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New Relaxed CDC COVID Guidelines Questions and Answers

This is an unedited transcript of the just concluded press conference on the new released guidelines by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention on COVID-19.

Speaker 3 [00:00:59] This is beyond just cases in the community and directing our efforts toward protecting people at high risk for severe illness and preventing COVID-19 from overwhelming our hospitals and our health care system.

This new framework moves beyond just looking at cases and test positivity to evaluate factors that reflect the severity of disease, including hospitalizations and hospital capacity, and helping to determine whether the level of COVID-19 and severe disease are low, medium or high in a community. The COVID-19 community level we are releasing today will inform CDC recommendations on prevention measures like masking, and CDC’s recommendations for layered prevention measures will depend on the COVID-19 level in the community.

This updated approach focuses on directing our prevention efforts towards protecting people at high risk for severe illness and preventing hospitals and health care systems from being overwhelmed. To find your community level, we are updating the CDC’s website to reflect this framework so people will be able to go to www.cdc.gov or call 1-800-CDC info to find your community level and what prevention strategies are recommended, including where or when, tomorrow.

Please remember that there are people who remain at higher risk for COVID-19 and who may need additional protection – those who are immunocompromised or have underlying health conditions, those who have disabilities, or those who live with people who are at risk. Those people might choose to take extra precautions regardless of what level their community is in. So with that, I’m going to turn things over now to Dr. Graham, a city who will walk us through this framework and the science behind it. Thank you.

Speaker 4 [00:02:45] Thank you, Dr. Walensky. The updated metrics in this framework provide a current picture of COVID-19 disease in a community. They also include strong predictors of the potential for strain on the health care system.

A community’s COVID-19 level is determined by a combination of three pieces of information – new hospitalizations for COVID-19, current hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients or hospital capacity, and new COVID-19 cases. These metrics will tell us if the level is low, medium, or high. Let me walk you through what we are recommending at each level, regardless of level.

We continue to recommend that people stay up to date on vaccines and get tested if they’re sick at a low level.

There is limited impact on the health care system and low amounts of severe disease in the community. People should stay up to date with their vaccines and get tested if they’re sick at the medium level. More people are experiencing severe disease in the community, and they’re starting to see more impact on the healthare system at this level.

CDC recommends that people who are high risk, such as someone who is immunocompromised, should talk to their health care provider about taking additional precautions and may choose to wear a mask.

 As communities enter into the high level, there is a high amount of people experiencing severe disease and a high potential for health care system strain. At a high level, CDC recommends that everyone wear a mask indoors, in public, including in schools. Communities can use these metrics along with their own local metrics, such as wastewater surveillance, emergency department visits, and workforce capacity to update and further inform their local policies and ensure equity in prevention efforts.

And these categories help individuals assess what impacts COVID-19 is having on their community so that they can decide if they need to take extra precautions, including masking based on their location, their health status, and their risk tolerance. We should all keep in mind that some people may choose to wear a mask at any time based on personal preference.

And importantly, people who wear high-quality masks are well protected, even if others around you are not masking.

And there are some situations where people should always wear a mask, for example, if they have symptoms, if they tested positive for COVID-19 or if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Today, we’re also updating our recommendations for schools. Since July 2020, one CDC recommended universal masking in schools no matter what level of impact COVID-19 was having on the community.

With this update, CDC will now only recommend Universal School masking in communities at the high level. Importantly, COVID-19 community levels and public health prevention strategies can be dialed up when our communities are experiencing more severe disease and double down when things are more stable.

So what do these updated metrics mean for where we are as a country?

As of today, more than half of counties representing about 70 percent of Americans are in areas with low or medium COVID-19 community levels. This is an increase from about one-third of counties at low or medium community levels last week, and we continue to see indicators improve in many communities.

Thank you, and I will now hand it back to Dr. Walensky.

