As COVID-19 Cases Remain Above State Average In Central New York, the New York State Department of Health Recommends Increased Public Health Action to Curb Community Spread

Urges CNY Residents to Get Vaccinated, Boosted, Tested and Recommends Mask Wearing – Regardless of Vaccination Status – in All Public Indoor Spaces in Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, and Oswego Counties

Central New York's 7-day Average Case Rate per 100,000 people is37.7, Compared to the Statewide 7-day Average of15.6per 100,000

Central New York's Hospitalization Rate is1.7per 100,000, Compared to0.7per 100,000 Statewide

Department Closely Monitoring Other Regions as Cases Increase Across the State

All New Yorkers Urged to Get Vaccinated/Boosted, Tested Following Symptoms/Exposure, Seek Treatment/Stay Home if COVID-Positive and Consult With Healthcare Provider

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 1, 2022) – As COVID-19 cases and new hospital admissions remain above the state average in Central New York, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T.Bassett urged the region's residents to get fully vaccinated, boosted, tested if not feeling well, and recommends wearing masks in all indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status to reduce COVID-19 transmission, serious illness, and hospitalization.

"The high number of COVID-19 cases in Central New York suggests that transmission of the virus is widespread throughout the region, and levels remain above the state average," State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. "The good news is we have tools to address this. I urge all New Yorkers to remain vigilant and take steps to protect themselves and their families by getting a COVID-19 vaccine and booster dose when eligible, getting a test following exposure or when developing symptoms, staying home and isolating when symptomatic,talking to your healthcare provider about treatment if you do test positive, and recommend wearing a mask regardless of vaccination status in public indoor places. Treatment is widely available and works best if taken within five days of symptom onset, so get tested quickly after symptoms arise."

In addition to the State's recommendation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its COVID-19 Community Levels and specifically listedOnondaga, Oswego, and Cayuga counties in the "high risk" category, also recommending wearing a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status. Other recommended best practices can be found here.

Onondaga County had been reporting positive at-home test results through the Department of Health's reporting system. When those results are included, Central New York's 7-day average case rate is47.7per 100,000 residents. When those results are removed, the case rate is37.7– still far above the state average.

New York State continues to do everything possible to protect New Yorkers and Central New Yorkers from the virus, including through the distribution of more than 100,000 at-home test kits, expanding vaccine and booster access through state-run vaccination sites and community-based efforts, and has ensured therapeutics are widely available.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "Safeguarding the health of New Yorkers is our number one priority and we are coordinating with our local partners to ensure they have the resources they need to protect their communities. With an expanded distribution of testing supplies already in full swing, we are now preparing additional shipments of masks for the region as well. We all have the tools to help keep each other safe and now is the time to stay vigilant – please be sure to get vaccinated, get boosted and wear a mask."

Assemblymember Dr. Anna Kelles said, "After more than two years fighting this pandemic, we already understand what to do to keep ourselves and our families safe from COVID-19. Numbers are rising in Central New York, and though masking mandates have been lifted, we know that these interventions work to foster a decline in the spread of cases. I encourage people to wear masks when we're in large, consolidated groups and cannot social distance. I also urge everyone to get your COVID-19 vaccination and your booster shot, as vaccination significantly decreases your chances of contracting a serious case of COVID-19 resulting in hospitalization and death."

Assemblymember Al Stirpe said, "As difficult as this is to hear, we are seeing Covid cases rise throughout Central New York and more importantly, the district in which I serve. The health and safety of my constituents is my first priority. To address the elevated COVID cases in CNY, and in addition to the usual recommendations – vax/booster shots, staying home with symptoms and getting tested – we are going to recommend that residents wear masks in public indoor spaces. This is a recommendation and we ask for patience and mutual understanding from everyone as we navigate this together. Please reach out to my office at 315-452-1115 if you need a test, as well as large containers of sanitizer for businesses in need."

Assemblymember William Magnarelli said, "While New York State did a great job focusing on vaccines and masks to combat COVID over the past two years, the disease has not disappeared. We as a community need to stay vigilant. Wearing masks, staying home when not feeling well, and maintaining vaccination status are all important means of keeping all members of our community safe and healthy."

Case rates can increase for a variety of reasons. The Department continues to work with local county health departments to monitor the situation and urge Central New Yorkers to leverage tried-and-true prevention strategies to curb community spread and protect individuals from severe disease. Local vaccination rates, mask wearing, and adherence to other mitigation efforts may play a role in Central New York's case rates.

State health officials are closely monitoring trends over time, including 7-day averages available here. Statewide, case counts are rising but remain low. Central New York's 7-day average of cases per 100K population is37.7, compared to the statewide 7-day average of15.6. The State's positive COVID-19 tests and cases over time reporting by region and county are available here.

The Department's Wadsworth Center continues to track the emergence of BA.2 in the State, which now accounts for59.6% of all COVID infections in New York. The Department is also advancing early warning monitoring systems—such as wastewater surveillance efforts—to begin to understand any potential impact of a new strain in the region.

More information on the New York State Department of Health's process to monitor, track, and sequence COVID-19 variants, including BA.2, is available publicly at the NYS COVID-19 Variant Tracker.

The CDC also recentlyannounced that adults ages 50 years and older are now eligible for a second mRNA vaccine booster dose, such as Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, if they received their first booster dose at least four months ago. People over 18 years who received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine can also receive a second booster using an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) four months after their first booster. Moderately or severely immunocompromised New Yorkersages 12 years and older can receive a second booster dose using an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) at least four months after their first booster dose.Beginning Saturday, April 2, New York State vaccination sites will begin issuing second booster doses to eligible New Yorkers.

New Yorkers can schedule their free COVID-19 vaccine or booster appointment by visiting the State's Am I Eligible website or to find a nearby location. More information on COVID-19 testing is available here, and more information on COVID-19 treatment is available here.