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Last week the C.D.C. changed its guidelines (AGAIN) about masks. 

Apparently, the agency wants communities to get back to “normal life.”

The new guidelines suggest that 70% of Americans can now stop wearing masks and no longer need to social distance or avoid crowded indoor spaces.

Instead of relying solely on the number of cases in a community to determine the need for restrictions such as mask-wearing, they now recommend that counties consider three factors to assess the risk of the virus: 

  1. New Covid-related hospital admissions over the previous week.
  2. The percentage of hospital beds occupied by Covid patients. 
  3. New coronavirus cases per 100,000 people over the previous week.

Based on those factors, counties can calculate whether the risk is low, medium, or high. Only areas of high risk would require everyone to wear a mask.

Since July of 2021, the agency endorsed universal masking in schools regardless of virus and risk levels. However, the new guidelines recommend wearing masks only in schools in counties at high risk.

The new guidelines are were released as the coronavirus case numbers have dropped to levels not seen before the surge of the Omicron variant. In addition, the number of hospitalizations has also been on the decline. 

Most states are reducing rules for mask-wearing. Others such as New Jersey, California, Oregon, and Washington have announced that they will lift mandates in schools next week. 

Under the C.D.C.’s previous criteria, 95 percent of the counties in the US were considered high risk. But with these new criteria, less than 30 percent of Americans are in areas with a high level of risk.

The White House has been working on a pandemic exit strategy to help Americans live with the virus. But, just two weeks ago, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C.’s director, said that it was “not yet time” to lift mask mandates.

So what changed? Your guess is as good as ours.

In totally unrelated and completely coincidental news, the midterm campaigns will be beginning any minute now!

If you want to read more, you can check out the official press briefing transcript.