De Blasio stops short of mask mandate but issues 'strong recommendation'

New York Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioFederal appeals court blocks NYC teacher vaccine mandate Meghan, Prince Harry visit One World Trade Center Google to purchase Manhattan building for .1 billion MORE (D) stopped short of ordering a mask mandate in the city on Monday but issued a “strong recommendation” for all New Yorkers to wear masks in public indoor settings.

De Blasio announced that New York is advising all residents, regardless of vaccination status, to mask up indoors in guidance that aligns with updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

“We want to strongly recommend that people wear a mask in indoor settings even if you're vaccinated,” he said during a briefing. “Now this is particularly true, of course, if you might be around anyone unvaccinated.”

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City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said the decision followed new data showing the delta variant “can spread even more easily than previously thought.” 

“While vaccination may be ‘for the win,’ we need to keep putting points on the board against the virus, and that’s where masks come in,” Chokshi said.

But the mayor avoided making masking mandatory for all residents as other jurisdictions have recently done, saying his main priority is vaccinations. 

“Vaccines are the number one most powerful weapon against COVID by far,” de Blasio said. “But we also clearly believe there’s a place for masks. Everything thing we do is vaccine-centric. The entire strategy is around vaccines, but of course, we want to make sure people are using masks in all the right way.”

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The CDC updated its mask guidance last week, recommending that everyone wear masks in indoor public settings in places with “substantial” or “high” COVID-19 transmission. All five boroughs of New York currently fall under these categories. 

The city has seen cases more than double in the past 14 weeks, reaching a daily average of 1,233 new cases, according to The New York Times.

De Blasio also said Monday that all new hires for the city government must show proof of vaccination in order to work. Last week, he announced all city employees would need to be fully vaccinated or regularly tested by Sept. 13. 

New York City launched an incentive program last week to pay $100 to people who get their first vaccine dose. On Monday, de Blasio said 8,300 people have gotten their $100. The mayor also celebrated that the city surpassed 10 millions vaccine doses administered over the weekend.