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Health Officials Say Next Phase of Pandemic to Include Less Restrictions

As cases drop, U.S. health officials are eyeing an opportunity to pull back on restrictions and refocus on testing, according to Reuters (subscription).

CDC plans to revise mask guidelines: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is planning on updating its guidance on mask wearing, using hospital capacity as an important metric. New guidelines for mask wearing and other COVID-19 precautions will likely be announced in late February or early March.

Ensuring testing capacity: U.S. health officials emphasized the importance of making sure COVID-19 testing is accessible in the next phase of the pandemic. The Biden administration submitted a formal request to testing companies for information on supply chain challenges and market volatility. To date, the government has shipped about 200 million free individual tests.

Cases decline: “The seven-day average of daily cases dropped 40% from the previous week, while the daily hospital admission average dropped 28% and the average daily deaths dropped 9%, according to CDC data.”

States ease restrictions: The announcement from U.S. health officials comes on the heels of many states loosening or dropping COVID-19 restrictions in schools and public indoor spaces.

What the Biden administration is saying: White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said, “We’re moving toward a time when COVID isn’t a crisis but is something we can protect against and treat. The president and our COVID team are actively planning for the future.”

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