Throughout the past three years, we have monitored COVID-19 and evolved our practices.
Beginning Thursday, April 20, masking will be optional for patients, visitors and caregivers in our U.S. facilities. Masking may still be required on certain units dedicated to the care of particularly vulnerable patients and is highly encouraged for those with respiratory symptoms or who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19. We will continue to have masks available in our facilities.
We are able to safely make this change as COVID-19 cases have decreased, and the proportion of patients needing hospitalization for COVID-19 has dropped significantly. This is likely because a large population has at least some immunity from vaccination and/or prior infection, and we now have more tools available to treat COVID-19. However, if a patient prefers that their provider wear a mask, the caregiver will do so.
We will continue to adjust our policies to best serve our communities. This may include requiring masking again in the fall, to help limit the spread of influenza and other respiratory viruses among patients and caregivers.