On Monday, April 3, the Oregon Health Authority rescinded the pandemic face mask mandate for patient care facilities and face masks are no longer required in most Samaritan health care settings.
“Though face masks won’t be required, Samaritan will remain diligent in our efforts to keep patients safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses in our facilities,” said Adam Brady, MD, of Samaritan Infectious Disease and chair of Samaritan’s emerging pathogens committee.
These efforts include:
- Asking patients to wear a face mask if they have symptoms of any respiratory illness such as colds, flu or COVID-19.
- Stocking infection-prevention stations at clinics and hospitals with masks, tissues and hand sanitizer.
- Requiring that people visiting patients are free of contagious disease.
- All manner of infection prevention protocols including cleaning, sanitation, isolation precautions for patients with certain contagious diseases, etc.
“COVID-19 today is much different than it was in the spring of 2020, when uncertainty reigned,” said Dr. Brady. “The virus has evolved to cause less severe disease due to changes in the virus itself and widespread vaccine and infection-related immunity in the population. We have medications to reduce the risk of severe disease in those who are at high risk and to treat those who do develop severe disease.”
Wearing a mask remains an effective way to reduce transmission of respiratory viruses and Samaritan patients, visitors and staff are still welcome to wear face masks if they want or need to. Face masks and hand sanitizer will be available at hospital and clinic entrances. Patients are also welcome to request that their care team members wear face masks during their appointments.
“This is a significant milestone in the pandemic,” said Dr. Brady. “Over the past three years, Samaritan staff, patients and visitors have diligently worn face masks in a selfless effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we are grateful.”