CDC changes guidance: No masks needed in Albany County

— Map from the CDC

Masks are deemed unnecessary in most of the nation, according to a new system developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ALBANY COUNTY — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its COVID-19 guidance on Friday so that masks are not required in Albany County — or in most of the nation.

On Thursday, the CDC map on transmission rates showed most of the nation was colored red or orange, requiring masks to be worn indoors in public. That four-tiered system was based on the number of cases per 100,000 population and on the infection rate, that is, the number of positive tests.

Under the new system, there are three rather than four levels — low, medium, and high — “determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area,” the CDC says.

Albany County is listed as “medium,” which means it is colored yellow.

The advice from the CDC for a county labeled “medium” is three-fold:

— If you are at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions;

— Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines; and

Get tested if you have symptoms.

The last two pieces of advice are given for counties labeled “low” and colored green.

Only in the counties labeled “high” and colored orange are people to wear masks indoors in public. The other advice remains the same.

The bulk of the nation in Friday’s map is colored green or yellow, meaning no mask required — a dramatic change from the day before.

On Friday evening, Governor Kathy Hochul issued a statement, saying, “We are evaluating the CDC’s new guidance, and we will update New Yorkers on potential changes as we work through the details and coordinate with all stakeholders in our school communities across our state.”


Newest numbers

Another Albany County resident, a man in his nineties, died of COVID-19 on Thursday, according to a Friday morning release from Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy.

This brings Albany County’s COVID-19 death toll to 528.

Albany County, like most of the nation, continues to report declining numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations following the January Omicron peak.

McCoy reported 45 new cases on Wednesday so the county’s seven-day average is now down to 51.0. 

Albany County’s most recent seven-day average of COVID cases per 100,000 is down to 14.0 and the county has an infection rate of 3.0 percent.

Statewide, also as a seven-day average, New York has 11.9 cases per 100,000 of population and 1.9 percent infection rate, according to the state tracker.

McCoy also reported four new COVID hospitalizations since Thursday and there are now 30 county residents hospitalized with the coronavirus — a net increase of two.

“Every death is a tragedy and this virus continues to take lives, even now as we continue to make progress,” McCoy said in the release. “The best protections we have against the worst illnesses caused by the coronavirus are the vaccine and the booster shot, and they are both widely available.

“We continue to offer daily vaccination clinics at our county health department, as well as vaccine deliveries for homebound individuals and community pop-up clinics at local schools.”

As of Thursday, 81.0 percent of all Albany County residents have received at least the first dose of the vaccine, and 73.6 percent are now fully vaccinated. The first-dose vaccination rate for county residents 18 and older is 89.5 percent.

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