The House of Representatives is finally lifting its own mask mandate just in time for President Biden's State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Capitol Physician Brian Monahan announced the news in a letter to lawmakers returning to Washington this week: "Individuals may choose to mask at any time, but it is no longer a requirement," he wrote.
Monahan added that the rate of positive COVID tests at the Capitol had fallen to 2.7% during the last two weeks, below the current rate for the DC-Metropolitan area (which is 4.7%).
According to the CDC's new federal guidelines, Washington DC falls into the "green" category, meaning no masking is required.
Unfortunately for those who will be attending tonight's event, Monahan said other "coronavirus risk reduction measures" would still be in place for the address, "with the exception that, KN95 or N95 mask wear is no longer required and mask wear is now an individual choice option."
So far, more than 35 states have abandoned their individual mask mandates, although some cities still have them in place. According to the new CDC guidelines, some 30% of the US falls under the "high risk" category, meaning mask wearing is still recommended. The thing is, many conservative states also passed laws banning mask requirements.
The House had been following a mask mandate of its own making since July which was in line with guidance from the CDC. The Senate never adopted a mask mandate.