Health

ALL New Yorkers should wear face masks in grocery stores, offices and other indoor public places

New York City has become the latest Democrat-led area to urge residents to wear face masks in all indoor spaces including grocery stores, offices and shops because of rising Covid cases.

Health commissioner Ashwin Vasan said the recommendation was needed due to ‘high community spread’ of the virus. But he added that they ‘don’t anticipate… this wave will last much longer’.

In the advisory notice issued Monday, officials said all residents over two years old should now wear face masks in indoor public spaces. It added that people over 65, immunocompromised, or unvaccinated should also consider donning the coverings outdoors and avoiding crowded settings.

The youngest children — less than two years old — were said to be among those most at risk because they have not been offered a vaccine, despite official data showing the age group is least likely to die from the virus.

It is at least the second Democrat-led city to bring back face masks in all indoor settings, after Los Angeles also made the recommendation last month.

New York City has the fifth largest Covid outbreak in the country, with a rate of 363 cases per 100,000 people and is at the epicenter of the emergency of an even more transmissible version of Omicron — scientifically named BA.2.12.1.

But there is no evidence the strain is more likely to trigger severe disease, with more than half of ‘Covid’ patients are people not primarily ill with the virus.

Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Connecticut all have higher Covid rates than New York City. None have re-imposed masks in indoor spaces.

Democrat-led states have flip-flopped between face mask rules recently, with Philadelphia lifting its indoor face mask rule just four days after it was imposed.

It comes as cases continue to rise nationwide, with states now recording about 87,000 cases a day on average — up 19 percent on the 73,000 seven days ago. 

But Covid fatalities have fallen by about a third in a week, to around 374 being recorded every day — similar to levels last summer. 

New York City’s Health commissioner Ashwin Vasan said he was making the recommendation because of rising Covid cases in the community. But said officials expected the current wave to be short lived

Covid cases in New York City are beginning to trend upwards once again, though have not reached anywhere near the peak of the Omicron variant

Covid cases in New York City are beginning to trend upwards once again, though have not reached anywhere near the peak of the Omicron variant

NYC Covid hospitalizations have slightly increased in recent weeks after bottoming out in late April

NYC Covid hospitalizations have slightly increased in recent weeks after bottoming out in late April

Despite increasing cases and hospitalizations related to Covid - deaths in NYC have remained minimal

Despite increasing cases and hospitalizations related to Covid – deaths in NYC have remained minimal

Less than half of 'Covid' patients in New York City were people admitted because of the virus, state data shows. This figure has remained below 50 percent since early February, statistics reveal

Less than half of ‘Covid’ patients in New York City were people admitted because of the virus, state data shows. This figure has remained below 50 percent since early February, statistics reveal

Announcing the guidance today, Vasan said on Twitter: ‘Today I’m issuing a Commissioner’s advisory urging all New Yorkers to wear a mask indoors.

‘NYC is approaching a “high” level of Covid alert, which represents high community spread [of the virus].’ 

State data showed that of the 670 patients marked as being infected with the virus on Friday, just over two in five — or 43.7 percent — were admitted because of the disease, with the rest coming to wards for another condition such as a broken leg, but later being found to be infected.

It suggests the majority of ‘Covid’ patients in U.S. hospitals are no longer people primarily ill with the disease. Experts warned, however — including Dr Jessica Justman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University — that these cases were still putting strain on the hospital system.

The proportion of Covid patients admitted due to the virus has risen in recent weeks from a low of 35 percent in late April, but it has now been below half for more than three months. There have been less than 100 Covid patients in intensive care — the most seriously ill — since early March. 

The U.S. is currently facing a growing Covid outbreak with cases rising nationally since mid-April, and is now recording about 87,000 cases a day on average — up 19 percent on the 73,000 seven days ago.

It is being driven by an even more infectious version of Omicron — named BA.2.12.1 — which is now behind up to half of infections nationally. It is already the dominant strain in New York and New Jersey.

Despite the rise in infections, Covid deaths in the U.S. are falling with about 374 now being recorded every day on average down almost a third from 551 a week ago. It is around the same level as last summer, when vaccines were widely distributed.

Data published by New York State’s Department of Health includes the number of Covid patients that were admitted because of severe complications with the virus and the number admitted with Covid who came to wards for another issue, such as a fall, but then tested positive.

Of the 670 ‘Covid’ patients currently on its wards, there are 293 who were admitted for the virus and 377 who have tested positive but were admitted for something else.

