SALEM, Ore. (KGW) — The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is lifting the requirement to wear face masks in health care facilities starting April 3. This will apply to workers, patients and visitors.
Washington state also announced it will drop its mask mandate for health care facilities on the same date.
Health care facilities include “hospitals, mobile clinics, ambulances, outpatients facilities, dental offices, urgent care centers, counseling offices, school-based health centers, complementary and alternative medicine locations,” OHA reports.
The requirement started August 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data in recent weeks shows that the three respiratory conditions that caused a surge in hospital visits last fall have started to decrease, OHA reported. Here’s a look at the data for the three pathogens now vs. a few months ago in December 2022:
- COVID-19 test positivity: 10% now | 12% in December
- Influenza test positivity: 1.2% now | 24% in December
- RSV test positivity: 3.5% now | 11% in December
OHA said it’s setting the date to lift the mask mandate a month out to give “the health care system, local public health authorities and other health partners time to prepare for the change, including adjusting policies, training and procedures that ensure continued patient safety and access.”
Those at high risk of disease or people who live with people at higher risk should still “consider wearing masks in health care or any settings” to protect themselves and those around them, OHA said. Others may choose to wear masks if it makes them feel more comfortable in those settings.
OHA also said some health care facilities may continue to require masks even after the mandate is lifted.
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