State Lifts Quarantine Rules for Some Vaccinated New Yorkers

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -
(Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

New York will follow updated guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and will not require certain people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to quarantine after being exposed to someone with the virus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.

CDC recommendations released Wednesday apply to people who have received either the second shot of a two-dose vaccine or the first and only shot of a one-dose vaccine.

Once two weeks from full vaccination have passed, those people will not be required to quarantine after COVID-19 exposure if they experience no symptoms of the disease, Cuomo said. That exemption lasts 90 days after vaccination.

The state’s current rules allow people exposed to COVID-19 to end quarantine after 10 days without testing if they haven’t had symptoms.

Cuomo and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker urged New Yorkers to continue to wear masks and stay apart from others even if vaccinated. They said, “The science regarding COVID transmissibility post-vaccination remains unsettled, and this updated guidance is not an all-clear for New Yorkers to let their guard down.”

New York isn’t out of the woods yet. The state averaged over 9,000 new cases each day over the past seven days. That’s down 4% from the prior week but is still among the nation’s highest rates per capita.

Hospitals and nursing homes have been reporting over 1,000 COVID-19 deaths each week since early January.

Hospitalizations dipped to 7,342 as of Wednesday, down 8% from seven days earlier. Cases and hospitalizations are ticking up in the Bronx in particular, which averaged 986 daily new cases over the past seven days and reported 680 patients.

New York health officials are hoping vaccines can drive down COVID-19 spread. The state’s used about two-thirds of 3.8 million delivered doses, according to CDC data, which says about 10% of 19 million New Yorkers have received a first dose so far.

Millions of people are now eligible: including 600,000 residents and staff of nursing and group homes, 1.5 million health workers, 1.7 million teachers, police and other essential workers. New York’s eligibility list swelled to 7 million people once Cuomo added 1.4 million over the age of 75, and then 1.8 million over 65.

New York’s vaccine supplies are set to increase in future weeks — but far from enough to quickly vaccinate everyone who’s eligible.

People over the age of 16 with underlying health conditions can start signing up for appointments at state-run vaccination sites Sunday. The governor has said New York would vaccinate people with comorbidities by sending excess vaccines meant for hospital workers to local health departments.

Still, hospitals will be receiving doses: the state’s latest guidance says hospitals can soon start using allocations for anyone eligible at hospitals — including home health-care workers, state-run group home residents and then people over the age of 65.