CDC to ease masking recommendations for 70% of country, including inside schools


(NEW YORK) — Some 70% of Americans will be able to remove their masks indoors, including inside schools, under new guidance to be released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday, two sources familiar with the plans told ABC News.

Under the new metrics in the updated guidance, more than half of U.S. counties, which make up 70% of where Americans live, will be in areas of low or medium risk and no longer recommended to wear masks, said two sources briefed on the plans but not authorized to discuss them ahead of the official announcement.

A CDC requirement that people continue to wear masks on public transportation, however, will remain in force for now, according to one official.

The official said the new guidance will consider three factors: new COVID hospitalizations, current beds occupied by COVID patients and hospital capacity, and new COVID cases.

It will mark a shift from focusing on daily spread to looking at the overall burden of COVID, with an emphasis on its most severe impacts.

Taken together, the new CDC metrics will consider an area to be “high, medium or low risk.”

Based on that risk level, which could fluctuate, a community could opt to remove mask recommendations indoors.

Schools will not be treated differently under the new guidance as other indoor spaces, according to two officials.

The updated guidance comes after weeks of pressure from governors and state officials who asked for a clear roadmap at the national level.

Though a majority of states went ahead and announced that they will drop mask mandates before the CDC’s guidance was ready, the new information could still aid local leaders and public health officials who are facing vastly different versions of the pandemic even within the same state.

And it will also give states and counties a guide to re-implement guidelines if a new variant pops up, which experts warn is a possibility.

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