Officials say the CDC will soon ease indoor mask guidelines.

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Officials say the CDC will soon ease indoor mask guidelines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to loosen its guidelines for when and where Americans should wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to two federal officials familiar with the matter, leaving most people without them in public indoor places. be allowed to go. ,

According to an administration official, the policy is expected to be announced on Friday afternoon. The Associated Press first reported the change on Thursday.

Under current guidelines, the agency recommends that anyone living in areas with substantial or high transmission of the coronavirus should wear a mask in public indoor places such as gyms, movie theaters and full-capacity houses of worship. This means people living in 95 percent of counties in the United States must continue to wear masks indoors. The country is reporting an average of about 76,000 new cases per day, which is about 66 percent less than two weeks ago.

The upcoming recommendations are expected to hinge on newly defined metrics to determine whether people in a particular geographic area are at high risk from the virus. According to a federal official who is familiar with the plans but was not authorized to speak about them, they would place less emphasis on case counts and place more importance on hospitalization as a key measure of risk.

The guidelines are likely to factor in the capacity of local area hospitals as an important indicator of risk levels. With the number of hospitalizations falling across the country, this could allow most Americans to give up their masks. Around 60,000 people are hospitalized with Covid across the country, but those numbers have dropped by about 44 percent in the past two weeks.

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Most states have already relaxed mask-wearing rules, and some have announced plans to lift the mandate in schools, like New Jersey. Others are poised to end the indoor mask mandate in the coming weeks. But an official CDC recommendation could have some effect in districts that have been more cautious.

Many businesses have shifted to requiring only proof of vaccination. But masks are currently required on public transport, including airplanes. The current mandate will remain in force till March 18, and may be extended.

Last year, the CDC was sharply criticized for lifting mask restrictions too soon, only to increase the delta version of the virus across the country. This time, however, many public health experts support the easing of mask guidelines.

Recent polls have indicated that the public’s patience with the COVID restrictions is waning. According to a recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll, nearly half of Americans polled thought the nation should “learn to live with the pandemic” and return to normalcy. Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe “it’s time we accept that COVID is here to stay and we just need to move on with our lives,” a recent Monmouth University survey said. According to.

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