The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned against dropping COVID-19 mask mandates and restrictions due to the country’s high rate of COVID-19 infections.

Driving the news: Multiple states have announced they’re dropping COVID-19 restriction and mask mandates due to rising immunity and vaccination levels.

  • Delaware said its indoor mask mandate would end on Feb. 11 and school mask mandates would expire on March 31, per CNN.
  • New Jersey signaled it would end a school mask mandate in the next month, according to The New York Times.
  • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont recommended the state ends its mask mandate on Feb. 28.
  • Oregon health officials said the state’s mandate would end for public indoor settings and schools at the end of March, per NPR.
  • New York will soon drop its indoor mask mandate, no longer requiring businesses to ask customers for proof of vaccination or mask requirements, per The New York Times.
CDC recommends face masks for fully vaccinated to fight omicron variant
Opinion: End to mask mandate led to more cases
CDC: Fully vaccinated and everyone in K-12 schools should be masked

What they’re saying: “Now is not the moment,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, in an interview with Reuters.

  • “I know people are interested in taking masks off. I too am interested. That would be one marker that we have much of the pandemic behind us,” Walenksy told Reuters. “Right now our CDC guidance has not changed. … We continue to endorse universal masking in schools.”

The bigger picture: Experts are debating whether to end mask mandates and restrictions since omicron is still spreading.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, CNBC that we may have to tolerate some level of COVID-19 as restrictions end.

  • “We’re going to probably have to tolerate, and probably should, a higher level of baseline spread at the point at which we consider withdrawing some of this mitigation,” he added.
  • “If we hold out, again, if we wait for 10 cases per 100,000 per day in most communities, we’re probably going to be waiting until the summer; we’re going to lose the opportunity this spring to try to return some sense of normalcy in the schools.”