The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is updating the guidelines for when Americans should wear masks indoors. The new guidance will apply to more than half of the counties in the United States, which are considered a low-to-medium risk of transmission, allowing around 70% of Americans to ditch their masks while indoors. The new guidance will also apply to schools.
Under the new recommendations, counties with a “low” transmission level can lift all indoor mask requirements. For people who live in counties with a “medium” level of transmission, the CDC recommends speaking with their doctor about wearing masks. People living in counties at the “medium” level will be advised that they should talk to their doctor about masking indoors. Counties with a “high” level of transmission are advised to continue wearing masks while indoors.
As the CDC continues to monitor the pandemic, it will now focus on new metrics to determine when restrictions should be lifted. These include hospital capacity, the number of new hospitalizations for COVID-19, and the number of beds currently occupied by patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
A CDC scientist told CNN that officials have been working on the new guidelines for several weeks.
“This has been something folks have been engaged with and working on very hard — I mean really hard — over the past few weeks,” the scientist said. “It started before Omicron, and then Omicron pulled everyone into it, and now we’ll be able to finish it.”
The requirement to wear masks on public transportation and airplanes will remain in effect until March 18 and may be extended past that date.