Speaker 3 [00:06:06] Thank you, Dr. Mazzetti. Before we take your questions, I would like to leave you with a few final thoughts. None of us know what the future may hold for us and for this virus, and we need to be prepared and we need to be ready for whatever comes next.

We want to give people a break from things like mask-wearing when our levels are low and then have the ability to reach for them again should things get worse in the future. We, as the CDC, will continue to follow the science and epidemiology to make public health recommendations and guidance based on the data.

Our new framework was rigorously evaluated, both with current data and retrospectively during the Alpha Delta and Omicron waves, and these new metrics have demonstrated predictive capacity for weeks into the future.

We will continue to evaluate how well they perform in our communities.

This new framework will provide the best way for us to judge what level of preventive measures may be needed in our communities if or when new variants emerge or the virus surges. We have more ways to control the virus and protect ourselves and our communities than ever before. Thank you. I’ll now turn it back over to you, Benjamin.

Speaker 5 [00:07:17] Thank you, Dr. Walensky, and thank you, Dr. Machete. Ted, we are ready to take questions.

Speaker 1 [00:07:22] The phone lines are now open for questions

The first question, the comes from Dr. John of the PUK with CBS News – your line is now open. Hi, thank you.

Thanks for this update.

We’ve heard that, you know, the best mask is the one people will wear, but let’s assume somebody is incentivized to wear the best mask they can and that they’re going to try to get it well fitted. Can you be more granular about which mask provides? The best protection is an N95, K95, cap 90, or surgical cloth? What should people who want to protect themselves the most, which mask should they be using? Thanks.

Speaker 3 [00:08:15]

Maybe I’ll start with that. Thank you, doctor.

Of course, we’ve said in our prior masking guidance that FLTR and filtration SKI, in those cases, the N95 is certainly upper.

Speaker 4 [00:08:40]

It sounds like we might have lost Dr. Walensky.

I think what she was noting was that we often have emphasized that fit and filtration are really critical, and there are a variety of ways to achieve that. One way is to use a respirator like an N95 or KN95.

They provide good fit infiltration for people, and they provide high protection to the where there are other options as well, including using a surgical mask or a surgical mask layered with a cloth mask.

And also, we have on our website resources to show people how to knot and tuck the ear loops on masks to improve filter fit and filtration as well.

Speaker 1 [00:09:21] Right. Of course. We all see people wearing just sort of plain cloth, and maybe it’s underneath the nose.

But I was just wondering if you wanted to emphasize what’s the best-case scenario for people since you since it just says wear a mask?

Speaker 4 [00:09:37] So CDC recommends that people should wear the mask that has the best-fit, protection, and filtration for them and that they will wear consistently.

Speaker 1 [00:09:48] Thanks. Next question, please. The next question is from Ron Lin with the Los Angeles Times. Your line is now open. Hey, I was wondering, can you go into how you came up with the details of the metrics for those three levels and what the science is based on them in terms of numbers?

And where would a place like L.A. County, which is tied its local mask mandate to these old mask recommendations?

Where would they lie? Would they?

Were they no longer be required to, no longer be recommended to wear masks? Thanks.

Speaker 3 [00:10:20] I’m back, so maybe I’ll get started and pass it over to you, Dr. Mazzetti. Thanks for filling in there.

So one of the things that were really important is we have more and more people and more and more immunity in the population. We wanted to make sure that we were focusing on the severe disease because we do want to prevent severe disease.

We want to prevent hospitalizations, we want to prevent our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.

So our metrics were really with that in mind – what are severe? How much of your disease is happening?

And then to use those metrics to understand, can we find levels where we can predict outcomes in the future, where we might be able to act on them now to avert those outcomes in the future? Bad outcomes like ICU stays, high levels of death.

So maybe I’ll pass it over now back to Dr. Mazzetti to give you more granular detail.

