Disney World recently changed their face mask guidelines, and now fully vaccinated guests are not required to wear masks at indoor locations (with some exceptions, including on transportation). But is it possible that more updates are on the horizon?
Several other theme parks have adjusted their face covering policies as well, including Disneyland, Universal Orlando, and Universal Hollywood. Now the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has changed some of their recommendations as well.
Earlier, the New York Times shared that the CDC was “expected to loosen its guidelines for when and where Americans should wear masks” sometime soon. Now, the new mask recommendations have arrived.
Previously, the CDC recommended that anyone “living in areas with substantial or high transmission” of COVID-19 “wear masks in public indoor spaces.” Most counties in the United States (around 95%) were in the substantial or high transmission category when that was measured by case counts.
Now things have changed in terms of recommendations and how the COVID-19 community levels are calculated.
According to the updated CDC website, the COVID-19 community levels in the area you live in (or will be visiting) are a tool that can help communities decide what mask and prevention steps to take.
For counties in the “low” level, the CDC recommends that individuals wear a mask based on their personal preference. For counties in the “medium” level, the CDC recommends that individuals who are immunocompromised or those who live with or have social contact with someone who is at high risk for certain things take certain precautions, like potentially wearing a mask.
In areas that are considered to be in the “high” level, the CDC recommends wearing a mask indoors in public spaces regardless of vaccination status or risk.
The CDC’s page also has specific recommendations for certain groups of people like those who are at higher risk for severe illness, children, and more.
You can visit another portion of the CDC website to see what COVID-19 community level your county is in. There, the CDC goes over other recommendations in terms of prevention steps to take depending on what level your county is in. At all levels, the CDC recommends staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.
The CDC also notes that individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.
On that same CDC site, you can check to see the community level by state and county. Both Orange County, Florida…
…and Osceola County, Florida, the 2 counties in which Disney is located, are in the “high” category.
That means the CDC recommends wearing a mask indoors in public in both locations. The CDC’s websites also now detail how the community level is calculated. According to their website, the “CDC looks at the combination of three metrics — new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population in the past 7 days, the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days — to determine the COVID-19 community level.”
Recommendations from the CDC could change and evolve over time. We’ll be on the lookout for any news there.
Essentially, as the New York Times pointed out, under the new recommendations the CDC’s new guidelines also take hospitalizations into account. The hospitalization numbers in the US “have dropped by 44% in the past two weeks” according to the New York Times, so this change could affect the levels counties are placed in now, and thus the mask recommendations for individuals in those counties.
Keep in mind that masks are still required on US public transportation (including on airplanes and at airports) at least through March 18th, 2022. This deadline could be extended.
Also note that face masks are currently required in Disney World for all guests at some indoor locations (such as First Aid stations) and on transportation. Disney also notes that they expect that individuals who are not fully vaccinated will continue to wear masks in all indoor locations.
We’ll keep an eye out for any updates from the Disney parks. Stay tuned with DFB for all the latest updates.
Do you think the CDC’s updated recommendations will impact the Disney parks? Let us know in the comments.