COVID-19, the flu, and R.S.V. are raging and sickening the public by creating a tripledemic.
Mayor Eric Adams kicked off the Christmas season wearing a mask at a City Hall press conference and asking New Yorkers to wear a mask once again. It was an advisory and not a mandate. “With the holiday season in full swing and cases of Covid-19, flu, and R.S.V. rising, we are asking New Yorkers to protect themselves and their loved ones once again,” he said.
Earlier this month, New York City health officials issued an advisory requesting people wear masks in indoor and outdoor settings. The health officials pointed out that over 80 percent of people dying from the coronavirus are unvaccinated and encouraged New Yorkers to get vaccinated and boosted.
According to city data, the number of COVID cases has jumped since Thanksgiving and now stands at about 3,600 per day; this does not include home testing. New York City health officials will offer flu shots, R.S.V. testing, and Tamiflu prescriptions at NYC mobile vans. City hospitals will soon offer updated Pfizer vaccines for children ages six months to 4 years.
“We are facing unprecedented levels of flu, unprecedented levels of RSV, and we’re seeing an increase in common COVID,” said Dr. Ashwin Vasan, NYC Health Commissioner. “While respiratory viruses are spreading at thigh levels in New York City, there are common sense ways to protect yourself and loved ones this holiday season vaccination, boosters, wearing a mask indoors or among crowds, and staying home if you don’t feel well.”
Many Americans have loosened the use of masks. YouGov, a market research company, found that 49 percent of American adults didn’t wear a mask at the beginning of December, compared with 16 percent almost a year ago in early January. Morning Consult researchers have asked consumers weekly about their comfort in returning to pre-pandemic habits and activities. In December 2022, researchers discovered that 78 percent of Americans were comfortable going out to eat, while it was only 66 percent in mid-December 2021. Also, 65 percent were comfortable going to a party compared with 46 percent in December 2021.
However, the CDC and other health officials are recommending returning to masking. Dr. Jay Varma, director of the Cornell Center for Pandemic Prevention and Response, said that it was important for elected officials to model the use of masks. “Even if you don’t mandate their use, we know that social norms matter,” he said. “The mayor is signaling to you that it is the socially conscious thing to do right now.”
According to the CDC, all five New York City boroughs — the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Queens — currently meet the threshold for high COVID community spread.