New York City hospitals sound alarm with urgent mask mandate as COVID-19, flu cases skyrocket

Visual Representation for Viruses | Credits: Sitox
Visual Representation for Viruses | Credits: Sitox

United States: New York City public hospitals have announced mask mandates amid the growing number of cases of respiratory illnesses. The City has now joined other healthcare facilities that have reinstitute mask mandates, several reports underlined.

The health authorities have announced that around 11 hospitals, 30 health centers, and five (5) long-term care facilities, included under the umbrella of the NYC Health + Hospital system, had announced the implementation of an indoor mask mandate.

The health authorities have announced the mandates after witnessing a rapid increase in cases related to COVID-19, influenza, and other respiratory illnesses. However, the current hike is less than the spikes seen during the pandemic, according to the report by Fox News.

What is the count of COVID cases in NYC?

According to the data revealed by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as of January 1, 2024, the City has reported as many as 2,131 cases of COVID-19 in the last seven days. The count was slightly more than in previous weeks; however, it was far less than the number of cases reported on January 1, 2022, when the total cases registered were 41,910.

While expressing concerns regarding the increase in influenza cases, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene mentioned that the City witnessed an increase of three percent (3%) during the week ending on December 30, 2023.

On the contrary, the cases related to RSV witnessed a decrease of 18 percent compared to the previous week.

Mask mandates!

According to the report by Fox News, the Health Commissioner – Dr Ashwin Vasan, during an interview with a local news outlet, mentioned that the indoor mask mandates are only applicable in patient care facilities. The major aim behind the re-implication of the mask mandates is the protection of healthcare workers from dangerous respiratory illnesses.

Further, he added, as of now, the situation has not worsened as none of the City hospitals is overwhelmed.

Visual Representation

Additionally, while having a conversation with Fox News Digital, the chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital on Long Island – Dr. Aaron Glatt, stated, “Masking remains an extremely important and effective way to reduce transmission of respiratory viral infections, including COVID and influenza.”

Glatt added, “The decision to mandate the wearing of masks — versus just strongly recommending them — will depend in part upon the incidence of COVID and influenza, the presence of immunocompromised patients on selected units, and many other variables.”

Further, he commented, “Each institution needs to assess all of these parameters and come up with an appropriate policy that can be implemented and easily modified as needed.”

The reports have mentioned that six states, along with New York, have announced mask mandates. The six other states are – California, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin.

In addition to this, the Becker’s Hospital Review stated that some of those include UC Health in Cincinnati; Sonoma (California) Valley Hospital; University of Chicago Medicine Center; City of Hope in Duarte, California; Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center in California; and UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, among others.

High hospitalization, low vaccination – warns CDC!

According to the data revealed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States has been witnessing an increase in hospital admissions. As of the week ending on December 23, the hospitalizations have increased by 16.7 percent to 29,059. Meanwhile, the JN.1 variant of COVID-19 has been accounting for 39 to 50 percent of cases.

Visual Representation

In addition to this, hospitalization because of influenza has also increased to around 14,732 – as of the week ending of December 23.

According to Fox News, the CDC, on its official website, noted, “CDC estimates that there have been at least 7.1 million illnesses, 73,000 hospitalizations and 4,500 deaths from flu so far this season.”

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