This article is sponsored by one of the fastest-growing telehealth companies in America, Antidote Health.
Over the course of the month the nation received a stark reminder that although the ongoing situation with the COVID-19 pandemic is improving, it’s still not over, as the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention revised their mask recommendations. Amid case numbers rising again, the CDC’s COVID community recommendations now state that “masks are recommended in indoor public transportation settings and may be required in other places by local or state authorities.”
This recommendation primarily applies to indoor public transportation, where the potential for transmission could be high in regions with high community COVID-19 levels. Conversely, the CDC came forward in a strong press statement, updating their previous recommendations for booster shot vaccines. These sweeping, updated recommendations include:
- The recommendation that children ages 5 through 11 receive their booster at least 5 months after their series of initial vaccinations
- The recommendation that adults aged 50 and over receive a second booster at least 4 months after their initial booster
- The recommendation that immunocompromised individuals aged 12 and older receive a second booster at least 4 months after their initial booster
If you’re not in the loop of your area’s local community COVID-19 levels, we would strongly urge you to keep up with the CDC’s official COVID by County page. Furthermore, if you’re out of the loop regarding what the CDC’s updated COVID guidelines mean for you and your health and wellness journey, we can fill you in.
Breaking Down The New CDC Mask Updates
Officially, as of May 2022, the CDC’s most up to date mask recommendations state that “everyone aged 2 and older – including passengers and workers – properly wear a well-fitting mask or respirator over the nose and mouth in indoor areas of public transportation (such as airplanes, trains, etc.) and transportation hubs (such as airports, stations, etc).”
According to the May 2022 press release announcing this update, the CDC’s updated recommendations are informed “based on the currently available data, including an understanding of domestic and global epidemiology, circulating variants and their impact on disease severity and vaccine effectiveness, current trends in COVID-19 Community Levels within the United States, and projections of COVID-19 trends in the coming months.”
As we’ve covered previously, there’s been a worrying uptick in COVID-19 case numbers over recent months, and public health officials worry that could be indicative of summer pandemic trends reminiscent of our past two summers. While the mortality rates are unlikely to be equivalent to those experienced at the height of the pandemic, experts are understandably concerned about what rising cases could mean for COVID-19’s transition out of the acute pandemic phase, and into becoming an endemic virus.
The current dominant COVID-19 strain in the United States, Omicron, generally presents less severe disease symptoms than other known variants of the virus. That said, Omicron is still highly contagious, and can still present potentially grave risks for the immunocompromised, the unvaccinated, and other populations vulnerable to COVID-19. To give you an idea, the American Medical Association approximates that Omicron could be anywhere from 30 to 60% more transmissible than the original novel strain of COVID-19.
Proper wearing of a mask or respirator has been proven greatly effective by a remarkably wide body of research. A PNAS peer review examining this body of research ascertained that masks were nearly 80% effective at collectively preventing COVID-19 transmission. So whether you routinely use public transit, or routinely interact with immunocompromised, at-risk individuals, you’d still be wise to stay masked in those settings through the foreseeable future.
Will CDC Lift Mask Mandate?
It’s worth emphasizing that these changing mask recommendations are merely that for now - recommendations, not a hard, stringent mandate. That’s the case on the federal level, but on the local level, communities may still be subject to localized mask mandates in certain contexts.
Philadelphia’s Public School District, for instance, reinstated its universal mask mandate for all students and staff attending the city’s K-12 schools. A number of public and private institutions could similarly see safety guidance changes, depending on the evolving need for more or fewer safety precautions.
Mandates and recommendations are likely to end when COVID-19’s acute pandemic phase finally comes to an end. While there isn’t a definitive set timeline for when the COVID-19 pandemic will finally become endemic, health experts are optimistic that the virus is showing potentially promising signs of endemicity.
According to American Medical Association physician Stephen Parodi, MD, “We can move this in a way that the disease is milder,” he said. “At least so far, vaccine-based immunity appears to provide very broad-based immunity against multiples of variants.”
Moreover, Dr. Parodi stated that “A measure of endemicity really is going to look at how many people are developing severe disease at a given time. If we're seeing increases in that, we've got to take action. If we're not, that's a different set of actions, and that's similar to what we do for influenza year over year.”
These updated recommendations can be viewed as one action in a set of many to help slow Omicron’s burgeoning spread, and finally bring us out of the pandemic woods for good. We emphatically urge you to do your part and stay safe.
CDC COVID Guidelines 2022
As of May 2022, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention still recommends that Americans continue:
- Staying up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, if eligible
- Wearing a properly-fitted mask or respirator, when appropriate
- Maintaining a six-feet social distance in riskier public settings
- Avoiding spaces with poor, unsafe ventilation, if possible
- Getting rapid tests and PCR self-tests for the COVID-19 virus
- Washing hands often with soap and water for approx. 20 seconds
- Covering their coughs and sneezes to prevent airborne transmission
- Taking precautions when traveling around the country/world at large
- Following the CDC’s guidance on quarantine and isolation, if they test positive
As we urge you to do your part and stay safe, one way you can continue staying safe is by counting on affordable telehealth providers to save money and save lives, by curtailing the need for in-person doctor and pharmacy visits. We’d also recommend that you continue to follow your community’s local COVID-19 guidance, as well as the CDC’s federal COVID-19 recommendations.
COVID-19 Telehealth Services
From online doctor visits, to online pharmacy prescriptions, to online deliveries of masks and COVID-19 tests, there are a number of telehealth resources at your disposal to continue receiving relief from the safety of your own home!
In fact, our provider database can point you toward hundreds of them. Consider gleaming our provider portal to find the best telehealth resources to meet your needs, and consider versatile, well-rounded, all-in-one providers for those resources, like Antidote Health.