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People in 'high-risk' NY counties should wear masks in indoor public settings: Health Department

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NASSAU COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- The New York State Health Department is recommending that people in high-risk counties wear masks in all indoor public settings, regardless of their vaccination status.

According to the CDC, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Sullivan, and Ulster counties are now considered high risk.

Most of New York City is listed at medium risk; the Bronx is considered low risk.

In addition to high-risk counties, health officials say everyone with compromised immune systems should stay masked while inside in public settings.

"These public health measures, as well as ensuring proper air ventilation when gathering, will help reduce COVID-19 transmission in communities and lower the risk of serious illness and hospitalization for individuals. We will continue to work with local partners and make every tool at our disposal widely available to New Yorkers, as we move forward through the pandemic," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett in a statement.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman says the county will not change any polices.

"We encourage everybody to go about their life normally," he said.

Blakeman says his decision is based on hospitalizations and ICU admissions --- unline the state, which counts cases and deaths as well.

"If those numbers spiked to a level that was dangerous, then, of course, we would look for guidance from our health comissioner and we would follow appropriate protocols. But right now, we're not anywhere near a crisis situation," Blakeman added.

Some residents of Nassau County say they have moved on, despite the risks.

"I'm on the railroad every day, we wear masks -- we're cautious. But at the same time, I think we've had enough at this point and need to move on," said Blaine Capobianco.

Others don't understand the reluctance.

"You know, if it worked before, let's do what worked before," said an unamed Nassau County resident.

While New York State has a mask recommendation, Blakeman says he would not rule out a mask order in Nassau County, but insists his own data does not come close to supporting that.

Some residents told us they've moved on, despite the risks.

ALSO READ | Bronx DA urges credit card companies to cut ties with ghost gun sellers

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