“There is still a risk.” Local experts react to new NYS mask guidance

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(WETM) – After months of being masked, New Yorkers are taking another step toward returning to normal. Gov. Cuomo announced Monday the state will align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, allowing vaccinated people to be in most indoor and outdoor settings without a mask.

“If you are vaccinated you are safe. No masks. No social distancing,” Gov. Cuomo said.

Officials say there is still a risk for COVID-19, even though the community is making progress. They stress the new rules only apply to vaccinated New Yorkers and unvaccinated people must still mask and distance.

“It’s always very concerning when we start to lower our mask wearing and our social distancing,” Angela Murray, BSN RN and senior director of quality management at Arnot Health, said.

They say in large venues or in groups with vulnerable people, everyone should wear masks. This includes healthcare settings, correctional facilities and on public transportation.

“We’re going to watch things. The number of positive cases will be watched,” Murray continued. “We will continue to push our efforts with vaccinations and that’s key.”

Here in the Southern Tier, health officials are seeing a slow down in the race to vaccinate. They encourage the community to consider getting the vaccine to help stop the spread of the virus.

“We do want to see our vaccination rates increase,” Pete Buzzetti, Chemung County public health director, added.

Even though the guidance changed, Buzzetti says you can still wear a mask. Murray agreed, urging people to be cautious if they are in a populated area.

Monitoring and enforcing the guidance will be challenging. Many believe it will be on the honor system, as no enforcement guidance has been released by New York State.

“This puts a lot of the onus on being honest and being honest in our community to protect those who have not been vaccinated,” Buzzetti said.

There will be an adjustment for everyone, as people un-mask and businesses begin to return to normal. New York will increase capacities in certain venues on Wednesday, as outlined today.

“There will certainly be a little awkwardness going forward, but I think people will work through it and businesses will work through it. They are happy to be getting opened and getting opened fully,” Sen. Tom O’Mara, NY District 58 (R), said.

COVID-19 is still spreading and is a threat to the public. Health professionals encourage everyone to consider vaccination and to stay safe.

“There is still risk. One out of 10 people may still contract the virus, hopefully it is not as severe if you get vaccinated, but it could still happen,” Murray concluded.

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