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Eric Adams, mayor of New York, speaks during a news conference in New York on Jan. 13, 2022.

Eric Adams, mayor of New York, speaks during a news conference in New York on Jan. 13, 2022. (Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg)

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New York City is preparing to hit a high COVID-transmission level in the coming days that would have it reconsidering mask requirements in public places.

"If NYC's Alert Level is raised to High, the City will consider requiring face masks in all public indoor settings," according to guidance on the city health department's website.

New cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days surpassed 300 citywide, with Staten Island the highest at 390, followed by Manhattan at about 366. A month ago, the citywide rate was less than 200 per 100,000. About 8% of people tested for COVID-19 over the last seven days have been positive.

Earlier in May the city moved to a medium alert from low.

"New York City is preparing to potentially enter a high COVID-19 alert level in the coming days and strongly recommends that all New Yorkers mask up in public indoor settings to protect themselves and others," according to a statement Monday from Mayor Eric Adams' office.

A high level is reached when new COVID hospital admissions over seven days surpass 10 per 100,000 and the percentage of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients is greater than 10%, according to guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New York City's new admissions are at 9.2 per 100,000 and increasing, while 3.85% of inpatients beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients as of May 10.

Under a high alert level, in addition to masking indoors, New Yorkers are recommended to limit gatherings to small numbers and get tested if they have symptoms, were exposed, traveled or were at a large event.

The city is distributing 16.5 million at-home COVID tests over the next month in an effort to prepare for another wave. The increase in tests will bring the total amount distributed to more than 36 million.

Most of the U.S. remained at a low COVID community transmission-level as of May 12, with medium and high alerts mostly concentrated in the northeast, CDC data show. The nationwide case rate is 185 per 100,000 in the past seven days, up from 66 a month earlier. The rate surged to more than 1,700 per 100,000 during the omicron surge in January.


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