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Essentia Health moving to voluntary masking in most situations

The change goes into effect Monday, April 3, and applies to all Essentia hospitals, clinics and home health care.

Essentia Health St. Joseph's Medical Center
Essentia Health St. Joseph's Medical Center

BRAINERD โ€” After careful consideration of the state of COVID-19, Essentia Health announced Thursday, March 30, it will move to a voluntary masking policy for most staff, patients and visitors.

This change goes into effect Monday, April 3, and applies to all Essentia hospitals, clinics and home health care, officials reported in a news release.

Voluntary masking does not apply to Essentiaโ€™s long-term care/nursing home facilities or assisted living facilities, which will continue to evaluate masking protocols separately. Hospice staff will follow the policies of the facilities they enter.

As the disease has evolved, Essentia officials said they are seeing fewer deaths and hospitalizations related to the virus. Additionally, the current availability of COVID-19 vaccines and effective treatments has improved.

โ€œWe will still encourage masks for anyone who has symptoms consistent with a COVID-19 infection, a COVID-19 exposure or other infectious respiratory illnesses,โ€ Essentia officials said in the news release.

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Masks will remain available at entrances to Essentiaโ€™s facilities and they will continue following appropriate transmission-based precautions. Staff members caring for COVID-19 patients or suspected COVID-19 patients must still wear full personal protective equipment, and those visiting COVID-19 patients must mask according to visitor guidelines.

Patients can request that their provider or others on their care team wear a mask.

โ€œThe move to voluntary masking is another step in our efforts to transition to living with COVID-19 while still encouraging people to protect themselves by washing their hands, staying up to date on vaccines and continuing to test for the virus and seek treatment as needed,โ€ Essentia officials reported.

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