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In California Hospitals, Masks Stay On — At Least, For Now

Three HDM masks rest on a windowsill.
NIOSH-approved N95 masks are recommended to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 omicron variant.
(Jennifer Swanson
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California’s coronavirus emergency declaration will expire at the end of February, almost three years after it began. But not every pandemic related policy is tied to it; face masks will stay on in some health settings.

Mask on: The current masking requirement in healthcare and long-term care facilities “is not dependent on the state of emergency timeline,” according to a statement by the California Dept. of Public Health. It’s unclear when CDPH will roll it back, or how much warning they’ll give high-risk patients for whom a COVID-19 infection could spell medical disaster.

What else could stay? Governor Newsom is seeking legislative approval to keep two other emergency provisions. One would allow nurses to continue to dispense COVID medications such as Paxlovid, while another would allow lab workers to process COVID-19 tests on their own.

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What's next: The national public health emergency will expire May 11, and, with it, the free access for consumers to COVID-19 at-home test kits, vaccines and even some treatments.

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