CDC says Americans can now go unmasked in many parts of the country

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday it is relaxing its mask guidance for communities where hospitals aren't under high strain

Under the new guidance, nearly 70% of the U.S. population lives in an area considered to be low or medium risk, and residents there are advised they can go indoors without masks

The CDC recommends continued mask use in communities where serious cases of COVID-19 are straining the health system

The move to ease up on masking, federal officials say, reflects current conditions at this phase of the coronavirus pandemic, including widespread immunity through vaccination and prior infection as well as better access to testing and treatments

"We want to give people a break from things like mask-wearing," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky at a news briefing Friday

But, she added, new risk guidelines that the agency is implementing will help people know when to reach for masks again if conditions warrant it

Health officials emphasized that people should still wear face coverings if they wish or if they are personally at high risk

And regardless of local conditions, they should mask if they have COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19

CDC Says Americans Can Now Go Unmasked Latest Update 2022