The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that nearly 93 percent of the U.S. population can go about their lives without masks.
The CDC rolled out revised guidelines for mask-wearing in indoor settings February 25, nixing mask recommendations for individuals in counties with “low” or “medium” coronavirus “community levels.” Breitbart News noted the change in guidance came just days before President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.
“The agency said on Thursday that 85.4% of counties now rank as low or medium risk and 92.9% of the population lives in those counties,” Reuters reported.
When the CDC first released the revised guidelines, roughly 70 percent of U.S. counties, which are home to 72 percent of the population, registered “low” or “medium” coronavirus “community levels,” according to Reuters.
CDC is updating #COVID19 community recommendations.
CDC’s new COVID-19 Community Level tool classifies every county in the US into low, medium, or high, with recommended prevention measures for each level.
Check your area’s level and learn more here: https://t.co/UZxX67a6M3.
— CDC (@CDCgov) February 25, 2022
Previous masking guidelines focused on transmission levels, while the latest recommendations are formed through analysis of hospital admissions, occupied inpatient bed rates, and new case rates over a 7-day period, according to the CDC and Reuters.
Guidelines for low community level counties include staying up to date on vaccinations and testing when symptoms arise. In counties with medium community levels, those who are immunocompromised or at higher risk of severe illness are recommended to consult with their doctors about masking in addition to staying up to date on vaccines and testing when symptoms occur. The CDC still recommends indoor masking for those in counties with high coronavirus community levels.
Numerous federal agencies have begun ending mask mandates, according to Reuters:
A growing number of federal agencies have told government employees this week they can stop wearing masks indoors in federal buildings in the Washington, D.C. area and other low or medium COVID areas, including the State Department, Pentagon, Transportation Department, Federal Aviation Administration and Justice Department.
Additionally, federal agencies no longer need to regularly screen unvaccinated employees in counties with low community coronavirus levels, the outlet reported.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky commented on the relaxed mask recommendations, hinting that the CDC could potentially reverse course in the future.
“We want to give people a break from things like mask wearing when levels are low, and then have the ability to reach for them again should things get worse in the future,” she said.
Though nearly 93 percent of the U.S. population is no longer under mask recommendations, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients stated Wednesday that “there would be ‘no change’ to the mask mandate for airplanes and public travel, but that an ‘evaluation’ of the mandate was taking place,” Breitbart News reported.
Public transportation and airplane mandates are set to expire on March 18.