While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced May 13 that people fully vaccinated for COVID-19 may go maskless in most places, Alabama’s nursing homes and hospitals are still under federal mask requirements.

The Alabama Nursing Home Association and the Alabama Hospital Association are reminding citizens that they will be required to wear masks when they visit their facilities, even if they are fully vaccinated. 

“Cases of COVID-19 are down 98 percent in Alabama’s nursing homes and we’re beginning to return to normal operations,” Alabama Nursing Home Association president and CEO Brandon Farmer said.

“We’re glad the public can begin to do more activities without wearing a mask. However, nursing homes must still abide by federal guidelines that require residents, visitors and staff members to wear masks in certain circumstances. We appreciate the family members of our residents understanding and wearing a mask when they visit their loved one.” 

“Providing good care to patients in a safe environment is the primary goal of our hospitals,” said Don Williamson, MD, president of the Alabama Hospital Association.

“While the number of COVID-19 cases in hospitals is definitely decreasing, hospitals are still treating many of these patients and must take every precaution to ensure the virus is not spread internally. That’s why the CDC and others are still requiring those in healthcare facilities to wear masks. Just as hospital staff must continue to wear their masks, those visiting patients will also be required to wear their masks.”

“We are very proud to see the number of cases decrease in our area, that means that lives are being saved,” said Lisa Fenner, compliance officer for Medical Center Enterprise. “Medical Center Enterprise will continue to focus on compassionate patient care, and a safe environment for patients and their families, and our staff to come to. We look forward to the day that this is all just a memory and we can look back on it to say that we did all that we could.”

Both hospitals and nursing homes must continue to follow the updated CDC visitation guidance issued on April 27. This requires that “visitors to healthcare facilities, regardless of their vaccination status, should wear a well-fitting cloth mask, facemask, or respirator.” The only exception is when they are alone in the patient/resident’s room or the designated visitation room, patients/residents and their visitor(s) can remove their masks.

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