Essentia Health moves to voluntary masking in most situations
Long-term care facilities may remain exceptions to voluntary masking
After careful consideration of the state of COVID-19, Essentia Health moved to a voluntary masking policy for most staff, patients and visitors. This change applies to hospitals, clinics and home health care.
Voluntary masking does not apply to Essentia Health's long-term care/nursing home facilities or assisted living facilities, which will continue to evaluate masking protocols separately. Hospice staff will follow the policies of the facilities they enter.
As the disease has evolved, staff are seeing fewer deaths and hospitalizations related to the virus. Additionally, the current availability of COVID-19 vaccines and effective treatments has improved.
Essentia Health will still encourage masks for anyone who has symptoms consistent with a COVID-19 infection, a COVID-19 exposure or other infectious respiratory illnesses.
Masks will remain available at facility entrances. Essentia Health will continue to follow appropriate transmission-based precautions. 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 visitor guidelines.
Patients can request that their provider or others on their care team wear a mask.
The move to voluntary masking is another step in 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.