CDC mask announcement: What did the agency say?

THE CENTERS for Disease Control and Prevention announced a new recommendation to remove indoor mask guidelines on February 25, 2022.

The announcement came as the CDC and the Biden administration faced pressure to ease restrictions for those who have received protection from Covid-19.


People stroll in Central Park in New York City in March of 2021[/caption]

What did the CDC say about masks?

The CDC announced new guidelines to loosen the requirement for people to wear masks in indoor public settings.

Mask guidelines were previously determined by the metrics of Covid-19 cases across the US, but the CDC has now shifted those guidelines to focus on hospitalization rates rather than the number of cases.

The decision was made as indications show the Omicron variant is significantly less severe for those who are vaccinated and boosted but the CDC recommends that those who are at high risk for the virus consult with their medical provider before they stop wearing a mask.

Requirements are still in place for commuters to mandatorily wear masks on public transportation including buses, trains, and planes until March 18, and it is unclear if the CDC will advise for or against lifting those requirements.

What did the CDC say about masks?

During a White House briefing on February 16, 2022, the CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said the CDC has been looking at changing the mask guidelines.

“We must consider hospital capacity as an additional important barometer. Our hospitals need to be able to take care of people with heart attacks and strokes.

“Our emergency departments can’t be so overwhelmed that patients with emergent issues have to wait in line,” Walensky said.

Despite the new mask guidelines, the CDC has said those who were in contact with someone who contracted the virus, feel ill, or tested positive should always wear a mask.

These guidelines reflect moving into the endemic phase of Covid-19, allowing people to live with the virus.

During the press briefing, Walensky said, “As the virus continues to circulate in our communities, we must focus our metrics beyond just cases in the community and direct our efforts toward protecting people at high risk for severe illness and preventing Covid-19 from overwhelming our hospitals and our health care system.”

Have the travel requirements changed?

Although the CDC announced on February 25 the lifting of mask guidelines for indoor public gatherings, they have not released any information about removing the mask mandate on public transportation.

Travelers currently are required to wear a mask on all domestic and international flights, and the mandate is set to expire on March 18, 2022.

There is no requirement to take a Covid-19 test or to quarantine upon arriving at the travelers’ final destination on domestic flights.

If an individual is traveling internationally, they will need to provide a test only if the destination country requires it but they will need to show a negative Covid-19 test to return to the US.


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