More than 70% of Americans can take off their masks indoors with new CDC guidelines on COVID risk

By Adrianna Rodriguez | USA TODAY

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced guideline changes allowing most Americans to unmask indoors, which health experts say may be the first step in shifting the U.S. to an “endemic phase” of the pandemic.

The agency said in a news briefing Friday afternoon it will be using different metrics to determine whether to recommend face coverings.

Under the old guidelines, masks were recommended for people living in communities of substantial or high transmission, which applied to roughly 95% of U.S. counties.

Now, in addition to caseloads, the guidance also will consider hospitalizations, current beds occupied by COVID patients and hospital capacity. The new metrics would put more than half of U.S. counties – where more than 70% of Americans live – in areas of low or medium risk, according to the CDC data.

“We are in a stronger place today as a nation with more tools today to protect ourselves and our community from COVID-19 like vaccination, boosters, broader access to testing, availability of high quality masks, accessibility to new treatments, and improved ventilation,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during Friday’s briefing. 

WHAT IS THE CDC MASK GUIDANCE WHERE YOU LIVE? Click here.

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