The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revised guidelines for Americans on the use of masks. Going forward, the recommendation is for everyone to use “the most protection possible,” although the agency has not explicitly required the use of N95 masks.
The CDC explained on its website that people can choose equipment such as N95s and KN95s, adding that citizens should “wear a mask that fits well and consistently.” “While all masks and respirators provide some level of protection, those appropriately equipped provide the highest level of protection,” the agency said.
The guidance comes amid a spike in Covid-19 cases in the United States. The country reported 1.35 million new coronavirus infections, setting a world record for daily cases in a single country. It is estimated that the Micron variant is responsible for 98.3% of the total new cases circulating in the country.
Hospital admissions for Covid-19 have also jumped. It peaked in the United States on Monday at 132,646, according to a Reuters tally. The record exceeds the record of 132,051 hospitalizations in January last year.
More people have been to hospitals since December, with the number of hospitalizations doubling in the past three weeks as Ômicron quickly overtakes Delta as the dominant version of the virus in the country.
According to a Reuters analysis, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C., had record levels of inpatients.
While the cases may be less serious, health officials have warned that the huge number of infections from the Ômicron variant could overwhelm hospitals — some have already suspended elective procedures to deal with the surge in patients amid staff shortages.
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