Signs indicating that protective face masks must be worn in...

Signs indicating that protective face masks must be worn in classrooms are displayed outside lecture halls at Columbia University on April 21 in Manhattan. Credit: AP

New York City officials on Monday called for New Yorkers to mask up in public indoor settings with the city possibly entering a high alert level for COVID-19 in the coming days.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently has four of the five boroughs listed at medium risk on their assessment levels of low, medium and high.

The Bronx is currently at "low," according to the CDC.

New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has its own COVID-19 alert levels that range from low to very high and are based on the CDC's COVID-19 community levels and indicators. According to the department, the city currently sits at a medium alert level.

By the CDC standards, both Nassau and Suffolk are assessed at a high level of spread, though officials on Long Island have not pushed for renewed masking protocols.

The CDC recommendation for U.S. counties where the COVID-19 threat level is high is to wear a mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status. But neither Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone or their respective health departments have called for Long Islanders to mask up in all indoor public settings.

Last week, State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said her office was recommending "all New Yorkers in high-risk COVID-19 counties and all New Yorkers at risk of severe disease wear a mask in public indoor places, regardless of vaccination status."

In a statement Monday, Mayor Eric Adams cited trends being tracked by the NYC Test & Trace Corps, as well as information from the health department and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

Adams and those agencies also announced a renewed focus on COVID-19 preparedness, including plans to distribute 16.5 million additional at-home COVID-19 testing kits and one million masks this month at schools, libraries, cultural institutions and community centers across the five boroughs.

Statistics available on the city health department website show increases in two of the key metrics used to determine alert levels: hospital admissions per 100,000 people over seven days and the percent of inpatient beds with COVID-19 patients.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan called masking and regular home testing "the best way" to keep yourself — and, those around you — safe from COVID-19.

"Masks offer strong protection against getting and transmitting COVID-19," Vasan said in a statement, adding: "We don't anticipate that this wave will last much longer, so hang in there, New York City."

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