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Locals react as CDC eases masks recommendations

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said healthy Americans can take a break from wearing masks indoors.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — For most Americans, wearing masks indoors will be a thing of the past.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said people who live in areas where COVID-19 poses a low or medium threat can forgo their masks. That accounts for more than 70% of the U.S. population.

In Harrisburg, business owners say it's about choice.

"If someone came to my restaurant and say they don't want to wear a mask, it's their right," said Victoria Valencia, a restaurant owner. "I have no problem with that."

Prior to the CDC's announcement, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) said the state is ready to transition into the endemic phase of the pandemic.

"We do feel confident that we have enough data to make good public health decisions," said Keara Klinepeter, the Pennsylvania Department of Health's acting secretary.

In Pennsylvania, COVID-19 cases have significantly declined. More than 76% of adults are fully vaccinated, and 95% of residents ages 18 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

"We are also trying to remind folks, it's those good behaviors that got us in this place that we're in now that, which is significantly better where were before," said Klinepeter.

By next month, the DOH says it will also eliminate the strike teams that were sent to help hospitals facing staff shortages.

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