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Dr. Nielsen: Too soon to go back to normal with COVID-19 deaths still high

The NYS mask mandate is set to expire Feb. 1 unless it's extended again.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The New York State mask mandate is set to expire February 1, unless it is extended again.

According to state numbers, the Western New York region's seven-day average for positive tests is 16.2%. So, it is lower than our peak January 11, 2022 at 22.8%. A year ago, we were at about 6%. 

Schools, daycares, and nursing homes are just some of the places following additional state COVID-19 guidance.

Dr. Nancy Nielsen with the Jacobs School of Medicine at the University at Buffalo told 2 On Your Side on Monday that with 2,000 deaths a day in the United States, it is still too soon to go back to normal. She says maybe restrictions could start being lifted in March. 

"You're hearing some scientists say, well, we just need to start living with this virus now like we live with influenza. The reality is right now we're still having almost 2,000 deaths a day. Too soon. Too soon to say we're going to just, quote, live with it and go back to normal. We'll get there, and we may get there soon, but not yet, " Nielsen said. 

She also talked about getting boosted.

"Boosters really do protect against infection for most of us against Omicron. Some people who are boosted will get infected, but they're not going to end up in the hospital, so they don't get seriously ill. So boosters really, really work. And the other thing we learned is if you had COVID, the disease, you know, some people said, well, I don't need to get vaccinated. Wrong. Get vaccinated. Get boosted because then you have really very, very good protection," Nielsen said. 

Nielsen went on to say even when the mask mandate is lifted, she would still urge some high risk people to wear masks when they're going into a crowd.

Nielsen thinks that everyone knows what it means when the CDC says fully vaccinated - that it means two shots of Pfizer or Moderna or one J&J shot.

 She says people know what it means when you say boosted, so she says she wouldn't change the definition of fully vaccinated at this point. She says she would say "fully protected" means boosted, otherwise it gets too confusing.

2 On Your Side did try to speak with the New York State Health Commissioner on Monday. She was not available, but we were told we'd be able to interview her another day.


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