Amid rising COVID cases and hospitalizations throughout the country, several hospital systems or hospitals have reinstated mask-wearing requirements for patients and staff, as reported by Becker’s Hospital Review.
These announcements come as COVID-related hospitalizations have risen 21.6% in the most recent week and deaths have risen 21.4%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The numbers, however, are still far below the levels that were seen during the pandemic.
As of Aug. 25, the following hospitals and health systems are now requiring masks, as confirmed by Fox News Digital.
Here is the list.
United Health Services in New York
This New York health system reinstated masking policies at its facilities on Aug. 23.
“Because of an uptick in COVID-19 cases, masks are once again required in all clinical areas at UHS Wilson Medical Center, UHS Binghamton General Hospital, UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital and UHS Delaware Valley Hospital, as well as primary and specialty care sites,” UHS wrote in an announcement on its website.
“The new policy is in effect immediately for all patients, visitors, employees, medical staff, volunteers, students and vendors,” the statement continued.
“Masks are required at nurses’ stations and in conference rooms within clinical departments, including areas where patients register, wait, transport through, or receive testing and care.”
Masks are also required in “common spaces.”
These include patient care units, lobbies, public hallways, stairwells, elevators and cafeterias (with the exception of when people are eating or drinking).
Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center, California
This California medical center has reinstated the mask mandate amid a rise in positive COVID tests as of Aug. 22.
“To ensure that we are helping protect the health and safety of our patients, our workforce and our community, we have reintroduced a mask mandate for physicians, staff, patients, members and visitors in the hospital and medical offices in the Santa Rosa Service Area,” Kaiser said in a statement.
On its website, the hospital states that “currently, masks are required upon entrance to the hospital and throughout your visit.”
Auburn Community Hospital, New York
This New York hospital is again requiring masks — just one month after ending the mandate, as reported on Aug. 19.
All staff, patients and visitors must wear masks in clinical areas at Auburn Community Hospital in Auburn, New York.
“Face coverings are mandatory inside our facilities, regardless of your immunization status,” the hospital states on its website.
“If you do not arrive with one or yours is deemed inappropriate, a mask will be provided to you. It must be worn at all times and must cover your nose and mouth.”
Hospitalized COVID patients may only see one visitor at a time — who must also wear full personal protective equipment (PPE).
University Hospital in Syracuse, New York
As of Aug. 17, University Hospital in Syracuse has reinstated its masking requirement.
“Effective immediately, mandatory masking is required by all staff, visitors and patients in clinical areas of Upstate University Hospital, Upstate Community Hospital and ambulatory clinical spaces,” as stated in a staff memo obtained by Syracuse.com.
“Clinical areas are defined as any location patients gather, wait, transport thorough or receive care.”
What happened to the ‘end of universal masking’?
In April 2023, a group of health care epidemiologists and infectious diseases experts from across the country published a paper in the Annals of Internal Medicine, in which they called for an end to universal masking in hospitals and other health care settings.
“After three years of universal masking in health care, the risk-benefit calculation has shifted,” said Shira Doron, M.D., chief infection control officer for Tufts Medicine health system and hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, in a press release on the Mass General Brigham website.
“Masks do have downsides, such as impaired communication and disrupted human connection. We are at a stage of the pandemic where it now makes sense to end mandatory masking.”
Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, said he supports mask requirements in hospitals that have vulnerable, high-risk patients.
“I still wear a mask inside my medical center, though many don’t,” he told Fox News Digital.
In one observational study at Mass General Brigham in July 2020, health care workers appeared to show decreased case numbers as a result of masks, Siegel noted.
In cases where masks are used or required, the doctor said they should be “KN95 or better” and that people should receive instructions for proper use.
Added Siegel, “They should only be considered for a high volume of circulating respiratory viruses.”
“The mandates did not work. They’ve been studied over and over, and they didn’t decrease spread.”
The doctor said he does not support universal mask mandates, however.
During an appearance on “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Saturday, Siegel spoke about today’s available antiviral drug, vaccines and widespread immunity.
“Most of us have had COVID, or people have had a vaccine and booster, and they have what’s called immune memory,” he said.
“Most importantly, the mandates did not work,” Siegel continued. “They’ve been studied over and over, and they didn’t decrease spread.”
Studies have shown that many people wear masks improperly, the doctor noted.
“If you actually wore a mask in the proper way and it was the proper mask and you used it in the right setting, like a doctor’s office, it probably does something,” Siegel said. “But does anybody do that? Certainly not 5-year-olds.”
He added, “So mandating masks makes no sense whatsoever.”