Are Empire State residents just a few days away from unmasking?

On Friday, Gov. Hochul announced the statewide COVID percent positivity fell below 10 percent for the first time in over a month.

"For the first time since December 20, New York State's percent positivity is in the single-digits," Hochul said Friday. "I want to thank New Yorkers for doing the right thing to get where we are in fighting this winter surge. However, this isn't the time to take our foot off the gas. Let's keep using the tools - the vaccine, the booster and masking up - to further bring the numbers down and keep our vulnerable loved ones safe from this virus."

Friday's percent positive rate was 9.75 percent with 28,296 tests coming back positive.

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On Saturday, Hochul was proud to announce the state was below 10 percent for the second day in a row. Saturday's percent positive rate was 9.23 percent with 27,643 tests coming back positive.

"We are below 10% positivity rate for the second day in a row. This is extraordinary progress," Hochul stated Saturday. "As we continue to see numbers trend downward, let's also continue to do the right thing. Wash your hands, get the vaccine if you haven't already, get the booster dose, and wear a mask. We will continue to see this downward trend in other parts of the state soon."

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Sunday's numbers were even better. 7.84 percent of COVID tests came back positive in the previous 24 hours. 19,186 positive tests were reported. New York's 7-day percent positive is now down to 10.5 percent.

Hochul also was happy to confirm New COVID-19 hospitalization admissions are down more than 25 percent compared to the previous 7 days.

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"Our hard work to confront the winter surge is paying off, but this is no time to let up," Hochul said. "Let's keep using the tools that will help stop the spread, protect our vulnerable loved ones, and keep our schools and businesses open. Please get your second vaccine dose if you haven't already, get the booster, and continue to wear a mask. Parents and guardians, please get your children vaccinated and boosted if they're eligible."

Hochul did report 135 more COVID deaths. Total deaths reported to and compiled by the CDC is now 64,120 in New York.

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With COVID numbers continuing to decline, New Yorkers wonder if they can once again unmask in public. In December, Hochul announced masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement.

Hochul called this "major action to address the winter surge."

The new measure was slated to end on Jan. 15, 2022. But on New Year's Eve Hochul extended the mask mandate until at least Feb. 1.

Hochul has yet to comment on extending the mask mandate or ending it next month.

Masks must still be worn indoors until at least Feb. 1. The extended mask mandate is part of Hochul's "Winter Surge Plan 2.0" plan. See the full plan below.

Governor Kathy Hochul holds a COVID-19 briefing in Albany.
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“We have every tool to keep our families and communities safe,” Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said.

A violation of any provision of this measure is subject to all civil and criminal penalties, including a maximum fine of $1,000 for each violation. Local health departments are being asked to enforce these requirements.

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Below is more information on the extended COVID rules:

Business/Venue Proof of Full-Course Vaccination Requirement

  • Businesses and venues that implement a proof of vaccination requirement can accept Excelsior Pass, Excelsior Pass Plus, SMART Health Cards issued outside of New York State, or a CDC Vaccination Card. In accordance with CDC's definition of fully vaccinated, full-course vaccination is defined as 14 days past an individual's last vaccination dose in their initial vaccine series (14 days past the second shot of a two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine; 14 days past the one-shot Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine). The State also accepts WHO-approved vaccines for these purposes. Parents and guardians can retrieve and store an Excelsior Pass and/or Excelsior Pass Plus for children or minors under legal guardianship.

Business/Venue Mask-Wearing Requirement

  • Businesses and venues that implement a mask requirement must ensure all patrons two years and older wear a mask at all times while indoors.

Continued Masking Requirements

  • Unvaccinated individuals continue to be responsible for wearing masks, in accordance with federal CDC guidance. Further, the State's masking requirements continue to be in effect for pre-K to grade 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and health care settings per CDC guidelines.
  • New York State and the State's Department of Health continue to strongly recommend mask-wearing in all public indoor settings as an added layer of protection, even when not required.
  • Children 2 - 5 who remain ineligible for vaccination must wear a proper-fitting mask.

 

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