Mayor Adams announced Monday that the city is significantly expanding the number of COVID tests and masks it distributes to schools, libraries and houses of worship in a push to stem the growing number of coronavirus cases and to head off a future wave of the virus.

The city’s COVID alert status has not yet been upgraded from medium risk to high, but health officials suggested Monday that such an upgrade could come soon.

Over the next month, the city plans to send out 16.5 million at-home COVID test kits and 1 million masks, and city health officials are recommending that people who test positive and show symptoms reach out to a city hotline to have anti-viral medications delivered for free to their doorsteps.

“It’s never been easier for New Yorkers to get a free at-home test, a high-quality mask, or access COVID-19 treatments in New York City,” Adams said in a written statement put out by the mayor’s office Monday. “I encourage all New Yorkers to go out and pick up a free at-home test as soon as they can to remain prepared, to mask up in indoor public settings, and to take advantage of the life-saving treatments we now have readily available to fight this virus.”

Over the past week, the average number of daily cases recorded in the Big Apple has been on the upswing. According to the most recent data posted on the city’s website, the average number of daily cases averaged out over a week hit 3,613. The daily average over the last 28 days is 2,940.

Hospitalizations in the city, however, have remained relatively stable. The number of people hospitalized daily averaged out over a week now stands at 54, according to the most recent data. Over a 28-day period, the daily average of people hospitalized in the city is 60.

In the statement put out by the mayor’s office Monday, Adams and health officials said the city is “preparing to potentially enter a high COVID-19 alert level in the coming days,” and they urged New Yorkers to mask up in public indoor settings.

The city’s COVID alert level remained at medium as of early Monday afternoon, but earlier in the day, Adams’ Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan issued a new advisory on mask guidelines with a stronger recommendation that people wear masks when in public settings indoors.

Those updated recommendations more closely follow what the city would advise if it were to enter high alert status. In the advisory, Vasan recommends that people in the city “wear a mask at all times when indoors and in a public setting, including at groceries, building lobbies, offices, stores and other common or shared spaces where individuals may interact.”

But in a separate statement, which was issued by the mayor’s office, Vasan also predicated the current increase in cases would soon subside.

“I advise all New Yorkers to mask up indoors, even if you have a negative test and especially if you are unvaccinated, have not had your booster, or are in a high-risk category,” he said. “We don’t anticipate that this wave will last much longer, so hang in there, New York City. If we all do our part, we can bring case numbers down in the coming weeks and get ready for a wonderful summer.”

The city has so far distributed 20 million at-home tests. The new surge in test distribution is expected to bring that number to more than 36 million. Aside from upping the numbers for tests and masks, city health officials also urged New Yorkers to take advantage of free treatments, like the antiviral Paxlovid, if they test positive for the virus.

To do that, those who test positive can call 212-COVID19 or visit the city’s website to learn more.

“If you test positive for COVID-19, get treatment right away,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, head of the city’s public hospital network. “It might help you stay out of the hospital.”



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