The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it has relaxed masking requirements at its medical centers in response to COVID-19.
“Now that the public health emergency has ended, we are updating our masking policies to reflect our new reality while still ensuring the safety of the veterans we serve,” said VA Under Secretary for Health Shereef Elnahal. “Except for the highest-risk areas and situations, masking will be greatly relaxed for veterans and clinicians at VA health care facilities.”
Masks will be required for staff, veterans and visitors in these units, including their waiting rooms:
- Emergency and urgent care
- Open bay medical intensive units
Spinal cord injury and community living centers will still require staff and many visitors to wear a mask. However, those visiting a loved one may unmask when in their room or outside.
- Anyone who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 or any other respiratory infection
- Health care personnel at the request of a patient, caregiver or family member
- Any location where local leadership warrants a masking requirement
Between March 2020 and the end of the public health emergency, the VA provided over 332 million health care appointments and 4.4 million vaccines to more than 870,000 veterans. The department will continue to monitor any changes to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines and update infection control measures as needed, it said.
For additional information on receiving COVID-19 care from the VA, visit its Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions page.