Masks and Social Distancing Return in Some NJ Hospitals
New Jersey's largest hospital network is imposing a new mask mandate, effective today.
Patients, outpatients, visitors, volunteers and 38,000 staff members at all RWJBarnabas hospitals and health facilities are now required to mask-up before entering.
In a statement, hospital officials say the mandate is, "In response to the steady increase in respiratory illness and COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state."
The hospital network is also requiring social distancing in all facilities.
COVID transmission rates remain low in most of NJ
The most recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the majority of New Jersey as having a low transmission rate and low rate of hospitalization for COVID-19 infections. Only Atlantic, Cape May, Hunterdon and Warren counties at shown to have moderate risk. No New Jersey county is listed as having a high risk of transmission.
New Jersey's second largest hospital network, Hackensack Meridian Health, implemented mask mandates at most of its facilities last week.
According to RWJBarnabas Health, the following policies are now in effect:
🔴 Inpatients - All inpatients, who are able to, will be required to wear a face mask when leaving their room and can also choose to wear a mask at any time.
🔴 Outpatients - Face masks must be worn at all times when at an RWJBarnabas Health facility.
🔴 Staff - Face masks must be worn when providing direct care to patients at all RWJBarnabas Health locations. All staff can also choose to wear a mask at any time.
🔴 Visitors, volunteers, and vendors - Face masks must be worn at all times when in the presence of patients at all RWJBarnabas Health facilities.
Will vaccine mandates return?
RWJBarnabas is also encouraging staff members and patients to be vaccinated.
"While not mandatory, RWJBarnabas Health encourages all staff and patients six months or older to get the COVID-19 vaccine," hospital officials said in a statement.
In June, Gov. Phil Murphy lifted the vaccination mandate for all healthcare workers.
More than 100 RWJBarnabas workers were fired in October of 2021 for refusing to get vaccinated. Other hospital groups also fired workers who refused to take the shot.
While there is no statewide vaccine mandate at this time, individual employers can legally require workers to show proof of vaccination as a condition of employment.
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