Mask Mandates Making a Comeback in Parts of US

As reported cases of COVID-19 rise, so are the organizations returning to masks.

August 24, 2023

A number of facilities and organizations throughout the United States are returning to mask mandates, amid the rise of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

According to Deadline, among the newest to partially reinstate mandatory masks is the Santa Monica, California, office of international mass media and entertainment company Lionsgate, in response to several employees testing positive for the virus. The mandate was announced internally via an email from Sommer McElroy, response manager for Lionsgate and its subsidiary Starz. A copy of the memo obtained by Deadline stated that the mandate would start immediately and last until further notice for the third and fifth floors of the company’s five-story building.     

Last week, according to news media website, Upstate University Hospital and Upstate Community General in Syracuse, New York, both reinstated the mandatory wearing of masks due to an increase in staff ill with COVID-19, as well as a rise in patients testing positive for the virus. The newest variant of COVID-19, EG.5, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has called a “variant of interest,” was cited as the reason for the increase in cases.

A memo to Upstate’s staff stated, “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. Clinical areas are defined as any location patients gather, wait, transport through, or receive care. Masking is strongly recommended in all non-clinical areas.”

According to Contagion Live, a website of Infectious Disease Today media, Rutgers University’s campuses in New Jersey and Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia, will all requiring masks because of an increase in COVID-19 cases. At Morris Brown, the mandate will be in place until September 3, reports CBS News, noting that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have indicated that the rise of the EG.5 variant has been more prevalent in Georgia, with hospitalizations up 30%.

“This is what endemic means—it doesn’t go away,” Dr. Jayne Morgan, executive director of health and community education at Piedmont Healthcare, which serves patients in Georgia and Alabama, told CBS News. “We know now, with this heat wave, so many people have been driven indoors, when we’re usually outdoors. We’re also traveling a lot during the summer, so we’re carrying the virus from one group to the next.”

However, as masks requirements return in some areas of the U.S., the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recently announced that it was lifting its own mask mandate for healthcare workers in Los Angeles Country, effective August 11, KTTV-TV reports. The decision came as the county was also seeing a small uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

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