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Olmsted Medical Center to ask employees, patients, and visitors to wear surgical masks

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OMC to require surgical masks inside buildings

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Olmsted Medical Center (OMC) says it will ask employees, patients, visitors, and vendors to wear surgical masks in OMC buildings starting January 10. 

The health care provider says a surgical mask offers a higher level of protection than single-layer cloth masks against contracting or spreading the COVID-19 virus, including the Omicron variant which appears to be more contagious than other variants.  

OMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Randy Hemann says with more people in close quarters during winter months, turning to more effective masks will help keep everyone safe from coronavirus, as well as other infections that have seen an increase this year like flu and strep throat.

"We're kind of at a vulnerable time in the midst of the winter now. We're closer together, we're passing each other, especially in any type of indoor event venue, including our hospital clinics, where we want to go one step further than even the public guidelines," Dr. Hemann told KIMT.
Dr. Hemann acknowledges no mitigation measure is perfect, including surgical masks, but when layered with other safety strategies, the protection they offer adds up.
"There is no perfect mask, there is no perfect vaccine, there is no perfect distance," Dr. Hemann said. "Even surgical masks are still loose fitting, but they provide a better barrier for droplets or, you know, protecting. Yes, they protect you, but there is still an incremental improvement that is noticeable and measurable in protecting other people. Once again, you don't know who might be at risk, who might be more immunocompromised."

Surgical masks will be provided to patients and visitors going through the screening process. 

OMC says if you do not have a surgical mask, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend wearing a mask that: 

Has two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric 


Fits snuggly against the sides of your face so you don't have gaps 

Has a nose wire to prevent air leaking out of the top 

Does not have exhalation valves or vents since this allows virus particles to escape.

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