New York City does not plan to bring back its indoor mask requirement for all, despite a recent increase in COVID-19 cases blamed on the highly-infectious delta variant, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The mayor was asked about a possibly reprise in the mask mandate during his daily press briefing Monday.
"Simple answer: no," de Blasio told reporters. "Masks have value, unquestionably. But masks are not going at the root of the problem — vaccination is."
Los Angeles County recently reinstated its indoor mask mandate, following a spike in local COVID cases. New York City Councilman Mark Levine recent called for the Big Apple to follow suit.
De Blasio said that the city will "double down" on its vaccination outreach to combat a rise in local COVID-19 cases.
"Mask mandates, at a certain point, before we had vaccination, made a lot of sense," the mayor said. "Let's address the problem by getting more people vaccinated, and going right at it, and knocking down this variant."
He later added that the city will "watch the data" and make adjustments to its COVID policies as needed.
COVID-19 positivity has increased significantly in New York City and around the country since June, driven largely by transmission among unvaccinated people. COVID infections in vaccinated people are possible, especially with the delta variant, but data shows that the vaccines mitigate severe symptoms associated with the disease.
Currently, the city only requires unvaccinated people to wear masks in most indoor public places, though masks are still required on public transit, in schools, in healthcare settings and in correctional facilities. Enforcement is up to individual businesses, who may require all patrons to wear masks indoors if they so chose.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the frontrunner in the city's mayoral race, said on Monday that his administration would "follow the science" on its COVID-19 policies, if elected.