CDC updates mask guidance for N95s in hospitals

The CDC updated its COVID-19 infection control guidance March 24 to make it clear that healthcare facilities should permit patients and visitors to wear more highly protective masks, like N95s. 

CDC confirmed the update was made to Politico following a March 16 report by Politico's Rachael Levy about hospitals and health systems asking patients and visitors to swap their N95s for surgical masks to be in line with CDC guidelines.

The updated language from the CDC (also found here): 

"CDC recommends that people visiting healthcare facilities use the most protective form of source control that fits well and will be worn consistently. Information on masks and respirators is available here. Healthcare facilities may choose to offer well-fitting facemasks as a source control option for visitors but should allow the use of a clean mask or respirator with higher level protection by people who chose that option based on their individual preference. Masks and respirators used for source control should be changed if they become visibly soiled, damaged or hard to breathe through."

CMS is also moving to ensure patients know how to file a complaint against a facility that requests patients or visitors take off their masks or fails to follow CDC guidelines. CMS is slated to discuss the topic with state survey agencies this week, sources told Politico.

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