Democratic governors are going their own way, breaking with Biden administration guidance on masking and COVID policies.
"The storm clouds are parting, and the COVID clouds are parting," New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said.
"Our hospitalizations are still high, death rates are still high," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. "Encouraged by trends but we are not there yet."
Governors in some of the nation's bluest states announced plans to drop masking mandates in schools or businesses.
"New Yorkers, this is what we've been waiting for," Gov. Hochul said. "Tremendous progress after two long years, and we're not done. But this is trending in a very, very good direction, and that is why we are now approaching a new phase in this pandemic."
The changes come as Democrats brace for a tough political season, and public polling shows Americans are growing tired of ongoing COVID precautions.
A recently released Monmouth University poll found 70% of respondents agreed with the sentiment.
Meanwhile, the White House continues to urge Americans to follow CDC guidance, recommending universal masking in schools and in indoor public spaces where community transmission is high.
"Our advice to every school district is to abide by public health guidelines," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. "It continues to be, at this point, that the CDC is advising that masks can delay, reduce transmission. There are also a number of other mitigation measures that we put in place, but that continues to be CDC guidance."
The CDC says it is monitoring data and working on updated guidance.
"We understand the need and desire to be flexible ... want to ensure guidance meets the moment that we’re in," Dr. Walensky said.
White House officials say they are working with the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate with governors and public health officials on steps to ease COVID restrictions, which could vary based on case rates in different areas of the country.