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CDC updates mask guidelines for health-care settings

Sept. 28, 2022
Learn about the CDC's newest guidelines on masking in health-care settings, and what its site notes specific to dental practices.
Elizabeth S. Leaver, Digital content manager

The CDC has updated its masking guidelines for health-care workers, dropping its universal guideline even as transmission rates for COVID-19 across the U.S. still require most workers in health-care settings to continue masking.

The move comes following weeks of slower-paced of COVID-19 hospitalizations and nursing home infections in most parts of the country, and marks one of the final sets of revisions in a sweeping effort launched in August to overhaul the CDC's recommendations for the virus.

At that time, the CDC noted in the guideline changes that “the pandemic is not over, but [the changes] also help us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.” Changes included no longer recommending testing to screen for COVID-19 in most places for people who don’t have symptoms; however, nursing and health-care settings “will continue to rely on the CDC's old community transmission framework.”

In its newest guidelines, the CDC notes that the “Updates were made to reflect the high levels of vaccine-and infection-induced immunity and the availability of effective treatments and prevention tools” and that they provide a framework for facilities to implement select infection prevention and control practices, based on their individual circumstances, including community transmission.

Which is the crux: with most US counties still at a “high” level of COVID transmission, most health-care workers are still mandated to wear face masks. But facilities in those counties with lower transmission rates can "choose not to require" all health-care workers to mask.

Specific to dental practices

The CDC’s Infection Control Guidance for Healthcare Professionals about Coronavirus (COVID-19)—which reflects the recently updated guidelines—is applicable to all U.S. settings where health care is delivered, including dental settings.

More specifically, it notes that dental health-care personnel (DHCP) should regularly consult their state dental boards and state or local health departments for current information and recommendations and requirements specific to their jurisdictions, which might change based on SARS-CoV-2 transmission levels in the county where their healthcare facility is located.

Other recommendations include ensuring DCHP continue to wear recommended PPE and use mitigation methods to minimize droplet spatter and aerosols during aerosol-generating procedures on all patients, even those not suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.

About the Author

Elizabeth S. Leaver | Digital content manager

Elizabeth S. Leaver was the digital content manager for Endeavor Business Media's dental group from 2021-2024. She has a degree in journalism from Northeastern University in Boston and many years of experience working in niche industries specializing in creating content, editing, content marketing, and publishing digital and magazine content. She lives in the Boston area.