The American health authorities largely relaxed their recommendations on Friday on wearing a mask, which will no longer be recommended indoors for the majority of the country’s inhabitants, including in many schools.
These measures were widely expected, with health officials pointing for weeks to a new phase of the pandemic, which will allow ” to live with “ the virus without unduly affecting daily life.
“We are now in a much better place as a nation, with more tools to protect ourselves from Covid-19,” said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the country’s leading health agencies, at a press conference.
The CDC has so far only used the number of new cases recorded in each county to determine levels of Covid-19 by locality. According to this previous measurement, 95% of the country recorded a high level of transmission of the virus, where the recommendation to wear a mask indoors for all therefore applied.
But the CDC has now decided to include hospital occupancy rates in its measure, as well as the number of new daily hospitalizations.
As a result, more than 60% of counties, representing 70% of the U.S. population, now record a qualified level of ” low » or « Medium », and can therefore drop the mask. Only counties with a ” high » levels of Covid-19 are still subject to the recommendation to wear a mask indoors.
Masks in transport
Important point: In schools, the 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 a level of Covid-19 qualified as “ high according to this new measure.
However, these new recommendations do not apply to public transport, which is subject to its own directives, said Ms. Walensky. These are due to expire in March and will be reviewed at that time, she said.
CDC recommendations remain indicative, with actual restrictions being taken at the local level in the United States. In practice, many states have already announced that they will drop the mask indoors.
This change comes as the United States emerges from its fifth epidemic wave, linked to the Omicron variant. The country is currently registering around 75,000 new cases of Covid-19 per day, against a record of 800,000 in mid-January.
In May 2021, the CDC had already announced that vaccinated Americans could remove their masks indoors. But they had subsequently had to go back in the face of the arrival of the Delta variant.