You are currently viewing Covid cases are increasing – but cities are not imposing mask requirements so far

Covid cases are increasing – but cities are not imposing mask requirements so far

top line

Rising Covid-19 cases across the country have so far not resulted in local mask mandates coming back, as officials in several Democrat-leaning cities said in recent days they had no plans to bring back Covid-19 restrictions, even if they people voluntarily recommend mask on.

Important facts

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Monday the city is “not at the point of mandating masks” or other restrictions like requiring proof of vaccination, noting that hospitals are not overwhelmed even as the city moves approaching a “high” Covid-19 alert level.

The city has issued a health advisory urging people to voluntarily wear masks indoors.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu similarly said Monday the city would not change its protocols to require masks but still recommends people wear them.

The nearby city of Worcester, Massachusetts imposed a mask recommendation Friday, but it only encourages people to wear masks, not requires them.

Twelve health officials in California’s Bay Area, including San Francisco, issued a joint statement on Friday with their “continued strong support for people to dress up indoors” and to follow other mitigation measures like testing and vaccinations, but did not impose new mandates.

For those who haven’t been wearing masks recently, “now is a good time to start again,” said Dr. George Han, deputy health officer for the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, in a statement.

Crucial quote

“I think we recognize that there is something between a mandate and a world where nobody covers their face,” said health officer Dr. Matt Willis of Marin County, California, told SFGATE about Bay Area officials’ decision not to mandate masks. “Our hope is that we can reach a middle ground where people can see the value of face coverings.”

What to look out for

None of the officials have ruled out the possibility that they could mandate masks in the future, especially as hospitalizations and deaths increase. “If at some point our hospitals are in a state of emergency or we are trending in that direction and my doctors who run the hospitals tell me we need to do this, I will listen to them. Adams said Monday about the possible reintroduction of restrictions.


Some school districts have begun reinstating mask mandates in recent weeks — even if their broader communities have not — including schools in New Jersey, Maine, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Hawaii.

Big number

90,337. That’s the seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases in the US on Monday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up from about 36,000 in mid-April.

key background

Mask requirements have been an ongoing source of controversy throughout the pandemic — even as studies have repeatedly found them to be effective in curbing transmission of Covid-19 — and every remaining mask-required state abandoned it earlier this year when cases dropped after the Omicron des Winters subsided variant increase. The CDC changed its mask-wearing guidelines in February to be based more on serious disease severity than community transmission, making the threshold for mask removal much lower. Mask requirements on airplanes and other public transportation were also largely dropped last month after a federal judge overturned the CDC’s mask requirement, prompting airlines and other travel companies to immediately drop their mask requirements. Philadelphia was the only major city to reintroduce a mask mandate in April as cases of Covid-19 rose again – but the city abandoned the order just three days later amid public outcry against it.

Further reading

NYC urges people to wear masks indoors but does not require it. (New York Times)

Wu has no plans to reintroduce the mask mandate in Boston despite a surge in COVID (GBH) cases

Bay Area health officials recommend covering up indoors; Region has highest infection rate in California (KTVU)

COVID is on the rise again. Why the San Francisco Bay Area Doesn’t Execute Mandates. (SF gate)

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