(NEW YORK) — As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.7 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 911,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 64.2% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Latest headlines:
-Fauci says we’re heading out of the ‘full blown pandemic phase’
-US hospitalizations at lowest point since early January
-New York lifts indoor mask mandate effective Thursday
-Massachusetts lifts statewide school mask mandate

Here’s how news developed Wednesday. All times Eastern.

Feb 09, 6:10 pm
Washington state to lift mask mandates

Washington became the latest state Wednesday to announce it will be easing mask requirements.

Gov. Jay Inslee said the state’s outdoor mask mandate will be lifted on Feb. 18, and he will provide a date next week on when the indoor mask mandate will end.

The state health department has required that everyone ages 5 and older wear a mask at indoor public settings, as well as at outdoor events with 500 or more attendees, regardless of vaccination status.

The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases have been declining rapidly in the state.

Feb 09, 4:56 pm
Fauci says we’re heading out of the ‘full blown pandemic phase’

Dr. Anthony told the Financial Times that the U.S. is “heading out of” the “full-blown pandemic phase” and that he hopes masks and other measures can be dropped entirely in the coming months.

“As we get out of the full-blown pandemic phase of COVID-19, which we are certainly heading out of, these decisions will increasingly be made on a local level rather than centrally decided or mandated,” Fauci said. “There will also be more people making their own decisions on how they want to deal with the virus.”

“There is no way we are going to eradicate this virus,” Fauci cautioned. “But I hope we are looking at a time when we have enough people vaccinated and enough people with protection from previous infection that the COVID restrictions will soon be a thing of the past.”

ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett

Feb 09, 4:07 pm
Illinois looks to end indoor mask mandate

Illinois plans to lift its indoor mask mandate at the end of month, Gov. JB Pritzker said, citing “hospitalization rates declining faster than any other point in the pandemic.”

“If these trends continue — and we expect them to — then on Monday, Feb. 28, we will lift the indoor mask requirement,” he said Wednesday.

Masks will continue in Illinois schools “subject to pending litigation which impacts a number of schools,” the governor’s office said. “As the CDC reaffirmed just today, masks remain a critical tool to keep schools safe and open.”

The governors of New York and Rhode Island also announced an end to their indoor mask mandates on Wednesday.

Feb 09, 2:01 pm
Rhode Island lifting indoor mask mandate

Rhode Island will lift the statewide indoor mask policy on Friday, Gov. Dan McKee announced.

Rhode Island’s school mask mandate will be extended until March. 4. At that time, school masking policies will be decided by individual school districts.

This comes hours after New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said New York’s indoor mask mandate will end on Thursday.


Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.