CDC drops mask recommendations for healthy people in most U.S. counties, Mayor Bruce Teague to evaluate mask mandate

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer recommend healthy people wear masks in areas with medium and low COVID-19 Community Levels, which includes Johnson County.


Dimia Burrell

A disposable mask is seen on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City on Feb. 10, 2022. Due to an increasing amount of disposable masks being found on campus, the Undergraduate Student Government looks towards more sustainable solutions.

Anthony Neri, News Reporter

Johnson County is now at a “medium” level when it comes to COVID-19 cases, according to new metrics outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, meaning the agency no longer recommends healthy people in the county should wear masks in public indoor settings, according to the CDC website

People at high risk of severe illness should consult their healthcare providers about wearing masks and taking other precautions in medium-level transmission areas, the CDC said, and people can still choose to wear a mask at any time.

Iowa City has a requirement to wear masks in public spaces, but Mayor Bruce Teague said he’s evaluating changes to the policy with the updated guidance.

“This is great news that the CDC has come out with this guidance, and I’m super excited to hear that and taking it under full consideration, absolutely,” Teague said. “I would just tell you to stay tuned.”

The CDC website’s updated metrics to determine what COVID-19 Community Level a given county has include the number of hospital beds in use, hospital admissions, and the number of COVID-19 cases in a county.

The change comes at a time when Iowa’s COVID-19 case count and hospitalization rate is declining as the omicron variant’s transmission slows. Iowa’s seven-day average daily rate for COVID-19 cases was 612 on Thursday, the lowest it’s been since it was at 600 on Aug. 8, 2021, according to The New York Times.

The CDC’s COVID Data Tracker states that Johnson County has accrued 241 more positive cases over the past seven days.

Other recommendations on the CDC website include:

The CDC website also states that, “people may choose to wear a mask at any time. People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.”

The CDC’s new guidance for mask recommendations suggests that only about 28 percent of United States citizens live in counties where they need to wear masks indoors in public and that over 70 percent do not, unless you are at high risk of severe illness and your health care provider recommends such, according to CNN.