March 2, 2022

NNU president challenges latest CDC COVID-19 mask guidelines, metrics

Editor's Note

OR Manager recently reported on the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations on when masks should be worn by the public. According to the new guidelines, the CDC now recommends the general public wear masks only in communities with a "high" level of COVID-19, which makes up about 30% of the country.

The nursing union, National Nurses United (NNU), however, is challenging this CDC safety rollback and calling for reversal of the new guidelines, the March 1 Health Leaders Media reports.

“Relaxing safety protocols will only continue unnecessary and unwarranted loss of life,” said Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, RN, president of NNU. "Regrettably, the CDC is once again responding to political pressures from those desperate to remove any safety protocols during this deadly pandemic that is still causing unacceptable numbers of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths every day.”

According to Triunfo-Cortez, the population metrics the CDC is using to determine when a community meets the “high” level of risk to still warrant mask recommendations is "relatively useless” because of its emphasis on hospital capacity.

"Under the new metric, anything up to 200 new cases per 100,000 could still be considered 'low' so long as COVID admissions and hospital capacity stay under a new threshold," Triunfo-Cortez explained. "The new 'low' could now be up to 20 times higher than the previous standard, which is certainly not warranted with the ongoing numbers of hospitalizations still occurring." 

By basing new metric thresholds mostly on hospital capacity, Triunfo-Cortez argues the CDC is making masking requirements "contingent on hospital capacity rather than about individual and community protection."

"If you wait until hospital capacity is strained, it will be too late and you are courting disaster," Triunfo-Cortez urged.

Visit this CDC webpage to find community levels by county, color-coded to show which pose high, medium, and low risk of COVID-19 infection.



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