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Hospitals keep masks as CDC guidelines change

WSBT South Bend 9/27/2022 Dj Manou, WSBT 22 Reporter
© Provided by WSBT South Bend

Hospitals around the country can start to look at modifying their mask guidelines after new CDC recommendations.

To remove masks, the CDC used to require community transmission to be in the green level.

But new rulings say hospitals can make a judgement call as soon as they leave the red.

In a move that even surprised Memorial Hospital's Dr. Dale Patterson, he says the CDC's decision doesn't change anything for them right now.

“From the community transmission, which is what the hospitals are paying attention to, we are in the red. And we have been for quite some time,” said Dr. Dale Patterson, Memorial Hospital VP of Medical Affairs.

Patterson says they aren't seeing the number of extremely sick patients as they did before, but there's still a ways to go.

“In order to get out of the red we need to see the number of positive tests or the percentage of positive tests go below 10%. And we need to see the number of new infections in the community less than 100 per hundred thousand people,” said Patterson.

Patterson says rates have started to go down and local hospitals could be out of the red if things continue in the right direction.

But he says 70-percent of the country remains in the red so making masks optional is not a current plan.

The day we do drop-- he says they wouldn't want to rush and make harsh decisions.

“We will have to at some point feel comfortable that there will be a substantial amount of time and it won't feel like a yo-yo going back-and-forth where nobody knows what to do every day,” said Patterson.

What concerns him is the uncertainty of this fall and winter. He's worried that the flu season could be much worse after two straight years of low flu transmission when masks were implemented.

He also doesn't know what Covid will look like.

“There's a lot of if's there. If a new variant emerges or somehow, we evade the immunity that's present in the community with Covid, we could have another surge this winter and that would mean reinstating a lot of things we've done in the past,” said Patterson.

Patterson says there is a much higher immunity level in the community that could help.

But with so much uncertainty, he's asking people to be smart if you're high-risk and be considerate.

“Wear a mask when you're out in public if you're sneezing and coughing. That is really helpful to not spread the disease. I don't think it's too much to ask for people if they're not feeling well to put a mask on if they do have to leave their house,” said Patterson.

St. Joseph Hospital says they will not be removing their mask guidelines either.

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