SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — It was last week when the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the agency was looking to update its mask guidance.
“We want to give people a break from things like mask-wearing when these metrics are better, and then have the ability to reach for them again should things worse,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walesky.
An update could come as early as Friday.
“Masking guidance for the CDC should be based in a region you can drop mask mandates based on a hospitalization rate for COVID and also link that with a vaccination rate for COVID,” said UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Monica Gandhi.
Right now, the CDC looks at case counts and transmission, but Gandhi says going forward, counties’ ICU capacities and vaccination rates are the best metrics to determine when to lift a mask mandate.
“I would go on a 70% vaccination rate in a region to lift mask mandates,” Gandhi said. “Plus, a hospitalization rate that is within reason — either having 20% of your ICU empty or having 10 over 100,000 in the hospital for COVID-19, so a COVID hospitalization metric.”
While indoor masking has been lifted in most places in California, the mandate remains for now in schools.
Gandhi believes the new hospitalization and vaccine metrics should also apply to schools but is less optimistic that will happen.
“I am worried about the CDC not following through with fair guidelines for the public and schools and applying the same metric throughout because there seems to be some political aspects to masking in schools,” Gandhi said.
However, as far as domestic and international travel, Gandhi says masks should remain in place for now on airplanes.