Mass. removes mask mandate for healthcare

BOSTON — State health officials are lifting nearly three-year-old mask mandates for hospitals and other medical facilities before the federal and state COVID-19 public health emergency ends on Thursday.

State public health departments, in a memo to hospital executives, announced universal masking for all health care workers on Thursday, consistent with the official end of federal and state COVID-19-related public health declarations. He said he would end the emergency order he requested.

Dr. Elizabeth Daque-Kelley, director of DPH’s Health Care Safety and Quality Authority, said despite the changes, medical facilities should ensure that medical staff and patients wear masks, especially if they have COVID- or flu-like symptoms. I said I should be allowed to continue.

“Healthcare providers should make face masks available to healthcare workers who choose to wear them while in a health facility or patient care area,” she wrote in a note. “In addition, health care providers should provide face masks to patients or visitors who wish to wear them.”

The DPH memo states that health care providers should update their infection prevention and control policies to “incorporate actions taken during times of high levels of community-acquired respiratory virus infections.”

“This includes, but is not limited to, enforcing HCP masking, increasing ventilation in facilities, and offering respiratory vaccine clinics. It may include universal masking, which means that,” the State Department said.

Gov. Maura Healy announced in March plans for the state to scale back its COVID-19 emergency and lift remaining pandemic-related restrictions in the coming months, including mandatory vaccinations for executive branch workers. bottom.

Several major hospitals, including General Brigham’s Beth Israel Lahey, have said starting next Friday they will no longer require masks for most patients in medical settings.

Beth Israel said staff who have been vaccinated will no longer be required to wear masks, but those who have received a medical or religious exemption from vaccination should continue to wear masks.

The move follows the Biden administration’s decision, which was approved by Congress last month, to allow the federal emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 pandemic to expire on May 11, ending COVID-19. This is due to the continued decline in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Last week, the World Health Organization announced that COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency.

State and federal public health emergencies not only provide free COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccines, but also societies to help people cope with the pandemic and minimize its impact. Enhanced personal safety net benefits.

But emergency orders made it easier for state leaders to close schools and private businesses and impose public health restrictions, fueling dissatisfaction with government overreach and creating a host of legal challenges.

State health officials are urging people to continue taking personal health precautions even after the federal and state public emergencies are over.

An average of seven people die each day from COVID-19 in Massachusetts, according to state health data. Data show 22,602 confirmed deaths and nearly 2 million confirmed infections.

Last week, the state reported 897 new COVID-19 infections and had 41 deaths from the virus, according to the latest health data.

Nationwide, 190 Americans died from COVID in the week ending April 12, and about 14,491 new cases were reported, according to data from the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts State Capitol for the North of Boston Media Group newspaper and website. Please send an email to

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