One of the State University of New York’s top liberal arts colleges announced Tuesday it was reinstating its indoor mask mandate for thousands, citing high COVID-19 transmission levels that have prompted a flurry of renewed advisories across much of America in recent weeks.
SUNY Purchase said it believed it was the lone Westchester County college to reinstate the mask rule amid rising COVID cases. The announcement included a current case total of 165 for the county, though New Yorkers know that number is likely well underestimated.
College President Milagros Pena said a mandate right now appears to be necessary, “so that we can end the semester healthy and well, be able to send the students home to their families also healthy and well.”
Final exams are expected to wrap up this week.
The developments come as a growing number of people and places weigh renewed viral precautions as COVID, flu and now RSV combine for a tridemic threat this holiday season.
On Long Island, Nassau County Community College reimposed its mask mandate Friday, but the school quickly reversed course and dubbed it an advisory, rather than a rule, after intervention from municipal leaders.
In New York City, health officials issued a strong advisory late Friday recommending people mask up in public indoor settings and crowded outdoor ones regardless of vaccination status because of the spike in various infections.
Anecdotally, some may report more mask usage in recent weeks, but it remains to be seen how many in the city will heed the latest warning from the health department.
Doctors across the country and the tri-state are worried about a potentially long winter, as hospitals see a spike in RSV cases, as well as COVID and the flu — with concerns mounting. NBC New York’s Pei-Sze Cheng reports.
Dr. Ashwin Vasan acknowledged the three respiratory viruses are “spreading at high levels” right now and urging caution.
While it is possible New Yorkers hear more frequent reminders about masks and other viral precautions, no new state or city mandates are expected at the government level.
Instead, public health officials and others ask people to employ the same techniques they’ve used for the last three years to try to help protect themselves and each other.
That means get your latest COVID booster if you haven’t and limit your time out of home if vulnerable or feeling unwell. High-quality masks like KN95 or KF94 or N95 respirators are recommended for extra protection.
As Vasan put it Friday, “While respiratory viruses are spreading at high levels in NYC, there are common-sense ways to protect yourself and your loved ones this holiday season: vaccination, boosters, wearing a mask indoors or among crowds and staying home if you don’t feel well.”