Most Americans Don’t Need to Wear Masks Indoors Under New CDC COVID-19 Guidance | Health News

Via Peters

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday implemented a new method of assessing coronavirus risk at the community level, allowing the majority of Americans to drop their masks while indoors.

The framework uses three metrics of virus severity to determine what it calls “community levels” – new COVID-19 hospitalizations, hospital capacity and new coronavirus cases.

Most people in areas with low or medium community levels, which is roughly 70% of the U.S. population, can drop their masks in public indoor settings under the guidance. People with increased risk for severe COVID-19 can safely ditch their masks in a “low” community level, but they should check with their doctor before considering ditching their mask in a “medium” community level, according to CDC.

Cartoons on the Coronavirus

Everyone in a county at a “high” level should wear a mask in public indoor settings. About 37% of U.S. counties making up 28% of the U.S. population are considered at a “high” community level, according to the CDC website.

“With widespread population immunity, the overall risk of severe disease is now generally lower,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on a call with reporters. “Now as the virus continues to circulate in our communities, we must focus our metrics beyond just cases in the community, and direct our efforts toward protecting people at high risk for severe illness and preventing COVID-19 from overwhelming our hospitals and our health care system.”

Previously, CDC guidance recommended wearing a mask indoors in public while in an area of “substantial” or “high” coronavirus transmission that was determined using different metrics than the new framework. That’s more than 95% of the counties in the U.S., according to CDC data.

“This new framework moves beyond just looking at cases and test positivity to evaluate factors that reflect the severity of disease, including hospitalizations and hospital capacity and helps to determine whether the level of COVID-19 and severe disease are low, medium or high in a community,” Walensky said.

Notably, the recommendation also includes schools.

“With this update, CDC will now only recommend universal school masking in communities at the high level,” Greta Massetti of CDC’s COVID-19 Response Incident Management Team told reporters. “Importantly, COVID-19 community levels and public health prevention strategies can be dialed up when our communities are experiencing more severe disease and dialed down when things are more stable.”

It’s unclear what impact the new recommendations will have on state and local COVID-19 measures, considering nearly every state has dropped or has plans to drop indoor mask mandates – some of which extended to schools.

The agency noted that people should still wear masks if they test positive for COVID-19.

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