Oneida County reaches a “substantial level” of COVID cases, no mask mandate

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Utica, N.Y.—As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the state and country it begs the question will we go back to mask mandates? I spoke with Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente to find out more.

“Right now we’re evaluating the data on a daily basis,” Picente said.

The CDC recently updated its mask guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals, recommending the use of masks indoors if you live in a place with “substantial” or “high” coronavirus transmission. Oneida County announced last week that it had moved to “substantial status” but there is no current plan to bring back mask mandates in Oneida County.

“You know while the numbers have gone up the hospitalization numbers are still low,” Picente explained. “The overall infection rate you know remains stable it’s gone up a little bit from the previous few weeks.”

The state ended its emergency COVID orders back in June, and since then it’s been up to the counties and local governments to implement any COVID mandates. I asked the county executive if there was a certain threshold he was looking out for that would determine whether or not he would mandate masks.

“I haven’t set a threshold of any number,” Picente said. “I think we’re really just trying to look at it day by day and see how much this could increase but again where the increase lies and really continue to focus on vaccinations.”

The county will continue to push vaccines, as the data shows that unvaccinated individuals are more likely to test positive for covid and be hospitalized.

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