The CDC is releasing new guidelines that allow places to facilitate masking and social distancing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday offered a new strategy to help communities across the country live with the coronavirus and return to a version of normal life.

The new guidelines suggest that 70 percent of Americans can now stop wearing masks and no longer have to practice social distancing or avoid crowded indoor spaces.

The recommendations no longer rely solely on the number of cases in a community to determine the need for restrictions such as wearing masks. Instead, they are instructing provinces to consider three measures to assess the risk of the virus: new Covid-related hospital admissions in the past week and the percentage of hospital beds occupied by Covid patients, as well as new cases of coronavirus per 100,000 people in the United States. last week .

Based on these three factors, counties can calculate whether the risk to their residents is low, medium or high, and only in high-risk areas should everyone wear a mask. But unvaccinated people should wear masks, even in low-risk areas, the agency said.

Universal masking in schools has been approved by the agency since July, regardless of virus levels in the community, but the new guidelines recommend masking in schools only in high-risk counties.

The new guidelines are being released as the coronavirus recedes across the country. The number of cases has fallen to levels not seen before the wave of the Omicron variant, and the number of hospitalizations has fallen sharply. Across the country, about 58,000 people have been hospitalized with Covid, but that number has fallen by about 44 percent in the past two weeks.

Several experts said the new guidelines were appropriate for the current situation in the country. While cases across the country are still high, “we’re way past the wave,” said Linsey Marr, an aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech. “We don’t have to operate in emergency mode anymore.”

But in many places, pandemic restrictions have already been lifted. Most states have relaxed mask-wearing rules, and some, like New Jersey, have announced plans to lift mandates even in schools. Others are about to end indoor mask mandates in the coming weeks. An official recommendation from the CDC may have some impact in districts that have been more cautious.

According to the CDC’s prior criteria, 95 percent of counties in the United States were considered high risk. Under the new criteria, fewer than 30 percent of Americans live in high-risk areas, the agency said.

The new set of guidelines gives people a framework for adjusting precautions as virus levels change, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the CDC, told reporters Friday.

“We want to give people a break from things like masking when our levels are low, and then have the option to reach out to them again if things get worse in the future,” she said. “We need to be prepared and ready for what’s to come.”

This post The CDC is releasing new guidelines that allow places to facilitate masking and social distancing.

was original published at “https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/26/health/the-cdc-releases-new-guidance-that-will-allow-localities-to-ease-masking-and-social-distancing.html”