Several Chicago-area hospitals have reinstated mask mandates due to the rise in respiratory viruses and new recommendations from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). At least four health systems, including more than 20 hospitals, have implemented partial or full mask mandates, particularly in patient care areas, especially those caring for individuals with weakened immune systems. The IDPH voiced concerns about counties with high respiratory virus transmission and hospitalization levels and recommended masking in these areas, particularly in emergency departments.
Chicago Hospitals Reinstate Mask Policies Amidst Rise in Respiratory Viruses
Several hospital systems in the Chicago area have reintroduced masking policies following an upswing in respiratory virus cases and new guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).
More than 20 health facilities, including a number of hospitals, medical offices and urgent care centers belonging to at least four health systems, have imposed partial or complete mask mandates. This development is in response to a surge in cases of COVID-19, influenza and RSV.
The IDPH issued guidance earlier in December advocating for the use of masks in healthcare settings. The department’s directive is to protect patients and staff amid the surge in respiratory illnesses, especially in areas caring for immuno-compromised individuals.
As per the most recent data, COVID-19 hospitalizations were at a high level in 10 Illinois counties within the past week, mirroring the conditions of the previous week.
Chicago-Area Health Systems Update Masking Policies
Endeavor Health, which operates several suburban hospitals, updated its mask policy in compliance with the IDPH guidance. As of December 26, both patients and visitors are required to wear a mask if they show any respiratory symptoms. The health system emphasized that masks are particularly urged in high-risk areas.
Having a mask became mandatory at Cook County Health locations, including Stroger Hospital and Provident Hospital, starting Tuesday. Masks are required for all staff, patients and visitors aged 2 and above in waiting and exam rooms.
Advocate Health Care, running 11 hospitals across Chicago, has also adopted a limited-visitor policy to safeguard patients and staff from seasonal viruses. Visitors are mandated to wear masks in high-risk patient care areas.
Meanwhile, Silver Cross Hospital updated its visitor policy on Dec. 20, requiring patients exhibiting respiratory symptoms to wear a mask at its emergency departments and urgent care centers.
Other health systems enforcing mask mandates include Ascension, operating Alexian Brothers Hospital and Saint Joseph Hospital, and OSF Health Care, the parent organization of Little Company of Mary Medical Center.