PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 14: A sign on a door asks people to wear masks in downtown on April 15, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In a controversial move, the city of Philadelphia is responding to rising COVID-19 rates by re-instating an indoor mask mandate. Despite new COVID-19 variants, most American cities have loosened laws and mandates on masks. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials say the COVID-19 pandemic could get worse in the U.S. in the weeks ahead, and more people could be advised to again wear masks indoors. Increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are putting more of the country under guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that call for masking and other infection precautions. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing that local leaders in increasing areas of the country are being urged to encourage masking and increase “access to testing and treatment.” However, officials said how much worse the pandemic gets will depend on how well previous infections protect against new variants and other factors.