The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced it is easing its indoor mask guidance for the public and in schools.
The new metrics used to determine whether a mask should be used indoors will now take into account hospitalizations, local hospitalization capacity and new COVID-19 cases.
Those metrics will be used to create three levels of risk:
- Low: Indoor masks are not needed
- Medium: People who are at high risk of severe COVID should consult with their doctor about prevention measures including masks
- High: Indoor mask use is recommended
The CDC now only recommends universal masking in schools for areas in the "high" category.
Under the new guidance, 33% of U.S. counties remain in the "high" risk level, the CDC stated.
The CDC says it is adding a tool on its website for people to find out their COVID-19 community risk level.
The new guidance comes as almost every state in the country has either dropped its mask mandate or announced plans to lift the mandate soon.
Hawaii is the only state in the country to make no such announcement.
The U.S. has seen a dramatic drop in COVID-19 cases since the omicron variant peaked in January.
The CDC says there's been a 43% drop in cases in the seven-day average when compared to the prior week.