Face mask
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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday said some 93% of the US population live in locations where COVID-19 levels are low enough that people do not need to wear masks indoors, Reuters reports.

Last Friday, the CDC dramatically eased its COVID-19 guidelines for when Americans should wear masks indoors, saying they could drop them in counties experiencing what it described as low or medium COVID-19 levels.

The latest figures are an increase from just a week ago, a further indication that COVID hospitalizations - a key benchmark for the new masking recommendations - continue to fall.

When it announced the revised guidelines, the CDC said about 70% of US counties and 72% of the US population were in communities where indoor face coverings are no longer recommended.

The CDC said on Thursday that 85.4% of counties now rank as low or medium risk and 92.9% of the population lives in those counties.

Still to be determined is whether the Biden administration will extend mask requirements for transit hubs and on airplanes, trains and buses. The current transit mask order expires on March 18 but could be extended.

A growing number of federal agencies have told government employees this week they can stop wearing masks indoors in federal buildings in the Washington, D.C. area and other low or medium COVID areas, including the State Department, Pentagon, Transportation Department, Federal Aviation Administration and Justice Department.

The US House of Representatives lifted its mask mandate at the start of the week, ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.