As COVID cases in the U.S. declined to the lowest level since December, while the highly infectious Omicron variant swept across the nation, several states have now lifted their face mask mandates.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to change its guidelines on mask-wearing, the agency is expected to update its guidelines on face coverings next week. Currently, the CDC recommends the use of face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

However, with the milder cases of the Omicron waning, states across the country are rolling back their COVID restrictions, including the use of face masks in many public settings. Here’s a look at the states that have eased their mask requirements.

California

California let its indoor mask mandate expire on Feb. 15, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Twitter. However, masks will still be required for those individuals that are not fully vaccinated, as well as in high-risk indoor places such as hospitals and schools.

Los Angeles County will continue to keep its mask mandate in place, requiring everyone two and older to continue to wear a face-covering in all indoor public places.

Connecticut

Face masks will no longer be required in schools and childcare facilities beginning on Feb. 28 in the state of Connecticut, according to Gov. Ned Lamont.

“Connecticut is seeing a dramatic decline in cases caused by the Omicron variant, and children over the age of 5 have had the ability to get vaccinated for more than three months now,” Lamont said in a statement.

“With this in mind, I think we are in a good position to phase out the requirement that masks be worn in all schools statewide and shift the determination on whether to require this to the local level.”

Masks will continue to be required in homeless shelters, facilities housing vulnerable populations, public and private transit, and correctional facilities.

Delaware

Delaware Gov. John Carney lifted the state’s universal indoor mask mandate on Feb. 11 but extended the mask mandate for public and private K-12 schools and childcare facilities through March 31.

The mask extension for schools was part of an effort to give parents more time to get their children vaccinated, Carney said.

“We’re in a much better place than we were several weeks ago in the middle of the Omicron surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Carney said in a statement. “I want to be clear about this point – COVID is still circulating in our communities. And the virus still poses a risk of serious illness, particularly among those who are not up to date on their vaccinations.

“But we have the tools to keep ourselves and each other safe. Get vaccinated. Get your booster. That’s especially important for children, where we continue to see low rates of vaccination,” he added.

Illinois

Illinois will lift its face mask requirement on Feb.28 in most indoor places as COVID cases decline in the state, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The mandate will still require masks where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, or regulations, including workplace guidance. This is in addition to public transportation and in congregant and long-term care facilities.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike urged residents to still wear masks for their own protection.

Ezike said in a statement, “While masks will no longer be required in most indoor locations beginning Feb. 28, they are still recommended. Masks offer a layer of protection and for people who have an underlying health condition or who are around those who do, you may choose to continue wearing a mask. Similarly, if you find yourself in a crowded, indoor setting, a mask can still help protect you. We will continue to recommend masks.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts is ending its statewide school mask mandate on Feb. 28.

Gov. Charlie Baker made the announcement at a news conference last week, saying, “Given the extremely low risk for young people, the widespread availability and the proven effectiveness of vaccines and the distribution of accurate test protocols and tests, it is time to give our kids a sense of normalcy and lift the mask mandate on a statewide basis for schools.”

Boston’s mask mandate, which also includes schools, will remain in place, according to Mayor Michelle Wu.

Nevada

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak lifted the state’s mask mandate on Feb. 10 along with the school face mask requirement.

Masks will still be required in hospitals clinics, long-term care facilities, and on public and school buses.

Sisolak said in a statement on Thursday, “Just like vaccines, masks are still a great tool we have to slow the spread of the virus. I expect going forward to still see Nevadans and visitors occasionally utilizing masks when they are out in public.

“The state will no longer require masks in public places, but employers and organizations, including school districts, may set their own policies, and I encourage them to work with their employees and communities to ensure that policies are in place.”

New Jersey

New Jersey will let its face mask mandate expire on March 7. The mask requirement was in effect for schools and childcare facilities.

Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement, “Thankfully, we have reached a point where we feel confident that we can take another step toward normalcy for our kids. Given the continued drop in new cases and hospitalizations, projections indicating a continued decline over the coming weeks, and the continued growth of vaccinations for our school-aged population, we believe that we can responsibly end the universal mask mandate.”

New York

Gov. Kathy Hochul also rolled back the state’s mask mandate, which required businesses to ask customers for proof of vaccination or require face masks when indoors.

Schools are also slated to end their mask mandate on Feb. 21.

Oregon

The state of Oregon will lift its universal mask mandate on March 31. Its school face mask requirement will expire on the same day.

The Oregon Heal Authority’s health officer and state epidemiologist said in a statement, “We should see COVID-19 hospitalizations drop by the end of March because so many Oregonians are wearing masks and taking other steps to protect themselves and each other, such as getting a booster shot or vaccinating their children. At that point, it will be safer to lift mask requirements.”

Rhode Island

Rhode Island let its mask requirement expire on Feb. 11, and its school mask mandate will expire on March 4, when individual school districts will make their own policies regarding face masks.

Gov. Dan McKee made the announcement last week, saying in a statement that “Thanks to Rhode Islanders stepping up to do the right thing, together we’ve made considerable progress against COVID-19 and the winter surge.

“Based on our decreasing case and hospitalization numbers, our team at the Department of Health feels confident in our plan to safely shift masking guidance for both schools and public settings as we move into an endemic management phase of the virus.”

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The suspect in the assault of a Menards employee who requested that the suspect put his face mask on during checkout has been sentenced to 1 year in prison and 10 years of probation. Representational image of a face mask. Pixabay
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