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Health officials will update mask guidance as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to decline, but the upcoming “respiratory virus” season could give them pause.

The White House COVID-19 Response Team and public health officials speak to reporters during a press conference on Friday. The team noted the incredible progress made by the emphasis on vaccination and the introduction of booster shots, with 10 million booster shots administered nationwide as of last week.

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However, Dr. Rochelle Valensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said officials need to take into account the upcoming threat of the respiratory virus before updating mask guidance.

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“We still have 75,000 cases in this country, and I’m very encouraged to see these trends subside, but as you know we still have over 90% of counties that are at high risk or high transmission are,” Valensky told reporters. “We will update our recommendations as we see community levels come down.”

“It is important to note that as we look at the current situation, we are also heading into respiratory virus season,” Valensky said. “During that season we know that respiratory viruses thrive, so we’re taking all of them into account.”

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The “respiratory virus season” typically begins in the fall — in October or November — and ends in the spring — in February or March — meaning the CDC may not return to mask guidance until the spring season.

Present mask guide The CDC recommends that individuals who have not been fully vaccinated and those 2 years of age or older should wear masks in indoor public places.

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CDC recommended that individuals who have been fully vaccinated but in areas of substantial or high transmission should wear masks, but some private businesses do not require them, especially in areas such as New York City where proof of vaccination is required for entry it occurs.

Valensky cited the success of the vaccine booster program, which she attributes to a significant drop in COVID-19 cases nationwide: in mid-September, the seven-day average for new cases topped nearly 175,000, But the average is six weeks. by numbers, down to about 75,000 our world in data.

Some experts have warned that there could be a fifth wave of COVID-19 infections in the coming winter season.