Speaker 4 [00:11:09] Great, thanks so much, Dr. Wilensky. So, as Dr. Walensky noted, we were really focused on measures of health care strain and severe disease, and so we conducted an extensive review of all data systems that are reported to CDC and often available on our website on COVID data tracker.

We reviewed all data sources and really assessed them against several criteria, including do they measure severe disease or health care strain?

How well do they provide data that is available at the local level where it can really inform local decisions?

And do we have national coverage for all counties in the United States?

And are they reported frequently enough to be able to inform timely decisions?

And based on that thorough review, we refined the list and came up with these indicators, including new hospital admissions and hospital beds utilized, and complemented them with the case incidence to really create a package of metrics to be able to understand what’s happening at the local level.

Speaker 1 [00:12:16] Next question, please.

The next question is from Drew Armstrong with Bloomberg News.

Your line is open.

Hi, Drew Armstrong from Bloomberg News. I’m wondering thinking ahead, are there other COVID metrics or measures that CDC has been using or collecting that should be overhauled or refined as we move into whatever this next phase of the pandemic is? And if so, what are some potential examples of that?

Speaker 3 [00:12:46] So we certainly look at comprehensive data and we get a whole stream of data, some that are different by jurisdiction.

So for example, we just last week posted our wastewater dat, and we anticipate that our wastewater data, while we have 400 sites posted in that, represents about 53 million Americans.

That is still local, and we really are working to expand that. So we have to double that over the next month or so. Syndromic surveillance would be another way that we could expand some of these metrics again, as Dr. Mazzetti said.

He said it’s really important that we come up with national metrics that we have coverage from every county. Not every county is reporting syndromic surveillance, although we’re working hard to scale that up as well.

But we have our eye on many different metrics, which is why we hope that these metrics that we’re releasing today will be very helpful for policymakers. But we also hope that local jurisdictions will take into account all the information that are available to them.

Speaker 1 [00:13:48] Next question, please.

The next question is from Helen Branswell with STAT – your line is now open.

Speaker 3 [00:13:55] Hi, thank you very much for taking my question.

I know, I think, this is going to be an irritating question.

But when you talk about, you know, the metrics, about, you know, the percentage of people in hospital beds who are there because of COVID – is that for COVID or which COVID?

I mean, will the with-COVID people also be part of those calculations?

Helen, that’s a great question, we have spent a lot of time thinking about this.

And let me tell you sort of where we landed and why.

First is, we are considering anybody in a hospital bed with COVID, regardless of the reason for admission, and that the reason that we landed there is multifold first.

Many jurisdictions can’t differentiate, so that was important for us to recognize and realize. Second, whether or not a patient is admitted with COVID or for COVID, they increase the hospital capacity and they’re resource-intensive.

They require an isolation bed, they require PPE.

They probably require a higher staff ratio. And so they are more resource-intensive, and they do take a COVID bed potentially from someone else. Interestingly as well, as we have less and less COVID in certain communities, the number of people who are coming into the hospital with COVID will necessarily decrease.

We will not have as many people walking around asymptomatically because there will just be less disease out there. So increasingly, as we have less disease in the community, we anticipate that more of the people who are coming into the hospital are going to be coming in because of COVID.

And then finally, as we have even less disease in the community, we anticipate that not every hospital is going to screen every patient for COVID as they walk in the door, especially if we have less and less disease in the community. And when that happens, we won’t actually be able to differentiate.

In fact, people who are coming in who are tested, will necessarily be coming in with COVID.

So for all of those reasons comprehensively, we decided to stay with anybody coming in with a COVID diagnosis. Thank you.

Speaker 1 [00:16:04] Next question is from Cheyenne Haslett with ABC News. Your line is now open.

Speaker 3 [00:16:11] Hi, thank you for taking my question. Dr., can you explain the decision to include schools in the loosening of the mask recommendations?

And as a follow-up on public transportation, do you expect that recommendation for masks to expire on March 18th or be extended?

