32% of Americans live in areas where indoor masking is recommended

About one-third of Americans live in areas where the level of COVID-19 transmission warrants wearing a mask in indoor public settings, health officials said during a May 18 briefing at the White House. 

Thirty-two percent of Americans live in areas with medium or high COVID-19 community spread, up from 24 percent a week prior, according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD.

"In areas where community levels are high, everyone should be using prevention measures and wearing a mask in public, indoor settings," she said, adding that people in medium risk areas should consider prevention measures based on their own risk. 

The recommendation comes amid a steady increase in COVID-19 cases over the past five weeks, largely driven by the omicron subvariants BA.2 and BA.2.12.1. 

As of May 18, the current seven-day daily average of cases was about 94,000, "which is an increase nationally about 26 percent over the previous week and a threefold increase over the last month," Dr. Wallensky said. 

The seven-day average for new COVID-19 hospital admissions has also increased 19 percent over the past week to about 3,000 per day. COVID-19 deaths remain low.

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