CDC issues new masking guidance and Queen Elizabeth tests positive: The Week in Covid News.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week issued new guidance under which more than two-thirds of the country’s people will no longer be advised to wear masks.
The new recommendations, announced Friday, direct counties to assess their risk levels based on rates of Covid-related hospital admissions, hospital capacity and local cases. Only in counties where those criteria point to high risk are people required to wear masks, according to the CDC – and only 30 percent of Americans live in counties where this is currently the case.
“We want to give people a break from things like masking when our levels are low, and then having the ability to reach out when things get worse in the future,” said CDC director Dr. Rochelle P. Valensky. “We need to be prepared, and we need to be prepared for everything that lies ahead.”
Public reaction to the change was mixed.
Several scientists said this was justified by case rates, which have fallen 65 percent over the past two weeks and are back from before the Omicron boom, though still very high by pre-Omicron standards. (As of Friday, the country was reporting an average of 72,754 new infections per day – and deaths, which lag behind infections by several weeks, still average over 1,800 per day.) But many people at high personal risk, including Americans are also involved with the disabled or chronically ill, fearing that the relaxed precautions would put them at risk.
The CDC’s recommendations are not binding, and most states had already removed or loosened the mask mandate before the agency supported doing so. But the new guidelines are likely to prompt more individuals, including private business owners and employers, to move in that direction by setting rules for their own employees and customers.
Here’s what else happened this week:
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that he intended to lift all remaining pandemic precautions in England, including regular contact tracing, free testing and a requirement that people test positive. He announced a day after the revelation that Queen Elizabeth II had tested positive for the virus. The prime minister presented the changes for England – not applicable to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, which set their own health rules – as a return to normalcy, but many people at high risk said they had to themselves as a result. will have to be separated.
A new CDC study found that more than half of those who took a rapid antigen test five to nine days after a Covid diagnosis or developed symptoms of COVID-19 tested positive. This calls into question the agency’s isolation guidelines, which say that many people with COVID can isolate after five days without needing to do another test.
After keeping the virus under control for two years, Hong Kong is experiencing a huge Covid wave that has overwhelmed hospitals and hit older residents especially hard. The massacre has exposed the ways in which the city has been complacent: less than half of Hong Kong residents aged 70 and older were vaccinated before the Omicron boom, because the risk seemed low for so long and officials did little to combat misinformation about vaccines. , The leaders plan to have all seven million residents of Hong Kong tested next month.
A truck driver demonstration in the United States, which was planned as a copycat version of recent protests against pandemic policies in Canada, took off Wednesday on its way from California to Washington, DC. But many of them also have links with far-right groups involved in the January 6 riots.
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