COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH/The Hill)– The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly updated its COVID-19 infection control guidance Friday to no longer recommend universal masking in health care settings, unless the facilities are in areas of high COVID-19 transmission.

All 88 counties in Ohio remain at high levels of transmission, according to the CDC COVID Data Tracker, so no changes will be made to mask-wearing policies in central Ohio. The vast majority of the country also has high transmission levels.

“This guidance applies to all U.S. settings where healthcare is delivered, including nursing homes and home health,” the CDC said.

Central Ohio health systems masking policies

OhioHealth

Masks are required for everyone at care sites.

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Masks are required to be worn in all Ohio State health care locations.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Nationwide Children’s guidelines remain the same: “We ask that you wear your own mask in the parking lot until you get inside the building. There you will be greeted at our masking and screening stations. When you enter the hospital or an outpatient facility, you will be provided with a mask and may be asked some questions about how you are feeling.”

Mount Carmel

At this time, Mount Carmel Health System is not updating its mask policy as Central Ohio’s COVID-19 transmission rate remains high according to the CDC’s guidelines. 

For everyone’s safety, all staff, patients, and visitors are required to wear masks at all times in our healthcare facilities. If someone does not have a mask, one will be provided for them to wear.

In addition, the new guidance includes a list of exceptions when people might choose to mask, compared with the previous guidance that included a list of exceptions when masking was not recommended. 

Even if masking is not universally required, if a provider works in a part of the facility experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, or if they care for immunocompromised patients, they should wear a mask, the new guidance explains.