The CDC's mask-guidance map.

The federal Centers for Disease Control says Cook County — including Evanston — is one of the many areas around the country where it is now safe for residents to stop wearing masks to protect against COVID-19 infections.

About 70% of the nation’s population lives in areas that the CDC is coloring green — for “low risk” — in its new interactive map.

But the CDC also says, “People may choose to mask at any time. People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.”

It also urges people in low-risk areas to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and get tested if they have symptoms.

In Evanston, the city this week announced that indoor masking and vaccination requirements would end Feb. 28, in line with changes at the state level.

Northwestern University will relax its masking rules the same day, but continue to require masks in classrooms at least through March 19.

Evanston Township High School dropped its mask requirement earlier this week, but still encourages mask wearing.

And Evanston/Skokie School District 65 announced it will stop requiring masks inside school buildings, starting March 7.

Masks still will be required in places including daycare, health care and congregate care facilities, on public transportation and in businesses with their own masking rules.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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