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CDC director defers to Democratic governors on ending mask mandates, says federal guidelines won't c


Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Biden administration health officials said Wednesday that it is still too early for states to ease school mask mandates as Democratic governors are finally catching up to their Republican peers and ending masking requirements.

At a press briefing Wednesday, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky was asked if her agency's masking guidance would be updated now that several states are acting to lift their mandates.

"We certainly understand the need and desire to be flexible and we want to ensure the public health guidance that we're providing meets the moment that we're in," Walensky said. She added that while falling COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are "encouraging," deaths and hospitalizations are still too high for the CDC to change its masking recommendations.

Walensky's comments come as Democratic governors in Connecticut, Delaware, and New Jersey, as well as Massachusetts' Republican governor, announced this week that statewide mask mandates would not be renewed when they expire, transferring decisions over mask requirements to local school districts. New York and California will also end their indoor mask mandates for public spaces, but have not announced whether separate school mask mandates will expire too.

The governors in these states say the mandates are no longer needed because of declining COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations after the Omicron surge, as well as the widespread availability of vaccines and booster shots.


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