"We have work to do, especially when the country remains in the red zone of high community transmission".
"We can nearly see the light at the end of this dark tunnel, and it is critical that all New Yorkers continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing and act responsibly so that we can defeat this beast once and for all", said Cuomo.
The CDC recently released new guidelines on how schools can be reopened, which emphasized the need for continued mitigation and contact tracing if it can be done safely.
Whether Americans can look forward to walking down the street without wearing a mask by the end of the year "very much depends on how we behave right now", she said.
The comments came as school closures remained in effect throughout the country.
Asked on "Meet the Press" whether it was too early for state officials to lift mask mandates, Walensky said "absolutely", citing how nationwide there are still at about 100,000 cases a day and around 1,500 to 3,500 deaths per day. "It was released on Friday and it specifically articulates the five key mitigation strategies that we need to keep our schools open and other layered mitigation strategies, including teacher vaccination, that are nonessential to get our schools open, but we do recommend".
In addition, encouraging frequent hand-washing and "respiratory etiquette", such as covering of the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and cleaning and disinfecting of school facilities, supplies and equipment can also improve safety and limit transmission.
Currently, students, staff and teachers should be tested for COVID-19 at least once a week and positive cases should be traced to identify instances of possible disease spread, the CDC said.
"And yet we see some communities relaxing some of their mitigation strategies", said Walensky.
Fewer than 10% of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States involve children aged 5 to 17, and research indicates that children are not significant drivers of disease spread.
Health experts say population-wide mask wearing is one of the most effective ways of pushing COVID-19 transmission down to controllable levels.