Alert Center: CDC says new mask guidance may soon be on the way

The nation's leading health officials said Wednesday that the U.S. is moving closer to the point that COVID-19 is no longer a “constant crisis.”

News 12 Staff

Feb 17, 2022, 11:18 AM

Updated 877 days ago

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The nation's leading health officials said Wednesday that the U.S. is moving closer to the point that COVID-19 is no longer a “constant crisis” as more cities, businesses and sports venues began lifting pandemic restrictions around the country.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing that the government is contemplating a change to its mask guidance in the coming weeks. Noting recent declines in COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths, she acknowledged “people are so eager” for health officials to ease masking rules and other measures designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“We all share the same goal – to get to a point where COVID-19 is no longer disrupting our daily lives, a time when it won’t be a constant crisis – rather something we can prevent, protect against, and treat," Walensky said.

With the Omicron variant waning and Americans eager to move beyond the virus, government and business leaders have been out ahead of the CDC in ending virus measures in the last week, including ordering workers back to offices, eliminating mask mandates and no longer requiring proof of vaccine to get into restaurants, bars and sports and entertainment arenas.

COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations have fallen sharply in the U.S., with the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases dropping from about 453,000 two weeks ago to about 136,000 as of Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Hospitalizations are at levels similar to September, when the U.S. was emerging from the delta variant surge. Almost 65% of Americans are fully vaccinated.

“As a result of all this progress and the tools we now have, we are moving to a time where COVID isn’t a crisis but is something we can protect against and treat,” said Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator.

Walensky said the CDC “will soon put guidance in place that is relevant and encourages prevention measures when they are most needed to protect public health and our hospitals.” She suggested any changes will take into account measures of community transmission, as well as hospitalization rates or other gauges of whether infected people are becoming severely ill. They also would consider available bed space in hospitals.

Several states with indoor mask mandates announced last week they would be lifted in coming weeks, also citing promising numbers

Walensky said the CDC wants to “give people a break from things like mask-wearing" when circumstances improve, though be able to mask up again if things worsen. She also said there will be instances where people should continue to wear masks even if prevention measures ease. Examples include when individuals have symptoms of COVID-19 or are within 10 days after being diagnosed with it.  


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