COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Ohio’s COVID-19 health orders will soon be a thing of the past.
They’re ending Wednesday, but masks will not be coming off at all places.
Central Ohio hospitals will still be requiring them.
Even as the state drops health orders June 2, the hospitals say the decision to continue requiring masks came down to safety and making patients feel as comfortable as possible.
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, OhioHealth, Mount Carmel, and Nationwide Children’s are all reminding people about this. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been in contact with each other, wanting to remain consistent so even when the health orders are dropped, the masking policy will be the same at all hospitals.
“I think people need to continue to be careful for sure,” said Columbus resident Sarah Stone.
Stone and Schurrell Williams said they feel OK outside without a mask, but will likely keep masking up indoors.
“I feel like, in certain spaces, you should probably still wear your mask,” Williams said.
Wexner Medical Center’s Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Andrew Thomas said masks allow the hospitals to continue to allow visitors in the safest way possible.
Another reason masks will still be required is that, by nature, many patients in hospitals are already dealing with weakened immune systems, so this is just another way to protect them.
“We want to make sure those folks that have underlying illness, that may be more at risk even if they are vaccinated, that they’re really protected and they feel safe in our healthcare environments and we obviously don’t want to have to limit visitation,” Thomas said.
Thomas added that the decision is also about patient comfort, saying the last thing hospitals want is someone putting off a screening or important health appointment because they are concerned people at the hospital won’t be wearing masks.
“Frankly, most people coming to the hospital have been incredible, collaborative and supportive, and they’re just happy they can come visit their loved ones,” he said. “We’re not envisioning there’s going to be a problem. We just don’t want people to be caught off guard.”
Thomas said most people have not been caught off guard by the mask requirement, but if they are, the hospital can provide a mask for them.
“We don’t know the vaccination status of everyone walking into our front doors,” Thomas said. “That mask is really the passport to being able to do a lot of things and be safe in our environment.”
In addition to hospitals, the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities will continue to require the wearing of masks.
In addition to the hospitals above, Licking Memorial Health said it is also keeping a mask mandate in place.