The proportion of the city’s ‘Covid’ patients who are ill from the virus has risen slightly from last week, but it has remained well below half of all patients since the start of February.

Pandemic has made babies and toddlers MISS talking and reading milestones 

Infants born during the pandemic aren’t hitting the speech development milestones normal for babies their age, with new studies revealing they are talking less and signaling signs of future reading challenges.

Researchers claim that due to COVID-19 disruptions, nearly one third of elementary students will need ‘intensive support to become proficient readers.’

Two other recent studies revealed that children born pandemic are also at a greater risk for academic failure because parents haven’t been able to engage their babies and toddlers in the types of conversations that are ‘crucial for language development’.

According to Forbes, language developing conversations, such as back-and-forth dialogue, is fundamental for reading aptitude.

Omicron — which is behind every case in the U.S. — is much more mild than previous variants, making it less likely to trigger a severe illness.

About 40 percent of infections are also asymptomatic — or trigger no symptoms —, scientists have found including in a JAMA Network Open study.

New York is currently at a ‘moderate’ Covid alert level, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) metrics, recommending that people continue wearing face masks on public transport.

But the city’s health commissioner Ashwin Vasan has threatened to raise this to ‘high’ — bringing back face masks in all public places and limiting gatherings to small numbers of people — should the city reach more than 20 Covid hospitalizations per 100,000 people. 

It is currently at 9.2 and has risen steadily since early April.

Mayor Eric Adam’s office said Monday, reports Bloomberg: ‘New York City is preparing to potentially enter a high Covid alert level in the coming days and strongly recommends that all New Yorkers mask up in public indoor settings to protect themselves and others.’ 

Its guidance adds: ‘If NYC’s alert level is raised to high, the city will consider requiring face masks in all public indoor settings.’ 

New York state currently has the eighth largest Covid outbreak in the country, with about 48 cases per 100,000, but one of the highest vaccination rates in the country with 77 percent of people fully jabbed.

Pictured above is the number of U.S. infections reported every day. Cases are now at about 86,000 every 24 hours

Pictured above is the number of U.S. infections reported every day. Cases are now at about 86,000 every 24 hours

But deaths from the virus have continued to fall. They dropped by about a third yesterday compared to last week, with about 374 now being recorded every day

But deaths from the virus have continued to fall. They dropped by about a third yesterday compared to last week, with about 374 now being recorded every day

Experts warned that despite the figures the city should remain on alert for the virus.

Justman told DailyMail.com: ‘I don’t think the city should raise its threshold [for activating a high Covid alert level].

‘The CDC’s threshold of hospitalizations is to be considered along with other indicators to assess community transmission.’

She pointed to the CDC’s guide to Covid alert levels, which states that its current Covid hospitalizations figures represent the strain on hospitals “regardless of the reason for inpatient care”.’

Dr Denis Nash, a population health expert at City University of New York, agreed saying warnings from the city that it could reach a high Covid alert level were not overblown.

He told DailyMail.com: ‘NYC wants to be in a place where we can absorb major surges in SARS-CoV-2 transmission like the one we are experiencing right now without concomitant surges in hospitalizations and deaths.

‘The reality is, however, that we don’t know if we are in that place, and we may not know until it is too late. 

‘So, I believe it is prudent for our health commissioner to consider these steps and others to help reduce the risk to New Yorkers.’

America is currently facing a growing outbreak of Covid with one in five states seeing their cases more than double over the past two weeks, including: Mississippi, Missouri, Arizona, Louisiana, South Carolina, Delaware, Idaho, Connecticut, Iowa and Utah.

The state’s with the highest infection rates are Rhode Island (72 cases per 100,000 people), Massachusetts (61) and Hawaii (57). On the other end of the scale is Alabama (7), Arkansas (7), Wyoming (7) and South Dakota (7).

But there is serious concern over the accuracy of the data with the vast majority of states now not reporting Covid figures every day. Florida reports them once a month.

It comes after a study warned that children born during the pandemic were not hitting their speech development milestones at the times expected.

Researchers claim that due to COVID-19 disruptions, nearly one third of elementary students will need ‘intensive support to become proficient readers.’

Two other recent studies revealed that children born pandemic are also at a greater risk for academic failure because parents haven’t been able to engage their babies and toddlers in the types of conversations that are ‘crucial for language development’.

According to Forbes, language developing conversations, such as back-and-forth dialogue, is fundamental for reading aptitude.



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