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CDC numbers show more than 90 percent of people in U.S. can ditch masks

The updated figures indicate that nearly everyone in the country lives in areas with low to medium risk for Covid.
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Data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that Covid-19 levels have dropped significantly enough that more than 90 percent of people in the U.S. can go without masks.

The updated data, which show that nearly everyone in the country lives in areas with low to medium risk for Covid, were released days after the agency issued new guidance that tweaked how it measured that risk.

Instead of relying on case rates, the CDC now considers hospitalizations and hospital capacity as key metrics.

According to an NBC News tally, hospitalizations have plummeted in every state over the last month. All but two — Oregon and West Virginia — have had declines topping 50 percent, according to the data.

The new CDC guidance applies to everyone — including children in school and unvaccinated people.

The guidance notes that people who remain at higher risk for the disease may continue to take extra precautions, including wearing masks.

The guidance did not change air travel, public transit and rail requirements, which remain in effect until later this month, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters Wednesday.

At a news conference, Zients laid out the Biden administration's four-point plan, which he said would allow most people to return to their normal routines by preparing for new variants, preventing shutdowns, protecting against the disease and "vaccinating the world."