(CTN News) – Due to the surge in cases of Covid-19, seasonal flu, and other respiratory illnesses across the US, hospitals in four states, namely New York, California, Illinois, and Massachusetts, have reintroduced mask mandates for both patients and healthcare workers.
After the decline of the Omicron wave in 2022, many places had lifted mask mandates, but this decision marks a return to stricter safety measures.
Dr. Ashwin Vasan, the Health Commissioner of New York City, stated that to prevent staffing shortages caused by frontline health workers contracting Covid-19 during the previous wave, all 11 public hospitals, 30 health centers, and five long-term care facilities are once again requiring masks.
The emphasis on wearing masks has been renewed due to the increase in respiratory illnesses during the winter season.
According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there was a 16% rise in Covid-19 hospitalizations in the US between December 17-23 compared to the previous week, with over 29,000 individuals hospitalized with the virus. Additionally, there were more than 14,700 flu hospitalizations reported during the same period.
Based on CDC data, the number of Covid-19 deaths in the US has surpassed 1.1 million, which is higher than the majority of developed countries.
Although mask mandates were a source of controversy and division during the pandemic, healthcare facilities are now prioritizing the health and safety of both patients and staff.
The reintroduction of mask mandates highlights the ongoing threat of Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses, especially during the winter months.