Essentia Health moves to voluntary masking

Essentia Health
Essentia Health(KVLY)
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 1:20 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - Essentia Health is changing mask regulations next week.

According to Essentia Health officials, they will be moving to a voluntary masking policy for most staff, patients, and visitors.

The change will go into effect on Monday, April 3 and it applies to their hospitals, clinics, and home health care.

Voluntary masking does not apply to Essentia’s long-term care/housing facilities or assisted living facilities, which will be evaluating masking protocols separately.

Hospice staff will follow the policies of the facilities they enter.

Officials say as the COVID-19 has evolved, they are seeing fewer deaths and hospitalizations due to the virus.

In addition, the availability of vaccines and effective treatments have improved.

Essentia Health is still encouraging masks for anyone who has symptoms consistent with a COVID-19 infection, COVID-19 exposure, or other infectious respiratory illnesses.

Masks will still remain available at facility entrances and they will continue to follow appropriate transmission-based precautions.

However, staff members caring for COVID-19 patients or suspected COVID-19 patients must still wear full personal protective equipment, and those visiting COVID-19 patients must mask according to the visitor guidelines.

Patients can also request that their provider or other on their care team wear a mask.

Hospital spokespeople state the move to voluntary masking is another step in their efforts to transition to living with COVID-19, while still encouraging people to protect themselves by washing their hands, staying up to date on vaccines, and continuing to test for the virus and seek treatment as needed.