SSM Health to no longer require universal mask-wearing

SSM Health announces the requirement to wear a mask will end Wednesday.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 2:24 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Universal mask-wearing will no longer be required at SSM Health facilities, the health system announced Monday. The change will go into effect on Wednesday.

SSM Health explained that it will continue to screen patients, and those with symptoms of an upper respiratory infection or known and suspected COVID-19 infections will be required to wear a mask.

Those who wish to wear a mask may continue to do so, and SSM Health said it will still have masks on hand for patients who want one.

SSM Health said staff and providers will continue to follow CDC guidance and protocols regarding personal protective equipment.

The move comes as the National Public Health Emergency is set to end on May 11, prompting the health system to take steps to “safely roll back some mitigation measures implemented during the pandemic.”

Chief clinical officer for SSM Health, Dr. Mark Thompson, says the guidance from the CDC changed in September, making universal masking optional in low transmission areas.

“We really made the decision to continue with our universal masking policy at SSM Health Wisconsin throughout the respiratory illness season that typically starts in the fall and ends early to late spring,” said Dr. Thompson. “So based on the latest community illness burden across all of the counties that we serve are in the green.”

“We are making this change in response to the changing status of COVID-19 in the communities we serve,” a statement from SSM Health said. “Highly effective vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 are now widely available and we continue to see community levels in our service areas stabilize and decline.”

UW Health Press Secretary Emily Greendonner said the health system’s COVID-19 policies remain the same.

“At this time, there are no changes to the COVID-19 policies at UW Health facilities, including masking policies, but we continue to monitor the improving trends related to the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and could adjust policies in the future,” Greendonner said.

In another sign of COVID-19 measures winding down, Public Health Madison & Dane County revealed last week that its testing clinic for the virus would shut down on April 14.

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