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New CDC Guidelines Ease Masking Requirements

February 25, 2022

New COVID-19 safety guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today loosened recommendations for when and where Americans should wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, allowing most people to go without them in public indoor spaces.

Previous CDC guidelines recommended that anyone living in areas with substantial or high transmission of the coronavirus, as defined by case counts, should wear masks in public indoor spaces. The new guidelines will still consider caseloads, but also factor in two other pieces of data in a community: new COVID-19 hospitalizations and local hospital capacity. Under these new guidelines, most Americans no longer live in areas where the CDC recommends indoor masking.

Currently, more than 70% of the US population is in a location with low or medium COVID-19 community levels. For those areas, there is no recommendation for indoor masking unless you are at potential “increased risk” for COVID-19. If so, the CDC recommend talking to your health care provider about wearing a mask.

At all caseload levels, the CDC recommends people get vaccinated and boosted, and get tested if they have symptoms.

Most states have already eased rules for mask-wearing in public areas, including schools. Others are preparing to end indoor mask mandates in the coming weeks. An official recommendation from the CDC may influence some areas that have been more cautious.

Many businesses have shifted to requiring only proof of vaccinations. But masks are still required in federal buildings and on public transportation, including airplanes.