CDC director: A third of US residents should be considering masks

Those living in a high COVID-19 threat area should be wearing masks in indoor public settings, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

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Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned during a White House press briefing that nearly a third of the country’s population lives in counties that have recorded medium to high levels of the virus.

“In areas with medium COVID-19 community levels, in yellow, individuals should consider taking prevention measures based on their own risk, like avoiding crowds, wearing a mask, increasing their testing, especially before gathering with others indoors,” Walensky said.

A county’s level of risk is determined by looking at a combination of new COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions over the previous week, plus the seven-day average of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.

While death rates remain low, around 3,000 people a day were being admitted with COVID-19 to hospitals around the country. The seven-day average of hospital admissions from the virus rose 19% from last week’s numbers.

According to the CDC, most high- and medium-risk areas are in the U.S. Northeast. You can click here to see how your county is ranked.

Walensky said that for those in the highest risk areas, the CDC urges local leaders to “encourage the use of prevention strategies like masking in public indoor settings and increasing access to testing and treatment for individuals.”

The average of new, confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 100,000 a day as of Tuesday. This is the first time that has happened since Feb. 20, according to a New York Times database.

That number is up 61% from two weeks ago.