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To Mask or Not to Mask?

It’s all about community risk. Here’s what the CDC recommends.

Feeling confused about whether you should wear a mask or leave it stuffed in your glove compartment? Now that COVID-19 cases have declined since this winter’s Omicron surge, the choice isn’t always obvious. Here are some tips from CDC to help you make an informed decision.

First, know your community risk. COVID-19 Community Levels are a tool designed to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. There are three risk categories:

  • Green/Low – Wear a mask based on your personal preference, informed by your personal level of risk.
  • Yellow/Medium – If you are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about additional precautions, such as wearing masks or respirators indoors in public. If you live with or have social contact with someone at high risk for severe illness, consider testing yourself for infection before you get together and wearing a mask when indoors with them.
  • Orange/High – Wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status or individual risk (including in K-12 schools and other community settings). If you are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness, wear a mask or respirator that provides you with greater protection.

Here in Barnstable County, our risk level is currently considered LOW. You can use CDC’s COVID-19 County Checker below to view current risk level.

Recommendations for the Immunocompromised

People who are immunocompromised or are taking medicines that weaken their immune system may not be protected even if they are up to date on their vaccines. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for people who are not vaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitting mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare providers.

Some people are immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system. For example, people on chemotherapy or who have had a solid organ transplant, like a kidney transplant or heart transplant. Being immunocompromised can make you more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. Many conditions and treatments can cause a person to be immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system. For example, some people inherit problems with their immune system. One example is called Primary immunodeficiency. Other people have to use certain types of medicines for a long time, like corticosteroids, that weaken their immune system. Such long-term uses can lead to secondary or acquired immunodeficiency.

Click here to access more information from the CDC about recommended precautions for people with certain medical conditions.