COVID-19 mask mandates RETURN in U.S. hospitals amid spread of JN.1 variant
By Ava Grace // Jan 03, 2024

Hospitals across the U.S. are reinstating Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) mask mandates as the JN.1 variant becomes the dominant strain spreading throughout the country.

Medical facilities in some East Coast states – Wisconsin, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Delaware – have all reinstated face covering rules, mandating that people wear them in certain medical settings.

In one example, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (NYC Health + Hospitals) announced the return of mask mandates at its hospitals. "Due to an uptick in respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, flu & RSV in our communities & our hospital, we must return to mandatory masking," the hospital operator wrote on X. "Please wear a mask when you visit us."

A separate NYC Health + Hospitals post also announced the return of "mandatory masking" at the Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. The mask mandate was brought about by "the prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities," the post added.

UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts also confirmed that mask mandates for staff members would return on Jan. 2 and last for a month. However, patients and visitors won't be mandated to mask up. A spokesperson for the hospital said after the month-long mandate, the necessity of masks in the hospital "will be reevaluated based on current trends."

The Mass General Brigham health system in the Bay State also announced the return of mask mandates, saying in a statement that the policies "are based on the current respiratory illness rates in our communities." (Related: Study: Mask mandates made no difference to COVID-19 transmission rates in hospitals.)


Over at Delaware, TidalHealth announced on Dec. 28 that all hospital visitors who enter patients' rooms need to mask up. Hospitals under the UW Health system in both Illinois and Wisconsin also reinstated mask mandates to varying degrees. Meanwhile in Indiana, the Beacon Health System said two hospitals under its wing – Memorial Hospital and Elkhart General, both in South Bend – are re-implementing masking requirements for visitors, patients and staff members.

West Coast hospitals follow suit

Hospitals at the West Coast have followed suit and reinstated mask mandates in response to the fast-spreading JN.1 variant of SARS-CoV-2. In Washington state, Kaiser Permanente confirmed to local media that employees working closely with patients have to wear masks. Linnae Riesen, a spokeswoman for the hospital system, clarified that face coverings are required for workers – but not for patients and visitors.

Over in California, many counties across the Bay Area region have already imposed a mask mandate for staff. The mandate began in November and will run until the end of spring due to a predicted rise in respiratory illness, according to the Epoch Times.

In an update, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it recorded a 10.4 percent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations across the U.S. during the week leading up to Dec. 16. It also recorded an increase of 3.4 percent in COVID-19 deaths over the same period.

According to the CDC, the JN.1 variant now makes up between 39 percent and 50 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. – from about 15 percent to 29 percent of all cases two weeks prior. The public health agency said the new strain is "now the most widely circulating variant in the U.S," and is continuing "to cause an increasing share of infections."

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed the JN.1 strain as a "variant of interest." The global health body said in December that the spread of the said variant "will unlikely increase the burden on national public health systems compared to other [B11529] omicron sub-lineages. However, countries approaching the winter season should be aware that, altogether, SARS-CoV-2 and co-circulating pathogens may exacerbate the respiratory disease burden."

Visit for more stories about COVID-19 mask mandates.

Watch this video that touches on mask mandates in hospitals.

This video is from the Midwest Information Network channel on

More related stories:

New wave of COVID-19 infections driven by omicron sub-variants hits China.

Trump: FEARMONGERING about new COVID-19 variants a “lunatic ploy” to rig 2024 elections.

INJECTION REJECTION: HHS data reveals only 2% of Americans have received COVID-19 vaccines for new variants.

WSJ latest to suggest COVID vaccines may be fueling new variants.

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