CDC plans to significantly loosen COVID masking guidelines
The changes are intended to better reflect the risks to local communities now that vaccinations are more widespread and will be based more on hospitalizations than case counts.
The Biden administration will significantly loosen federal mask-wearing guidelines and other precautions to protect against COVID-19 transmission on Friday.
The changes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were revealed to the Associated Press by two people familiar with the matter. The updates were also reported by The Washington Post, Politico and other media outlets.
The changes are intended to better reflect the risks to local communities now that COVID vaccinations are more widespread, with the metrics focused more on hospitalizations and hospital capacity than case counts.
The new guidelines will mean most Americans will no longer be advised to wear masks in indoor public settings.
Under the new guidelines, the vast majority of Americans will no longer live in areas where indoor masking in public is recommended based on current data.
The change comes as nearly all U.S. states that had put in place indoor mask-wearing mandates for the winter omicron surge are letting them lapse as cases have precipitously dropped nationwide. Some have eliminated the mandates entirely, while others have kept mask-wearing requirements in place for schools and medical facilities.
The CDC changes come a day after Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo announced new COVID-19 guidance for the state.
The recommendations were released Thursday as DeSantis criticized the CDC and President Joe Biden during a partisan speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando.
The state guidelines will discourage mask-wearing and promote physicians prescribing off-label medications. It also advises businesses to stop requiring masks for workers, and recommends that adults and children with COVID can shorten quarantines to five days.
The Florida guidelines also direct physicians to exercise their own judgment when treating COVID patients.