When to Wear Masks

The latest information on mask guidance from New York State, the Centers from Disease Control and more, for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

May. 17, 2021 2   min read

A woman smiling with her mask

UPDATE: Current protocols for visitation and masking are different than when this article was originally published. To see our current guidance, visit our website.

All of New York State is currently designated an area of high transmission of COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC guidelines recommend that all individuals, including those fully vaccinated, wear a mask indoors in public when in an area of substantial or high transmission.

Regardless of area transmission levels, individuals must wear a mask in areas like pre-K through 12 schools, hospitals, and doctors’ offices (including all Rochester Regional Health locations), in nursing homes, on public transportation and in communal living facilities like correctional facilities, homeless shelters and group homes. Private businesses may also require masks for all in their establishments.

We connected with Melissa Bronstein, Senior Director of Infection Prevention at Rochester Regional Health, to get her take on when we should be wearing our masks both indoors and outdoors.

For vaccinated individuals

“The new variants of SARS-CoV-2019 such as Delta and Omicron are continuing to spread, and in our local communities we are still seeing surging numbers of COVID-19 cases. Because of this high activity, all individuals, vaccinated and not, are encouraged to wear masks when indoors in public group settings.

Outdoors, the risk of transmission is much less. Masks aren’t needed in general when outdoors by vaccinated people. However, if you are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with others outdoors, you might consider wearing a mask even then. This is especially important if you live with someone vulnerable to COVID-19, such as elderly or immunocompromised individuals.”

For unvaccinated individuals

Those who have not yet been vaccinated for COVID-19, including young children who are not yet eligible, should continue to wear masks when in public settings. This includes always wearing a mask indoors in public places and wearing a mask outdoors if you are unable to maintain social distancing.

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