As the Omicron wave recedes in the United States, more states loosen mask policies and many Americans grow tired of restrictions, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that the agency was working on guidance that was “relevant” and would encourage measures where they are most needed to safeguard public health.
“Things are moving in the right direction, but we want to remain vigilant to do all we can, so that this trajectory continues,” the director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said at a pandemic news briefing. She stated that new guidelines would be issued by the agency soon, including for face coverings. These guidelines will be based on factors such as hospital capacity and not just new coronavirus case.
“We want to give people a break from things like mask wearing when these metrics are better and then have the ability to reach for them again,” she said. “Should things worsen, if and when we update our guidance, we will communicate that clearly and it will be based on the data and the science.”
According to federal data, there were still approximately 85,000 people infected with the virus nationwide as of Tuesday. This is a drop of more than 30% in the past two weeks. In intensive care units, the number of Covid patients is also decreasing.
“Our hospitals need to be able to take care of people with heart attacks and strokes,” Dr. Walensky said. “Our emergency departments can’t be so overwhelmed that patients with emergent issues have to wait in line.”
California, Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts have all announced that they are easing indoor mask requirements. This is regardless of whether the requirements apply to schools or general. However, Dr. Walensky reminded Americans to wear masks even if they have symptoms or feel unwell.
The speed of states’ actions has added pressure on the White House to announce a pandemic exit strategy sooner. Dr. Walensky indicated that the new guidelines could soon be published in conjunction with the lifting of mask mandates in several states.
“We’re encouraged by the dramatic declines we’re seeing in cases and hospitalizations nationwide,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert.
According to a New York Times database, new cases of coronavirus in the United States have fallen to their lowest levels since September. As of Tuesday, the average U.S. case count had dropped to 140,000 cases. The number of cases has fallen below the peak of the Delta-driven wave on Sept. 1, when they reached 164,418.
However, death rates remain high at around 2,300 per day. Despite recent state-wide moves, some cities or school districts are still adhering to their mandates.
Jen Psaki (White House Press Secretary) stressed the fact that there is no conflict between federal or local guidance in a separate news briefing.
“We will continue to look for and abide by C.D.C. guidance from the federal government,” she said. “That’s what we will follow, but different leaders will make decisions based on what they think is best for their communities.”
Source: NY Times