Penn Medicine, Jefferson update masking guidelines due to rise in respiratory viruses

Tuesday, January 9, 2024
Penn Medicine, Jefferson update masking guidelines
Penn Medicine, Jefferson update masking guidelines due to rise in respiratory viruses

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- With COVID-19, RSV, and flu cases rising, more hospital systems in the Philadelphia area are taking extra precautions.

Starting Monday, Penn Medicine says in certain departments like emergency and waiting rooms, everyone two and older is required to wear a mask.

Visitors who tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms are not allowed to enter any facility, even with a mask.

Jefferson Health has also put a masking policy in place which started over the weekend and will stay in effect until Jan 29.

Other health systems across the region, including Main Line Health and Cooper University Health Care, have revised their mask policies due to the rise in cases.

According to the CDC's weekly respiratory illness activity report, Pennsylvania is listed in the high category and New Jersey is listed as very high. Nationally, the number of people seeking treatment for respiratory illness is increasing in most areas of the country.

Locally, this winter has hit people hard in terms of illnesses.

"My son is 13 months old and we've been in and out of the hospital. His fevers, the germs," said Tori Carfagno of Audubon, New Jersey.

Inspira health facilities in New Jersey are also requiring masks.

"In my office, I'm seeing a mix of COVID and flu," said family physician Dr. Delana Wardlaw.

She says during this season of contagious viruses going around, masking can help contain the spread to others, even if you're going to a place where masking is not required.

"It's hard to distinguish between these viruses, so you should consider wearing a mask, particularly if you're going out and interacting with other people," said Wardlaw.

She also says staying home when you're sick and handwashing are the biggest tools to try to stay healthy.

It's also not too late in the season to get flu, COVID, or RSV vaccines if you're eligible.