Updated Guidance on Mask Wearing from the CDC

On Friday, the CDC published updated guidance on all things mask wearing from use to care. Even more significantly, the site provides guidance about when to wear a mask depending upon the community in which you live. This handy tool allows you to select your state and county and will provide the prevention level needed based upon the latest data. So for example, if you live in a low-risk community, the CDC instructs you to “wear a mask based on your personal preference, informed by your personal level of risk.” If you are in a designated low risk community, the site instructs you to “stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines  and get tested if you have symptoms.

Medium risk communities are instructed as follows:

If you are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about additional precautions, such as wearing masks or respirators indoors in public

If you live with or have social contact with someone at high risk for severe illness, consider testing yourself for infection before you get together and wearing a mask when indoors with them.

High risk communities are instructed as follows:

Wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status or individual risk (including in K-12 schools and other community settings)

If you are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness, wear a mask or respirator that provides you with greater protection.

In response to this new guidance, Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter issued a statement on Friday that “Pennsylvania continues to address the evolving challenges created by the global COVID-19 pandemic,” and that “the Department of Health will continue to prioritize the safety of all residents and public health initiatives that increase opportunities for all Pennsylvanians.” 

However, despite this new guidance, Philadelphia is not wavering. Using the CDC tool, Philadelphia is Medium risk, however, the Philadelphia Department of Health states it is not removing its mask mandate. According to a Philadelphia Inquirer report, “the Philadelphia Department of Public Health said it would review the CDC’s new guidance, but the safety restrictions in place in the city are based on local conditions and ‘months of data specific to Philadelphia,’ said Matt Rankin, a spokesperson for the department. He further stated, “At this time we plan to continue the implementation of these current response levels as the pandemic unfolds.”