Lake Placid mask signs will stay up for now

Unclear how new state mask guidelines will affect Main Street

Mask sign on Main Street, Lake Placid, as seen in July 2020 (News photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — The signs telling residents and visitors on Main Street to wear face masks will stay up for now as village officials discuss New York’s new outdoor mask-wearing guidance issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, April 27.

New York adopted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new mask guidelines on Tuesday, saying that fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to cover their faces anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers. And those who are unvaccinated can go outside without masks in some situations.

Fully vaccinated is defined as two or more weeks after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“The CDC announced new guidance today saying that when Americans who are fully vaccinated are outside, biking, hiking, running, or in small gatherings, you don’t need to wear a mask. That is liberating, especially now that the weather is getting warmer,” Cuomo said in a press release on Tuesday. “This news underscores the fact that if you get vaccinated, more freedom is available to you, and I encourage all eligible New Yorkers who have not yet received the vaccine to make an appointment today.”

For most of the past year, the CDC had been advising Americans to wear masks outdoors if they are within 6 feet of one another.

“Today, I hope, is a day when we can take another step back to the normalcy of before,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday. “Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time telling Americans what you can’t do. Today, I am going to tell you some of the things you can do, if you are fully vaccinated.”

The change comes as more than half of U.S. adults — or about 140 million people — have received at least one dose of vaccine, and more than a third have been fully vaccinated.

Walensky said the decision was driven by rising vaccination numbers; declines in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths; and research showing that less than 10% of documented instances of transmission of the virus happened outdoors.

Main Street effect

Shortly after the coronavirus pandemic hit last spring, the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism in Lake Placid placed signs along the Main Street business district with the message: “Masks are required on our Main Street and all our public areas. Thank you for helping to keep our community safe.” The signs have been effective, according to ROOST President and CEO Jim McKenna.

“We saw a change-over immediately,” McKenna said Wednesday, April 28. “We were concerned because in April and May, people weren’t masking up too much.”

Given the new guidance, it is unclear if those signs will stay up or whether the message will be altered. Lake Placid Mayor Art Devlin said Wednesday that he needs to speak with the police chief and village board members before any decisions can be made.

“I would think by now we’ve learned enough, and if that’s what their recommendation is, it’s probably time to do away with that,” Devlin said.

At the same time, Devlin added, it would be difficult to distinguish who is fully vaccinated and who is not. The Main Street signs are a way for the village to be “Politely Adirondack,” as ROOST officials dubbed their COVID-19 guideline messages of wearing masks, washing hands and keeping socially distant. And while businesses have required wearing masks, the mask wearing on Main Street was not enforced by village police.

New guidance

According to the new CDC guidance, fully vaccinated people can engage in more activities than unvaccinated people, which include:

– Fully vaccinated workers no longer need to be restricted from work following an exposure as long as they are asymptomatic.

– Fully vaccinated residents of non-health care congregate settings no longer need to quarantine following a known exposure.

– Fully vaccinated people can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.

– Fully vaccinated people can visit with unvaccinated people (including children) from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.

– Fully vaccinated people can participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues.

– Fully vaccinated people can resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.

– Fully vaccinated people can refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the U.S.

– Fully vaccinated people can refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings.

– Fully vaccinated people can refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic.

– Fully vaccinated people can refrain from routine screening testing if asymptomatic and feasible (in non-health care settings).

Unvaccinated people — defined as those who have yet to receive both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson formula — should wear masks at small outdoor gatherings that include other unvaccinated people, the CDC says. They also should keep their faces covered when dining at outdoor restaurants with friends from multiple households.

And everyone, fully vaccinated or not, should keep wearing masks at crowded outdoor events such as concerts or sporting events, the CDC says.