ON THURSDAY, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that some 93% of the US population live in locations where COVID-19 levels are low enough that people do not need to wear masks indoors.
On Friday, the CDC dramatically lessened its COVID-19 guidelines for when Americans should wear masks indoors, stating they could drop them in counties experiencing what is defined as low or medium COVID-19 levels.
The latest figures are an increase from only a week ago, a further indication that COVID hospitalizations – a key benchmark for the new masking recommendations – persist in falling.
When it announced the revised guidelines, the CDC said roughly 70% of US counties and 72% of the US population were in communities where indoor face coverings are no longer suggested. The CDC intends to update its county ratings weekly.
announced on Thursday that 85.4% of counties now rank as low or medium risk and 92.9% of the population lives in those counties.
Still to be determined is whether the Biden administration will extend mask requirements for transit hubs and on airplanes, trains, and buses. The present transit mask order expires on March 18 though it could be extended. The White House announced this week the matter is being assessed.
The masking guidelines declared last week shifted from a focus on the rate of COVID-19 transmission to local hospitalizations, hospital capacity and infection rates.
Under the prior guidelines, 95% of US counties were considered to be experiencing high transmission, leaving only 5% of U.S. counties under the agency’s recommendation for abandoning indoor mask requirements.
An increasing number of
federal agencies have told government employees this week they can stop wearing masks indoors in federal buildings in the Washington, DC area and other low or medium COVID areas, including the State Department, Pentagon, Transportation Department, Federal Aviation Administration, and Justice Department.
According to a memo on Monday first reported by Reuters, the White House directed agencies to revise federal employee masking and testing rules no later than Friday. The guidance covers roughly 3.5 million employees at federal agencies.
Covid-19 levels have dropped significantly enough that more than 90% of people in the U.S. can go without masks, CDC finds.— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 4, 2022
Guidance notes that people who remain at higher risk for Covid-19 may continue to take extra precautions, including wearing masks. https://t.co/o61R1bYXxY
The guidance notes that people who remain at higher risk for the disease may continue to take extra precautions, including wearing masks.
Meanwhile, House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients laid out the Biden administration’s four-point plan, which he announced would allow most people to return to their normal routines by preparing for new variants, preventing shutdowns, protecting against the disease and “vaccinating the world.”