By Associated Press - Monday, November 29, 2021

NEW YORK (AP) – New York City‘s health commissioner said Monday he is “strongly recommending” that everyone wear masks in indoor public settings as scientists work to learn more about the newly identified omicron variant of COVID-19.

Dr. Dave Chokshi, the commissioner, said he was recommending that all New Yorkers wear masks “at all times when indoors and in a public setting like at your grocery or in a building lobby, offices and retail stores.”

The guidance was in line with the recommendation issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas where the virus is surging.

Much is still not known about the omicron variant, which was identified last week by researchers in South Africa, including whether it is more contagious than other variants, or more able to evade the protection of vaccines.

Cases of the omicron variant have been found in countries including Canada, Australia and the Netherlands, but no cases have yet been detected in the United States.



Mayor Bill de Blasio said that while there have been no cases of the omicron variant reported in New York City, “it is very likely there will be.”

Chokshi, who joined de Blasio at a virtual news briefing, said the delta variant of the virus accounts for 98% of the COVID-19 samples from New York City that are being sequenced now.

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