Monday, February 26, 2024

The United States significantly relaxes its recommendations on mask-wearing

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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Washington | US health authorities largely relaxed their recommendations Friday on wearing a mask, which would not be recommended indoors for the majority of the country’s population, including in many schools.

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These measures were widely expected, with health officials signaling for weeks a new phase of the pandemic, which would make it possible to “live with” the virus without unnecessarily affecting daily life.

“We are now in a much better position as a nation, and we have more tools to protect us from COVID-19,” Rochelle Wallinsky, director of the Centers for Prevention and Prevention, said at a news conference. The country’s leading health agencies.

The CDC previously used only the number of new cases recorded in each county to determine COVID-19 levels by region. According to this previous measurement, 95% of the country recorded a high level of transmission of the virus, as the recommendation to wear an indoor mask for everyone was implemented.

But the CDC has now decided to include hospital occupancy rates in its scale, as well as the number of new daily hospitalizations.

As a result, more than 60% of counties, which account for 70% of the US population, now score a level that qualifies as “low” or “medium” and so can drop the mask.

Only counties with a “high” level of COVID-19 are still subject to the recommendation to wear a mask indoors.

Masks in transport

Hot spot: In schools, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has so far recommended masks everywhere in the country, regardless of transmission levels. From now on, the mask will only be recommended in schools in counties with the COVID-19 level qualifying as “high” under this new measure.

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However, these new recommendations do not apply to public transport, which is subject to its own directives, Ms Walensky said. She said these are due to expire in March and will be reviewed at that time.

The CDC’s recommendations remain indicative, with effective restrictions imposed locally in the United States. In practice, many countries have already announced that they will drop the mask indoors.

This change comes with the exit of the United States from its fifth pandemic wave associated with the Omicron variant. The country is currently recording about 75,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day, up from a record 800,000 cases in mid-January.

In May 2021, the CDC already announced that vaccinated Americans can remove their masks indoors. But later they had to go back in the face of the arrival of a delta variable.

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