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New York health and education officials recommend masks at schools as flu, COVID-19 and RSV spread

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NEW YORK — New York state health and education officials sent a letter to school districts with recommendations, including wearing masks indoors, in response to the area’s growing number of flu, COVID-19 and RSV cases

“A host of respiratory viruses, including influenza, RSV and COVID-19, have taken hold in our state and in most of our communities. These viruses, while often manageable, can cause serious outcomes, especially for children,” said the letter signed by Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett and Education Commissioner Betty Rosa. 

Recently, a surge in pediatric RSV cases has overwhelmed hospitals. Sen. Chuck Schumer has called on the Department of Health and Human Services to intervene, saying hospitals, especially upstate, need additional support

While COVID numbers are up in the Tri-State Area, the flu has led the way in terms of hospitalizations. 

“The number of laboratory-confirmed flu cases has nearly tripled over the past three weeks and flu hospitalizations have more than doubled,” the letter continued. “In response, we are urging a community-wide approach, inclusive of schools, to again take precautions this holiday season and winter that can prevent the spread of respiratory viruses and protect young children, older individuals, and those with underlying health conditions.”

In addition to wearing masks indoors, the recommendations include staying up to date on vaccines, washing hands for at least 20 seconds, not coughing or sneezing directly into hands, and staying home when sick. 

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The CDC’s latest COVID Data Tracker report recommended masks indoors in five New York counties, encompassing Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and all of Long Island.

Source: CBS

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