Mass General's mask policy linked to fewer employee COVID-19 infections

Universal masking policies may be linked to significant decreases in COVID-19 transmission in hospital settings, a study published in JAMA Network Open found.

Researchers examined EHR data to assess the COVID-19 test positivity rate among healthcare workers at Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital before and after the hospital implemented a mandatory mask policy for staff and patients. The health system tested 9,850 employees between March 1 and April 30, 12.9 percent of whom tested positive for COVID-19. 

Before implementing the mask policy, the COVID-19 positivity rate "increased exponentially" from 0 percent to 21.3 percent between March 1 and March 24, researchers found. During the intervention period (April 11-30) when the mask policy was in effect, the positivity rate declined from 14.7 percent to 11.5 percent.

Researchers noted the decrease could also be due to other factors such as social distancing  and restrictions on elective surgeries. 

However, the COVID-19 cases numbers continued to increase in the state during the study period, suggesting that the decrease in Massachusetts General's positivity rate occurred before the decrease in the general public, researchers concluded.

To view the full study, click here.

More articles on infection control:

Viewpoint: How to respond to patients who refuse to wear masks
How researchers' understanding of airborne COVID-19 transmission has evolved: A timeline of key studies, reports
Mismanagement fueling COVID-19 outbreak at California hospital, workers claim

 

 

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