CDC eases mask guidance for 70 percent of US, including schools

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday significantly eased its mask recommendations, including for schools, as part of long-awaited updated guidance for dealing with COVID-19.

Under the new guidelines, more than 70 percent of the U.S. population is in an area with “low” or “medium” COVID-19 community level, meaning masks are not recommended for the general public.

In areas with a “high” level (currently about 30 percent of the U.S. population) masks would still be recommended in public indoor settings, and under the “medium” level, people at higher risk are encouraged to talk to their doctor about wearing a mask.

Masking in schools has been an area of particularly heated debate. Under the new guidelines, universal masking in schools is now only recommended in areas with a “high” level.

The new guidelines are based more on preserving hospital capacity than the previous metrics, which focused on sheer case numbers, a reflection of a new phase of dealing with the pandemic as the wave of omicron infections has declined.

The new guidance comes after governors across the country, including Democrats, have already announced the easing of mask mandates, and as restaurants and bars even in liberal cities are packed with people.

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