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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday that the agency would “soon put guidance in place” on wearing a mask.
Speaking at the White House COVID-19 response team briefing, Walensky said that future metrics would have to consider hospital capacity as an additional important barometer and issues related to cases and severity of disease.
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State-based policies, she noted, have come out in “phased approaches,” and if the CDC updates guidance Walensky said it would “communicate that clearly” and it will be based on data and science.
She told reporters that while she knows people want to move beyond the pandemic, there are times when it is important to continue to wear a mask.
Those who are exposed to people with COVID-19 should wear a mask, as well as people who are symptomatic or feeling unwell and people in the 10 days after a diagnosis.
The agency wants Americans to have the flexibility to wear one if they choose to.
“We are assessing the most important factors based on where we are in the pandemic, and we’ll soon put guidance in place that is relevant and encourages prevention measures when they are most needed to protect public health and our hospitals. We want to give people a break from things like mask wearing when these metrics are better and then have the ability to reach for them again should things worsen,” she said.
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Walensky said that the goal is to reach a point where COVID-19 is no longer disrupting daily life – and when it can be something preventable and treatable.
“Moving from this pandemic will be a process led by science and epidemiologic trends and one that relies on the powerful tools we already have, including vaccines, booster’s testing and treatment,” Walensky added.
White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients echoed her remarks, saying that “everything is driven by science and public health.”
He said he believes there will be more to say on masking “across the coming weeks.”
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According to NBC News, the CDC is expected to loosen indoor masking guidelines to states soon.
Over the past few weeks, state, local and school leaders across the country have eased or lifted restrictions, citing falling COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
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