Universal masking takes effect at Rochester Regional & UR Medicine


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Universal masking procedures took effect Tuesday evening at all University of Rochester Medical Center and Rochester Regional Health hospitals. The move is the latest of several actions local health systems have taken to help flatten the curve of COVID-19. 

According to health officials, all medical providers, staff, and visitors in all hospitals will be required to wear a surgical mask at all times in common areas. Patients will not be required to wear a mask unless they are showing COVID-19 symptoms.

“We want to assure you that the mask doesn’t mean you’re in danger. We’re just taking every precaution to keep everyone safe,” URMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Apostolakos said.

Masks prevent the spread of droplets. Doctors said the most common way to pass on COVID-19 is by coughing or sneezing on someone or touching a surface with those droplets on it then touching your face. Requiring masks will prevent these things from happening.

Doctors said they are confident in the supply of masks as of now and the current supply will last two to four weeks. Staff masks will be reused unless they are dirty or damaged. Doctors in certain settings will also be wearing face shields for extra protections.

“Our employees are being taught that they need to take care of their PPE and extend its use as long as is appropriate,” said Dr. Rob Mayo, the RRH Chief Medical Officer.

Doctors said universal masking will go on as long as is needed.

“At this point the time is indefinite. We believe that the disease has risen to the point that this will be helpful in helping to prevent the spread,” said Dr. Apostolakos.

As for the homemade cloth masks many people are making and donating, doctors said if the masks meet FDA requirements, hospitals can use them. If not, hospitals can find low risk environments to use them in. Doctors said generally these masks are not always consistent in protection.

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