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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is relaxing indoor mask standards, including for schools, for the 70% of communities deemed to have medium or low COVID-19 levels.
Over half of counties in the country are deemed low to medium, based on COVID-19 numbers, hospitalizations and hospital capacity, according to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky. The CDC continues to recommend masking in communities that are at the high level.
Individuals can check their state and community level status with the CDC.
The data is informed by metrics from 6,000 hospitals nationwide that are required to report daily numbers, said Dr. Greta Massetti of the COVID-19 Response Incident Management Team.
If an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 or is symptomatic, the mask wearing guidance remains.
The update does not apply to current transportation guidelines.
WHY THIS MATTERS
The American Medical Association said the CDC’s updated recommendations represent a new approach for monitoring COVID-19 in communities.
AMA President Dr. Gerald E. Harmon said he personally would continue to wear a mask indoors, and he urges all Americans to continue to do the same.
“But even as some jurisdictions lift masking requirements, we must grapple with the fact that millions of people in the U.S. are immunocompromised, more susceptible to severe COVID outcomes, or still too young to be eligible for the vaccine,” Harmon said. “While the Omicron surge has declined, COVID-19 is not gone.”
THE LARGER TREND
As the pandemic continues into its third year, cases ease and 65% of Americans are reported as fully vaccinated, patience over mask wearing is growing thin.
Some states have already lifted mask mandates and many school districts have been under pressure to do the same.
Guidance for universal mask wearing in schools has been in place since July 2021, according to the CDC.
Every state, with the exception of Hawaii, is planning to eliminate mask mandates as the Omicron surge recedes, according to CBSNews.
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