Subscribe Us


The CDC relaxed indoor mask recommendations on February 25, now depending on how COVID-19 affects a community's healthcare system rather than transmission rates alone to make mask recommendations.

The new framework categorizes a region as belonging to one of three COVID-19 community levels, with recommended preventative interventions differing by level.

"A community's COVID-19 level is determined by a combination of three pieces of information: new COVID-19 hospitalizations, current hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients or hospital capacity, and new COVID-19 cases," Greta Massetti, PhD, of the CDC's COVID-19 response incident management team, said at a news conference on Feb. 25.

The following are the COVID-19 community levels, as defined by the CDC:

Low: This indicates that the virus is having a minor impact on the healthcare system, as evidenced by low levels of severe sickness. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated and boosted, as well as testing when sick, for counties in this group.

Medium: More people are suffering from serious disease, and towns are beginning to notice an increase in how much COVID-19 is harming their healthcare system. In addition to the actions outlined above, the agency suggests that those living in "medium" category counties who may be at elevated risk consult with their healthcare practitioners about taking further precautions, such as wearing masks.

High: At this level, there is a high risk of severe disease and a high likelihood that a community's healthcare system will become overburdened. In addition to the precautions recommended for low and medium risk groups, the CDC recommends that everyone in this type of community wear a mask inside and in schools.

As of Feb. 25, approximately half of all counties in the United States, representing nearly 70% of the population, were classified as low or medium COVID-19 communities, according to CDC officials.

The EPA also amended its school guidance, suggesting universal mask use only in schools in high-risk regions. The agency has earlier recommended universal masking at all schools beginning in July 2021.

"When our levels are low, we want to give folks a respite from things like mask-wearing and then have the ability to reach for them again if things grow worse in the future," said CDC director Rochelle Walensky, MD.

"We should all remember that some people may want to wear a mask for personal reasons," Dr. Walensky remarked.

The CDC also underlined that persons who are still at higher risk for COVID-19, such as those with immunocompromising illnesses, should take extra precautions regardless of their community's COVID-19 level.

"And there are specific scenarios where patients should always wear a mask," Dr. Massetti explained. "For example, if they have symptoms, if they tested positive for COVID-19, or if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19."

"Millions of people in the United States are immunocompromised, more prone to catastrophic COVID-19 outcomes, or are yet too young to be eligible for the vaccine," said American Medical Association President Gerald Harmon, MD, in response to the amended guidelines.

"In light of those facts," Dr. Harmon said, "I personally will continue to wear a mask in most indoor public settings, and I urge all Americans to consider doing the same, especially in places like pharmacies, grocery stores, and public transportation — locations that all of us, regardless of vaccination status or risk factors, must visit on a regular basis."

The CDC's previous guideline was based primarily on COVID-19 case numbers and advised individuals to wear masks inside in communities with substantial or high transmission, a category that around 98 percent of U.S. counties fell into as of Feb. 23, according to transmission data.

Post a Comment