It’s a “major departure” from the CDC’s previous recommendation of universal masking to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, The Hill says.
“Updates were made to reflect the high levels of vaccine-and infection-induced immunity and the availability of effective treatments and prevention tools,” the CDC’s new guidance says.
The agency now says that facilities in areas without high transmission can decide for themselves whether to require everyone – doctors, patients, and visitors – to wear masks.
Community transmission “is the metric currently recommended to guide select practices in healthcare settings to allow for earlier intervention, before there is strain on the health care system and to better protect the individuals seeking care in these settings,” the CDC said.
About 73% of the country is having “high” rates of transmission, The Hill said.
“Community transmission” is different from the “community level” metric that’s used for non–health care settings.
Community transmission refers to measures of the presence and spread of SARS-CoV-2, the CDC said. “Community levels place an emphasis on measures of the impact of COVID-19 in terms of hospitalizations and health care system strain, while accounting for transmission in the community.”
Just 7% of counties are considered high risk, while nearly 62 percent are low.
The new guidance applies wherever health care is delivered, including nursing homes and home health, the CDC said.
A version of this article first appeared on WebMD.com.