New York reaches ‘milestone,’ governor says

New York and coronavirus
New York and coronavirus(MGN / CDC)
Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 10:44 AM EDT
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ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - It’s been 399 days since New Yorkers were ordered to wear face coverings to help stop COVID-19 from spreading and now many of them can take their masks off.

In a statement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Wednesday a milestone. It’s the day the state decided to ease mask restrictions based on last week’s guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Now, people who are fully vaccinated aren’t required to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor settings, although businesses and organizations can set their own restrictions.

Masks are still required for everyone -- vaccinated or not -- on public transportation and in schools, homeless shelters, nursing homes, and health care facilities.

People who are fully vaccinated also no longer have to maintain social distancing and many capacity limits have been lifted across the state.

The governor announced Wednesday that statewide positivity dropped to 1 percent, the lowest it’s been since October 10.

Here’s the governor’s statement:

“Today is a milestone in New York State’s war against COVID. With positivity and hospitalization rates at their lowest levels since last fall, and more than 10 million New Yorkers having received at least one vaccine dose, today New York State is adopting the CDC’s updated guidance on masks and social distancing.

“This means that, 399 days after New York was the first state in the country to implement a mask mandate, effective today, fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to use a face covering in most public places. New York is coming back, and it’s a testament to the strength and grit of New Yorkers who banded together, stayed tough, and fought as one to defeat this COVID beast.

“The steps we’re taking today don’t mean that COVID has been officially relegated to the history books. We need to stay vigilant, continue to follow the safety guidelines in place, and help every single eligible New Yorker get vaccinated, so that we can finally reach that light at the end of the tunnel. And as we start to climb the next mountains in our path, we need to ensure that the values that got New York through this crisis -- community, discipline, strength, toughness, and love for each other -- endure.”

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