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This Major City Just Announced "High Alert" Level of COVID

Here’s what health officials are recommending to stay safe.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

COVID-19 cases in New York City have reached a "high alert" level, health officials warn. "New York City has transitioned to a high COVID alert level, meaning now is the time to double down on protecting ourselves and each other by making choices that can keep our friends, neighbors, relatives and coworkers from getting sick," says Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Masks Are Not Being Mandated…For Now

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At this point, masks are being recommended but not mandated. "We are not at the point of mandating masks," says Mayor Adams. "We are not at the point of doing anything other than urging New Yorkers, while you are indoors in large settings, social settings, wear your masks."

2

…But a Mask Mandate Could Still Happen

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"If there comes a time that our hospitals are in a state of emergency, or we're trending that way, and my doctors that run the hospitals tell me this is what we need to do, I'm going to listen to them," says Mayor Adams.

3

Students Are Advised to Mask Up

Girl with face mask back at school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown.
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"We recommend that everyone age 2 and older wear a well-fitting mask in all public indoor settings, including at school and early childhood education (ECE) programs, even if not required," reads a letter from The Department of Education sent to families. "Encourage your child to wear a mask while at school or ECE program and when gathering with friends. Your child's school has masks available."

4

Not All Masks Are Equally Effective

A mid adult woman protects herself by placing an N95 face mask over her nose and mouth.
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"All masks should cover the nose and the mouth and rest snugly above the nose, below the mouth, and on the sides of the face. Higher-quality masks, such as KN95 and KF94 masks and N95 respirators, can offer an additional layer of protection," Vasan wrote in an advisory. "Wearing a cloth mask over a disposable mask and knotting the ear loops to tighten masks are additional techniques to improve fit and protection."

5

Don't Panic, Says Mayor Adams

A family walking holding hands wearing face masks in the middle of pandemic
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"We're not at the point of doing anything other than urging New Yorkers while you're indoors in large set-in social settings," says Mayor Adams. "We're not going to panic. We're going to continue to be prepared."

6

How to Stay Safe Out There

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Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan