Rising respiratory infections prompt change in Inova masking policy


Credit: Inova

Effective Jan. 4, Inova is requiring that all patients, visitors and staff at emergency departments, emergency care centers and Inova-GoHealth Urgent Care centers wear masks to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. Those locations have been classified as “high risk clinical spaces” by the healthcare system.

According to data reported Dec. 29 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Commonwealth of Virginia is experiencing a “very high” level of respiratory illness activity — including from COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus.

Between Nov. 18 and Dec. 30, the percentage of emergency department visits diagnosed with COVID-19 rose from 1.66% to 4.32% statewide, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The state also has “very high” influenza activity, with 7.7% of emergency department and urgent care visits during the week of Dec. 30 being for influenza-like illness. COVID-19 hospitalization rates in the state (9.3%) were about double the rates for influenza (4.8%) in mid-December.

Looking specifically at Northern Virginia, the Fairfax County Health Department reported in mid-December that respiratory disease activity was continuing to increase in the region and that NoVa was showing the highest level of influenza activity in the Commonwealth. County health authorities also said that only 16.3% of county residents had received the 2023-2024 COVID vaccine as of mid-December.

Credit: Virginia Department of Health

Inova healthcare facilities — including the emergency rooms at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital and Inova HealthPlex – Lorton, as well as Inova-GoHealth Urgent Care at Lorton Marketplace — will offer masks to those without them, according to Inova’s Jan. 4 press release.

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