Understanding new CDC guidance

A Message from the COVID-19 Coordinator


  • Updates on new CDC guidance
  • What the CDC guidance means for Yale

Dear Members of the Yale Community,

This week I write with the promising news that the surge of COVID-19 infections among undergraduate students appears to be declining. Numbers of infections among Yale graduate and professional students, faculty, and staff continue to be relatively low, as are numbers of infections and hospitalizations in New Haven and much of Connecticut.

At the national level, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced a new method for assessing COVID-19 conditions in communities. In this message, I will explain this change and its impact on CDC guidance and campus policies.

What changes has the CDC made?
Recognizing the positive effects of vaccinations and boosters and the availability of more effective treatments for COVID-19, the CDC has shifted its focus from eliminating COVID-19 infections entirely to minimizing the impact of severe COVID-19 illness on individuals and society. Accordingly, the CDC has developed a new monitoring method (see below) that relies not only on local levels of COVID-19 infections but also on hospitalizations and healthcare system capacity. New Haven County and many other areas of the country currently fall into the “low” COVID-19 Community Level.

CDC's COVID-19 Community Levels and Indicators

This method will inform CDC’s general guidance going forward and is also intended to assist communities in deciding what local preventive measures to implement. An excerpt from CDC’s general guidance, based on COVID-19 Community Levels, is presented below. Note, this guidance calls for indoor masking in all public areas only at “high” COVID-19 community levels.

CDC guidance

What does this mean for the Yale community?
Cities across the country are responding to the news of the updated CDC method and associated guidance. Mayor Elicker has announced that the City of New Haven will lift its mask mandate in most indoor settings beginning on March 7, 2022. City masking requirements will remain in place in schools and some other locations.

At this time, Yale’s indoor mask requirements remain in place. However, the university’s leadership and public health experts are actively reviewing the CDC’s new guidance and decisions made by city and state officials, while taking into consideration both the current conditions in our campus community and our desire to engage fully in as many on-campus activities as possible. We will inform the community of any related decisions as soon as they are made.

Throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, which has just passed its two-year anniversary, we have shared a common path yet each of us has experienced a unique journey. As a result, members of our community will have varied reactions to the easing of restrictions. Just as we worked together to follow common health and safety requirements, we must join together to support and respect each other in our differences.

Stephanie S. Spangler, M.D.
Vice Provost for Health Affairs and Academic Integrity
Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences
University COVID-19 Coordinator