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The lifting of the requirement will come just hours before President Biden is set to deliver his first State of the Union address before Congress.
The White House’s decision follows a similar one from Congress’ Office of the Attending Physician, who said that masks will be optional on the House floor for the president’s speech, likely avoiding the optics of masked lawmakers gathered for the event, two years into the coronavirus pandemic.
The nation’s capital is now in an area considered low risk under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new metrics, which place less of a focus on positive test results and more on what’s happening in community hospitals. The new system greatly changes the look of the CDC’s risk map and puts more than 70% of the U.S. population in counties where the coronavirus is posing a low or medium threat to hospitals. Healthy people in those risk areas can stop wearing masks indoors, the agency said.
Mask mandates have been a hot button issue around the country, as many Democrat-led states continued to require them in public settings including schools while a number of Republican-led states left masks as an individual choice.
New York City announced on Sunday that they intend to lift its mask mandate for school children as of March 7, unless there is a spike in cases before then.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.