WORCESTER, Mass. - The state's mask mandate for medical settings will end next month when both the state and federal COVID public health emergencies expire.
In Worcester, Saint Vincent Hospital is in the process of revising their masking policy to align with the May 11 lifting of the emergency orders. UMass Memorial Health is also anticipating they'll become mask optional once the orders end.
UMass Memorial President and CEO Dr. Eric Dickson said while some high risk departments, like chemotherapy, will continue to wear masks as they did before COVID-19, it's time for most workers, patients and visitors to have the option.
"We will continue to follow CDC guidance on the masking mandate and meet all of those requirements,” Dickson said. “We are very hopeful that we'll be able to get our employees out of the masks in more situations, our visitors, our patients out of a mask, and it's a very uncomfortable thing to do. It's hard to ask somebody to wear a mask for a 12-hour shift in a hospital so, as much as we can, we'll try to reduce the masking requirements and anybody that chooses to wear a mask will still be allowed to do so.”
Some groups like the Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity say ending the mandate is dangerous and unethical and more than 800 people have a signed a petition to keep protocols in place.
The state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services said masking will continue after May 11 at some facilities and the state can reinstate mask mandates in health care settings if COVID rates rebound in the future.