Could New York see a spike in cases after ending the mask mandate?

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Some fully vaccinated New Yorkers are celebrating the end of the state’s face mask mandate. Others may be a bit more cautious, continuing to wear a mask despite Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement the state would be following new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

There is good evidence to support the easing of mask mandates won’t lead to more COVID cases in N.Y., based on the number of cases after mask mandates ended in other states, combined with an overall decrease of cases in the U.S.

The CDC announced fully vaccinated people did not have to wear a face mask for most activities indoor or outdoor last week. New York held off on adopting the change at first, making the decision on Monday, May 17 saying it would change its facemask policy. The change went into effect Wednesday, May 19.

States have been steadily easing their face mask rules. Since the beginning of 2021, face mask mandates in many other states have expired. Using a compendium of face mask policies by state put together by the American Association of Retired People (AARP) and COVID case information on the CDC’s website, NEWS10 was able to check for trends in new COVID cases after the expiration of face mask policies.

NEWS10 looked at 19 states whose mask mandates ended before the CDC released its new guidance. Mandates in 18 states ended at various times between January and the beginning of May. One state, Mississippi, ended its mandate last year on September 20.

StateMask mandate expiration% population fully vaccinated
New Hampshire4/16/202137.9
New Mexico4/28/202144.9
North Dakota1/18/202135.3
Rhode Island4/30/202148
Source: AARP, CDC

Upon review of mask mandate expirations and COVID cases in each state, NEWS10 found no significant spike in new cases. For many, the number of cases remained steady with only slight increases or showed a continued downward trend.

Overall, numbers were far lower than in December and January when a spike in cases was seen throughout the U.S.

On par with the rest of the U.S., the 19 states showed the greatest increase of cases around the holidays (December and January). Since then, cases, on the whole, have been decreasing. On January 8 the U.S. reached the apex of its December/January spike with 312,088 new cases. A fraction of that was reported on May 18 with only 26,981 new cases, according to the CDC.

A decrease in cases could also be attributed to an aggressive campaign by President Joe Biden’s administration to get American’s vaccinated that began in December. As of May 19, 37.8% of the total U.S. population is now fully vaccinated and 47.9% have received at least one dose.

Neither the CDC nor President Biden’s administration has announced a formal victory against the COVID pandemic but could as more Americans get vaccinated and cases continue to decrease.

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