WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s sticking by its masking guidance, despite a wave of blue states announcing plans to roll back their mandates.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Wednesday acknowledge the states do have flexibility to do what’s best locally and in schools, but said at this time they still recommend masking in areas of high and substantial transmission, a situation she says still applies to much of the country.
“We are not there yet,” Walensky said. “Our hospitalizations are still high. Our death rates are still high.”
Illinois and New York are planning to end their indoor mask mandates, while New Jersey, Massachusetts and Virginia have announced plans to end mask mandates in schools. Walensky says despite those changes, federal data is still under review.
“We certainly understand the need and desire to be flexible,” she said. “We will clearly communicate those recommendations to the public if and when they are updated.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., praised her state’s decision to reverse mask mandates in schools.
“The messages are not always clear,” Warren said on Wednesday. “But we’ve got to get our kids in school, able to focus on learning.”
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers are slamming Democrats’ sudden reversal. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., says Democrats are only changing course because mask mandates are unpopular.
“(This) is 100% political,” Hawley said. “What their moving on is based on the polls.”
The White House says polls aren’t directing policy.
“The public is tired of COVID, we understand that. So are we,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “But our responsibility as the federal government is to rely on the data and the science.”