All patients and visitors entering Mayo Clinic must wear surgical masks.. System officials say the move aims to better protect the system against COVID-19 and particularly the omicron variant. It's just one of the changes hospitals are implementing in light of the recent surge of cases.
Although several studies endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the effectiveness of high quality, multi-layer cloth masks, Mayo announced on Wednesday that more standardization is necessary due to the wide range of face coverings worn by patients and visitors.
"Single-layer cloth masks, neck gaiters and bandanas are commonly worn, for example, and do not provide optimal protection to help ensure the health and safety of all," Mayo Clinic said in its statement.
The center will offer medical-grade masks to all patients and visitors during the screening process or check-in, in case patients do not come wearing their own.
Patients with unacceptable masks, such as those with exhalation valves, gaiters, or those wearing bandanas, will be required to wear a surgical, N-95 or KN-95 mask—though patients will not be required to remove their cloth mask and can choose to wear the appropriate mask on top of their personal one.
Reports generally show surgical masks are statistically favorable in terms of reducing the spread of COVID-19, and that cloth masks should mainly be used as a last alternative.
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Mayo Clinic said consistent masking is essential in conjunction with the COVID-19 vaccination and boosters, as well as physical distancing, to provide adequate protection against COVID-19 surges and variants.
Health systems nationwide, such as Southwestern Vermont Health Care, Harris Health System, Valley Health System, Hackensack Meridian Health and the New Jersey Hospital Association, have returned to restricting visitors as case levels and hospitalizations rise.