Data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that Covid-19 levels have dropped significantly enough that more than 90 percent of people in the United States can go without masks.
The updated data, which shows that nearly everyone in the country lives in an area with low to medium risk for Covid, was released days after the agency released new guidance that tweaked how it measured that risk.
Instead of relying on case rates, the CDC now considers hospitalizations and hospital capacity a key metric.
According to an NBC News tally, hospitalizations have plummeted in every state over the last month. All but two — Oregon and West Virginia — have seen declines topping 50 percent, according to the data.
The new CDC guidance applies to everyone — including children in school and unvaccinated people.
The guidance notes that people who remain at higher risk for the disease may continue to take extra precautions, including wearing masks.
The guidance did not change air travel, public transit and rail requirements, which remain in effect until later this month, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters Wednesday.
During a news conference, Zients laid out the Biden administration’s four-point plan that he said would allow most Americans to return to their normal routines by preparing for new variants, preventing shutdowns, protecting against the disease and “vaccinating the world.”
Tim Stelloh is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.