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MultiCare facilities across Puget Sound region to require masks again as RSV surges

Starting on Wednesday, Dec. 6, MultiCare Health Systems will be requiring face masks in patient care areas for facilities in King, Pierce, Thurston, and Kitsap counties.

The decision was driven by an uptick in emergency department visits in the Puget Sound region for respiratory syncytial virus, known more commonly as RSV.

This means all patients, visitors, and staff will have to mask up in patient care areas inside hospitals and emergency departments. That includes patient floors and hallways, exam rooms, front desk/check-in areas, anywhere where patients interact, oncology clinics, and waiting rooms.

Masks are “strongly recommended” but not required for public hallways (outside of patient units), elevators, lobbies, gift shops, cafeterias, breakrooms, multi-person offices, and conference rooms.

MultiCare employees will also have to wear masks in patient clinics outside of hospitals.

Masking rules typically go into place for MultiCare facilities if any of the following criteria are met for a specific region:

  • Emergency Department visits for RSV exceed 0.3% of total visits
  • Emergency Department visits for the flu exceed 1% of total visits
  • Emergency Department visits for COVID-19 exceed 3% of total visits
  • COVID-19 admissions exceed 10 people per 100,000 population