Residents in nearly all counties in upstate New York are recommended to wear masks due to high case numbers of COVID-19, continuing a trend observed since mid-April, according to new data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
As of Friday, 54 of the state’s 62 counties, up from 45 a week ago, are classified by the CDC as having “high” community levels of the coronavirus.
The CDC uses a “high,” “medium,” and “low” classification determined by the number of new cases in the county per 100,000 population over the past seven days; the number of new hospital admissions with COVID-19 in the last seven days per 100,000 people; and the percentage of staffed inpatient beds occupied by patients with COVID-19 over a seven-day average.
As of Friday, there is only one county in the state — Orange — that has a low rating. In western New York, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Alleghany counties were upgraded to high from moderate this week, while Cayuga, Madison, Cortland, Hamilton and Sullivan counties were downgraded to moderate from high last week.” in this week.
At a “high” level, the CDC recommends wearing masks in indoor public areas and on public transportation. There is currently no local mask requirement in these areas, aside from nationwide mask requirements in bus and train stations, prisons, state-regulated care facilities and homeless shelters. Recently, the Albany County Health Department again recommended masks in indoor public places.
The number of “high” counties has steadily increased since mid-April, beginning with those in Central New York, the region that was the first in New York to confirm cases causing a new BA.2 omicron subvariant, identified as BA. 2.12 is known. State officials said so at the time.
Statewide, there are 297 counties with “high” levels of COVID-19, according to the CDC, up from 137 a week ago. The vast majority of “high” counties are in the Northeast.
According to state data released Thursday by Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office, the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the state was 48.99, down slightly from a week ago. In recent weeks, health officials in New York and other states have begun using cases per 100,000 people, rather than the more traditional positive percentage of those tested, as a more accurate way of measuring infection rates.