The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will substantially ease federal mask-wearing guidelines on Friday to protect against coronavirus transmission, sources told the Associated Press, WTOP reported.

The new guidelines mean that most Americans won’t be encouraged to wear masks in indoor public settings. Under the current guidelines, masks are advised for people living in communities of substantial or high transmission, about 95% of U.S. counties, according to the latest data.

The new guidelines will take into consideration caseloads but also look at hospitalizations and local hospital capacity, which have improved immensely during the emergency of the omicron variant. The omicron variant has been determined by public health experts to be less lethal than other coronavirus strains, especially for people who are fully vaccinated and boosted.

Under the new guidelines, the vast majority of Americans will no longer live in areas where indoor masking in public is advised based on present data. The new CDC policy comes as the Biden administration seeks to shift its focus from pandemic-related activities to endemic.

The CDC’s change comes as almost all states have dropped or limited their indoor mask-wearing mandates due to the waning omicron variant.

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