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Half of state mask mandates have ended in the past 3 weeks

The changes come despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s continued recommendation that masks be used indoors in most of the country.

Few mask restrictions remain. As of Jan. 28, 12 states required masks in some or all settings, but as of Tuesday, only five, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, still have restrictions in place. Among these states, several have announced their intention to lift them by the end of February or the beginning of March.

The end of the restrictions comes with some caveats. For example, in New York, masks must always be worn on public transportation, nursing homes, correctional facilities and homeless shelters.

Washington State plans to lift its outdoor mask mandate on February 18 and still requires indoor masking. And for many, school restrictions will remain for at least the next few weeks.

Nevada takes another approach. On Thursday, the state’s Governor, Democrat Steve Sisolak, opted to lift mask requirements in schools, medical facilities and businesses.

Experts say masking offers some protection even when those around you aren’t wearing it. However, many immunocompromised people said lifting restrictions would make it difficult to safely perform basic activities, such as going to the grocery store.

Covid cases continue to decline in most states, and the national case average fell to around 157,000 as of late Monday, a figure close to the peak of the Delta surge in mid-September of nearly 167 000. The country has averaged more than 2,000 reported deaths per day for nearly four weeks.

Angela Yang and Joe Murphy contributed.

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