Sunday, December 10, 2023

CDC Director Hints at Upcoming Updates to Mask Guidelines

(File Photo)

NATIONWIDE — In a Feb. 16 Press Briefing held by the White House COVID-19 Response Team, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky spoke on the possibility of updating Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 guidelines to reflect new downward trends.

Rochelle P. Walensky, CDC Director. (Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

“Omicron cases are declining and we are all cautiously optimistic about the trajectory we are on,” said Walensky. “Things are moving in the right direction but we want to remain vigilant to do all we can so that this trajectory continues. As we see the Omicron wave continue to wane, we know that you have many questions regarding what prevention strategies are really necessary for this moment. Especially as people are so eager to remove them.”

Walensky said that the CDC will be updating what metrics it takes into consideration when making assessments regarding public health and safety at this stage in the pandemic. One of those factors that Walensky emphasized is hospital capacity.

“We must consider hospital capacity as an additional important barometer. Our hospitals need to be able to take care of people with heart attacks and strokes. Our emergency departments can’t be so overwhelmed that patients with emergent issues have to wait in line,” said Walensky. “We are assessing the most important factors based on where we are in the pandemic, and will soon put guidance in place that is relevant and encourages prevention measures when they are most needed to protect public health and our hospitals.”

“We want to give people a break from things like mask-wearing when these metrics are better and have then have the ability to reach for them again should things worsen,” she added. “If and when we update our guidance we will communicate that clearly and it will be based on the data and the science.”

According to WYDaily’s recent COVID-19 Tracker*, which uses data provided by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), transmission rates in James City County, City of Williamsburg, and York County remain high. However, there has been a slight decrease in hospitalization amongst the three localities.

During the press briefing, the Whitehouse COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said that their highest first priority is fighting Omicron and that they are actively reaching out to public healthcare experts inside and outside of Government to receive professional input.

“We’re working very closely with state and local leaders, including governors and business leaders,” said Zients. “As Dr. Walensky said earlier, the CDC is looking at all of its guidance including mask guidance in light of declining cases and hospitalizations.”

Zients said that public health, science, and medicine are at the center of the COVID-19 Response Team and the White House’s and CDC’s decisions are driven by these factors.

The CDC’s guidelines, as well as updates to COVID-19 information, can be found on the CDC’s website.

WYDaily publishes its COVID-19 Tracker each Tuesday.

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