Overnight Health Care — CDC won’t change mask recommendation


Welcome to Wednesday’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

It’s Justine’s final day with us at The Hill, and her last time co-authoring this newsletter. We’ll miss her! And wish her well in new endeavors.

In today’s news, the CDC may be tweaking its “advice” about masks to recognize some are better than others, but director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyOvernight Health Care — Biden officials take heat at Senate hearing Biden health officials slammed at hearing for confusing pandemic messaging Watch live: Fauci, Walensky testify before Senate panel MORE said the agency’s overall guidance is not going to change.  

For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan (psullivan@thehill.com), Nathaniel Weixel (nweixel@thehill.com) and Justine Coleman (jcoleman@thehill.com). Write to us with tips and feedback, and follow us on Twitter: @PeterSullivan4@NateWeixel and @JustineColeman8

Let’s get started. 

Walensky: Mask guidance not changing 

Rochelle Walensky, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Wednesday the agency does not plan to change its mask guidance to advise Americans to wear higher-quality masks amid the omicron surge.

The CDC director said during a White House briefing that her agency currently recommends that “any mask is better than no mask” to battle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

The guidance does not advise Americans to wear a specific kind of mask, such as a medical-grade KN95 or N95 instead of a cloth mask, although Walensky said the CDC plans to update its website to help Americans choose their face covering.

“We do encourage all Americans to wear a well-fitting mask to protect themselves and prevent the spread of COVID 19,” she said. “And the recommendation is not going to change.” 

Walensky acknowledged that the CDC’s website is “in need of updating right now” to include information on the “different levels of protection different masks provide,” including the improved filtration of KN95 and N95 masks. 

Boosting availability? There could still be other efforts on masks. At the same briefing, White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff ZientsJeff ZientsWhite House: No plans to change definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ Five areas where Biden faces pressure to do more on COVID-19 FDA authorizes second COVID-19 pill, from Merck MORE said the White House is “strongly considering options” to improve accessibility to high-quality masks for all Americans. 

Read more here.  

 

Dems push bill to send N95s to all Americans 

Congressional Democrats have called for more action on testing, and now there’s a call for more on masks, too.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPresident Biden is blaming everyone else for surging inflation  Historic health care expansion to take center stage in California America is less secure with an isolationist foreign policy MORE (I-Vt.) and more than 50 Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday introduced legislation to send high-quality masks to every American amid a push to get the public to wear better masks given…



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