Mar 1, 2022 - COVID

Columbus' mask mandate could be coming to an end

CDC masking recommendations, by county
Reproduced from CDC and AP; Map: Axios Visuals

The March 2020 decision to prohibit spectators at the Arnold Sports Festival was a harbinger of how significantly the novel coronavirus would impact life in Ohio.

  • Two years later, Thursday's opening of the Arnold may be the area's last major event affected by local health restrictions.

Driving the news: Columbus Public Health has recommended the indoor mask mandates in Columbus and Worthington come to an end next week, citing new guidance from the CDC.

  • The respective city councils are expected to rescind the mandates on Monday.

Why it matters: Reduced spread and growing COVID-19 fatigue is spelling the halt of public health restrictions designed to mitigate the deadly virus.

The big picture: The CDC recommends mask requirements continue only in communities experiencing "high" rates of transmission. CDC now lists Franklin County as having a "medium" threat level.

  • As of this morning, Franklin County had a seven-day average of 67 new cases per 100,000 people, a considerably lower figure than earlier spikes of the Delta and Omicron variants.

Yes, but: Like staying belted even when an airplane's seatbelt sign is off, health experts urge masking in public even within low-spread regions to help protect vulnerable populations.

  • Governments, schools, businesses and nonprofits can still enforce their own COVID safety policies, such as the vaccine mandates to attend shows in certain Columbus venues.
  • For example, Columbus City Schools will continue to mandate masks for students and staff in buildings, a spokesperson tells Axios, while most suburban districts have dropped such requirements in recent weeks.

Between the lines: Until Friday, the CDC required masks in school buses along with other forms of public transportation.

What they're saying: "The pandemic is not over, but the situation has changed and we are in a new phase," Columbus Health Commissioner Mysheika Roberts says in a statement.

  • "It is time to turn our efforts to minimizing the impact COVID-19 has on our health, our healthcare systems and our community, while focusing our efforts on protecting those who are most at risk of severe illness."

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