Goodbye to all that. Mostly.Michael Ho Wai Lee/SOPA Images/Zuma

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If you are among the 70 percent of Americans who live in an area with low or medium Covid risk, you can finally ditch your mask, according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Friday. And don’t feel like you need to keep your social distance, either.

The new guidance for determining Covid risk considers not just the number of cases in a community, but also the number of new Covid hospital admissions, and the percentage of beds they occupy. The announcement signals a shift in the public health agency’s approach to the virus away from lowering overall cases and toward protecting the hospital system. New York and California already lifted indoor mask mandates earlier this month, paving the way for other localities to follow suit. A new CDC map, to be updated weekly, tells people which level of risk their community falls under.

“With widespread population immunity, the overall risk of severe disease is now generally lower,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a call with reporters today. “We want to give people a break from things like masking when our levels are low, and then have the ability to reach for them again should things get worse in the future.”

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

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