On Tuesday, speaking at a press briefing, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio stated that citizens should “not just wear a mask, wear two” until June.
De Blasio was asked by Amanda Eisenberg from Politico, “I want to know what the city strategy is for implementing these public health measures as more people get vaccinated. Are there specific things that you’re looking to do to, you know, educate people around their risk of transmission as we vaccinate more people?”
“We’ve been projecting this one for weeks and weeks too,” de Blasio answered. “We want everyone to stay – first of all, June’s when we want to hit five million New Yorkers fully vaccinated, and June is the earliest we would even consider changing guidance around masks. It may be that we continue that guidance for quite a while, depending on what’s going on. We’re very concerned about the variants, for example, that’s a big x-factor. But I think a good way for New Yorkers to think about 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.”
“If you do have a case in your home, have the person safely separate,” he continued. “We want to keep all those precautions in place to guard against the variants, to help us consolidate our progress, to give time for this vaccination effort to catch up with the larger reality and really create a new dynamic of the city.”
“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 Dr. Chokshi (Commissioner Dave Chokshi, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene) will tell you that even when you’re vaccinated, you know, you have to have concern for everyone around you,” de Blasio warned. “So, I would say anyone vaccinated, keep wearing that mask as part – and it’s also just the culture. We want everyone to remember that the mask wearing culture has been part of what turned the corner for us, and we got to keep it that way until this is finally defeated.”
Chokshi added that wearing two masks should “become more common among New Yorkers,” asserting:
Yes, we cannot take our foot off of the gas, right now. We remain in a position where we’re concerned about the number of cases that we’re seeing each day. We are concerned about the new variants as well, and we now have this valuable new weapon in our arsenal, the vaccine, but we have to think about it as something that is an additional layer of protection to all of the things that we know have already worked, and that includes mask wearing. That’s why you heard in our guidance last week that we are actually doubling down on ensuring that New Yorkers are wearing masks.
The most important thing remains that people wear them consistently and properly covering their nose and mouth, both indoors and outdoors. But we also suggested that two masks and higher-grade masks should become more common among New Yorkers as well, and specifically with respect to wearing your mask after you’ve been vaccinated, remember it takes time for immunity to build up that’s one important reason, but then even after you’ve been fully vaccinated and have full immunity we don’t know enough about the spread of the virus. Even when someone doesn’t experience symptoms after they’ve been vaccinated and for all these reasons, it will remain important for us to keep wearing masks in the coming weeks and likely in the coming months as well.