So maybe I’ll take the second question first, and then past the school question to Dr. Mazzetti. We, the community- the COVID-19 community levels – are intended for communities. They’re not intended for our travel corridors.

As you note, those expire in the middle of March, and we will be revisiting that in the weeks ahead. And then maybe Dr. Mazetti, do you want to take this question?

Speaker 4 [00:16:55] Yes, thank you, Dr. Walensky. So we’ve been reviewing the data on COVID illness in children for, oh, two years of the pandemic.

And we have seen that although children can get infected and can get sick with COVID, they’re more likely to have asymptomatic or mild infections.

So, fortunately, we know that when schools implement layered prevention strategies they can prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission or transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 in schools.

And we know that also because children are relatively at lower risk from severe illness, schools can be safe places for children. And so for that reason, we’re recommending that schools use the same guidance that we are recommending in general community settings, which is that we’re recommending people wear a mask at high levels of COVID-19, but that at the medium level that the recommendation is primarily based on whether somebody wants to talk to their health care provider about whether they’re high risk.

Speaker 1 [00:18:01] Thanks. Next question, please. The next question is from Allison Aubrey with NPR. Your line is now open.

Speaker 3 [00:18:08] Hi, thanks for taking my question.

I’m wondering if the updated page where you’re sort of saying the map of this is low, medium, or high meaning, is this being updated with new data all of the time? So it’s always up to date?

And will this be updated sort of in perpetuity? Do you know that COVID is not being eradicated? There’s talk of we could see outbreaks at any point in the future and just talk about sort of the how actively this is maintained and for how long.

Thank you, Alison.

We intend to keep this updated, of course, not every county reports every metric, every day, so we intend to keep this updated on a weekly cadence. And we intend to do so for the foreseeable future. Of course, this virus has dealt with many a curveball, but for the foreseeable future, this is what we’re looking at right now. Thank you.

Speaker 1 [00:19:11] Next question, please. The next question is from John Wilfork with San Jose Mercury News. Your line is now open.

Hi. So the new metrics that you all are talking about sound like they’re based mostly on the strain on the health bureaucracy, and not, I mean, our readers are most interested in your guidance for what it means for them to avoid getting COVID and spreading it.

And based on the metrics and the rules that were in place as of this morning before this announcement, that would mean, like pretty much all of California, where we are, is in you should wear a mask if you don’t want COVID recommendation, and it sounds like I haven’t seen what your new metrics is for our area, but it sounds like it’s now saying, well, that’s not operative anymore.

Go ahead and take the mask off. Is that are people safe going in and around in public, indoors without masks, in places where your metrics now say it’s a high transmission situation.

Speaker 3 [00:20:31] Thank you, John. So first and foremost, I’d like to go back to what Dr. Mazzetti said, which is anybody is certainly welcome to wear a mask at any time if they feel safe or wearing a mask.

So we are absolutely endorsing it. If you feel more comfortable wearing the mask, feel free to do so, and we should encourage people to have the liberty to be able to do so. The intent of this community guidance is to look at really severe disease people who are coming into the hospital.

We know that there is going to be the transmission of COVID-19 out there, and what we want to do is make sure that our hospitals are okay and that people are not coming in with severe disease. But of course, it’s important to know that the volume of severe disease in the hospital is likely representative of the volume of disease in general in the community, so they are very much linked.

Certainly, it’s also linked to the vaccination rate as well, but certainly, people are interested in wearing a mask to feel safer.

They certainly can, and anyone can go to the CDC website and find out the volume of disease in their community and then make that personal decision.

Speaker 1 [00:21:41] Next question, please. The next question is from Meg Electra with CNBC. Your line is now open.

Speaker 3 [00:21:49] Well, thank you. I’m just wondering how dependably counties are reporting all of these metrics, particularly with case numbers. Is there enough testing going on for that to be a reliable metric? And, you know, the same question for the hospitalizations reporting. Dr. Mazzetti, do you want to take that one?

