(WXYZ) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held a conference call Friday afternoon announcing eased mask guidelines for the country.
CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky and COVID-19 Response Incident Management Team member Greta Massetti hosted the call.
Walensky mentioned that as we enter the next phase of the pandemic, many factors have gone into the decision of relaxing the mask guidelines. She recommended continuing to wear a mask if you have COVID-19 symptoms, have COVID-19, or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19.
"We want to give people a break of mask wearing when levels are low," said Walensky.
Both Walensky and Massetti addressed that the latest metrics have helped predict the newest framework of the CDC guidelines for the future. Massetti states that 6,000 hospitals are required to report their COVID-19 data.
"If and when new variants emerge, we will have more control to protect ourselves and the community," Massetti said during the conference call.
Walensky said the CDC will only recommend universal masking at high community levels. Below is a map from the CDC that shows which counties have low, medium, and high levels.
When looking at the state of Michigan, the CDC's map shows that most counties in Michigan are categorized as being at the medium COVID-19 community level.
Here are the masking guidelines the CDC has released for a medium level area:
- If you are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness
- Talk to your healthcare provider about additional precautions, such as wearing masks or respirators indoors in public
- If you live with or have social contact with someone at high risk for severe illness, consider testing yourself for infection before you get together and wearing a mask when indoors with them.
Matthew Sims, the director of Infectious Disease Research for Beaumont Health, says right now only about 100 patients across the health system have COVID, but he still feels like taking off the masks are a bit too soon too.
"The problem is taking off now when there is still a fair amount of COVID in circulation is just going to lead to more surges and outbreaks,” said Dr. Sims.
Right now, Dr. Sims says the country is in a vicious cycle: as the numbers go down, we take off the masks, the numbers go up, and we put them back on. But he says that’s not an effective form of prevention.
“I want to see that pattern break, right? I want to say, 'look, last year at this time we surged, now we're not,'” he said.
The CDC plans to keep their level map updated weekly. To check out a specific county's risk, according to the CDC, head over to CDC.gov/Coronavirus
Additional Coronavirus information and resources:
View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.
See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.