ROCHESTER, Minn. - Mayo Clinic is making a change to its masking policy for patients and visitors.
Due to a nationwide surge in cases from the Omicron variant and a desire to strengthen layers of protection against the virus, the healthcare giant is now asking everyone stopping by its campuses to wear medical-grade masks.
That means cloth masks, neck gaiters, bandanas, and other face coverings with exhalation valves will no longer be allowed at Mayo Clinic facilities. Instead, N-95, KN-95, or common surgical/procedural masks will be required for entry.
"This is a proactive change to reduce the risk of transmission on our campuses, and ensure a safe environment for our most vulnerable patients," said Mayo Clinic Infectious Diseases Expert Dr. John O'Horo. "The medical-surgical masks, the disposable ones that we use in the hospital and clinic setting, are verified to meet a certain standard that we know is going to be very effective at source control and containing transmission."
While high-quality coth masks may perform similarly to medical-grade masks, Mayo Clinic says several studies have demonstrated variability in their performance. Commonly worn face coverings like single-layer cloth masks, neck gaiters, and bandanas do not provide optimal protection, according to the clinic, making standardization necessary to help ensure the health and safety of all.
Patients and visitors will be offered a free surgical/procedural mask when they go through the screening process or check-in.