CDC only recommending universal masking for residents in ‘high’ COVID risk areas

70% of counties in US are ‘low’ or ‘medium’ transmission level

Masks (Kin Cheung, AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention loosened its face mask policy, recommending universal masking only for residents in areas that have “high” risk levels.

According to Dr. Greta Massetti, locations will now be placed into one of three categories: low, medium or high risk levels. Those levels are determined based on three factors: COVID hospitalizations, COVID cases and hospital capacity.

The CDC continues to recommend vaccination at all three levels.

Residents can go to or call 1-800-CDC-INFO to find their community level and read more about what prevention strategies are recommended for their location.

Low level

A community at a “low” level means there is limited COVID impact on the health care system and minimal impact within the community.

For those locations, the CDC recommends everyone stays up to date with vaccines and gets tested for COVID when sick.

Medium level

“Medium” level communities have more people experiencing severe disease, and those locations are starting to see more impact on the health care system.

The CDC recommends people in these locations wear masks if they are high-risk or talk to health care providers about additional precautions.

Massetti said people in “medium” level communities “may choose to wear a mask.”

High level

These are the communities that have a high number of people experiencing severe sickness from COVID, and there’s a high potential for health care system strain.

The CDC recommends everyone in these areas wear a mask indoors and in public, including schools.


The updated CDC recommendation for universal school masking is that only schools in communities at the “high” level are included.

About 70% of the counties in the country are either “low” or “medium” levels, according to Massetti.

Where does Michigan stand?

Most of Michigan, as of Feb. 25, is in the “Medium” level for COVID spread risk.

U.S. COVID-19 Community Levels by County in Michigan (Feb. 25) (CDC)

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.