New reports have revealed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to loosen its mask mandates and guidelines on Friday, as the nation continues to experience plunging COVID-19 cases following the omicron surge last month.
Two people familiar with the matter told the Associated Press that these rule changes may mean most Americans will no longer be required to wear masks indoors.
The CDC will announce on Friday new changes to metrics used to determine whether face masks would be required, shifting form looking at case counts to "a more holistic view of risk from the coronavirus to a community," the Associated Press reported.
The current guidelines recommend masks for those residing in communities of substantial or high transmission.
The new metrics will still consider cases, but will take into account hospitalizations and hospital capacity. Under these new guidelines, a large number of Americans would no longer be required to wear masks indoors.
The new guidelines come as the Biden administration shifts its pandemic focus from preventing infection, to preventing serious illness and death as part of a new "phase" of response to the virus.
The change comes as a majority of states dropped or announced plans to drop or relax their mask mandates as cases continue to plummet after January’s spike.
According to the Associated Press: "It was not immediately clear how the new CDC guidance would affect U.S. federal mandates requiring face coverings on public transportation."
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that a change has been in the works for some time.
“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,” she said in a White House briefing last week, though declined to give a specific timeline.
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