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New CDC masking guidance doesn't apply to long-term care facilities

Less than two months ago, long-term care facilities were on the brink due to the spike in omicron infections.

Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is saying the majority of Americans don’t need to wear masks in many indoor settings, including schools. But that guidance does not include nursing homes.

Even though residents in long-term care are mostly vaccinated, they can still get very sick.

"From the beginning of this pandemic, it has been people coming into the nursing home, that have caused the greatest level of illness within our population of residents and patients," said Christopher Laxton, the executive director of AMDA, the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, which supports clinicians in long-term care. "And that hasn't changed. So, if you have low community rates, and your hospitalizations are low, etc., that's great. But when you come into a nursing home, you're entering a vulnerable place."

David Voepel, the head of the Arizona Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes, said that while some facilities were buoyed by the news, it’s still too early to do away with masking protocols. 

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.