Masking at Duke Health facilities will be optional for patients, visitors and employees in most circumstances beginning Tuesday, according to an announcement to Duke University Health System employees by Frances Rogers, senior communications specialist at the DUHS.
Citing a “sustained decrease in COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations and deaths both locally and nationally,” masking requirements will be reverted to a “near pre-COVID-19 state,” the Monday announcement read.
According to the announcement, masking will continue to be required in areas that have “always required masking as part of routine precautions” and as part of “transmission-based isolation precautions,” such as under the DUHS Standard and Transmission-based Policy. For DUHS employees, masking will also be required for 10 days after ending isolation for a COVID-19 infection.
It will also be required as part of standard precautions, such as if patients and visitors have or are presenting new respiratory symptoms. Team members providing direct patient care will also be required to wear a mask when treating patients presenting respiratory symptoms, pending a diagnosis of the cause of the symptoms.
Visitors and employees providing direct patient care will still be required to mask in certain areas of Duke University Hospital, the NP BCC clinic, the COVID-19 Testing Clinic and other locations with specific policies for continued masking.
People who wish to wear masks in mask-optional areas are encouraged to do so. Duke Health will also continue monitoring trends in COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses to determine if masking requirements will return.
In March, Duke Health announced that it would stop requiring masks in staff areas of the hospitals and areas where no patient care was occurring. The same month, Duke ended its mask requirement on buses and vans.
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Jazper Lu is a Trinity junior and managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.