Masks continue to be required for all visitors and patients in health care settings, despite recent changes to guidance from state and federal officials that apply to other community areas.
Local health care organizations stressed that masks are still needed in health care settings to protect vulnerable people.
“Hospitals and health care providers must take all measures to prioritize the health of their patients, many of whom are immunocompromised or weakened, which puts them at a high risk of having severe illness if they get COVID-19,” said Dr. Rajesh Govindaiah, senior vice president and chief physician executive for Memorial Health. “Masking is an important mitigation tool because many people who have COVID-19, especially the omicron variant, don’t have symptoms and may not know they are spreading the virus.”
Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued new recommendations that relaxed mask requirements in many areas. Illinois’ mask mandate also was lifted on Feb. 28. However, officials stressed that those changes do not apply in health care settings. Health care employees also are still required to wear masks at all times in patient care and public areas of health care buildings.
Health care leaders also urged the public to treat employees with civility and respect if they are directed to wear a mask.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve appreciated the support we’ve received from the public,” said Dr. Gurpreet Mander, HSHS Illinois chief physician executive. “We need them to continue to support us by following masking guidelines when they visit us to seek care or to support a patient.”