As several states move to end mask mandates in public spaces and some in schools, CDC Chief Rachelle Walensky says it is too soon in the fight against COVID-19 to take mask mandates away.
In an interview with Reuters, Walensky said the waning of the omicron surge does not necessarily signal it is time to remove all COVID precautions.
“I know people are interested in taking masks off. I too am interested. That would be one marker that we have much of the pandemic behind us,” Walenksy said. “Right now our CDC guidance has not changed … We continue to endorse universal masking in schools.”
As states like Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut and Oregon unmask students in public schools, Walensky warns that the CDC guidance has not changed when it comes to recommending masks indoors. “We have and continue to recommend masking in areas of high and substantial transmission – that is essentially everywhere in the country in public indoor settings.”
Walensky says she is “cautiously optimistic” that the pandemic might soon enter a less severe endemic phase, but “now is not the moment” to drop mask mandates, as the United States is still reporting almost 300,000 COVID cases a day and hospitals continue to operate under strain.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK TIMES