The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday, Feb. 25, issued new guidelines for areas with dwindling Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.
The move involved updating metrics that determine a U.S. county’s COVID-19 transmission levels. Those that fall under “high” and “substantial” transmission would be urged to wear face masks indoors, while those with “moderate” or “low” transmission levels would not be encouraged to mask up.
Following the move, the number of counties categorized under high and substantial transmission levels have dropped substantially. However, it remains unclear how the CDC’s decision will impact Americans who are still required to comply with mask mandates. Before issuing the new guidelines, the CDC recommends indoor masking in areas with high and substantial COVID-19 transmission – with 95 percent of counties classified in either of the two.
According to the Daily Mail, the CDC’s decision comes as the omicron variant has changed the nature of COVID-19 in the United States. The now-dominant strain first identified in South Africa is highly infectious, yet causes mild symptoms in infected individuals.
Nevertheless, the CDC’s new recommendations do not supersede the existing mask requirements on public transportation and transport hubs such as airports, train stations and bus stations. It also does not supersede its recommendations for people with COVID-19 symptoms or test positive for the disease to mask up.
“Anybody is certainly welcome to wear a mask at any time if they feel safer wearing a mask. We want to make sure our hospitals are OK and people are not coming in with severe diseases. Anyone can go to the CDC website, find out the volume of disease in their community and make that decision,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a news briefing. (Related: If masks really work, why is the CDC about to drop its nationwide mask guideline?)
Despite the CDC’s guidance, state and local leaders are in charge of deciding if they will require face masks for residents. Prior to the public health agency’s move, almost every state has decided to lift masks mandates. Forty-nine states – with the exception of Hawaii – have either dropped indoor mask mandates in public, if not relaxing them or announcing their repeal at a later time.
Republican states have rescinded all COVID-19 restrictions, and have even banned leaders at the county and city levels from mandating face masks and vaccine passports. On the other hand, Democratic states have taken a more cautious approach.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom rolled back the state’s indoor mask mandate for vaccinated Californians in mid-February. The Democratic governor’s decision lined up with his declaration of COVID-19 being endemic – facilitating a return to normal. However, Newsom left options for city and county officials to reapply mandates at their own discretion.
On the other hand, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced new recommendations on Feb. 24 that went against the public health agency’s guidance. The Republican governor’s guidelines, aptly called “Buck the CDC,” advised against wearing face masks. DeSantis gained popularity for going against the grain and eschewing COVID-19 restrictions.
Epidemiologist Andrew Noymer of the University of California, Irvine said the CDC’s move “would not make much practical difference for now,” given that many Americans already eschewed face coverings. “There will be more waves of COVID, and so I think it makes sense to give people a break from masking. If we have continual masking orders, they might become a total joke by the time we really need them again,” he elaborated.
Watch Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis denouncing the CDC’s guidance on masks below.
This video is from the GalacticStorm channel on Brighteon.com.
Head over to CDC.news for more stories about the public health agency’s guidance on face masks.
Sources include:Submit a correction >>