CDC Updates Public/General Mask Guidelines

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

CDC updated mask guidelines on Friday, February 25, 2022. In short, here’s what that looks like:

COVID-19 Community Levels are a new tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. Take precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 based on the COVID-19 Community Level in your area.”

NPR (National Public Radio) reports:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday it is relaxing its mask guidance for communities where hospitals aren’t under high strain. Under the new guidance, nearly 70% of the U.S. population lives in an area considered to be low or medium risk, and residents there are advised they can go indoors without masks.

The CDC recommends continued mask use in communities where serious cases of COVID-19 are straining the health system.

“We want to give people a break from things like mask-wearing,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky at a news briefing Friday. But, she added, new risk guidelines that the agency is implementing will help people know when to reach for masks again if conditions warrant it.

Health officials emphasized that people should still wear face coverings if they wish or if they are personally at high risk. And regardless of local conditions, they should mask if they have COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

As part of the change, the CDC is dropping its recommendation for universal school masking and instead will recommend masking only in communities at a high level of risk.

The agency’s new guidelines for assessing community risk, released Friday, weigh hospitalizations for COVID-19 and the proportion of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in local hospitals more heavily than rates of new infections alone.”

I’m not convinced this makes the individual decision to mask or not mask easier!  I couldn’t find an app that I could reference when moving from one county to another.  I and my family will continue to mask indoors and outdoors when there is a group of people present and not physical distancing – that’s just my preference and my MO for the time being.

Using the hyperlink in the above paragraph (also in the first paragraph of this blog), I searched my county and found this:

If I decide to drive 2 hours south to go shopping, here’s what I find:

Requirement for Face Masks on Public Transportation Conveyances and at Transportation Hubs was also updated on February 25, 2022.

There’s a Q&A section on this last website as well that may help sort this out for you.