CDC Suggests Continued Use of Masks In Healthcare Facilities

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Even as COVID-19 winds down considerably, the CDC recommends that healthcare facilities give serious thought to whether broader usage of face masking is ideal. In an update rolled out on May 8 in the COVID-19 infection prevention and control guidelines, the CDC went ahead with warning hospitals as well as other healthcare facilities that they will no longer be able to rely on the surveillance tool pertaining to the agency’s community transmission.

It is well to be noted that the data required so as to publish the local-level metric will no longer be shared with the CDC due to the end of the PHE on May 11, said the CDC. That said, source control will continue to be a significant intervention during high respiratory virus transmission periods, as confirmed by the CDC.

Barring the community transmission metric, the healthcare facilities should go ahead and identify local metrics that could go on to reflect the elevated community respiratory viral functioning to gauge when broader source control within the facility might be warranted.

Source control, like the use of well-fitting masks, happens to be a key strategy so as to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, as per the CDC, and apparently the recommendation for healthcare workers has long been described for basic precautions like when the worker happens to be sick or has symptoms like coughing.

Expanding the use of masks more broadly has significantly greater benefits and should definitely be considered when going ahead with patient care for those at higher risk of infection due to respiratory viruses and also during the high respiratory transmission phase in the community.

The CDC encouraged, in cases of former consideration for healthcare facilities, to tier infection protection measures that are based on the population of patients that happen to be served, such as implementing masking for those people who offer care within a transplant unit or a cancer care facility. Organisations can also go ahead with seeking input from patient staff and groups if such measures are supported, and they must take this into account when coordinating practises with other facilities that are in their jurisdiction and may share patients.

When it comes to determining the activity of local respiratory viruses due to the loss of community transmission resources, the CDC remarked that it is currently in the early stages of the development of new metrics for facilities to consult. Healthcare facilities, in the meantime, can consider the recommendation of masking during the typical season of respiratory viruses, like the months from October to April.

They should also go ahead with the review of more general metrics in terms of incidences pertaining to respiratory viruses, like the interactive dashboard of the Respiratory Virus Hospitalisation Surveillance Network, information from National Emergency Department visits when it comes to COVID-19, and also state-level outpatient visits that get captured by way of ILINet, in case they happen to be available for their jurisdiction.

Nevertheless, even in cases when masking isn’t required by the facility, the individual must continue with the mask usage or a respirator that’s based on the perceived level of risk, personal preference, and also potential when it comes to developing acute diseases as and when they get exposed, said the CDC.

It is well to be noted that the guidance update by the CDC came a week after the White House went on to announce that it was going to end the requirements pertaining to COVID-19 vaccination for the certified facilities of the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The decision of the administration to officially halt the PHE on May 11 went on to herald major changes when it comes to specific flexibilities and waivers, testing coverage related to COVID-19, and also data surveillance and reporting.