WEDNESDAY, Feb. 9, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Many states are already dispensing with mask mandates, but the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says COVID-19 case and hospitalization numbers in the United States remain too high to ease its mask guidelines.

The agency “still recommends that all schools encourage students to wear well-fitting masks consistently and while indoors. And that’s consistent with our guidance that still also recommends that people mask in public indoor settings in areas of high or substantial transmission,” Rochelle Walensky, M.D., said in a radio interview with WYPR‘s Tom Hall on Tuesday’s edition of the show “Midday,” CNN reported. “Right now, we still have about 290,000 cases every single day, and our hospitalization rates now are higher than they even were at the peak of our delta surge. So in this moment — while we are looking ahead and planning ahead, and we’ll continue to evaluate and follow the science — our recommendations are consistent with encouraging students to wear well-fitting masks.”

The CDC says that 99 percent of counties nationwide still have high levels of COVID-19 transmission, and about 108,000 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data, CNN reported.

While she is cautiously optimistic about COVID-19 case numbers dropping from the peak of the omicron surge, Walensky said the numbers are still too high for the CDC to consider lifting any prevention measures, CNN reported. There is no specific number of cases that would trigger a change in the agency’s guidance.

“I don’t necessarily look at a magic number. What I do think is a really important barometer is how our hospitals are doing,” Walensky said. “Are hospitals able to, you know, take care of the car accidents, the heart attacks and strokes that routinely walk in the door because they are not at capacity taking care of patients with COVID-19? And right now across the country, our hospitals are still in crunch mode. They still have real challenges with capacity.”

Walensky pointed out that states and municipalities can set their own policies, and a number of states announced this week that they would drop indoor mask mandates, CNN reported.

CNN Article

Copyright © 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.