CDC Guidance: Over 90% of U.S. Population Can Drop Masks
More than 90% of Americans live in areas where they can drop their masks while indoors, according to updated data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It’s a significant change from last week when more than 70% of the population lived in low or medium COVID-19 community levels under the agency’s new framework, which relies on hospital capacities, new cases, and hospitalizations to determine if counties are in low, medium or high COVID-19 community levels.
Most people in areas with low or medium community levels can drop their masks indoors. People in high community levels should still wear a mask in public indoor settings, according to the guidance.
The update comes as the Biden administration clearly marks a shift away from prioritizing COVID-19 mitigation measures in everyday life. The White House this week released its plan to move forward with the coronavirus, emphasizing that “we are no longer going to let COVID-19 dictate how we live.”
“Because of the progress we’ve made, because of your resilience and the tools that we have been provided by this Congress, tonight I can say we’re moving forward safely, back to more normal routines,” President Joe Biden said on Tuesday during his State of the Union address.
CDC’s previous guidance relied on transmission data to recommend wearing a mask indoors in public while in an area of “substantial” or “high” transmission. Under that framework, masks would still be recommended in 86% of U.S. counties.
Some experts have said it is too soon to drop face masks, considering the U.S. is averaging nearly 55,000 new coronavirus cases per day and over 1,500 deaths.
A federal requirement to wear masks is still in place in airplanes, airports, trains, buses and associated stations, though that mandate is set to expire March 18. The CDC has said it is reviewing whether or not an extension is needed.