- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says mask-wearing is still a good way to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses even though the pandemic-related mandates have fallen away.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters on Monday that mask-wearing is one of several precautions people can take as the U.S. battles a confluence of COVID-19, the flu and a respiratory virus known as RSV this season.

Also, the CDC is considering whether it should take into account viruses like the flu or RSV when it determines the “community level” of COVID-19 risk. The system is used to determine how much damage the coronavirus is doing in a given area, and whether to advise mask-wearing.

“One need not wait on CDC action in order to put a mask on,” Dr. Walensky said. “We would encourage all of those preventive measures — hand washing, staying home when you’re sick, masking, increased ventilation — during respiratory virus season, but especially in areas of high COVID-19 community levels.”

She said any face covering should be a “high-quality, well-fitting mask to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses.”

Dr. Walensky said the CDC continues to advise mask-wearing on public transportation, although a federal mandate requiring face coverings fell away in the spring.

Cities and states have also dropped their mandates as the nation tries to live alongside COVID-19.

Mask-wearing is far less common in the U.S. than it was at this time last year, amid the crushing omicron wave, though some people still choose to wear them in public indoor settings.

As of the start of this month, only 5% of counties were in places where mask-wearing is recommended by the CDC due to high risks from COVID-19.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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