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Mass General Brigham bringing back mask requirement for staff

Mass General Brigham requiring some staff to wear masks as illnesses increase
Mass General Brigham requiring some staff to wear masks as illnesses increase 00:26

BOSTON - Masks are coming back soon at a major hospital network in the Boston area.

Mass General Brigham said that starting Jan. 2, it will require health care staff who interact directly with patients to wear masks. Patients and visitors will also be "strongly encouraged" to wear masks given out by its hospitals and clinics. 

Back in the fall, Mass General Brigham implemented a policy that called for staff masking when more than 2.85% of patients have symptoms of a respiratory virus. 

"Our masking policies are based on the current respiratory illness rates in our communities," Mass General Brigham said Thursday.

Mass General Brigham hospitals and clinics include Massachusetts General Hospital, Mass Eye and Ear, Brigham and Women's Hospital, the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, McLean Hospital, Newton-Wellesley Hospital and Salem Hospital.

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston started requiring maks for everyone at their facilities starting Dec. 18.

Right before Christmas, the Boston Public Health Commission said people should consider wearing a mask in crowded indoor settings. They also urged everyone to stay up to date with their vaccinations against COVID and the flu, and to stay home if feeling sick.

According to the latest COVID wastewater tracking data from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, COVID in the Boston area is at its highest levels since last year's holiday season. 

Earlier this week, the CDC said the new variant JN.1 now makes up about 44% of COVID cases across the country. So far, authorities have not reported different or more severe symptoms from the variant compared to previous strains. 

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