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. 

Several health systems across North Carolina are 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:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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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