New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on July 19 that he does not plan to reinstate a citywide mask mandate as cases of the CCP virus were on the rise again.
The mayor said the city would instead opt for getting more New Yorkers vaccinated. Los Angeles County imposed a mask mandate last week amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases driven by the delta variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
De Blasio argued that focusing on vaccinations is a better strategy for the nation’s most populous city.
“Masks have value, unquestionably, but masks are not going at the root of the problem. Vaccination is,” the mayor said during a live-streamed press briefing. “So we do not intend a mask mandate. We do intend to double down on vaccination.”
The seven-day average of daily new cases in the United States has increased every day since July 7, according to the CDC. The trend in New York is similar to the picture nationwide, with an upward trend in cases starting on July 6, according to data from the city’s Department of Health.
The latest surge in cases comes as Pfizer, the maker of one of the three emergency use COVID-19 vaccines, said that the effectiveness of its two-shot regimen drops significantly after six months. The vaccine maker is now in the process of seeking approval for its booster shot.
Israel’s top officials warned on July 17 that Pfizer’s vaccine is “significantly less” effective at combating the delta.
“We do not know exactly to what degree the vaccine helps, but it is significantly less,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told reporters and cabinet members on July 17.
The delta variant of the CCP virus accounts for more than half of active COVID-19 cases in the United States by early July.
The CDC’s guidance currently states that fully vaccinated people do not have to wear a mask indoors and in most other settings.
However, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy said on July 18 that he would back county-level decisions to reimpose mask restrictions to tackle surging cases of COVID-19, saying that this was not in contradiction to the CDC guidelines, which leave room for local jurisdictions to decide their own restrictions.
“It’s very reasonable for counties to take more mitigation measures like the mask rules you see coming out in L.A., and I anticipate that will happen in other parts of the country too,” Murthy told ABC News’s “This Week.”
There are dozens of circumstantial studies suggesting that masks work to stem the spread of the virus, although none have been randomized-control trials. Meanwhile, Florida, which never imposed a mask mandate allowing residents to decide their own approach to prevention, fared better than some of the strict lockdown states despite having an older population on average.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.