More hospitals, health systems begin to walk back mask mandates

Ahead of the ending COVID-19 emergency, several hospitals and health systems have begun to walk back their mask rules. 

Health systems including Northwestern Medicine, Northern Light Health and UPMC are some of the latest to announce reversal of masking policies, joining dozens of other hospitals and systems nationwide. 

The following is not an exhaustive list, but tracks some of the most recent, notable hospitals and healthcare systems in the U.S. to do so:

  • UPMC, based in Pittsburgh, rolled back its universal masking policy as of May 1, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

  • Conemaugh Health System in Johnstown, Pa., reversed its mask policy as of April 27, according to the Tribune Democrat.

  • Northwestern Medicine in Chicago walked back its mask requirements April 24 but will continue to require staff to wear a mask upon a patient's request, according to the facility's website. 
    • Northern Light Health in Brewer, Maine, announced April 21 that masks would no longer be required for visitors or staff in most cases.

    • Cleveland Clinic has detailed its plans to reverse its policy on mandatory masking beginning April 20.

    • Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Bronson Healthcare hospitals and outpatient locations no longer require masking in most cases as of April 18.

    • Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic Health System reversed its mask policy effective April 17. 

    • Trinity Health Michigan said beginning April 17, masks would be optional at its facilities. 

    • McLaren Health Care, based in Grand Blanc, Mich., announced masks would become optional as of April 17.

    • Children's Wisconsin in Milwaukee is no longer enforcing its universal masking policy as of April 17.

    • Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw, Mich., rolled back its masking policy as of April 17.

    • Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Pa., announced that beginning April 17, masks would be optional at its facilities for patients, visitors and staff in most areas where patient care is provided, with certain exceptions.

    • Lovelace Health System, Presbyterian Healthcare Services and Christus St. Vincent, all based in New Mexico, jointly announced masking will no longer be required at facilities as of April 16, except for in certain cases where patient safety requires it, according to Taos News.
    • University of New Mexico Health in Albuquerque will no longer enforce mandatory masking for visitors and staff, except in certain cases beginning April 16.
    • Corewell Health, which has dual headquarters in Grand Rapids and Southfield, Mich., reversed its mask policy as of April 14.

    • Detroit Medical Center announced masking would be optional as of April 14.

    • Henry Ford Health in Detroit walked back its mask mandate April 14.

    • Munson Healthcare in Traverse City, Mich., said as of April 14, masking would be optional in most cases at its facilities.

    • Ascension Michigan in Warren no longer requires mandatory masking as of April 13.

    • Missouri University Health Care in Columbia announced that beginning April 13, masks would be optional in most circumstances across its patient care facilities, but will still be required for patients and staff experiencing respiratory symptoms.
    • University of Vermont Health Network in Burlington is set to lift mask requirements across its hospitals and facilities beginning April 12, according to VermontBiz.
    • Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., announced that its universal masking policy will no longer be mandated in most clinical areas at its facilities as of April 10.

    • Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin and Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee both rolled back their mask policies as of April 10 according to Fox6 News.
    • The Mayo Clinic, based in Rochester, Minn., and its facilities will no longer require masks for patients, staff or visitors in most cases beginning April 10.

    • Cape Fear Valley Health based in Fayetteville, N.C., has updated its mask and visitation policies. As of April 7, visitors and staff will no longer be required to wear masks unless circumstances require so for safety.

    • Augusta Health in Fishersville, Va., noted that its mask policy would be optional for visitors, patients and staff, with certain exceptions beginning April 5.

    • Sparrow Health System in Lansing, Mich., revised its mask requirements April 5, now making them optional or required in certain circumstances.

    • University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City made masking optional as of April 3 across its facilities.

    • Asante Health System in Medford, Ore., announced March 31 that it would relax its mask policies.

    • Baltimore-based University of Maryland Medical System lifted its mask mandate across its 12 hospitals as of March 29, according to a press release shared with Becker's via email.

    • Novant Health, also in Charlotte, revised its mask policy. Masking is encouraged for visitors, but no longer required, according to its website and a March 28 report from the Charlotte Observer.
    • Atrium Health in Charlotte, N.C., recently revised its masking policy and as of March 27, mandatory masking in its facilities will only be required in certain high-risk areas.

    • Cone Health in Greensboro, N.C., announced in a March 27 news release that masking will now be optional at its facilities.

    • CaroMont Health in Gastonia, N.C., joined the above North Carolina systems in revising its mask requirements for patients, visitors and staff, according to a release shared by WSOC News.

    • Randolph Health in Asheboro, N.C., was also part of the group of health systems in North Carolina to lift mask mandates this week. It announced this in a March 27 news release and cited the other regional systems doing so as one factor driving the decision.

    • University of Michigan Health in Ann Arbor announced March 27 that it would walk back some of its COVID-19 restrictions and policies including mandatory masking. However, like many health systems, staff will need to continue to mask in certain circumstances for patient safety.
    • Campbell County Health in Gillette, Wyo., has scaled back its masking guidelines, according to a March 16 report from County 17 news. The acute care community hospital stated that employees will only be required to wear masks if "they're in contact with a patient or if CCH Employee Health and Safety asks them to mask."

    • Springfield, Mo.-based CoxHealth and Chesterfield, Mo.-based Mercy both announced March 15 plans to end masking requirements in facilities, except for in certain cases, NBC affiliate KYTV reported.

    • LMH Health in Lawrence, Kan., shifted its mask policy March 13, announcing they will no longer be required in most cases. The health system stated it will continue to monitor infection levels in the community and update accordingly.

    • The Department of Veterans Affairs has sunset mask requirements across most VA hospitals but will still require them where transmission risk is high.

    • Two Kansas health systems also recently reversed mask requirements. HCA Midwest Health System in Overland Park, Kan., confirmed it lifted mask policies effective March 3. Wesley Healthcare in Wichita, Kan., also removed its mask requirements and relaxed other COVID-19 policies across its facilities March 7.

    • Saint Luke's Health System in Kansas City, Mo., also reversed mask requirements across all locations March 3.

    • Cheyenne (Wyo.) Regional Health System revised the mask policy for its facilities, making them no longer required March 7 in most instances.

    • Banner Health in Phoenix announced Feb. 14 that masks would not be required at any of its facilities except those in California due to the state's stricter COVID-19 measures, which will still be in place until April. California, Oregon and Washington are all set to lift masking requirements for healthcare workers April 3.

    • Intermountain Health, based in Salt Lake City, is the latest system to announce it is reversing mask protocols for its facilities across Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Kansas beginning March 15. Masks will still be required in certain cases and for surgical procedures, according to the news release.

    • Two Colorado-based systems, Denver Health and UCHealth in Aurora, also recently announced that they would lift mask requirements across facilities, with UCHealth saying it is "safe to no longer mandate masking" but that it would reassess as needed going forward. 

    It is a trend that may continue across other systems as the nation approaches the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency come May. These announcements also follow on the heels of September 2022 news from the CDC announcing that masking in healthcare settings was no longer needed unless transmission rates were high.


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