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Local hospitals won’t drop mask requirement despite state’s move to end COVID-era rule

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

Despite the New York State health department lifting its COVID-era mask requirements for hospitals and healthcare facilities, mask mandates will continue to be in effect for Rochester-area healthcare facilities. The leaders of Rochester Regional Health and UR Medicine have stated that while some areas may no longer require masks, they need more time to assess the situation and determine which areas may be exempt.

As of now, employees and visitors must still wear masks when inside hospitals and private practices associated with the health care systems. Private practices have the option to set their own mask requirements. The statewide mandate is set to expire this Sunday, and all staff, patients, and visitors have been required to wear masks, regardless of COVID vaccination status.

The acting health commissioner has stated that the state health department will advise healthcare facilities to follow the CDC guidelines and come up with their own plans for when masks will be required, based on community case levels.

Dr. Michael Apostolakos, chief medical officer of Strong Memorial Hospital, says they want to look at the situation in detail before making any changes. “Masking in hospitals has helped stop the spread of disease and protect our patients. There may be areas where it may be okay to allow visitors to go without masks, but we need to look at this carefully because both our organizations are very large with a lot of different environments,” he told News10NBC.

Similarly, The Auburn Citizen reported on Friday that Auburn Community Hospital, another healthcare facility in the area, will not relinquish masking policies.

All of the healthcare systems said they are committed to patient health and well-being.