Speaker 4 [00:22:10] Sure. Yes, to the question about the hospitalization metrics. So those are actually reported by healthcare facilities.

There are 6,000 hospitals in the United States that are required to report those data every day Monday through Friday, and usually, there is better than 95 percent coverage on any given day.

So hospitals are very consistently compliant with reporting those data, and we do have very high completion of those data.

So we’re quite confident that those data are continuing to flow in and reflect what’s happening in that hospital. The case data are also largely reported from public health laboratories and have really reflected that the nucleic acid amplification test results they do not reflect in many places do not reflect at-home tests, which are not reported.

But those are the laboratory test results and are continuing to be reported fairly consistently.

Speaker 1 [00:23:13] Next question, please. The next question is from Kathryn Roberts with Consumer Reports. Your line is now open.

Speaker 3 [00:23:20] Thanks for taking my question. I’m wondering to what extent, if at all, does this new metric account for people who may have been seriously disabled or sort of long-term sick due to like long COVID, but who’ve never actually been hospitalized with acute COVID? Is that factored into this at all?

It’s a good question.

We, you know, we’re not looking historically about prior hospitalizations; what we’re looking at is hospitalization now and hospital capacity now.

Is there any way to sort of account for those folks, you know, the folks who may have gotten some kind of disability from COVID, but who are taking up capacity? Is that is that in the works, basically?

So the CDC has many different cohort studies to examine long COVID, we know that this is critically important.

The NIH too is examining long COVID, and we’re doing this through collaborations with states on survey data, long-term prospective cohort data and hospitalizations and data from hospitals as well. So we are looking into this for sure, and we know much work and many studies need to be done for long COVID specifically. But in terms of hospital capacity today to forecast what would happen six weeks from now in our COVID-19 community level, that is not accounted for. Thank you.

Speaker 5 [00:25:01] Next question, please.

Speaker 1 [00:25:03] Next question is from Dave McKinley with WJR Buffalo, New York. Your line is open.

Yeah, hi there. I hope you can hear me. You have these metrics where you would establish whether a community was high, medium or high, substantial, moderate, low and there were specific numbers attached.

Have those numbers changed in determining high or substantial or moderate?

What are those numbers?

Do you know where it was fewer than 100 as opposed to fewer than 50? Are those changing at all? And the second part of my question has to do with airplanes and stuff like in buses. You may have addressed that and I may have missed it.

Speaker 3 [00:25:50] Yeah, so first of all, I’ll just take the easy one, which is this addresses community, but not our travel corridors, where nothing will change in our travel corridors. With regards to where we were in our prior community transmission, those were different metrics.

They were based on only cases and percent positivity that led us to those blue, yellow, orange, red. And so cases will still be a part of it.

But we need to recognize that, you know, cases, we’re counting cases differently now than we did over a year ago when we established those prior metrics.

So now our two thresholds are going to be over 200 per hundred thousand rather than be 100 per hundred thousand that time. It’s not.

Yeah, it’s not just, well, it’s not just cases – it is cases as well as hospitalizations, as well as hospital burdens. So it’s the intersection of all of that that leads you to a green, yellow, or orange color in these new metrics.

Speaker 1 [00:26:58] Next question, please. The next question is from Aaron Garcia with Science News. Your line is open.

Speaker 3 [00:27:05] Hi, thanks for taking my question. I was kind of curious how the method that we’re using that you guys are switching to for COVID-19 compares to how we’re surveilling for influenza.

For instance, did you pull on any of the expertise from how we look at flu or is this completely separate?

Dr. Masud, did you want to take that?

Speaker 4 [00:27:29] Sure. Thank you, Dr. Olinsky, and thank you for the question.

So we talked to a lot of experts in flu surveillance and flu measurement. We have a lot of wonderful experts, both within the CDC and outside CDC, to really understand kind of what is the future of surveillance for COVID-19 and what can we learn from and apply to the flu model?

