CDC RELAXES MASKING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MOST COUNTIES IN THE UNITED STATES.
On Friday, February 25, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new recommendations regarding mask-wearing for the prevention of Covid-19. Recognizing that a substantial portion of the population has been vaccinated or has acquired some level of natural immunity, the agency has turned its focus to “protecting those at highest risk of severe outcomes” and minimizing the strain on healthcare systems. To that end, the CDC released a color-coded map of all U.S. counties, with green indicating low levels of transmission, yellow indicating medium levels, and orange indicating high levels. A link to the map and related recommendations are here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/community-levels.html
CDC advises that masks are no longer necessary in green counties (those with low levels of transmission). In yellow counties (medium transmission), CDC recommends that those who are immunocompromised or otherwise at high risk of severe disease talk with their health care providers about whether they should be wearing masks indoors in public places. Additionally, those who “have household or social contact with someone at high risk of severe disease” should consider wearing a mask when indoors. In orange counties (high transmission), all are advised to wear a mask in public, “regardless of vaccination status,” and those who are immunocompromised or at high risk of severe disease are also advised to “consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public.”
CDC reports that currently, 70% of Americans live in counties with medium or low transmission rates. In Utah, just two counties (Toole and San Juan) currently have high rates of transmission. Accordingly, many Utah employers may wish to update their workplace rules regarding masks. (Of course, employees who wish to continue wearing masks should be allowed to do so.) It’s important to note that levels of transmission can change, and counties that are now in the low or medium risk category could move again to high rates of transmission. Employers should stay up to date on current transmission levels as the CDC updates its map. Finally, employers with workers in other states should be mindful of any state or local mask requirements that are more stringent than the CDC’s recommendation.