New US COVID guidelines allow most Americans to go mask-free indoors

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday dramatically eased its COVID-19 guidelines for when Americans should wear masks indoors, a move that means 72% of the US population will reside in communities where indoor face coverings are no longer recommended.

The new masking guidelines shift from a focus on the rate of COVID-19 transmission to local hospitalizations, hospital capacity and infection rates.

Under the prior guidelines, 95% of US counties were considered to be experiencing high transmission, leaving just 5% of US counties under the agency's recommendation for abandoning indoor mask requirements.

The moves come as the wave of coronavirus infections caused by the easily spread Omicron variant subsides substantially in the United States and states such as New Jersey have announced plans to lift indoor mask mandates for schools and other public places in the coming days.

With the pandemic now two-years old, many Americans have tired of wearing masks. In addition, studies have shown that for vaccinated people, infections from the Omicron variant were less severe and less likely to cause hospitalization and death than previous versions of the coronavirus.

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