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CDC relaxes indoor mask guidance, including for schools

Hospitals will continue to have mask-wearing policies in place, and the 91Ƶ urges Americans to continue wearing masks indoors.

Susan Morse, Executive Editor

Photo: Halfpoint Images/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is relaxing indoor mask standards, including for schools,for the 70% of communities deemed to have medium or low COVID-19 levels.

Over half of counties in the country are deemed low to medium, based on COVID-19 numbers, hospitalizations and hospital capacity, according to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky. The CDC continues to recommend masking in communities that are at a high level.

Individuals can check their state and community with the CDC.

The data is informed by metrics from 6,000 hospitals nationwide that are required to report daily numbers, said Dr. Greta Massetti of the COVID-19 Response Incident Management Team.

If an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 or is symptomatic, the mask wearing guidance remains.

The update does not apply to current transportation guidelines.


Hospitals will continue to have mask wearing policies in place, the American Hospital Association said. The American Medical Association continues to urge all Americans to wear masks.

Nancy Foster, AHA's vice president for quality and patient safety policy, said, "Hospitals and health systems have a solemn duty to prioritize the health and well-being of their patients, many of whom are immunocompromised and/or severely sick and weakened and are at a high risk of a severe reaction should they get COVID-19.

"In order to protect their patients during this pandemic, hospitals and health systems have implemented various mitigation measures, including universal masking for visitors, staff and all the patients who can be. To protect patients, the CDC continues to recommend universal masking in healthcare settings and it is also why many hospitals and health systems will continue to have masking policies in place even while other settings in the community drop them."

The American Medical Association said the CDC's updated recommendations represent a new approach for monitoring COVID-19 in communities.

91Ƶ President Dr. Gerald E. Harmon said hepersonally would continue to wear a mask indoors, and he urgesall Americans to continue to do the same.

"But even as some jurisdictions lift masking requirements, we must grapple with the fact that millions of people in the U.S. are immunocompromised, more susceptible to severe COVID outcomes, or still too young to be eligible for the vaccine," Harmon said. "While the Omicron surge has declined, COVID-19 is not gone."


As the pandemic continues into its third year, cases ease, and 65% of Americans are reported fully vaccinated, patience over mask wearing is growing thin.

Some states have already lifted mask mandates, and many school districts have been under pressure to do the same.

Guidance for universal mask wearing in schools has been in place since July 2021, according to the CDC.

Every state, with the exception of Hawaii, is planning to eliminate mask mandates as the Omicron surge recedes, according to

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: SMorse@himss.org