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98% of US population can ditch masks as Covid eases: CDC

98% of US population can ditch masks as Covid eases: CDC
A general view of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sept 30, 2014.
PHOTO: Reuters

WASHINGTON — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) late on Thursday (March 10) said some 98 per cent of the US population live in locations where Covid-19 levels are low enough that people do not need to wear masks indoors.

The CDC on Feb 25 dramatically eased its Covid-19 guidelines for when Americans should wear masks indoors, saying they could drop them in counties experiencing what it described as low or medium Covid-19 levels. 

Last month, the CDC initially said 70 per cent of counties covering 72 per cent of Americans could drop masks. The latest update says 98 per cent of Americans who live in 94 per cent of US counties can ditch masks.

The revised figures may give ammunition to critics who want the administration to lift mask requirements on airplanes, trains and in transit hubs.

The Biden administration earlier on Thursday said at the CDC's recommendation that it had agreed to extend requirements for travellers to wear masks on airplanes, trains and in transit hubs through April 18.

The decision extends by a month mask requirements that were set to expire on March 18.

The CDC said it will work with other government agencies "to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor."

Just last week, the agency said 85.4 per cent of counties covering 93 per cent of the population were deemed to have low or medium Covid-19 levels and could skip masks. The latest figures are a sign of another dramatic fall in coronavirus infections.

US government agencies have dropped mask requirements in federal buildings in the Washington area and other places with low or medium levels of Covid-19.

ALSO READ: US airline accused of ejecting woman for removing mask to drink water

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