VCU Health adopts optional masking policy

Richmond, Virginia – VCU Health has recently released a revised masking guideline for its facilities. This move comes at a time when other health systems in the Greater Richmond region are also lifting mask requirements.

According to a statement released by VCU Health, wearing a mask will now be optional in all of its owned, operated, and leased facilities, effective immediately.

The new masking policy will come with certain exceptions, including patient interactions at VCU Medical Center and high-risk patient care areas. For example, masks will still be required in situations such as when entering patient rooms in hospitals and clinics, when triaging patients, retrieving patients from waiting rooms, registering, rooming, or escorting patients through the clinic or facility, and when a patient or visitor approaches the nursing station.

VCU Health has indicated that its new masking policy is in line with recommendations from the CDC. It is important to note, however, that VCU Medical Center will still require masks, while hospitals under the umbrella of both Bon Secours and HCA Healthcare have stopped requiring masks for healthcare workers unless they are around a potential COVID-19 patient. This includes Chippenham Hospital, Johnston-Willis Hospital, and St. Mary’s Hospital.

Dr. Elaine Perry, the Director of Richmond-Henrico Health Districts, states that these changes are occurring as COVID-19 deaths and cases in Virginia are on a steep decline. Since the end of 2022, there has been an 88% decrease in weekly COVID-19 cases, and over the last six weeks, the weekly death totals in Virginia were all in the single digits, which hasn’t happened since the start of the pandemic.

While many are optimistic that this represents the turning of a new leaf, Dr. Perry advises against getting too comfortable even though the spread of COVID-19 has weakened. “I don’t think we should say that ‘okay, we’re done. We’re not going to deal with it again’ because we do know that the virus does continue to change. We do have different variants that develop over time,” she said.

Gayle Gordon

As a college student, making an extra buck now and then was very important. I started as a part-time reporter since I was 19 yo, and I couldn’t believe it might become a long-time career. I'm happy to be part of the Virginian Tribune's team.

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