The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that more than 70% of Americans no longer need to wear masks in public places under the new guidelines. That’s the upshot of a Feb. 25 announcement by the agency outlining the criteria it’s now using to decide whether to recommend universal masking indoors.
Mask on in some areas
According to the new formula, only 37% of counties, or 28% of the US population, now meet the criteria for high COVID-19 community levels. The CDC confirmed that people in these areas should wear masks indoors and out in public. The rest of the country is classified as having medium COVID-19 community levels, Consumer Reports posted.
The CDC recommends that people at high risk talk to their provider about wearing a mask, or low COVID-19 community levels, where the CDC no longer recommends masking up.The new recommendations also apply to schools, where universal masking is now only suggested in counties with high COVID-19 community levels. You can find out the community level where you live by clicking here.
COVID-19 lingers around
While the sea of full faces may give the impression that the pandemic is over, experts warn that it is far from over, and some are concerned that the new metrics will fall short of accurately predicting a community’s COVID-19 risk. There is no doubt that COVID will be around for a long time, according to Jason Salemi, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health, according to US Today.
Masks were recommended under previous CDC guidelines for people living in communities with significant or high transmission, which at the time applied to roughly 95 percent of U.S. counties. However, federal officials stated that case numbers and positive tests no longer accurately represent COVID-19 risk because many Americans rely on at-home tests, and results go unreported. They also claimed that infections caused by the omicron variant were less likely to result in severe illness and hospitalization.