CDC Eases Mask Guidance

Face covering determinations will now be made based off hospitalizations, rather than case counts, among other metrics.

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Most adults in the United States are no longer required to wear masks indoors in public, according to newly eased Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mask guidance released on Friday.

The agency is changing the metrics it relies on to form masking recommendations, according to The Associated Press. In the past, the CDC has tracked case counts in communities and recommended face coverings for areas of high transmission. Now, as The New York Times reports, it will consider COVID-related hospital admissions, percentage of hospital beds occupied by patients with COVID-19, and new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people.

None of us knows what the future may hold for us and for this virus,” CDC Director Rochelle Walenksy said in announcing the change. “We need to be prepared and ready for whatever comes next. 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.”

State governments have already been loosening the reins on mask guidance, offering local municipalities and schools autonomy and the ability to make their decision on mask guidance themselves.

What the Future Holds

On the horizon is what Omicron’s cousin, BA.2, might do. Whereas, the variant is taking off in countries like Denmark, the US has not seen it become the dominant strain here. Some suspect it is because Omicron took hold with millions of Americans getting infected as well as booster doses helping to increase immunity and stave off BA.2.

The question remains what path the virus will take next? The behavior of COVID-19 is not like other viruses and some question whether it will become endemic in its new phase, but rather it has already morphed into an episodic phase, where new variants pop-up, and case loads can increase anytime.