By STACY DRIKS
While New York City public school students have adapted to doffing their COVID masks, there has been some disappointing news in a neighboring Bronx borough. Westchester County is experiencing a surge in cases of COVID omicron subvariants.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced last week that he has no plans to reintroduce a mask mandate for public schools, even amid the surge in Westchester County.
However, the city’s health department urged people to wear high-quality masks in all indoor public spaces and crowded outdoor areas, regardless of whether vaccination status is known.
Adams said in a press conference last week that if the city declares a state of emergency in response to any variant that comes up, we will not function as a city.
In March, the mayor introduced a new color-coded alert system to let people know what to do in high-risk situations. On May 20, the Bronx entered the orange level, or “high” risk. That color includes recommendations to “mandate face masks in all indoor public spaces,” according to the mayor’s website.
Instead, he wants to distribute home tests and antiviral drugs. dr New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan encouraged New York to consider applying the tools to mitigate the impact of the wave.
“Now is the time to protect ourselves and each other even more by making choices that prevent our friends, neighbors, relatives and colleagues from getting sick,” Vasan said.
The seven-day average of cases per 100,000 in Westchester shows a 30 per cent increase in Covid-19.
On May 22, the state health department reported that there were 925 new cases in Westchester.
In upstate New York, 6,460 residents tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 5,353,269.
PS 81 Robert J. Christen School parent coordinator Nina Velazquez isn’t sure how all parents will react to a new mask bid. In general, most parents in public schools opposed the mandate. Especially for the youngest members of the group.
Except for the youngest group of children 3-K to Pre-K, there is no mask requirement in the classroom as they are not eligible for vaccination.
“The best way to prevent serious illness and hospitalization from Covid-19 is to get fully vaccinated and keep up to date with your booster doses,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a recent press release.
Adams chose not to increase mask requirements because 76 percent of the city is fully vaccinated, while 90 percent have at least one.
Additionally, hospitalization and death rates remain low despite previous waves. About 44 percent of New York City’s positive COVID cases were hospitalized, and one death was recorded in the Bronx.
More than two years ago, SAR Academy found itself at the epicenter of the COVID outbreak when it and its sister high school closed on March 3, 2020 after the father of a New Rochelle student tested positive for the coronavirus. That was one of the first cases in the Northeast.
“It is our understanding at this time that the overwhelming majority of known positive cases in our community have resulted from specific contacts related to events in New Rochelle and subsequent contacts with people who became positive from those events,” the school said in documents released to the parents at the time provided two years ago, reported by The Riverdale Press.