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COVID-19 Cases Increasing Across Queens and NYC, Prompts Calls for Another Mask Mandate

Mayor Bill de Blasio handed out face masks at the Queensbridge Houses in May (Ed Reed/ Mayoral Photography Office)

July 19, 2021 By Allie Griffin

New cases of COVID-19 are on the rise across Queens and citywide as the Delta variant spreads across the boroughs.

The average daily number of cases in Queens more than doubled in the past two weeks — it was 122 on July 15, compared to just 57 on July 1, according to the latest city data. Neighborhoods like Howard Beach (11414) have a positivity rate of 3.71 percent — compared to the citywide rate of 1.13 percent.

The number of new COVID cases citywide saw a 203 percent increase from the average two weeks ago, according to the New York Times COVID-19 tracker.

The uptick is likely a result of the highly contagious Delta strand of the virus. The variant now makes up about 69 percent of cases across the city, Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said Monday.

Queens COVID case count over time (NYC Health Dept)

The rise has prompted some officials to call on Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to reinstate mask mandates for all indoor activities — even for people who are fully vaccinated.

Currently, only the unvaccinated must wear masks inside, and it is almost impossible to determine compliance. However, both the vaccinated and unvaccinated are required to wear a mask in some settings, like on subways and buses as well as schools, hospitals and congregate settings.

Council Member Mark Levine, the chair of the Council’s Health Committee, is calling on the state and city to reimpose the mask mandate for all.

“Indoor mask use in NYC is falling—in delis, stores, subways, movie theaters etc. We need to reverse this trend,” Levine tweeted Saturday. “It’s time to renew the indoor mask mandate, including for those who are vax’d.”

He pointed to the rise in cases due to the Delta variant as well as concern for young children, who aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine, and the immunocompromised.

“This must include vax’d because there’s a very small chance they can still receive/transmit, & because we need mask solidarity.” Levine added. “Otherwise it doesn’t work.”
At least one Queens leader echoed his wish to bring back mask-wearing for all indoors.
Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers said she agrees that it needs to be done in a tweet.
I agree with my colleague @MarkLevineNYC, especially when you see we have communities still at greater risk,” Brooks-Powers wrote. “We need to be measured as we reopen so that we do not lose out on all of the progress we’ve made to beat #Covid19.”

De Blasio said he has no plans to reintroduce a mask mandate for the vaccinated during a press conference Monday.

“Masks have value unquestionably, but masks are not going at the root of the problem — vaccination is, so we do not intend a mask mandate,” de Blasio said. “We do intend to double down on vaccination.”

Health officials agreed that getting more people vaccinated is the way to fight the Delta variant.

“The Delta variant is concerning as we’ve talked about…,” Chokshi said. “But our concern is primarily for people who remain unvaccinated, which is why the single most important thing that we can do to keep individuals as well as our communities, our city safe, is to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”

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19 Comments

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No more tears

If we go back to masks or another lockdown nyc will really be finished
Watch the moving vans
Covid is something we have to live with
I remember the hysteria over aids

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Vera

People are not taking enough precautions. Too much miscommunication is going on…Everyday its something different depending on which article you read or which news segment you watch.

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Theo

Delta is sending cases back up, I’m not going to lie, I started wearing my mask again to the gym and any other large group areas, but if im in the open and there’s a ton of space between me and another person i’m free balling

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David

The vaccine doesn’t stop the spread or stop you from getting it..You can still show no symptoms and spread it.

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Mac

David- The vaccine most certainly “slows” the spread. The maps showing infection rates and inoculation rates is proof. The term “Stop” is an “absolute” term and almost nothing is “absolute” that’s why you will see percentages in the narrative regarding vaccinations and infections.

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Beth

Take care of your health internally because nobody else will. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and Sea Moss. Drink more water. No coffee. Stop eating processed foods and dairy products. Research herbal medicine. Change your diet and you can change your lifestyle.

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Michelle

We are here trying to survive a pandemic and the media is focusing on white billionaires going to space.

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Anonymous

Billionaires going to space — is the kind of scientific innovation that gave us the vaccine … and vaccines for many other deadly diseases. Most people should know that wearing a mask practicing social distancing is the right thing to do—- just a bit of common sense , we don’t need the media to tell us how to behave.

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Kay

Many people who returned to nyc might end up leaving again if there is a mask mandate for everyone again. The mayors decision for now has more to do with trying to save our economy and keeping a certain socio-economic demographic here.

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Gardens Watcher

Gothamist reports that in July, only 70 percent of subway riders were wearing masks. People need to mask up on mass transit! Covid isn’t killed off by the heat.

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Caroline

Pay attention to what is going on in Europe with unvaccinated and some vaccinated people both ending up in hospitals. The delta variant is more contagious and can make you sicker. Please get vaccinated.

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Fay

The mayor does not want to chase tourists away. Its also way to hot to be wearing masks.

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Gardens Watcher

If you think for a minute wearing a mask is uncomfortable, imagine how much more uncomfortable being on a ventilator would be.

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Gardens Watcher

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued new Covid-19 guidelines for schools, recommending that everyone over age 2 wear masks this fall, EVEN if they have been vaccinated. Exceptions may be made for those with medical or developmental conditions that complicate mask wearing.

I’m fully vaccinated, but still wear a mask indoors everywhere, and most outdoor spaces too.

Get vaccinated before Covid finds you.

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Louisa

People need to understand that you can still get covid even after being vaccinated. Its like the flu shot. They are both not 100 percent effective. We should all be cautious and wear masks indoors. I notice more people not wearing masks indoors including supermarkets and staff is not enforcing mask only mandates anymore. Remove the vaccine appointments only and allow walk ins at pharmacies. I know some people that do not have internet access or do not speak english so they are finding it hard to get the vaccine locally. There are also many undocumented that are scared to sign up.

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