09/26/23: Regional healthcare organizations adopt masking guidelines

Child blowing their nose looking off to the side

Healthcare facilities in the region have joined together voluntarily to prioritize the health and safety of patients and employees by adopting interim thresholds for universal masking in hospitals and outpatient clinics.  

When thresholds are crossed, which indicates increased regional respiratory illness activity and impact, masking by staff and patients will be required in patient care areas for healthcare facilities participating in the agreement. 

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department joins other local health jurisdictions in fully supporting the data-informed decision by healthcare organizations to require masking in their facilities when thresholds for increased respiratory illness activity are reached.

Masking is an effective way to reduce transmission of respiratory illness in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. These masking practices will help protect people in healthcare settings, particularly those who are at high risk like older adults, those with chronic disease and immunocompromising conditions, pregnant people, infants, as well as those who experience inequities in health care.   

Regional healthcare organizations convened over several months to review data sources that indicate when transmission of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or COVID-19 are at increased levels in the community. As described by the organizations that have signed-on to the agreement, healthcare organizations will require masking when the first of the following thresholds is reached: 

These thresholds are the upper limit for participating organizations to institute universal masking in their facilities, and these organizations may choose to implement universal masking sooner based on their own decision making.

Regional emergency department visit data will be published by participating public health agencies in Washington, including on our website for Pierce County.

Find more information about the joint agreement from Northwest Healthcare Response Network.