Mass General Brigham, 11 other hospitals holding off on mandatory masking

As the U.S. enters respiratory virus season, some hospitals have already begun to bring back mask mandates — but others are watching trends and waiting to make that determination. 

Since the public health emergency ended in May, universal masking in hospital and healthcare settings has been up to system leadership to determine in conjunction with other factions including COVID-19's spread, local infections and national trends.

While circumstances may evolve as viral seasons begins in the U.S., which could give way to policy changes in time, here are the hospitals and health systems that have announced they are currently not requiring masks again at this time: 

Note that this list is not exhaustive and will be updated as new information becomes available.

  • Boston-based Mass General Brigham announced it will not bring back its mask mandate this respiratory virus season, unless infections rise drastically, in which case it plans to do so in a phased approach, The Boston Globe reported Nov. 1

  • Samaratin Health in Watertown, N.Y., returned to optional masking Oct. 25 for most locations, but will continue to enforce masking in emergency departments and long-term care facilities.

  • Hackensack Meridian in Edison, N.J., walked back mask policies at three locations: Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank and Ocean University Medical Center in Brick, Asbury Park Press reported Oct. 25. Masking is still required at other locations. 

  • Stony Brook (N.Y.) Medicine is asking workers to mask, but has no plans to bring the mandate back for visitors or patients, Newsday reported Aug. 31.

  • Catholic Health System in Buffalo, N.Y., told Newsday masking continues to be optional at its hospitals, and it will adjust accordingly regarding any changes in state health guidelines.

  • NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island in Mineola, N.Y., noted to Newsday it has no plans of bringing back masking, but will continue to monitor COVID-19 spread.

  • Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, N.Y., noted to Newsday it has no plans of bringing back masking, but will continue to monitor COVID-19 spread.

  • The University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center has noted it is not planning to reinstate its mask mandate, according to Livingston County News.

  • Rochester (N.Y.) Regional Health and its affiliated locations are also not bringing masks back at this time, according to Livingston County News.

  • Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y., does not currently have plans to reinstate its mask mandate, but is encouraging them in higher-risk settings.

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