Given the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, a number of hospitals in various U.S states have decided to reintroduce mandatory mask use within their premises. On September 15, both Massachusetts’ Baystate Health system and the University of Chicago Medical Center in Illinois, implemented mask mandates for individuals entering patient care areas. This includes healthcare professionals, visitors, and patients. Baystate Health highlighted the necessity to protect the safety and health of all individuals within their hospitals and stated that their policies would adapt based on risk assessment.
Meanwhile, the Illinois-based medical center specified that the mandate would only apply to employees in direct patient contact and exempted those without symptoms in certain areas like break rooms and meetings. Dr. Emily Landon, executive medical director for infection prevention and control at the hospital, revealed that COVID-19 cases among employees and patients have been on the rise, thereby necessitating this move.
Pennsylvania’s Mount Nittany Health also imposed a mask mandate for employees until the 29th of September, with no mandate for visitors or patients. Similarly, Cape Regional Medical Center in New Jersey reinstated a mask mandate, but solely for its staff. The gesture was in response to the increasing number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 within the medical center and in the wider community.
Despite the recent rise in hospitalizations, the overall number of COVID-19 hospital admissions remains low relative to the prior years’ numbers. Hence, experts say that the current rise in the number of cases shouldn’t be cause for alarm.
Other healthcare institutions issued similar mandates in August. These include UMass Memorial Hospital in Massachusetts and a Kaiser Permanente location in Santa Rosa, California, for staff and physicians. Furthermore, several hospitals in Upstate New York including United Health Services in Binghamton, Auburn Community Hospital, University Hospital in Syracuse, and Samaritan Health facilities mandated mask use not just for staff, but also patients and visitors.