New mask mandates have been imposed in health care facilities and other places in at least three states in recent days.
COVID-19 hospitalizations have been rising since late summer, as new variants circulate. According to the latest data from the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 20,538 hospital admissions in the week ending September 9, up 7.7 percent from the previous week.
In an effort to help avert another “tripledemic” like last year when hospitals were overwhelmed with flu, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and coronavirus cases, the U.S. this month approved updated COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC has endorsed the new shots for everyone 6 months and older.
During the height of the pandemic, masks were widely used as a method of limiting the spread of the virus, especially before vaccines became available.
While it doesn’t seem that widespread mask mandates will make a return, some businesses, schools and hospitals have temporarily required masks in response to reported COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
Here, Newsweek rounds up places where new mask requirements have been introduced in recent days.
Officials in three Bay Area counties—Contra Costa, Sonoma and San Mateo—announced that staff in health care facilities will be required to wear masks. The order will remain in effect through April 30.
“Each year we see that higher rates of influenza, COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses that can cause severe respiratory infections occur annually between late fall and spring,” Dr. Karen Smith, Sonoma County’s health officer, said in a statement.
“Patients and residents in our health care and congregate facilities, especially young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with chronic health conditions, are at greater risk for respiratory virus-related hospitalizations and death. Workers in direct care, health care, and congregate facilities are at risk for respiratory illness and can transmit the viruses to their clients, patients, and coworkers.”
The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center announced that all staff will be required to wear masks on the premises beginning September 25.
“This decision was made to promote the safety of our patients, families, visitors, and employees, based on evidence that masks are effective in reducing the spread of respiratory illness,” the hospital said in a statement.
Windsor Terrace Middle School in New York City’s Brooklyn borough has temporarily reinstated a mask mandate.
The measure was prompted by a spikes in cases among sixth-grade students at the school, Chalkbeat reported.
The mask requirement will stay in place until each grade goes five days without any new cases, school officials said in an email to families. The school has been contacted for comment via email.