On Thursday, a significant change happened when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated data that suggests more than 90 percent of the population lived in low or medium COVID-19 community levels under the new agency frameworks. That means that more than 90 percent of the U.S population live in areas where they can drop their masks while indoors and no longer need to follow social distance or avoid crowds.
Over 90 Percent Of Americans Can Drop Masks, The CDC Says
According to the guidance, people in high-level communities should continue wearing masks in public indoor settings. The agency advised the unvaccinated people to keep their masks on even in low-risk areas.
This recommendation is as per the updated data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their guidance no longer depends only on the number of cases in a community to determine the need for restrictions such as mask-wearing and social distancing.
Instead, they consider three measures: new Covid-related hospital admissions over the previous week, the percentage of hospital beds occupied by Covid patients, and new cases per 100,000 people over the last week, to determine if countries are in low, medium, or high COVID-19 community levels.
That figure increased from 70 percent last week when the C.D.C announced its new approach of assessing the level of the coronavirus community to help the country get back to some version of pre-covid life.
But as Omicron variant cases declined and calls for relaxed restrictions grew louder, states and cities began shedding mask mandates even before the C.D.C announced updated guidance.
The updates are released when the Biden administration marks a shift away from prioritizing coronavirus mitigation measures in everyday life. The White House emphasized on “we are no longer going to let COVID-19 dictate how we live” this week and announced its plan to move forward with the COVID-19.
President Joe Biden said during his first State of the Union speech on Tuesday, that because of the progress we’ve made, because of your resilience and the tools that we have been provided by the Congress, tonight I can say we’re moving forward safely, back to a more normal life.”
Prior guidance of C.D.C. of wearing masks indoors in the public while in an area of substantial or high transmission was recommended based on the previous transmission data. Masks are still recommended in 86% of U.S. counties.
According to the data of the agency, a large part of the country is now categorized as low or medium risk, much of West Virginia and large swaths of Kentucky, Virginia, Nebraska, and Montana remain at high risk.
West Virginia is having 700 new cases every day but is seeing a decline in hospitalizations in most counties. Kanawha District including Charleston-the capital is one of the communities at high risk. But West Virginia Governor Jim Justice told a news conference on Wednesday that we don’t want to completely let down our guard by any means, but it’s starting to look like we’re getting out of it.
The governor also said that the National Guard will fulfill its mission of providing additional staff to hospitals across the state next week.
Some experts warned that it is too soon to drop face masks as the U.S. is still having around 55,000 new Covid cases per day and over 1,500 deaths.
On March 18, the restriction of mask-wearing in airplanes, airports, trains, buses, and related stations will expire, which is still a federal requirement. Whether there is any requirement for the extension of the mandate, the C.D.C. said it is reviewing this.