Because vaccines are widely available, the CDC unveiled a new way to approach pandemic guidance.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The light at the end of the tunnel may finally be near, as the CDC announced Friday that for the most part, the masks can stay at home.
"I'm really relieved," said Chenee Bullock of North Philadelphia. "My face is relieved."
Because vaccines are widely available, the CDC unveiled a new way to approach pandemic guidance. Rather than focusing on case counts, officials will assess COVID hospitalizations, hospital capacity, and new COVID cases.
"It's definitely about time but reversing is scary, so definitely being cautious," said Morgan Dempsey of Wynnefield Heights.
Under the new metrics, more than 70% of Americans now live in low or medium-risk counties and no longer need to wear masks indoors, even inside schools. Almost the entire tri-state region lies in medium risk. New Castle County and Berks County are low risks.
"Now our population has been, for the most part, especially in the Philadelphia area, has been vaccinated. They've been boosted, and they've really been good about wearing a mask," said Dr. Jon Stallkamp, chief medical officer of Main Line Health. "And now we're at that point where omicron is going down. Now it's time to go back to the new normal."
The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced it is transitioning toward the endemic stage of COVID-19, as the disease will be part of the new normal.
But some parents told Action News they aren't ready for the kids to remove masks in school.
"I prefer they still wear them honestly, just to be safer, so everything is more solidified," said Taysia Steedley of Bala Cynwyd.
The CDC is allowing local governments to impose their own restrictions.
The City of Philadelphia is taking its own stance, saying it will still require everyone to wear masks indoors based on data specific to its residents.
"As a student who has to wear a KN95 mask all day in class, it makes me hopeful that it will get lifted soon," said Kristen Paniscotti of West Philadelphia.
The CDC is still reviewing a federal requirement that individuals must wear masks on public transportation.