More than three years after the first COVID case was detected in Mecklenburg County, Charlotte hospitals are no longer requiring patients, staff and visitors to wear masks. The change takes effect March 28 at 7am.
Mask restrictions are being lifted at the facilities of regional health care systems including Novant Health, Atrium Health, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, CaroMont Health, Cone Health and Randolph Health, according to statements from the systems.
Why it matters: Hospitals and other health care settings have been among the few places still requiring masks to protect against the spread of COVID-19. The hospitals’ collective decision to end their mandates comes almost two years after Gov. Roy Cooper lifted the statewide mask mandate.
Details: Hospital officials considered a range of factors in opting to lift mask requirements. They include: The availability of vaccines, a steady decline in COVID cases and “community habits returning to pre-pandemic levels.”
What they’re saying: “The decision to make masking optional was not taken lightly, as we considered the tens of thousands of our patients, teammates and visitors this decision will impact,” said Katie Passaretti, vice president and chief epidemiologist for Atrium Health. “From the beginning of the pandemic, we have followed what the science tells us, and now it shows that, for many people, it is safe for a mask to be optional.”
Of note: Patients can still let their health care providers know if they prefer that their care team wear masks.