NY lifts mask mandate for health care. What to know about hospitals, nursing homes, more

New York is lifting its mask mandate for health care settings on Sunday, but some hospitals plan to keep requiring universal mask wearing in the near term as they finalize policies for the transition to a post-pandemic world.

The end of the state mask mandate will affect hospitals, nursing homes and other medical providers. Each facility will determine whether to require masks, state health officials said, noting the move follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance issued in September.

Several health systems on Friday announced visitors, workers and patients will continue to be required to wear masks in hospitals and doctors offices for an unspecified period of time.

Some health administrators indicated wearing masks could soon end in some parts of specific medical facilities but continue indefinitely in other settings, such as wards caring for high-risk and immunocompromised patients.

When will masks be required in NY health care?

State health officials recommended medical providers implement policies that allow for renewing universal mask-wearing requirements based on the CDC’s local COVID-19 risk assessment ratings.

The color-coded federal alert system recommends indoor masking in high-risk communities based on COVID-19 case counts and strains in local hospitals.

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“The pandemic is not over, yet we are moving to a transition,” acting New York State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said in a statement Friday, addressing the end of the health care mask mandate.

The availability of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and treatments made it possible to lift the mask mandate, McDonald said, adding the use of masks and other personal protective gear proved crucial to keeping medical workers and patients safe earlier in the pandemic.

How the end of NY’s mask mandate affects hospital visitors

Rochester General Hospital's main entrance is on Portland Street in Rochester, Dec.  8, 2020.

Rochester General Hospital’s main entrance is on Portland Street in Rochester, Dec. 8, 2020.

Health officials in Monroe County on Friday said masks will still be required at facilities affiliated with UR Medicine and Rochester Regional Health for an unspecified period of time.

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Hospital leaders at both health systems noted further details about mask wearing will be released in coming days and weeks. They added changes to visitation policies that would also be forthcoming, including potentially allowing more than one visitor per patient at a time.

Local and state health officials urged New Yorkers to contact local medical providers for site-specific mask wearing and visitation policies before visits.

This article originally appeared on New York State Team: NY lifts health care mask mandate for hospitals, nursing homes

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