CDC Loosens Mask-wearing Guidance for Most of U.S. Population 

Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by G. T. HR

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Announces Updates to Mask-Wearing Recommendations

The CDC is loosening guidance for a majority of the U.S. population. The CDC provides COVID-19 Community Levels as a tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. These levels can be low, medium or high. The levels are determined by hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. These levels inform the agency’s guidance on mask-wearing, among other topics such as COVID-19 vaccines and testing. 

New Mask Guidance

The agency now only recommends that individuals in high-risk areas wear a mask in indoor settings. Currently, around 70% of the U.S. population is in a low- or medium-risk county. As such, the CDC would no longer recommend that these individuals wear a mask indoors. Notably, the CDC’s new mask-wearing guidelines apply to its guidance for K-12 schools. This means that it no longer recommends masks as a COVID-19 prevention step for schools in low- or medium-risk counties.

Previously, the agency had recommended universal indoor masking in educational settings. Individuals are always welcome to wear a mask at any time if they feel safer with it, according to the CDC. Additionally, people with symptoms, a positive test or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should continue to wear a mask.

What is Next For Employers?

The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and the CDC continues to monitor new strains. To learn more, the CDC provides a tool to find local COVID-19 Community Levels and the recommended prevention steps by county. The agency notes that as the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, this guidance could be subject to change.