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Mask guidelines relax in Bexar County

Some people do still need to wear masks in certain situations.

SAN ANTONIO — Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to go down, the result is most people will no longer need to wear masks. But there are a lot of variables that go into that.

It really depends on the setting, and your vaccination status. Even though Bexar County has dropped to mild according to Metro Health and also dropped to medium according to the CDC, it isn't time to let our guard down. 

Dr. Jundo Woo, the Medical Director for San Antonio's Metro Health told us, "Whether you're masking depends on a lot of things, not just your vaccination status, your health, your community risk level, also the vaccination status of people in your household, their health, also ventilation." 

Dr. Jan Patterson, an infectious diseases specialist and Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Quality and Lifelong Learning in the Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio added, "Most of the time a mask outdoors is not needed. An exception might be if you're in a very crowded, tightly packed area. that would be for those who are at high risk of infection or have household members who are."

The CDC risk map changed dramatically and put more than 70% of the U.S. population in counties where the coronavirus is posing a low or medium threat to hospitals. Those are the counties in green and yellow. Dr. Woo said, "There's room for people to use the the levels of mitigation that they're comfortable with and the risk tolerance that they're comfortable with."

Hospitalizations in Bexar County have trended downward quickly, from a high of 1,156 a month ago, to just over 200 now. The number of patients in the ICU and on ventilators has also dropped significantly. The percentage of positive tests plummeted as well, from 32.9 percent at the end of January to 4.9 percent towards the end of February. 

Dr. Patterson told us, "COVID still has not gone away. We still need to be careful and use common sense, and especially for those at high risk of severe disease."

Both Dr. Woo and Dr. Patterson say the best protection against the virus is still a vaccine. And for those that haven't gotten a booster, you need that for the highest level of protection.

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