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As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention marks a new phase of the pandemic at guidelines for solving maskingDallas County has quickly reduced its mask mandate.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins revised guidelines Friday, which no longer require masks in public settings, except in prisons, homeless shelters, long-term care facilities and health environments. Immunocompromised residents are still strongly encouraged to continue wearing masks in all indoor environments.
The CDC announced earlier Friday one new system for monitoring the virus, which designates individual counties to have a low, medium or high risk of residents receiving COVID-19. Counties in Texas collectively represent all three categories. But across the country, COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are plummeting.
For low-risk residents, there is no recommendation for masking. And in mid-risk counties, people who are immunocompromised should talk to their doctor about continuing to wear a mask. The CDC revises their universal mask mandates for schools and only recommends that districts require masks in high-risk environments.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the new system reflects a belief that the country has entered a second phase of the pandemic. Communities now have more tools to protect themselves against the virus, including increased access to high-quality vaccines, testing and masks.
A federal mandate still requires Texans to wear face masks on buses, trains and planes, even though the order is set to expire on March 18. Texas Attorney Ken Paxton and the U.S. Rep. Beth Van Duyne, R-Irving, has sued CDC over this mandate.
Throughout the pandemic, political struggles have raged over mask mandates in the state. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has led legal battles with the Biden administration and with cities, counties and school districts over bids to require masks.
Earlier this week, Travis County returned to Phase 4, a less restrictive level of COVID-19 guidelines. The Waco Independent School District also lifted its mask mandate Thursday.