On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eased mask recommendations for large swaths of the country. This could affect more than 70 percent of Americans as it factors in case numbers which are falling or have already fallen in most parts of the nation. The guidelines are based on hospital capacity as well as hospitalizations in different parts of the country and areas are marked as low, medium or high level.
The CDC urges people with Covid symptoms as well as those who have tested positive to continue to wear masks. It also recommends that people who have been exposed to those who have Covid should wear a mask. It also says that people who do not fall under the categories can also continue wearing masks if they wish to do so, if it makes them feel more comfortable.
Although there has been a broad relaxation in wearing masks at many indoor places, masks are still essential at public places involving transport. Wearing a mask in planes, trains, buses and other means of public transportation has been mandated through March 18. Federal officials have not as yet commented on whether the mask mandate would be extended.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that the new community guidelines were not intended for travel. She said that they would revisit the mask guidelines for public transportation “in the weeks ahead.”
Lisa Farbstein, who is the Transportation Security Administration spokesperson told the Washington Post that the TSA would “continue to assess the duration of the requirement in consultation with the CDC.”
In a statement, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA described an airplane as a “unique but controlled environment for everyone’s safety.” The statement said that masks were included in a “layered approach to safety and security.”
As of Friday, the following areas are “low level”
New York City
However, it must be noted that levels can change. Officials said that they wanted to give people a break from wearing masks as the virus had slowed down. However, recommendations could change if there are future surges or new variants of the coronavirus emerge.