We are writing to remind you of our safety and personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements. We are continuing to require medical face masks at all times for employees who directly or indirectly support patient care or patient care operations, and all students who visit Student Health, no matter their vaccination status.
You may have seen in the news that some Eastern Iowa hospitals are dropping their face mask requirements in non-patient care areas. Several airlines and transportation organizations have also dropped their mask requirements
We want to share with you the three reasons why we aren’t changing our PPE requirements just yet, and why it’s important we remain vigilant:
- COVID-19 cases are once again rising in our community, due to the arrival of the omicron subvariant, BA.2. Johnson County is one of ten counties in Iowa where there is still substantial or high community transmission of COVID-19.
- We’ve seen an increase in the number of employees testing positive for COVID-19. Our data continues to indicate that masking and our other safety measures help prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our facilities, despite higher rates of COVID-19 in our community and among our employees. The safety of our patients and our employees is our priority, and we know that masks are essential to accomplishing this goal.
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requires us to follow certain safety guidelines as it relates to COVID-19.
We use data to guide our decisions, as we have throughout the pandemic. So, although we would like to make changes to our safety requirements, we are not able to do so safely just yet.
UIHC Hospital Epidemiologist Dan Diekema, MD, shares more about BA.2 in this article.
Being there for our students
Although it may feel like the rest of the world is moving on from COVID-19, we know that the University of Iowa will rely on us to lead the way for some time to come. We must stay healthy ourselves so we’re here and ready when needed.
Staying safe means:
- Continuing to wear face masks while at work and when in crowded indoor settings outside of work.
- Being vigilant with hand hygiene.
- Knowing to stay home, check your symptoms, and get tested when you aren’t feeling well.
Thank you for your commitment to safety and for supporting our patients and each other.