Essentia Health moving to voluntary masking in most situations

Photo by: WDAY Radio Staff
Photo by: WDAY Radio Staff

(Fargo, ND) -- Mandatory masking appears to be going by the wayside at one local hospital.

After careful consideration of the state of COVID-19, Essentia Health says it will move to a voluntary masking policy for most staff, patients and visitors. This change goes into effect Monday, April 3rd, and applies to hospitals, clinics and home health care.

"As the disease has evolved, we are seeing fewer deaths and hospitalizations related to the virus. Additionally, the current availability of COVID-19 vaccines and effective treatments has improved," said Essentia Health External Communications Manager Louie St. George in a statement released to WDAY Radio. "We will still encourage masks for anyone who has symptoms consistent with a COVID-19 infection, a COVID-19 exposure or other infectious respiratory illnesses."

Voluntary masking does not apply to Essentia’s long-term care/nursing home facilities or assisted living facilities, which will continue to evaluate masking protocols separately. Hospice staff will follow the policies of the facilities they enter.

Masks will remain available at facility entrances. Staff members caring for COVID-19 patients or suspected COVID-19 patients must still wear full personal protective equipment, and those visiting COVID-19 patients must mask according to our visitor guidelines.

Patients can request that their provider or others on their care team wear a mask.