New York State Commissioner of Health Declares Influenza No Longer Prevalent in the State

Declaration Relieves Requirement that Unvaccinated Healthcare Workers Wear Masks

ALBANY, N.Y (May 3, 2019) – New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker today announced that influenza is no longer prevalent in New York State. This declaration means that healthcare workers who are not vaccinated against influenza are no longer required to wear masks in areas where patients are typically present.

"Although influenza is no longer prevalent in New York State, flu season is not over yet," said Dr. Zucker. "It is still imperative that New Yorkers get vaccinated to protect themselves and their loved ones from the flu and take appropriate precautions such as staying home from work or school if they are sick."

The "Prevention of Influenza Transmission by Healthcare and Residential Facility and Agency Personnel" regulation first went into effect during the 2013-14 influenza season. The regulation requires healthcare personnel who have not been vaccinated against influenza and work in certain facilities and agencies regulated by the State Department of Health to wear masks while influenza is prevalent in New York State. Commissioner Zucker declared influenza prevalent in the state on December 20, 2018.

Flu activity in the state peaked during the week ending February 23, 2019, when there were more than 9,600 laboratory-confirmed cases in one week. As of April 27, 2019, 106,755 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza and 18,513 hospitalizations have been reported in New York State this flu season, along with six pediatric influenza-associated deaths. This season, 20,368 children under the age of five have been diagnosed with lab-confirmed influenza and 1,432 have been reported as hospitalized.

This information, as well as other data regarding the current and previous influenza seasons, is available on the New York State Flu Tracker. The Flu Tracker is a new dashboard on the New York State Health Connector that provides timely information about local, regional and statewide influenza activity. Click here for a video demonstration of how you can use New York State Flu Tracker.

Preventing influenza transmission from health care personnel to patients is an important patient safety issue. As health care personnel are at increased risk of acquiring influenza because of their contact with ill patients, and can also transmit influenza to their patients, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends that healthcare workers be vaccinated for influenza. Wearing a mask can reduce transmission and is an alternative for individuals who cannot be vaccinated or who refuse vaccination.

For more information about influenza, visit