Several area hospitals end mandatory mask mandates

Three years since the pandemic hit the St. Louis region, many area hospitals are ending their mandatory mask policies.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 10:18 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Three years since the pandemic hit the St. Louis region, many area hospitals are ending their mandatory mask policies. Effective March 15, SSM and Mercy will make masking optional at their facilities. St. Luke’s Hospital also recently made the same move.

“This change is based on new data available and reviews of declining cases across our communities. Mercy is asking everyone to be cautious if they experience new symptoms, and masks will still be available for those who want them. In addition, patients can request that their providers remain masked.

Mercy will continue to review all pertinent data and may need to re-enact masking requirements in the future, when and where it becomes necessary.,” read a statement from Mercy.

There are some exceptions, including those “Symptomatic for COVID or exposed within the last 10 days, Clinical space is experiencing a COVID outbreak, Caring for or visiting patients on isolation (needs will vary based on infection), Co-workers who are exempt from influenza or COVID vaccination (until at least March 31, 2023).”

A statement from SSM Health said, “As we near the end of the National Public Health Emergency, which is set to expire on May 11, 2023, SSM Health is taking steps to safely roll back some mitigation measures implemented during the pandemic. Beginning Wednesday, March 15, SSM Health will no longer require universal masking across our facilities.

We are making this change in response to the changing status of COVID-19 in the communities we serve. Highly effective vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 are now widely available and we continue to see community levels in our service areas stabilize and decline.”

But BJC HealthCare says they are not making changes just yet.

“Masking in our facilities helped protect our patients, staff and visitors throughout the pandemic and during severe respiratory illness surges this past fall and winter. BJC is continuing to closely watch COVID-19 case rates and other respiratory infections in the hospital and in the community to determine when we will be able to safely reduce the use of masks in our health care settings. If rates remain consistently low, changes could occur soon,” read a statement from BJC HeathCare.