Mask Rules Are Removed in Oregon and Washington
In Oregon and Washington, using face masks in healthcare facilities is no longer required by law. On April 3, both states stopped requiring residents to wear masks. State health authorities revealed the adjustments roughly a month ago in an attempt to abolish one of the most staunch restrictions of the epidemic.
The choice was made after state health experts saw a decline in the number of instances of influenza, RSV, and COVID-19. Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state health officer for Oregon, acknowledged that removing the mask requirement in healthcare settings would elicit varied reactions.
“For many… this is a great positive step as we move on from COVID,” said Sidelinger. “For others, particularly those with chronic conditions or who are immunocompromised, they’re facing this decision with some anxiety.”
Individual healthcare providers modified their masking standards throughout the last month, and the changes took effect on April 3. Teri Dantzler, a staff member at Portland Urgent Care, stated, “We wanted to be sure that all of our patients stayed safe and be respectful of others.”
According to Dantzler, those experiencing cold or cough symptoms must still wear a mask. When a patient is tested for COVID or an employee has symptoms, they wear masks. According to Dantzler, staff members were quite vigilant about wearing masks throughout the epidemic, and it showed.
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“Not one staff member that we’re aware of got COVID because of a patient walking in the door, so that was an amazing statistic for us,” said Dantzler. Around oncology, transplant, and medically fragile patients, and anytime a patient or family member requests masks be worn, Legacy Health will continue to require mask use.
Patients with respiratory sickness symptoms are being asked to continue wearing masks by OHSU, Kaiser, PeaceHealth, and Providence Health & Services, all making similar modifications. Health authorities and care providers have urged the public to be vigilant and mindful of their surroundings as the country enters the next phase after the outbreak.
“To me that’s just common sense now that we’ve been wearing [masks] for so long,” said Dantzler. “We understand that it does help.”
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