COVID-19 Mask Mandates Make A Comeback In These 6 Areas
Reintroduction of Mask Mandates
Due to a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations, several institutions including hospitals, schools, and businesses are reintroducing mask mandates. This includes:
- Morris Brown College in Atlanta: The college mandated all students and employees to wear masks and imposed restrictions on gatherings for two weeks following positive cases among students.
- Lionsgate in Los Angeles: The company required employees in certain areas of its headquarters to wear masks due to a cluster of COVID-19 cases.
- Kaiser Permanente in California: The healthcare company mandated staff, patients, and visitors at its Santa Rosa hospital and northern California medical offices to wear masks due to a rise in patients testing positive for COVID-19.
- United Health Services in New York: The health system reinstated mask requirements at all its facilities including UHS Wilson Medical Center, UHS Binghamton General Hospital, UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital, UHS Delaware Valley Hospital, and primary and specialty care sites.
- Auburn Community Hospital in New York: The hospital reintroduced its mask mandate a month after ending it, making face coverings mandatory inside its facilities, regardless of immunization status.
- Upstate Medical’s hospitals in Syracuse, New York: Both of Upstate Medical’s hospitals, University and Community General, reinstated mandatory masking in clinical areas after an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
Emergence of New Variants
Two new COVID-19 variants, EG.5 and BA.2.86, have surfaced recently. The WHO classified EG.5 as a “variant of interest” but indicated that its risk to global public health is low.
On the other hand, the CDC noted that the BA.2.86 variant might be more likely to infect individuals with existing immunity to COVID-19, derived from either vaccinations or prior infections, compared to previous variants. This variant has been reported in the U.S., the U.K., Denmark, South Africa, and Israel.
Hospital Admissions on the Rise
Although hospital admissions are increasing, with at least 15,000 reported in the week ending August 19, they are still significantly lower than past peaks during the height of the pandemic.
Currently, it’s unclear if widespread mask mandates will return, however, many regions are temporarily reinstating pandemic-era requirements in response to recent surges in COVID-19 cases.