Kaiser Permanente revises masking mandate again; says it only applies to staff and doctors

Kaiser Permanente’s new masking requirements come amid an increasing number of COVID-19 infections.|

Kaiser Permanente has revised a COVID-19 policy issued earlier this week that required everyone in their Santa Rosa medical facilities, including physicians, staff, patients and visitors, to wear masks.

That policy, which went into effect Tuesday, was instated as a response to increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections in the local community.

On Thursday morning, however, Kaiser officials said reinstatement of the mask mandate only applies to physicians and staff. The health care provider said in an email it is “strongly encouraging masks for patients, members, and visitors in the hospital and medical offices in the Santa Rosa Service Area in response to this latest increase in COVID-19 cases.”

The latest change in policy comes after some patients said they had visited Kaiser facilities this week and noticed some people were not masking. Some Kaiser managers on Wednesday notified their staff that the mask mandate only applied to staff and physicians, while patients and visitors were should be encouraged to mask.

On Thursday afternoon, Kaiser released a statement to The Press Democrat apologizing for the confusion.

“Our intent was to communicate that as of Tuesday, we have expanded the masking requirement for our employees and physicians to medical offices and clinic settings; we apologize for any confusion among Press Democrat readers,” Kaiser said in its latest statement.

“Visitors, patients, and members are strongly encouraged to also wear masks in these settings,” the statement said. “We have not changed our masking requirements in the hospital, which have been in effect since April: employees and physicians are required to wear masks and we ask visitors to wear masks when in the hospital.”

Kaiser’s new masking requirements come amid an increasing number of COVID-19 infections, though health care and public health professionals said earlier this week most of these infections are mild. There hasn’t been any significant increase in the number of hospitalizations.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @pressreno.

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