New NY Holiday Guidance: CDC Speaks On Masks, Travel, Gatherings

EAST HAMPTON, NY — With the festivities of the holiday season approaching, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance on how to stay safe from COVID-19, especially with the delta variant still a concern — urging people to wear masks inside in certain places even if fully vaccinated.

“We fully expect that families and friends will gather for the holidays this year and we have updated our guidance on how to best to stay safe over the holidays,” the CDC said.”The best way to minimize COVID risk and ensure that people can safely gather is to get vaccinated or get the booster if you’re eligible.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Sunday that New York’s coronavirus positivity rate stood at 2.01 percent; the seven-day positivity rate was 2.45 percent. A total of 2,086 patients are hospitalized due to COVID-19 statewide and 450 are in the intensive care unit. A total of 36 people died over a 24-hour period.

Long Island’s positivity rate was 2.69 percent, down from 2.75 percent Friday.

Hochul and the CDC have said vaccinations are key to staying safe: As of Sunday, 86 percent of New Yorkers 18 and over had at least one vaccine dose, and 77.3 percent had completed the series.

To stay safe during the holiday season, the CDC said:

  • Protect those not yet eligible for vaccination such as young children by getting yourself and other eligible people around them vaccinated.
  • Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth if you are in public indoor settings if you are not fully vaccinated.
  • Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission.
  • Outdoors is safer than indoors.
  • If you are sick or have symptoms, don’t host or attend a gathering.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

If you are considering traveling for a holiday or event, visit the CDC’s travel page to help you decide what is best for you and your family. The CDC still recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.

Special considerations:

  • People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated and have received an additional dose. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.
  • You might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission if a member of your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.
  • If you are gathering with a group of people from multiple households and potentially from different parts of the country, you could consider additional precautions (e.g., avoiding crowded indoor spaces before travel, taking a test) in advance of gathering to further reduce risk.
  • Do not put a mask on children younger than 2 years old.

“By working together, we can enjoy safer holidays, travel, and protect our own health as well as the health of our family and friends,” the CDC said.

The thought of last year’s fall and winter surge, due to gatherings, is “what keeps me up at night,” Hochul said. Unvaccinated individuals face a 10 times greater risk of serious illness, she said. She urged those who are currently eligible to get booster shots.