The metrics that we specifically are relying on here for these COVID-19 community levels don’t reflect data that were stood up in the summer of 2020, specifically for pandemic response data collection and through the Unified Hospital Data System.

So this is really a phenomenal data source that allows us to, on a daily basis, assess how many new hospitalizations have been in hospitals for people with confirmed COVID-19 and the percent hospital capacity and hospital beds in use by people with COVID-19. And so that is not a data that includes cases of flu, but that is not a data surveillance system that that has been used for flu.

But we’re really interested in expanding and also collecting, seeing how this model can also apply to other respiratory illnesses in the future.

Speaker 1 [00:28:48] Next question, please. The next question is from Julie Steenhuisen with Reuters – your line is now open.

Speaker 3 [00:28:55] Thanks for taking my call. I’m so I’m interested in knowing how did the CDC arrive at the conclusion that hospitalization and capacity were the key issues that we need to focus on now and preventing transmission is less important?

And if this would be challenging to get compliance if there’s another variant that comes along that is more virulent than the one we have now.

Certainly, maybe I’ll start with the second question first and just say we recognize that we need to be flexible and to be able to say we need to be able to relax our layered prevention measures when things are looking up, when we have fewer cases and fewer hospitalizations, and then we need to be able to dial them up again when we might have should we have a new variant or a new surge.

And I think that that’s a really important message that we’re trying to get across here. What we do know about the current moment with Omicron, is we saw certainly a severity decrease, a decrease in severity associated with Omicron.

We had many, many more cases than we had hospitalizations as we saw then we saw with Alpha or Delta. And in that backdrop, we also had much more population immunity by vaccination boosting and prior infection.

And so many, many of our infections did not result in severe disease, did not result in increased hospital capacity. And it was in that context that we made this pivot. Thank you.

Speaker 1 [00:30:33] The next question is from Meg Wynne Gertler with The Denver Post – your line is open.

Speaker 3 [00:30:39] Hello. Thanks for taking my question. I wanted to ask about, so it sounds like for the hospital capacity, you’re specifically looking at people hospitalized with COVID.

But what we’re having in Colorado right now is very low, pretty low at any rate, COVID hospitalizations, but our beds are still 90 percent for any given day. Is there any way you want communities to factor in that overall level of capacity, where even as a smaller surge could be a bigger problem because there’s not much left? Thank you.

Meg, you actually hit the nail exactly on the head, so not only are we looking at hospital admissions, but also hospital capacity, those who are admitted with COVID-19. What fraction of their beds, if you’re at 90 percent in Colorado that, you know, we would be taking that exact parameter into account.

Speaker 1 [00:31:44] Next question, please. The next question is from Michael Himani with Akumu. Your line is now open.

Speaker 5 [00:31:52] Hi, how are you? This might be for both of you, but I actually wanted to hear from Dr. Walensky as well, but this is in relation to the new metrics or the new, um, excuse me, the new, uh, holistic view of risk from coronavirus, uh, to the community.

And I was wondering how you guys are making that change, you know, you kind of detail it in your opening. But I was wondering if you can get into specifics with regards to that.

Speaker 3 [00:32:18] So thank you; so we are looking at a fraction of hospitalizations that are covered. We’re looking at the number of admissions per hundred thousand that are covered. And then we’re also looking at cases.

And so all three of those together, we have thresholds that we’ve measured. The doctor in the city has discussed and we create the thresholds based on their ability to be predictive of ICU stays, hospitalizations and deaths in three to six weeks in the future so that we could take action.

So all of that work together leads us into three different colors – green, yellow, and orange. Those colors reflect low, medium, and high community levels, and then those levels get matched to our recommendations and our guidance.

Thank you, doctor, I appreciate it. Anything to add there?

Speaker 4 [00:33:13] No, I think that covers it really well. Thank you, Dr. Olinsky.

