Healthy Americans in most places can safely ditch masks indoors, including in schools and low risk areas, according to new recommendations the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released on Friday.
The new guidelines say it is no longer necessary to wear a mask in indoor spaces in most counties, but face coverings are still required on public transportation.
The updated recommendations are not binding, so city and local governments can impose their own rules. The CDC still urges people with COVID-19 symptoms or a recent positive test to wear a mask.
Why the change? CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the shift reflects more widespread immunity and a lower risk of severe infection. The new metrics still consider new COVID-19 cases but focus more on hospitalizations and local capacity.
The seven-day average for COVID-19 hospitalizations has dropped roughly 27 percent just in the past week, down to around 50,000 nationwide. More than 70 percent of the U.S. population live in counties where the CDC says the coronavirus poses a low or medium threat to hospitals.
In Alachua County, the Florida Department of Health’s weekly COVID-19 report showed only 428 new cases between Feb. 18-24.
This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2022, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.