Students at Charles Middle School in El Paso work masks while participating in tutoring sessions during an intersession break earlier this month. (Leonel Monroy Jr./El Paso Independent School District)

El Paso’s COVID-19 community risk was lowered to “medium” last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which changes the health agency’s recommendations for mask wearing in the county.

El Paso County had been listed at “substantial” or “high” risk of COVID-19 since August 2021, which triggered CDC recommendations that all people wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. But on March 3, the risk level was reduced to “medium.”

At that level, the CDC no longer recommends indoor mask wearing for most people.

The CDC issued its latest mask guidance on Feb. 25. It classifies counties at three levels – low, medium and high – based on “hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.” 

In areas with medium risk, the CDC encourages people with compromised immune systems or at high risk of serious illness to “talk to your health care provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions.”

Masks are still required on airplanes and public buses. However, masks are no longer required on buses operated by public or private school systems.    

Cover photo: Students at Charles Middle School in El Paso work masks while participating in tutoring sessions in October 2021. (Leonel Monroy Jr./El Paso Independent School District)