As new tools to combat COVID have become accessible, several US states and localities have elected to shift their strategies. It has resulted in the CDC being pressured to end the COVID mask mandate next week as states start lifting the restrictions.
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For the millionth time since the commencement of the COVID pandemic, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is trailing behind.
Upwards of a dozen states, including California (the most populous), have already elected to abolish COVID-inspired masking restrictions throughout most public locations on their own, but the federal agency is only just now ready to acknowledge that they will have accomplished their function and are poised to be decommissioned.
The CDC is expected to eventually eliminate its federal mask rule – or “loosen” its limits on interior masking, as NBC News puts it – as soon as “next week,” according to NBC News. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, later verified this during a press conference.
According to NBC News, she said the following:
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Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, is expected to discuss masking guidance Wednesday at a White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing.
Nothing has been finalized yet, but the CDC is considering a new benchmark for whether masks are needed, basing it on the level of severe disease and hospitalizations in a given community, two people familiar with the situation said.
The White House has been eager for the CDC to provide an update on its indoor mask recommendation, although it wants the agency to get it right and it doesn’t want to appear as though it is putting political pressure on the agency, said the two people familiar with the plans, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
To be clear, no definitive judgments have yet been taken, as Walensky herself stated (possibly on the off possibility that instances go flying back next week, which, based on recent evidence, appears exceedingly improbable, but not inconceivable).
As the amount of new verified COVID cases continues to decline, even Dr. Anthony Fauci has stated that it may be time to remove the masking guideline.
States’ making changes to their mask rules is “entirely understandable,” Fauci said. “At the local level, there is a strong feeling of need to get back to normality.”
Senior administration officials have asked Walensky to provide an update on masks before President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1, one of the people said.
The agency currently recommends universal indoor masking in areas with substantial or high transmission, which is determined by the number of cases per 100,000 and the test positivity rate. The vast majority of counties in the U.S. fall under those criteria, according to CDC data.
During a news conference a few hours after the NBC News article surfaced, Dr. Walensky verified some of the specifics, suggesting the mask prescription might be updated as soon as late February or early March.
Cases and hospitalizations have dropped dramatically in recent weeks, but mortality in the United States have remained persistently high.
As new “tools” such as COVID therapeutics have become accessible, several states and localities have elected to “shift their strategies,” according to NBC News. It’s been dubbed a triumph of “the science.”