File photo, Black Press

File photo, Black Press

Masking requirements in healthcare, other facilities to end April 3

DOH still recommends masks for patients, healthcare providers, and visitors in healthcare settings.

  • By Bailey Jo Josie bailey.jo.josie@soundpublishing.com
  • Friday, March 3, 2023 11:53am
  • News

Effective April 3, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) will end the Secretary of Health Mask Order, which currently requires universal masking in healthcare, long-term care and adult correctional facilities for people ages 5 and older.

In Washington, COVID-19, RSV, and influenza disease rates and hospitalizations have continued to decline since the end of last year. The end of Washington’s universal masking requirements aligns with the similar announcement made on March 3 by the state of Oregon.

“Masks have been — and will continue to be — an important tool, along with vaccinations, to keep people healthy and safe,” said state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair A. Shah. “We are thankful for our health and long-term care providers, staff members, patients, and all Washingtonians, for following the important public health measures put in place during the pandemic to protect one another.”

The current Secretary of Health Mask Order will remain in place until 11:59 p.m. on April 2. Local or tribal governments, facilities, and providers may choose to continue to require masks in these or other settings.

Despite the requirements no longer being in place, DOH infection prevention and control guidance continues to recommend masks for patients, healthcare providers, and visitors in healthcare settings. Licensed healthcare facilities are required to have infection prevention policies and programs consistent with CDC guidance.

Several worker protection requirements enforced by the state’s Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) remain in effect, including that employees and contractors may choose to use face masks or other personal protective equipment (PPE) on the job without employer retaliation.

Additionally, under the state Health Emergency Labor Standards Act (HELSA) rules, several key worker protections remain in place until the federal pandemic response declaration ends May 11.




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