Speaker 1 [00:33:17] Thank you. Thank you. Next question, please. The next question is from Tom Hall with The Washington Times. Your line is now open.

Hey, thanks for doing the call. Can you give the immediate geographic impact of the guidance? What percentage of counties are in the low category, what percentage or in medium, and what percentage are in high? Thank you.

Speaker 3 [00:33:39] Back from the Fed, do you have those numbers?

Speaker 4 [00:33:45] I do. Just right in front of me; so these areas of the latest data. Twenty-three percent of counties are at a low, 39.6percent of counties are at medium and 37.3 percent of counties are at high levels.

Speaker 1 [00:34:03] Hi, your recommendation is that everyone wears masks in indoor public settings in those places.

That’s correct. Yes, that’s correct. Next question, please.

The next question is from Adriana Rodriguez with USA Today. Your line is now open.

Speaker 3 [00:34:27] Hi, thank you so much for taking my question. I was wondering why vaccination rates were included in these metrics in this equation to calculate community COVID risk and if maybe that will be included in the metrics sometime in the future.

So, you know, what we’re really focused on is a risk of severe disease and risk of being admitted into the hospital, risk of your hospitals becoming full. Truly vaccination rates do sort of fall on the causal pathway, if you will, for risk of severe disease.

So if someone is unvaccinated and has underlying health conditions, they certainly are at high risk of severe disease.

And so it is part of the equation. It’s not the sort of, among the things that are listed, but certainly, it is reflected in who will come into the hospital with severe disease.

And of course, we would always recommend that if you’re unvaccinated, and you’re eligible for vaccination, you should get vaccinated, and if you’re eligible for boosting, you should get a booster to remain up to date. And that, of course, will decrease your risk of hospitalization.

In fact, our most recent data have demonstrated that if you’ve boosted you’re 97 times less likely to die of COVID than if you’re unvaccinated.

So if a person is in one county and the hospitalization rates are the same as another person in another county, vaccination rates are vastly different. Mask guidance would be the same.

Speaker 5 [00:36:03] Thank you. Ted, we have time for two more questions.

Speaker 1 [00:36:09] Okay, the next question is from Stephanie Innes with the Arizona Republic. Your line is open.

Speaker 3 [00:36:14] Yes, thanks for taking my question. I wanted to know if this framework takes into account people who work in high-risk jobs like grocery stores and restaurants, should they be considering if it’s green, they don’t need to wear a mask, and should businesses think that way as well?

So certainly all of those, all of our recommendations, are translated into policy at the local and jurisdictional level, and we would say any, uh, local business certainly has the ability to make recommendations based on the policy made on where they are, whether they happen.

They may have more information based on wastewater or high-risk communities or equity for many different reasons.

But our guidance would say that if you are in a green community, that community, in general, would not need to be wearing a mask. Certainly, of course, anybody can wear a mask at any time if they choose to protect themselves that way. Thank you.

Speaker 1 [00:37:19] And last question, please. Yes, the last question is from Dan Patroller with the Chicago Tribune – your line is now open.

Can you address the timing of this decision and perhaps the public perception that PDP is being pulled along here by the governors in many states who didn’t wait for these new recommendations before making changes to what was being done at the state level?

Speaker 3 [00:37:43] Yes, absolutely.

First, I will say that we have the CDC, and I think you’ve heard me talk publicly about this, have been thinking about shifting our metrics to hospitalizations for some time now. We’ve been talking about this for some time. Certainly, we know that many governors made announcements several weeks ago, but many of those announcements actually were phased in, and in fact, didn’t actually say that we were going to take masks out, but they were going to take masks off at the end of February or early March or in the middle of March.

So I would say our guidance actually probably very much intersects exactly where many of those phased approaches are going to be, in that many of those governors when their policies are at play, will coincide with exactly what we are recommending.

Speaker 5 [00:38:31] Thank you, Dr. Walensky, and thank you, Dr. Mazzetti, and thank you all for joining us today.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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