory illnesses puts individuals at risk and risks straining the healthcare system.

To find a nearby COVID-19 and flu vaccination provider, visit NYC Vaccine Finder or call 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-4692) to schedule an appointment at certain sites, and for other vaccination assistance.