More than 90% of US population can ditch facemasks under CDC Covid guidance

US President Joe Biden holds up a KN95 mask as he delivers an update on his Administrations whole-of-government COVID-19 surge response at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 13, 2022.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

More than 90% of the US population lives in an area where they no longer need to wear facemasks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

The CDC issued new guidance last week that focuses on severe disease from Covid and hospitalizations when making recommendations on whether or not facemasks are needed.

The guidance is broken into three color-coded levels. People in green and yellow counties, with low and medium Covid levels, respectively, do not need to wear masks. However, people in yellow counties who are at high risk of severe illness from Covid should consult with their physician about whether they should wear a mask or take other precautions.

Everyone is still required by federal law to wear facemasks on planes, trains and other forms of public transportation. The facemask requirement for planes expires March 18. CDC officials have said they are reviewing whether or not the requirement is still necessary.

People in red counties with high Covid levels are recommended to wear masks indoors in public places regardless of vaccination status. Less than 10% of the US population now lives in such counties, according to the CDC. You can check the status of your county by visiting the CDC’s website.

The Covid omicron variant upgraded the US in December and January, causing an early level of infection. However, new infections have plummeted and are now down more than 90% from a pandemic record in January. The US reported an average of nearly 58,000 new infections on Wednesday, compared with the peak of more than 802,000 on Jan. 15, according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

Hospitalizations are down 77% from the peak level during the omicron wave. More than nearly 35,000 people were hospitalized with Covid on Thursday, down from nearly 153,000 on Jan. 20, according to data from the Health and Human Services Department.

President Joe Biden, in his State of the Union address Tuesday, said it was safe for most Americans to return to work in person.

“With 75% of adult Americans fully vaccinated and hospitalizations down by 77%, most Americans can remove their masks, return to work, stay in the classroom, and move forward safely,” the president said.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo