Mount Nittany Health, which includes Centre County’s lone hospital, announced Thursday afternoon that it is now requiring employees to wear face masks while engaging with patients due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.
Nowhere in the announcement does Mount Nittany Health say it will require patients to wear masks. The employee mandate is effective immediately and will run through 7 a.m. Sept. 29.
“Mount Nittany Health will continue to monitor the situation and make changes as appropriate,” a news release read. “If patients or visitors have symptoms of COVID-19 or respiratory illness, Mount Nittany Health asks that they please take the appropriate precautions and kindly mask in Mount Nittany Health facilities.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Health no longer tracks COVID cases like it once did, but other indicators still back up Mount Nittany Health’s observed case increase. According to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centre County is averaging about one COVID hospitalization per day — a rate significantly lower compared to its peak, but still an 82% increase over the previous two weeks.
When it comes to wastewater surveillance, all three Centre County sites experienced an increase compared to past 15-day trends — with one site between State College and Boalsburg experiencing a “large increase” of at least 15%. Based on past data, the viral load at that site is similar to the viral load from around mid-December.
Mount Nittany Health announced in April that it would no longer require patients and visitors to mask up “except when symptomatic or COVID-19 positive.” Masking for patients has not been required since.
According to the local health care system, the new mask requirement applies to all physicians, clinicians, employees, volunteers, students and vendors while engaging with patients.
For more information and further updates, visit mountnittany.org.