Hospitals across our region are beginning to lift their mask requirements. This comes after President Biden signed a Bill on Monday ending the COVID National Emergency. Healthcare Administrators tell us why they are choosing to continue requiring masks and why some are making them optional. The Republican-backed Bill states that the pandemic emergency is over, roughly a month earlier than what the Biden Administration had planned. Local Healthcare Officials are sharing their reaction.
“It is recommended that hospitals use masks in patient-facing areas, if the county’s community transmission is high.” That’s what Conemaugh’S Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Elizabeth Dunmore says the CDC recommends, even after the COVID National Emergency was declared over by President Biden. Dr. Dunmore adding: “We bounce back and forth between high, substantial, and sometimes even moderate. But because that changes from week to week, we have assessed that the most prudent way to proceed is just continue masking, rather than saying one week you’re masking, one week you’re not.”
Chief Quality Officer for U.P.M.C. West Central, Doctor David Burwell says they also are continuing to wear masks and practice COVID hygiene. He says this is similar to what they would be doing if the pandemic didn’t happen. Dr. Burwell adding: “We are doing a couple changes. We do allow patients, and our support staff, and our visitors, while they’re alone in a private room, they may remove their mask, at that time.”
Meanwhile, other hospitals are lifting their masking mandates. Mount Nittany Health released a statement saying: “Patients and visitors are longer required to mask except when symptomatic or COVID-19 positive. Visitation will return to pre-pandemic policies and spaces such as the cafeteria.”
Nittany Health Chief Medical Officer Upendra Thaker, says quote: “We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and CDC, state and local requirements and make adjustments in the future, if necessary.”
Geisinger also released a statement saying: “We have begun easing masking restrictions in our hospitals and clinics. Employees, patients and visitors will only be required to wear masks during interactions with their care team in patient care areas.”
Administrators also say apart from the changing Hospital climate, their operations remain unaffected.