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COVID positivity rate continues decline; mask policy in schools expected to change

On Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York’s overall positivity rate fell to 0.56 percent in its fight against COVID-19.

It’s the 60th consecutive day of decline, down 84 percent from the previous peak of 3.57 percent on April 4, and down 93 percent from the post-holiday peak of 7.94 percent on January 4.

“We’re working night and day to beat back this pandemic and reach the light at the end of the tunnel, but the key remains vaccinations and we need to get as many shots in arms as possible in every corner of this state,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our numbers are trending in the right direction and much of the economy has been reopened but we cannot lose sight of our vaccination goals. For everyone who hasn’t yet been vaccinated, remember that you don’t just protect yourself with the shot — you protect family, friends and our state, so make an appointment or walk into a site today.”

The news came as state health leaders signaled that mask rules for students would be relaxed in the coming weeks.

“Both indoors and outdoors, students, campers and staff who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks,” Health Commissioner Howard Zucker wrote in a letter to the CDC.

“The current CDC guidance for K-12 schools recommends a requirement for ‘consistent and correct use of well-fitting face masks with proper filtration by all students, teachers, and staff,'” he wrote in the letter. “There is no distinction between mask wearing for indoor versus outdoor activities (except for a vague reference to sports) and it does not address vaccinated individuals.”

Masks will not be required outdoors.