Feb 9, 2022 - Health

CDC recommends indoor mask use even as states lift COVID restrictions

Picture of Rochelle Walensky

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday that the CDC will continue to recommend that people wear masks indoors in areas where there's high risk of transmission.

The big picture: Despite CDC data showing that community transmission in the U.S. remains high, many states are moving to ease or lift coronavirus restrictions, including getting rid of mask mandates in schools.

State of play: Currently, CDC guidance states that people should wear masks indoors when in areas of high and substantial transmission "to maximize protection and prevent possibly spreading COVID-19 to others."

  • Specifically for schools, the CDC recommends universal indoor masking by all students, staff, teachers and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.

What she's saying: "At this time, we continue to recommend masking in areas of high and substantial transmission, and that's much of the country right now," Walensky said during a press briefing.

  • Walensky did acknowledge that states have been dropping mask mandates, saying, "we've always said that these decisions are going to have to be made at the local level, and that policies at the local level will look at local cases, they'll look at how local hospitals are doing, they'll look at local vaccination rates."
  • "As I understand it, in many of these decisions are using a phased approach, not all of these decisions are being made to start things tomorrow, but they're looking at a phased approach.
  • "The cases are continuing to drop dramatically, hospitalizations are continuing to drop dramatically as people are making these decisions and as we are working on our guidance, so I'm encouraged to see those trends."

By the numbers: Walensky said Wednesday that the current 7-day average of cases is around 247,320 cases per day, "a decrease of about 44% over the previous week."

  • Yes, but: The 7-day average of daily deaths is at about 2,400 a day, an increase of approximately 3% over the previous week, Walensky added.
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