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Why Do I Still Have to Wear a Mask in a Hospital?

  • Category: Ask the Expert
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Marshall Medical Center
Why Do I Still Have to Wear a Mask in a Hospital?

Just about everywhere you go these days, indoor mask mandates for public spaces have been dropped. In communities like El Dorado County with low rates of COVID-19 transmission, mask wearing is optional in stores, restaurants, schools, and even on public transportation. So why is it still a requirement that you wear a mask in most hospitals and other healthcare facilities?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set the recommendations for mask wearing in hospitals and healthcare facilities. They have recommended, and continue to recommend, that everyone—including staff, patients, residents, and visitors—wear a mask while in the building. This masking recommendation applies regardless of vaccination status.

Why are masks still required in hospitals but not in other places?

There are a number of reasons that masking recommendations have remained in effect for healthcare settings even as they have eased elsewhere. Wearing a mask in a hospital or healthcare facility helps:

  • Protect you. While Marshall staff does their best to reduce risk, you are more likely to come into contact with a COVID-positive person in a hospital or clinic. Wearing a mask helps protect you from becoming infected with COVID-19 if others are sick.
  • Protect others. The other patients and visitors may be more at risk of developing serious complications if they get COVID-19. Wearing a mask makes it less likely you’ll spread the virus if you have it, especially if you aren’t feeling or showing symptoms.
  • Avoid staffing shortages. At the height of the pandemic, it wasn’t the number of beds that limited hospitals’ abilities to take on more patients. It was the staff to care for the patients in those beds. When staff members get COVID-19 and need to stay home, it can be difficult for facilities to provide the level of care needed. Mask wearing makes it less likely this will happen.

What if I forget to bring a mask with me?

If you forget your mask, don’t worry. We’ll provide you with one when you arrive.

What else can I do?

Hospitals and doctors’ offices can be scary places and no one is at their best when they're scared or not feeling well. Unfortunately, too often tensions get the better of patients and visitors and healthcare workers must bear the brunt of frustrations. A recent study reports that three quarters of all healthcare workers have experienced verbal and physical assaults and an even higher number have experienced or witnessed violence from a patient or their caregiver in the past month. The Marshall family appreciates your kindness and patience during your family's trying time.