U.Va. Health has expanded the portion of the hospital which considers masks to be optional — including the main hospital, Emergency Department and public spaces — effective last week. This decision follows April’s relaxing of masking mandates and the announcement that team members will no longer be required to receive COVID-19 vaccines as of Aug. 4.
This change in protocol reflects U.Va. Health’s desire to return to normalized operations, Public Information Officer Eric Swensen said in a written statement to the Cavalier Daily. Swensen said all individuals should continue to consider their personal risk when making decisions regarding masking.
“Masking will continue to be required in areas where we have high concentrations of high-risk patients,” Swensen said. “Patients may request that their care teams wear masks during treatment and clinic visits.”
U.Va. Health first relaxed masking policies this April, expanding mask-optional zones to administrative and research buildings, ambulatory clinics and outpatient surgery centers. Despite dropping the Covid-19 vaccine requirement, U.Va. Health continues to recommend that all eligible individuals receive the vaccine.
While COVID-19 cases are still present, the public health emergency in the United States has concluded and the virus is now in an epidemic phase calling for a re-examination of COVID-19 protocols, according to U.Va. Health Director of Epidemiology Dr. Costi Sifri.