Infection preventionists should still mask in patient care areas, APIC says

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology urges all infection preventionists to maintain mandatory mask requirement policies for all healthcare employees in patient care areas despite the CDC's recent guidance shift.

In September, the CDC lifted the mandatory masking recommendation for healthcare workers, instead recommending facilities use its community transmission levels to determine when masking should be required. According to the release, the seven-day lag in CDC COVID-19 testing data limits the ability to detect surges in real time.

APIC recommends maintaining mask requirements for the following reasons:  

  • We are entering what is predicted to be a severe flu season with COVID-19 surges.
  • Indicators like wastewater surveillance and rising case counts overseas point to a new wave of COVID-19 cases in the coming months.
  • Shifting back and forth between universal masking is confusing and erodes trust.
  • Rising COVID-19 cases could lead to healthcare worker shortages.

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