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(LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has quietly softened its COVID-19 recommendations yet again, now blessing healthcare facilities’ decisions not to require masking unless in areas where COVID transmission is especially prevalent.

Citing “high levels of vaccine-and infection-induced immunity and the availability of effective treatments and prevention tools,” the CDC’s September 23 guidance update says that “[w]hen SARS-CoV-2 Community Transmission levels are not high, healthcare facilities could choose not to require universal source control.”

“Source control” means “use of respirators or well-fitting facemasks or cloth masks to cover a person’s mouth and nose to prevent spread of respiratory secretions when they are breathing, talking, sneezing, or coughing.” The CDC defines “high” as greater than 100 new cases per 100,000 people within 7 days, and considers 68.5% of the country to be high-transmission areas.

In non-high areas, the CDC now recommends masking only if one has or is suspected to have COVID, has been in close contact to someone with COVID within ten days, works in part of a facility with high exposure, or has “otherwise had source control recommended by public health authorities.”

Early in the COVID pandemic, the federal government recommended wearing face coverings in the presence of others, advice which many states and localities used to impose mask mandates on a wide range of public gatherings. But evidence has long since shown that masking was largely ineffective at limiting the spread of the virus.

Among that evidence is the CDC’s September 2020 admission that masks cannot be counted on to keep out COVID when spending 15 minutes or longer within six feet of someone, and a May 2020 study published by CDC’s peer-reviewed journal Emerging Infectious Diseases that “did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.”

Last May, another study found that, though mandates effectively increased mask use, that usage did not yield the expected benefits. “Mask mandates and use (were) not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 spread among U.S. states” from March 2020 to March 2021. In fact, the researchers found the results to be a net negative, with masks increasing “dehydration … headaches and sweating and decreas[ing] cognitive precision,” and interfering with communication, as well as impairing social learning among children. Dozens of studies have found the same.

Forced masking is particularly harmful for children, according to the data.

“The potential educational harms of mandatory-masking policies are much more firmly established, at least at this point, than their possible benefits in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in schools,” University of California-San Francisco epidemiologist professor Vinay Prasad wrote in September 2021. “Early childhood is a crucial period when humans develop cultural, language, and social skills, including the ability to detect emotion on other people’s faces. Social interactions with friends, parents, and caregivers are integral to fostering children’s growth and well-being.”

While government COVID-19 mandates remain far from resolved, Democrat leaders and public health officials have backed away from some of them as it became clear they were not only ineffective but deeply unpopular. In January, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky admitted the Biden administration’s decision to cut in half the isolation guidance for infected Americans based in part on “what we thought people would be able to tolerate.”

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