The CDC Just Changed These Major COVID Rules
The New Guidelines
The CDC's new guidelines group the country into high, medium and low levels of COVID-19. The criteria for those designations don't just include the total number of cases in an area—they also consider COVID hospitalization rates and the number of hospital beds available.
In areas where the community COVID level is high, people are advised to wear a mask indoors in public. In areas where the community level is medium, the agency recommends that people consult their healthcare provider about whether they should mask in public. In areas where the community level is low, wearing a mask in public is no longer considered essential.
You can check your community's COVID-19 level on the CDC's website or by calling 800-232-4636.
"People may choose to mask at any time," notes the CDC, adding that people in all areas should stay up to date on their COVID vaccines and get tested if they have symptoms. "People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask."
What Doesn't Change
Americans are still required to wear face masks on public transportation, including buses, trains and planes. That order is set to expire on March 1. Specific guidelines for masking may be updated before then.
Why The Change Was Made
"The new guidelines, which took effect Friday, reflect the [Biden] administration's view that the United States has entered a different, potentially less dangerous phase of the pandemic," the Washington Post reported. "CDC officials said the shift reflects the reality that after more than two years of living with the virus, most communities have greater protection against severe disease because of widespread immunity gained from both vaccinations and infections, as well as the increased availability of treatments, testing and higher-quality masks."
"Ready for Whatever Comes Next"
"None of us knows what the future may hold for us and for this virus," said CDC director Rochelle Walensky. "We need to be prepared and ready for whatever comes next. We want to give people a break from things like mask-wearing, when levels are low, and then have the ability to reach for them again, should things get worse in the future."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.
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