CDC revises recommendations on masks and other preventive measures

Feb. 28, 2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revised its recommendations on when people should follow preventive behaviors, such as wearing masks indoors. The agency now says that the decision should be based on both the rate of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in a community and the impact of COVID-19 cases on the healthcare system.

“COVID-19 community levels can help communities and individuals make decisions based on their local context and their unique needs. Community vaccination coverage and other local information, like early alerts from surveillance, such as through wastewater or the number of emergency department visits for COVID-19, when available, can also inform decision making for health officials and individuals,” the CDC said.

To that end, the CDC also created an online interactive map in which it ranks the impact of SARS-CoV-2 at the county level by high, medium, or low.

To determine those levels the CDC said it looks at three measures: “new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population in the past 7 days, the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days.”

In addition to wearing masks, the other preventive measures the CDC said communities should consider are vaccination, screening testing, and good ventilation.

Recommendations by level include the following:

  • High: Individuals should wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public even if they are vaccinated, consider avoiding non-essential public indoor activities, and plan for access to testing (such as buying home tests) in addition to the measures for medium and low levels.
  • Medium: Individuals should consider following preventive measures—such as screening testing and wearing masks—when in contact with people who are immunocompromised in addition to the measures for low levels.
  • Low: Individuals should stay up to date with vaccines, maintain improved indoor ventilation, and follow CDC recommendations for isolation if exposed to someone with COVID-19 and quarantine if they have a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Visit the CDC for more news