HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — It may have been an announcement that we expected from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), but Friday’s announcement that most Americans can take their masks off indoors was still like music to America’s ears. The nation’s top doctors said that this updated guidance applies to low-risk areas.
The decision comes after several states across the country have already made the move to take away most COVID-19 restrictions. The CDC says vaccination rates are up and we’re out of the omicron surge. They want to help reduce traffic in hospitals.
Several people are excited, and some are nervous, but health experts say we’re heading in a better direction.
The CDC’s new recommendations applies to communities with low or medium-level community based on their new metric system.
“Today, more than half of counties representing about 70% of Americans are in areas with low or medium community COVID-19 levels. This is an increase from about 1/3 of counties at low or medium community levels from last week and we continue to see indicators improve in many communities,” said Dr. Greta Massetti, part of the CDC’s COVID-19 response management team.
Some residents in Maryland feel a little uneasy.
“It’s a little weird for me because we have been wearing them for the past few years. Personally, I am fully vaccinated so I’m not 100% bothered by it but I still feel a little weird about it,” said Katelyn Hevner.
Health experts in Virginia say the future of COVID-19 is unpredictable.
“I think the real question is going to be what happens with the next variant. What’s the effect of omicron BA2, and what’s the effects of other variants as this virus continues to spread around the world,” said Jeff Feit, Chief Population community health officer for Valley Health.
Several areas across Maryland — like Washington County — have already lifted their mask requirements after Governor Larry Hogan lifted the mask requirement in federal buildings.
“However, as a health department we do promote that masking is an effective way to prevent the spread of COVID, but it is up to those based on what they feel their risk level is,” said Danielle Stahl, Public Information Officer for Washington County Health Department.
Other areas in Maryland like Prince George’s County plan to make changes in their mask requirements.
“We are lifting the indoor mask mandate effective Monday, February 28th. I have waited a very long time to say that it is safe to do this,” said County Executive Angela Alsobrooks during a COVID-19 briefing on Friday.
Some residents said that they’re excited about the new CDC announcement but still plan to take precautions.
“I’m not as comfortable with people I don’t know but I try to keep myself distanced from other people still,” said Hevner.
The CDC will release a new tool on their website where you can find COVID-19 levels in your community to help you decide if you should wear a mask or not. They also say the new changes can also apply to schools.
The recommendations are flexible in case another surge takes place.